What comes to your mind when someone mentions South Korea to you?
Well, besides North Korea, other things like Samsung, Hyundai, K-Pop, Kimchi, and Soju might pop into your head. South Korea, particularly Seoul, its capital, is one of the most advanced countries in Asia in terms of economic development, technology, society and government. Many of you may find that hard to believe if you’ve never visited South Korea. I, for example, thought it was going to be another country in Asia that became hooked to a capitalist model, much like China, where it still had lots to improvements to do; I thought it would be cheap. I was completely wrong.
South Korea – Seoul – blew my mind. Besides the delicious food, and the outstanding modernity of the city, I was never expecting it to be that advanced. This means I was in for a surprise. Now, I’m not saying this to complain, but for a guy that had a budget, and I mean a LOW budget, Seoul is kind of expensive.
The South Korean currency is the Won. It has a 1 to 1 but keep in mind the denominations are in thousands – for example, 1 USD equals 1084 Won. So basically, it is as if you were in the US. Below I will detail some common expenses for a tourist that you should keep in mind when you’re making a budget for Seoul.
This is all based on my expenses during my 5-day stay in Seoul
Subway: 1,350 Won ($1.25 USD) – One way
Taxi: Fares start at 3,000 Won ($2.75 USD) + 700 Won ($0.65 USD) per km
Hostel: 15,900 Won ($14.67 USD) – I stayed in Hongdae, which is a popular area
Food: Average is 9,000 Won ($8.30 USD)
Any other expenses will depend on personal preference. I bought a shirt at the famous Namdaemun Market for 20,000 Won ($18.45 USD); snacks were typically around 6,000 Won ($5.50 USD). By now you get the point.
Keep this in mind when coming to visit Seoul. I should’ve done better research but the excitement of going to this places made me forgo that. During my 5-day trip I spent around $700 USD (not taking into account the flight to get there). This was me being very conservative and selective about where to go.
I am sure when you come visit, you will have better budgeting skills than I did.