Korea is often an overlooked destination to visit in Asia, but I am here to tell you that it’s one of the most culturally magnificent places around. The people are extremely welcoming, the food is mouth-watering good, and there are thousands of fun activities to do year-round. I’ve been living and teaching English around Seoul for about a year, and life just gets better and better everyday. Korea is really emerging as a popular destination for travelers, so you should come join the fun!
Perhaps one of the reasons why Korea doesn’t attract as many tourists as Thailand (for example) is because of the higher prices. Well, Korea can absolutely be done on a cheap budget, and here are several ways how you can do it:
Korea is home to one of the world’s top airlines, called Korean Air. However, it can be a bit expensive to fly, so I recommend taking one of the various cheap airlines to get here.
If you are coming from an place in Asia, look into Air Asia, Jeju Air, China Air or Peach Airlines. I have found several flights round trip to Japan and China for less than $250USD. I also found a one-way to Bangkok for $200, which is pretty cheap.
If you are coming from the states, there is no really cheap option. I have flown both United and Korean air, and it was about $600 for a one-way flight from Los Angeles.
Your best bet is to go to Korea once you are already in Asia!
Korea has one of the most efficient and effective transportation systems in the world.
If you are in Seoul, the metro system can take you anywhere in the city for $1.30USD. The Seoul Metro covers the most ground of any metro system in the world. It is a bit slow because it makes a lot of stops, but it is always on time and easy to use.
If you want faster travel around Korea, then you can take the fast trains that are luxurious but a little pricey. You can get from Seoul to Busan (a beach town in the South) for about $35.
The express bus system in Korea is often overlooked, but much cheaper than the trains. I always take the bus everywhere I go and it’s about half price. That being said, it takes about twice the time as a fast train- but if you aren’t in a hurry then it’s worth it!
There are plenty of affordable hostels scattered all over Seoul and Korea. Most hostels range from $15-25 USD per night.
If you are staying in Seoul, then I recommend staying in an area called Hongdae. It is one of the cheapest areas in Seoul because it is located in the midst of a few big Universities. It’s more or less a “college town” filled with bars, clubs, delicious restaurants and cultural activities. I go here almost every weekend!
If you are traveling around Korea, then you should have no problem finding a cheap bed in any city center. Just look on hostelworld or any other cheap hotel website, and expect to pay no more than $20/night.
Korea food is amazing and very cheap!
I’m sure that you’ve heard of Korean BBQ before, but I can assure you that it tastes MUCH better than you’ve ever imagine when you eat it in Korea!
Here is what the experience is like when you walk into a traditional Korean restaurant. You will walk inside and take your shoes off (it’s customary). Then, you’ll sit down at a table with a large grill in the middle. You’ll choose your cut of meat and then you cook it in front of you, until it’s sizzling and ready to eat. Meanwhile, the waitress will bring you unlimited side dishes including kimchi, vegetables and soups.
All of this for $10USd per person. It’s like heaven on earth!
If you aren’t into Korean BBQ, then don’t worry because there are lots of other soups and rice dishes that are found all over Korea. Try Bibimbap- a classic rice dish with vegetables and spicy sauce, for only $3USD!
Seoul has 15 million people, so as you can imagine, there are unlimited things to do around the city. You can out the Buddhist temples, the Han River park, the Seoul tower, and many other districts including Itaewon, Gangnam and Hongdae.
If you want to go to the beach, then head down to Busan or Jeju Island. Those are notably the best “tropical” beach areas around Korea.
I recommend just stumbling around and finding things to do. It’s impossible to be bored in Korea!
Bio: Drew is a recent college graduate who has visited 43 countries since the beginning of 2012. His favorite things about traveling are eating the local foods, meeting awesome people and experiencing the nightlife scene. Drew is currently teaching English in South Korea and he blogs about food, culture and nightlife at the Hungry Partier. Find him on Google+ and Twitter.