How to Budget to travel in Korea

If it’s your first time visiting Korea, it might be hard to guess the travel budget. I would like to share the average budget for a trip to South Korea including flights, accommodations, transportation, and food.

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Accommodation budget in Seoul

where to stay in Seoul
  • Guest House (Bunk bed) : $20~$40
  • Entire House or Hotel (Studio type) : $60~$100
  • Entire House or Hotel (two bedroom type) : $80~$160


Flight

Air ticket depends upon your budget, flight duration, and preferences. As you know, buying an early bird ticket is much cheaper than buying a ticket last-minute. DY and I usually try to find the cheapest flight tickets when traveling abroad because we want to spend more on our experiences at our travel destination.


Transportation

T money card system

Seoul City’s subway(line1~line9) system is one of the most convenient and fastest ways to get around the city. It will be the primary transportation while you are traveling in Seoul.
Therefore I recommend using a transportation card instead of a single-use ticket. Then you can get 100KRW off and avoid the inconvenience of buying and returning the card.

Moreover, subway fares are calculated by unifying all metropolitan subway lines based on a distance proportional system.
The basic fare of general type transportation cards within 10km is 1,250KRW. Between 10 and 50km, 100KRW is added and afterward 100KRW is added for every 8km.

MPASS Card

If you are planning to visit Seoul tourist spots for a few days, we recommend the MPASS card. Please check the duration and price of the pass. 

M Pass card fare and discount

With MPASS, you can take almost all kinds of public transportation such as the subway, airport railroad all-stop train, and buses in Seoul. Furthermore, additional funds can be loaded to MPASS meaning you can use it like a T-money card. But note that it cannot be used to pay for taxis.


Tips

The transfer fee is free for up to 10km on the subway (up to 30km for Seoul Metropolitan, Gyeonggi Express and Nonstop, Incheon Express and metropolitan buses) and also free when transferring between the subway and bus within 30 minutes of getting off. 
Please note that it’s only applicable when using a transportation card. Make sure your card reads the small machine when getting on or off.


Taxi

Seoul taxi

The basic fare of a taxi is 3,800KRW for up to 2km, and an extra 100KRW per 132m or 31 seconds. But there’s also an extra charge (20%) for late hour rides from midnight to 4 a.m.

Many Koreans use Kakao Taxi to get a taxi. This app is much like Uber(Uber is unavailable in South Korea). They support English on their app, for more information please check our post  5 Best Apps for Traveling in Korea.


Food, the most important Korea trip budget

Bibimbap Korean traditional food

At a moderately priced restaurant, a Korean meal like Bibimbap, Bulgogi, Soup or noodle costs you about 7000KRW – 10000KRW. Usually, it’s served with a few side dishes and kimchi.  Additionally, there are Korean menus such as Fried chicken, Jokbal, Korean BBQ, etc. that come in big portions. The price is around 20,000KRW – 40,000KRW for the bigger meals.

In terms of drinks, a can of domestic beer is 4,000-5,000KRW and Soju is 4,000-5,000KRW in a restaurant. Of course, it’s cheaper in a convenience store.

In conclusion,

  • Street food: $2~$5
  • Korean Restaurant: $7~$10
  • Korean BBQ: $13~$20/ person
  • Fine Restaurant: $17~

McDelivery

Just in case you might be curious about the Big Mac index, the average price for Big Mac burger in South Korea is about 4,500KRW (4.03USD). A set menu is around 4,500~6,500KRW.

Fast-foods like McDonald’s, Burger King, Lotteria can be delivered right to your home using their apps! 😉


Cafe

Cake and coffee


In Seoul, you can easily find unique and beautiful cafes that serve coffee, beverages, and desserts. The price is likely to range between 4,000KRW – 8,000KRW depending on where you go.

Are you looking forward to instagrammable cafes in Seoul? Then you should visit Hongdae, Garosugil(Gangnam) or the Itaewon area.



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