First time going to Korea on a free and easy trip, or always wanted to go but worrying about the amount of money you have to spend to go? Let (x)clusive provide you some tips and tricks to travel to Seoul, Singaporean Style! (Singaporean style refers to getting the best value out of things!)
* Disclaimer: All prices quoted below serve as a gauge and may or not reflect the exact price at the moment of reading (times change with promotions!). Always check out further information if you wish to have a more accurate quote!
1) Air Tickets
Anywhere you fly, air ticket prices are always of top concern, because it comprises of the bulk of your travel fees! Not to worry, here are some suggestions to cut down that hefty cost!
Depending on how much comfort you want, what timing you wish to board/land, if you’re bringing lots of luggage, there are different airlines to suit you. Going for the Singaporean style, your best bet would be to consult air ticket comparison websites such as AirTicketOnSale, Zuji, Price Compare, etc.
Budget Airlines: Usually the cheaper alternative, but depending on season may not be the cheapest, and have to transfer planes.
Possible Airlines: AirAsia (~$500+), Scoot (~$400+ – watch out for promotions!)
If you are a student, or just a low budget traveller, then skip those costly hotels and go for the cheaper yet as convenient guest-houses. There are many guest-houses situated at popular areas such as Hongdae, Myeongdong, Itaewon etc, and a lot of them are situated beside subway (train) stations or just a short walk down. Usually you’ll be able to find 24-hour convenience stores nearby too! Most guest-houses have internet/computer rooms, common kitchen and laundry area, and some even provides free breakfast, so take your pick, and feel free to post questions on their websites’ notice board.
A good list of guest-houses can be found on Korea Tourism Organisation’s website, or you can simply search “Guesthouses in Seoul” on Google.
Estimated Cost: 15,000~40,000 won a night (SGD$18~$47) (Some even has a discount whereby if you stay for a week, you get a night or two free!)
If you are planning to stay for a long period (for studies or etc), you could also try searching for “Goshiwon“, which also means school hostel, which provide rooms for students on a longer term basis.
You will be able to easily get used to the transport system if you stayed in Singapore – in Korea, they use “T Money“, which is the equivalent of our “Ezlink” card, only that “T Money” not only comes in a card form, but as handphone keychains, bracelets, etc!
The most convenient method is to purchase it from the convenience stores around Seoul (GS20, 7-Eleven), and it will usually come with a discount coupon booklet for foreigners! However if you are a KPOP fan, you may fancy a “T-Money” card which has your favourite idol’s picture printed on it. These can be found at CD shops/idol merchandise shops around Myeongdong, like the underground shopping centre.
Estimated Cost: 6000~10,000 won (SGD$7~$12)
One of the best ways to travel around Korea if you’re in a group of 4 is to take the taxi, especially if you are not sure of the way, as it is pretty affordable (as compared to Singapore taxis). However, it is easy for foreigners to fall prey for sneaky Korean taxi drivers who overcharge because they know you are not a local.
Important tips to take note:
- Always ask the driver to go by the meter, if not, either get off or ask him to drive to the nearest police station (there is one in every neighbourhood)
- There is a 20% surcharge from midnight (12AM) to 4AM. However, some drivers may bargain to get a better price (if you’re travelling quite far at a late hour, depending if you have the skills to bargain, you could go with it or just flag another cab)
- Never take the black taxis (unless you feel rich). That’s the premium cab, which will cost you more.
One of the best things in Korea is its colourful and sumptuous food culture! However if you don’t already know, there’s more to Kimchi, Bibimbap, Ramyun and Jajjangmyun (which is a Chinese dish by the way).
If you are saving money or about to be broke on the last few days of your trip, you may consider the following:
- 김밥천국 (Kimbab Cheonguk/Kimbab Heaven) or similar shops: They sell kimbab (looks like sushi, tastes totally different, a lot more fragrant!), ramyun, a variety of rice sets and soups, from SGD$2 onwards! The foods are pretty Korean-style as well, and these shops are usually small, but scattered all over Seoul.
- The convenience stores: As you can expect, they have all the snacks, cup noodles, banana milk, etc – you can grab a bread and juice for less than SGD$2!
Don’t expect to find hawker centre or food court concepts eateries much in Korea, as they are usually all individual restaurants – but don’t be afraid to step in one either! The menus are commonly displayed on the wall together with its prices, but in Korean however, so it will be good to learn a few dishes or phrases to make sure you get food you’d like. Set meals in Korean restaurants also come with “ban-chan” or side dishes, which are refillable, so you could fill yourself up with them, too!
Be sure to do your research before you travel, as it will save you a lot more time, effort, and money before you travel! Do also share your cost-saving tips with us in the comments below!