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Is Seoul Expensive To Visit? (5 Money Saving Tips)

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

I just arrived in Seoul after spending 8 hours on a flight, which might be one of the most underrated things people go through. 

  • Crying kids everywhere
  • Tight spaces
  • You get the idea…

Anyway, after spending my 14-day itinerary in Seoul, there are some things that you must avoid when visiting.

In total I spent: $1603,34.

This could have been less, but I enjoyed the nice things…

…that you should too!

Going to Seoul isn’t something that you do every week or month, so enjoy your stay and don’t get caught up on budgeting too strictly.

To answer the question: On average, it’ll cost you $100 a day to stay in Seoul including, Airbnb, food, and transportation. However, if you don’t eat out as often and walk instead of using the metro, it’ll be about $50 a day.

Therefore, you can save a ton of money when staying in Seoul.

My point is this: I’ve done the numbers over and over again. And you can save money here and there, but as a vacation, I’d rather enjoy the nice things than considering everything I buy. But that doesn’t justify your budget.

Always create your own budget before going.

What To Avoid Spending Money on in Seoul

There are many things you should avoid your money on in Seoul. Here are some of the most important ones:

Street Food Market:

The Korean street food market is overrated. Too many foreigners…

Too many people and too expensive in general. I’d highly recommend going to the local areas where you don’t overpay for a Korean hot dog.

I mean… $10 for a hot dog is quite expensive.

In local areas, you pay about $10 for a whole meal. So always go to local areas and avoid restaurants where foreigners tend to eat.

In general, this is a rule of thumb for people that visit Seoul.


Always get a transportation card when you’re visiting Seoul. It’s by far one of the biggest costs you’ll face during your trip. 

What I’d like to do is get a T-Money Card.

This is basically a card that gives you the option to pay for subways, taxis, buses, and even buys snacks in some shops. It’s way easier than grabbing cash out of your bag…

… find an ATM and all of that will cost you a lot of time.

Just get a T-Money Card and you’re good to go.


Avoid using taxis as much as possible. These days taxis are getting more and more expensive in Seoul.

And walking a bit more isn’t that bad. Everyone walks in Seoul…

…unless you’re going for a night out. Then it would be great to take a taxi. 

But if you’re just going about your day, it’s not necessary to take a taxi. It’s quite expensive and even with the Kakao taxi app, it’s not cheap.

When I used it for one week straight it was about $120 in total. This could have been spent on other fun things to do. Now, if you’re running late and don’t have time to walk, then it’s completely understandable to take a taxi.

However, most people don’t have to since they’re on vacation. So take a walk and enjoy the beautiful view in Seoul.

What’s Worth Spending Your Money on in Seoul

There are also things that are worth spending your money on. These are:

Eat Like the Locals:

Eat like the locals. Some popular areas where locals eat are:

  • Insadong 
  • Jamsil
  • Namdaemun

These are not the first areas people think of when visiting Seoul. That’s why most locals go here. Now, that doesn’t mean that the other areas are bad, but these are just areas where food tends to be cheaper than the popular foreign restaurants.

If you really want to save money on food, then you should go out of Seoul. That’s where food tends to be extremely cheap compared to Seoul.

But keep in mind that’s also where people speak very little to no English

Going with a tour guide would be your best bet if you really wanted to go there.

Convenience Stores:

Convenience stores are somewhat overlooked by a lot of people. Mainly, because it’s something you go-to for a quick snack. It’s not something people go to for a full course meal which is understandable.

Almost everything is way more affordable in convenience stores. Food, drinks, snacks, and more. 

Even though I don’t like going to the convenience store every day, it’s better than eating out every time. It’s important that you don’t go to the convenience store to do your weekly groceries because that’s not affordable.

For groceries, you should always go to a grocery store where all the prices are even cheaper than convenience stores. But I think you’d probably know this already since conscience stores are a quick grab for something you need.

Korean Drinks

Oh well, here we have it.

Korean drinks. Soju, makgeolli, and Korean beer. These are definitely worth spending the money on if you’re visiting Seoul.

It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience and enjoying it with some drinks is by far the best night you’ll have.

Most people that visit Seoul go to clubs, bars, or parties. And if you’re still young you definitely should. 

Some popular places are Itaewon and Gangnam. There are more than 10+ clubs you can visit in these areas and all of the clubs have their own theme.

  • EDM
  • K-pop
  • Rock
  • And many more.

Note: Some clubs require a “foreigner” fee, which means you have to pay more than locals. And other clubs don’t even allow foreigners.

Seoul Money Saving Tips

1. Avoid Money Exchanges

Try to avoid money exchanges at airports at all costs.

These exchange rates are insane. If you have to exchange your money try to do it in the city itself. Korean airports know that they can have unrealistic exchange rates because it’s convenient but getting 20% less money isn’t worth it.

Trust me. You’d rather spend that 20% on food, drinks, or your Airbnb. 

If you can, try to get the local exchange rates. 

But sadly, this isn’t always possible if you’re in Seoul. Even though these days 80% of people don’t use cash anymore it’s still handy to have some at hand.

Nowadays people use their phones to pay for everything. You can still use a credit card is most places but some don’t accept those.

2. Internet & Phone Bill

Signup for an internet and phone bill at the same time. This will save you at least $20 a month. Getting your internet and phone bill separate is quite expensive.

I paid: $30 for my Internet and phone bill together. (I didn’t use it all but it should last 1 month)

If I were to get those separate it would have been $50 in total.

This money is better spent somewhere else. And even if it’s just $20…

…it’s still better to save money on this than to get separate plans. Especially, if you’re planning to stay longer than 14 days it’s a no-brainer.

3. Lunch Deals

Getting a lunch deal is where it’s at.

Follow as many cafes and restaurants as possible on Instagram. They have regular lunch deals on their stories.

These are incredibly popular in Seoul and get very crowded really quickly. That’s why getting at it as soon as possible is key.

Because if it’s sold out, it’s sold out.

4. Foreigner Discounts

A lot of stores have foreigner discounts. If you’re not sure if the stores offer that, always ask.

Some stores don’t have the discounts displayed, but if you’d just ask they’ll tell you.

And if they don’t, they probably have some combo discount that you can get. This is severely underrated when visiting Seoul.

99% of the people that visit Seoul don’t know about this. Mainly, because they’re either traveling with a guide that doesn’t tell them.

5. Airbnb

Getting an Airbnb in Seoul is somewhat expensive. Now, this money-saving tip isn’t special or anything like that.

But just planning in advance will save you some money.

Never plan last-minute because you for a fact that you’re paying premium prices. Always plan your trip in advance and book your Airbnb at least 1 to 2 months ahead.

Wrapping up

Generally speaking, Seoul is quite expensive compared to other cities in South Korea. For a 14-day itinerary, you can budget about $100 a day if you’re looking to enjoy the trip. If you’re on a budget, then $50/$60 a day will get you a comfortable trip.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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