With over 5,000 years of history and culture that is somehow perfectly blended with modern life and technology, South Korea is one of the most increasingly popular places for avid globetrotters to visit. But, just like any other vacation, you need to know how much spending money you should budget when planning a trip to South Korea.
At Crown Currency Exchange, we’ve done the hard work for you. Below, you’ll find a guide on how much South Korean Won you’ll need for accommodation, food, travel, activities, and more.
How Much Spending Money Do I Need for South Korea?
When it comes to figuring out how much South Korean Won (KRW) you’ll need for your trip, the first thing to think about is your personal travel style. Here’s a basic daily breakdown of how much you can expect to spend in line with your preferred travel style:
Are you looking to keep costs as low as possible? A stay in a motel, meals at South Korea’s delicious food stalls, and travel by public transport will come to around KRW ₩72,000 per day. For this budget, you’ll also be able to enjoy a spot of shopping on Myeongdong Shopping Street and take in amazing views from the top of N Seoul Tower.
For those with a little more money available in their budget, a comfortable room in a motel or guesthouse and meals in some of Korea’s budget restaurants will come to an average daily cost of KRW ₩285,000. Within this budget, you’ll also be able to travel by public transport or hire a car if travelling in a group and enjoy mid-range activities such as cooking classes and a guided tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Staying in luxury hotels, travelling in your own car, and eating at high-end restaurants will cost around KRW ₩890,000 per day. The kind of activities you’ll be able to enjoy within this luxury budget are much more exclusive as well, including tours of Seoraksan National Park and Seongsan Ilchulbong.
What Goes into a Travel Budget?
Before we dive into the fine details, let’s take a moment to look at what goes into a travel budget.
- Accommodation: Whether you’re happy in a room-shared hostel or want to rest in a luxury hotel, you’ll need to think about how much of your budget is going to go on accommodation costs.
- Transport: Many people concentrate more on the cost of getting to South Korea but forget that you’ll need to travel from place to place once you’re in the country. So, you’ll need to allocate a portion of your budget to transportation costs as well.
- Food: No holiday to South Korea is complete without sampling local and traditional dishes, and a good portion of your travel budget will also need to go towards eating and drinking.
- Activities: With so many fun experiences to take part in and beautiful places to explore, make sure you budget for activities, too.
- Additional Costs: There are ‘hidden costs’ you’ll need to put some money aside for as well, such as travel insurance, souvenirs, and an emergency fund.
What is the Cost of Accommodation in South Korea?
- Budget Travellers: Those trying to stick to a lower budget can get comfortable, shared accommodation in South Korea for around KRW ₩15,000 per night.
- Mid-range Travellers: Motels and guesthouses offer more privacy for the mid-range traveller and cost between KRW ₩20,000 and KRW ₩40,000 per night.
- Luxury Travellers: Are you looking for as much luxury as possible? A stay in a luxury hotel is a good option but will cost you up to KRW ₩216,000 per night.
Different Accommodation Options:
- Camping: Most of Korea’s National Parks allow camping during the weekends in purpose-built mountain huts. Better yet, most are totally free of charge and those that don’t cost as little as KRW ₩5,000 per pitch. This is an excellent way of exploring South Korea’s nature and scenery and keeping your budget down.
- Hostels: You can also keep accommodation costs low by staying in hostels, which can be found throughout South Korea and cost an average of KRW ₩15,000 per night. Some hostels also offer private rooms, although these are a little more expensive at around KRW ₩35,000 per night.
- Motels: Motels are a great option if you’re planning to travel across South Korea, hitting different destinations over the course of your stay. Most have en-suite amenities and offer a private place to rest for an average price of KRW ₩40,000 per night.
- Guesthouses: Known as Yeogwan, South Korean guesthouses are another good low budget option. They are a little smaller than motels and don’t have as many mod-cons, but they’re super convenient and cost as little as KRW ₩20,000 per night.
- Luxury Hotels: For those who prefer the finer things in life, South Korea is home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. As you might expect, these come with a pretty hefty price tag, and one night can cost up to KRW ₩216,000 per night.
Our Money-Saving Tips for Accommodation Costs:
- Switch between accommodation: You can save money on your accommodation cost by switching up where you stay. For example, you could spend the weekend camping in the National Parks, followed by a few nights in a motel or Yeogwan.
- Avoid peak travel seasons: Spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit South Korea, which means accommodation prices are much higher at this time of year. Visit in summer or winter, and you’ll find average prices are much lower.
What is the Cost of Food in South Korea?
You can’t visit this amazing country without sampling some traditional South Korean food. From spicy bibimbap to incredible soups, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and, most importantly, something for every budget.
- Food Markets: From Downtown Seoul to Jeju Island, South Korea has some magnificent food markets serving street food. Prices vary depending on the dish and vendor, but you can expect to spend around KRW ₩6,000 for a good meal at one of these food markets.
- Restaurants: A trip to a Korean restaurant is a good choice if street food isn’t your thing. There’s plenty to choose from, especially in South Korea’s major cities, and each has options for different budgets. A few meals in a budget restaurant costs an average of KRW ₩8,000, while a meal in a high-end restaurant costs around KRW ₩15,000.
- Drink: The cost of a drink in South Korea varies quite a bit, depending on what you’re drinking. A bottle of water costs an average of KRW ₩980, while a soda costs around KRW ₩1,800. As is the case in most countries, alcohol is more expensive than soft drinks, and a beer will set you back around ₩5,500.
- Groceries: Whether shopping in large supermarkets or convenience stores, the cost of groceries in South Korea is pretty low, and for around ₩20,000, you can get an entire day’s groceries when choosing the cheapest products.
Our Money-Saving Tips for Food Costs:
- Use Self-Catering Where Possible: Some hostels, motels, and guesthouses offer simple cooking appliances. With the price of groceries in South Korea being so low, using these to cook your breakfast and pack a lunch is a great way of saving money on food prices.
- Research restaurant prices: There’s nothing more awkward than being seated in a restaurant, opening the menu, and finding that the choices are far outside of your budget! So, take a look online before booking or visiting to get a feeling for the prices as reviewed by previous diners.
What is the Cost of Transport in South Korea?
South Korea has so much to offer that it’s quite unlikely that you’ll want to stay in just one place for your entire visit. Here’s what you can expect to spend on travel outside of your initial flight costs:
- Public Transport: South Korea has some excellent public transport links, some of which are ideal for long-distance travel at lower costs. A journey on local buses will cost an average of KRW ₩1,000, while a longer distance journey, such as that from Seoul to Busan, will cost around KRW ₩25,000. Trains are also an option but tend to be more expensive at around KRW ₩50,000 per ticket.
- Ferry: When it comes to visiting one of South Korea’s many islands, a ferry is the easiest way to get around. It’s also relatively inexpensive, costing around KRW ₩5,000 for a short trip.
- Car Hire: It’s a good idea to hire a car if you’re planning to travel all over South Korea and want to do so on your own terms. It will cost an average of KRW ₩45,000 to hire a car for a day, but additional fees, such as insurance, will also need to be budgeted for. It’s also important to note you have to be over the age of 21 and hold an international driving licence to hire a car in South Korea.
- Plane: There are multiple domestic flights throughout South Korea running every day, and travelling by plane is a quick and convenient way of covering long distances. Prices are higher, however, with the average cost of a ticket coming in at KRW ₩80,000.
Our Money-Saving Tips for Transportation Costs:
- Plan your route: From the Southern Coast to South Korea’s bustling cities, the entire country is well served by buses. This is also inexpensive to use, and planning your route ahead will allow you to cover longer distances at lower prices compared to the cost of a plane or train ticket.
- Travel as a group: While car hire is more expensive than public transport, travelling in a group means you’re able to split the cost between four or five people. This doesn’t only make it as cheap as taking the bus but means you’re able to travel to your own timeframes and head straight to your destination instead of disembarking somewhere close by.
What is the Cost of Activities in South Korea?
Scenic walks, beautiful beaches, historical palaces, and more, South Korea has an activity for everyone to enjoy. Here are some average costs of the most popular activities in South Korea:
- Hike Seoraksan National Park: Famed for its mountain location and incredible views, Seoraksan National Park is a popular destination for hiking and trail walking. Entry to the park is free, but guided tours are available for around KRW ₩324,000.
- Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace: The first royal palace built in the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace is a 600-year-old architectural marvel that needs to be seen to be believed. You can take an educational tour of this remarkable building for KRW ₩109,000.
- Climb N Seoul Tower: Situated in Namsan Park, N Seoul Tower rises 480 meters above sea level and offers unparalleled views of the city and beyond. Entering the tower and climbing to the top costs KRW ₩39,000, making it one of the best activities for those working with a low budget.
- Visit Seongsan Ilchulbong: Often referred to as “Sunrise Peak”, Seongsan Ilchulbong is registered as one of the world’s seven wonders and is one of South Korea’s most iconic destinations. You can take a guided tour of this amazing 5,000-year-old crater for KRW ₩250,000.
- Treat Yourself On Myeongdong Shopping Street: Famous for selling Korean beauty products, Myeongdong Shopping Street is the ideal place for a little retail therapy. Prices vary from shop to shop, and there are also loads of food stalls to visit.
- Take A Cooking Class In Busan: This is a great activity for foodies! Learn more about South Korean food and how to make it by taking a cooking class for an average price of KRW ₩130,000.
Our Money-Saving Tips for Activity Costs:
- Take Advantage Of Free Attractions: You can save money by skipping tours and simply visiting certain attractions. Gyeongbokgung Palace, for example, is free to admire from the outside – the cost comes in when you book a tour of the inside.
- Book A Cluster Of Activities: Many tour operators will offer a discount if you book more than one activity through them. They’ll be even cheaper if you do so off-season, and in some cases, you may even get access to exclusive partnered pricing through the tour operator and activity.
Other Expenses to Consider for the Trip
There are some things that are easy to overlook when planning your trip to South Korea, but they are still very important. These include:
- Travel Insurance: Taking out a travel insurance policy will cover you for unfortunate circumstances such as lost luggage, cancelled flights or activities, or medical costs.
- Emergency Fund: No matter how well you budget, life can throw a spanner in the works and hit you with some unexpected costs. As such, it’s a good idea to leave some money in an emergency fund.
- Visa Fees: You’ll need to apply for a visa before your visit to South Korea, so this is another thing you’ll need to think about paying for ahead of your trip.
- Souvenirs: Whether you want to treat yourself on Myeongdong Shopping Street or purchase your loved ones a memento of your trip, you should set aside a portion of your budget for souvenirs and shopping.
Most Cost Effective Way to Take South Korean Won to South Korea
While many places in South Korea accept credit card and debit card payments, many banks charge international transaction fees that can easily eat into your budget without you even realising. With this in mind, the most cost-effective way of taking South Korean Won to South Korea is in cash.
At Crown Currency Exchange, we have over 80 currencies available, including South Korean Won, with competitive rates guaranteed. We also operate with no commission or fees, cover large and small transactions, and have a knowledgeable and friendly team who can give you all the information you need when buying South Korean Won.
With multiple convenient locations with cash in store, visit us today and get the ball rolling on your South Korean adventure!
What currency is used in South Korea?
The currency used in South Korea is the South Korean Won (KRW)
Is South Korea expensive to visit?
Generally speaking, a trip to South Korea is inexpensive, and accommodation, food, travel, and activities are relatively cheap. However, the overall cost of your visit to South Korea will depend on how long you’re staying and what you want to do while you’re in the country.
Can I use a credit card or debit card in South Korea?
Many places in South Korea accept credit and debit card payments. However, it’s more cost-effective to use cash as this will stop you from being charged international transaction fees.