Traveling can be an expensive and overwhelming experience, especially if the destination is overseas. We took the plunge and made our way to Seoul, South Korea last year (our first time ever leaving the states). With months of planning, researching, and saving we were able to get there and back with no issues. During our time, we learned quite a few things that could have made the planning process a lot easier and cheaper. Here are some tips that may make your trip planning simpler and keep more money in your pocket.
If you are traveling when it is not peak season round trip flights can range from to $500USD to $800USD, which is cheap for flying overseas. If you are deciding to travel during the summer time, which is the busiest and most expensive time to travel, you are looking at about $900USD to $1,500USD round trip. If you are set with going in the summer here are some tips.
- Be flexible with dates. Because prices are changing and it tends to be cheaper when you fly during the week you may be able to catch some deals. Sites like Expedia, Priceline, Google, and Skyscanner are very quick with catching the price change as it happens.
- Try to book flights 4 to 6 months ahead of time. Prices rise the closer you get to the date. You may get lucky and catch a sale an airline is randomly having but if you don’t want to risk breaking your bank, book farther out.
- If you do not live in a larger city, and willing to travel, try to fly out of one. We have learned that flying out of the bigger cities, that have international airports, cuts the cost of tickets by a couple hundred bucks and there are less connecting flights.
You have made it to Seoul, now where are you going stay? Well here is a suggestion on where you can sleep.
- Stay in a hostel/ guesthouse. Hotels average about $100USD a night. With hostels/guesthouses it is about $20USD a night, that is if you want to have your private room. If you don’t mind sharing and making new friends they offer dorm style rooms which is even cheaper. It is very convenient especially if you are staying for long periods of time.
- Guests houses are nicer then what TV may have you to believe. Movies and TV shows depict hostels as unsafe, dirty, and unfriendly. That is not the case with the guesthouses in South Korea. Guesthouses like Hao Guesthouse and Bexco Guesthouse are very homey, the owners are beyond helpful, they provide everything from breakfast, pick up service, WiFi eggs, and even Soju. Some places have cafes and bars attached, and some cater to your purpose of visiting. If you’re going to Korea for partying stay in Hongdae. If you are visiting more for site seeing or for historical things stay in Itaewon or Gangnam.
For the most part South Korea is a pretty small country. You can cover the entire country in about two to three days. In order to do that you need a way to get around.
- The best way to travel is by subway or train. We stayed in Seoul for two weeks and spent about $30USD on a train pass, which was a lot less than we planned.
- All the signs are written in Hangeul as well as English. So, if you can’t read Hangeul it is translated for you. There are also electric screens that show your exact location.
- The bus. Although they are not electronic like the train when it comes to guiding, majority of the stops are color coded. In cities like Busan they don’t speak much English so signs may not be translated in English. Paying attention to the announcement of stops and colors are very important.
- If you can, completely avoid taxis. Like any other countries taxi drivers are there to make money and most take advantage of foreigners or tourist. We understand that with the subway system ending at midnight and you are partying late you may need to use a taxi. If you do, learn your routes.
- If you are taking the taxi and don’t know how to speak Korean try to have picture and address of the place you are trying to go. A lot of the drivers, especially outside of Seoul, do not speak English, so communication gets hard. Having pictures or the address of your destination works great.
- When all else fails walk. 90% of your destinations are all walking distance. If you want to completely save your coins and get great exercise, walk.
There is a restaurant or café literally everywhere. There are blocks and blocks of mom and pop Korean BBQ restaurants. Our suggestion close your eyes and walk into any place. Nine times out of ten you will be glad you did. The food is cheap, the service is excellent, and the food tastes amazing.
- Find a place that has a lot of people. If the restaurant is full it is for a reason. These places may be a little expensive but completely worth the price.
- Eat at 711. You can eat an entire meal for 5 bucks and stay full by eating at 711. We spent about $25USD a day (a lot of which alcohol was included). If you are not a drinker, you can eat happily for about $10-20USD a day.
We hope these tips make your experience a lot easier. For more in-depth information about traveling to South Korea check out our Youtube video “Idol Noonas Planning a Trip to South Korea”. We will continue to post more advice the more we travel.