Visiting South Korea is generally an affordable experience. The price of things in Korea depends on the level of luxury the traveler desires and daily costs can vary drastically from budget food and accommodation options to top-end hotels and restaurants.
The local currency, the South Korean won (₩) is worth around US$0.0008, which means that for each US dollar, a visitor can obtain around ₩1200.
This quick guide outlines the average costs of hotels, restaurants, and transport options to help international visitors to budget their trip to South Korea.
How Much Should I Budget for South Korea?
When planning a South Korea travel budget, there are various things to take into consideration, such as accommodation, food, transport, and activities.
Some of the country’s museums and important buildings, such as the National Museum of Korea have free entry, while the Gyeongbokgung (Palace of Shining Happiness) costs ₩3000 (about US$2.50) to visit.
Other activities, such as a scrub and massage at a jjimjilbang (luxury sauna) can cost around ₩60,000 (US$50).
In general, visitors from overseas can expect to spend $50-150 per person per day to enjoy a stay with a relative level of comfort. Some travelers will prefer to spend more than this for more luxurious accommodation and dining options, while others may choose to spend less than this on more affordable dorm rooms and typical Korean street food,
Each visitor should budget according to the type of trip and the level of luxury they want while staying in South Korea.
How Much Does Accommodation Cost in South Korea?
Accommodation in South Korea can range from ₩20,000 (around US$16.00) per night for a dorm bed in a budget hostel to ₩200,000 (approximately US$160.00) for a high-end hotel room.
Mid-range guesthouses can cost around ₩70000 (roughly US$57).
Average prices for accommodation are approximately as follows:
- Hotel or hostel for one person: ₩90,000-100,000
- Room for 2 persons: ₩180,000
Is Food Expensive in South Korea?
Food in South Korea is generally quite affordable. The cost of eating can vary depending on whether the visitor is sampling the famous yet modestly-priced Korean street food or dining at upmarket restaurants.
On average, food for a day costs around ₩29,500 (around US$24). The range of food options and the corresponding prices can be seen in the following examples:
- South Korean street food prices can cost ₩1000–5000 per day (approximately US$0.82-$4.00).
- A mid-range barbequed pork meal can cost about ₩40,000 (around US$33).
- A Royal Korean banquet at a top-end restaurant can cost around ₩80,000 (roughly US$66).
Travelers on a budget will find that in South Korea, convenience store prices tend to be reasonable, with most items being less than US$2 and many costing less than US$1.
South Korean Transport Prices
Transport costs in South Korea depend on where the visitor plans to visit and how they prefer to travel.
Subway tickets typically cost ₩1,300 (around US$1) per journey. Bus fares are similarly priced.
Taxi fares vary by region and the size of the vehicle, but the base rate is typically between ₩2,800 and ₩6,500 (approximately US$2-5) with increments of ₩100 according to time or distance traveled.
Transport between cities can cost around ₩43,918 (approximately US$36) for a ticket.
Flight prices to South Korea can vary depending on the country of origin, airline, and whether the passenger chooses to fly first class or economy.
International travelers should also ensure that they have the correct visa for South Korea in order to enter the country.
Nationals of a number of countries are eligible for the South Korea eVisa. This features a streamlined online visa application form, which eliminates the need to go to a Korean embassy.
Travelers can check if they are able to apply for this online travel authorization by checking the South Korea visa requirements.
Do You Need Cash in South Korea?
Many businesses in South Korea accept credit and debit cards.
However, various places, particularly market stalls, small restaurants, and budget accommodation may not have the facility to conduct transactions via card and will only accept cash.
It is recommendable that international travelers keep some ₩10,000 notes on their person at all times to be on the safe side.
Withdrawing cash is generally not a problem. ATMs that accept foreign credit and debit cards are widespread in South Korea. Overseas visitors should look for ATMs that have the logo of their card company or the “Global “sign”.
Banks, particularly in big South Korean cities, can also exchange currency for foreign travelers.
Tipping in South Korea
Leaving a tip is not expected in South Korea as a rule. In fact, the staff at certain establishments may refuse to accept a tip if one is offered.
High-end hotel restaurants may add a service charge and tips for hotel staff are generally only given in the most luxurious hotels.
Even in these cases, travelers are not obliged to tip. If they feel the service was good, they may tip however much they see fit.