There are numerous different types of accommodation in South Korea and looking for a place to stay can be confusing. Most visitors are not familiar with commonly used terms such as “minbak” and “yeogwan” but they just refer to basic types of guesthouses.
It is also essential to understand the difference between an “ondol” and a “standard” room. Ondol room are typical for large group and guests sleep on the floor with a thin mattress. There is often no furniture in the room.
Standard rooms are typical hotel rooms which offer more comfort and are also more expensive. They include a double bed and some furniture.
This guide will explain the different kinds of accommodation available to visitors in South Korea, including western-style hotels, traditional guest houses, hostels, and campsites.
Hotels in South Korea
International chains have been opening hotels in South Korea and there are now 5-star options in every major city as well as more affordable hotels. The standards are very high and this is reflected in the prices especially in the peak tourist months.
Korean hotels are divided into classes depending on the standard. The best are super-deluxe, followed by deluxe, first-class, second-class, and third-class. Hotels have a plaque which shows a number of flowers depending on the category (5 for super-deluxe down to 1 for third-class).
When booking a hotel room, it is worth keeping in mind that there is a 10% tax which not always included in the listed prices. In higher-end hotels, you may also be charged a 10% service charge.
Guesthouses in South Korea
There are 3 main types of guesthouses in South Korea. They vary in quality and price. It is worth bearing in mind that accommodation in Seoul is generally more expensive.
Yeogwan are the most typical type of Korean guesthouse and they are easy to find in cities and towns, especially around bus and train stations. They used to be the standard option for visitors looking for an inexpensive option, but hostels and affordable hotels have become more popular. A double room usually costs between W20,000 and W35,000. Most rooms have an en-suite bathrooms.
Minbak rooms are rented rooms of residential property and they are more typical on islands, beaches, and national parks. They are the typical type of accommodation in Jeju Islands. They are generally cheaper than yeogwan but, depending on the location, the prices can soar if the demand is high in the peak months.
Yeoinsuk are the least expensive type of guesthouse, typically costing around W10,000 per night. They are older, more basic versions of yeogwan but they are slowly disappearing. They are very minimal, normally only offering a few blankets and a television. Bathrooms are communal.
Templestay and Hanok Guesthouses
Buddhist temple stays offer a more traditional experience. Visitors can enjoy sign up to programmes which include meditation, tea ceremonies, and meals. There are multiple online platforms where travelers can book a temple stay.
Visitors who are looking for authentic accommodation, but do not want to follow a strict routine, can stay in a hanok. They are wooden buildings which more typical in rural areas and villages.
Hostels in South Korea
Korean hostels are often different to what visitors expect. They are designed for young, domestic travelers and there are rules to follow. They are typically used by schools, colleges, and youth groups and do not offer the bohemian atmosphere of hostels in many other countries.
They are normally located in the countryside and most of them offer private rooms as well as dormitories. A bed in a dormitory costs around W15,000 and private rooms are roughly W35,000.
Camping in South Korea
South Korea is a fantastic place to enjoy camping. Though the population is dense, there are stunning areas of dense forests and towering mountains which offer spectacular views.
There are also free, public campsites along the country’s beaches which are located on grassy areas above the tideline. These campsites can become very busy especially during the summer months. There are also private campsites which offer more space and comfort.
It is not prohibited to camp in many public areas. Throughout the summer, people set up tents next to rivers and in parks and enjoy outdoor activities. Although, most people usually only spend the day there, it is acceptable to stay overnight.
If you are planning a trip, you will need to apply for a South Korea Visa unless you are from a visa-exempt country. The online visa will make the process obtaining a visa much simpler.