Korea VS Japan: Which is Cheaper for Budget Travellers?

Korea and Japan, two of the most popular countries amongst Singaporean travellers. What happens when you're on a budget and can only afford one out of these two popular holiday destinations? If you're wondering whether Korea or Japan is cheaper, or which country offers a better selection of budget activities, KKday's travel guide on Korea VS Japan on a budget holiday is here to help.

1. Shopping


Shopping in Korea

Coined as the land of cheap loots, you don't have to dig deep into the streets of Ewha or Myeongdong to find where the cheap loots are. Before you know it, you'll find yourself lugging back an overweight luggage filled with clothes, shoes and makeup — whatever happened to being thrifty?

>> 6 Beauty Products Under $30 You Must Buy in Korea (2016 Edition)
>> 10 Must Go Shopping Spots in Korea


Shopping in Japan (klarititemplateshop)

Japan has famous shopping streets like Harajuku, Shinjuku and Shibuya where you can get second-hand clothes in extremely good-shape. (Vintage shopping is a Japanese thing.) Japan is also known for their 100yen and 300yen shops — similar to our value dollar shop, but unlike our value dollar shop stocked with snacks and boring household appliances, Japan's 100yen and 300yen shops actually sell chio but useful items. Think MUJI, but at 300yen.

Verdict: Korea

The force of Korean wave is too strong for us to deny. Etude House, Laneige and Innisfree are all way cheaper in Korea. Besides, Korean fashion is more appealing to typical Singaporeans unless you're into cosplaying, which is prevalent in Japan.

2. Food


Korean street food (Roderick Eime)

If you're not a foodie and don't mind saving on food for more shopping, go ahead and order a tteokbukki for SGD3 at a food truck that's usually parked by Korea's streets. However, don't bother looking for variety when pigging out at a food truck; by the time you're done ordering the different variety of food available, you might as well head to a local eatery for some proper food at SGD10.

>> 5 Food You Must Try At Least One in Korea


Japan street food (Nelo Hotsuma)

Get comfy and have a sit-down meal at any Japanese eatery for SGD10, where you'll be serve with a simple ramen or donburi set meal, usually complete with miso soup and green tea. If you're satisfied with filling your stomach with street food, Japan has countless selections for you to choose from.

>> 10 Must Eat Street Food in Japan

Verdict: Japan

Japan is definitely winning this. Have you seen the types of street food they have? Definitely a huge bang for your buck.

>> These 5 Pocket Friendly Eateries Will Let You Enjoy Tokyo on a Budget

3. Free Attractions


Bukchon Hanok Village (Brian Holsclaw)

Fancy a trip to the world's longest bridge fountain? Make your way down to Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain and see the bridge come to life with 200 lights illuminating the entire bridge with spurts of water dancing in sync with music! Or saunter around Bukchon Hanok Village to see traditional houses with a modern twist.


Tsukiji Market

See the once majestic Tokyo Imperial Palace as you pedal around the moats and paths of the large park, ride your day away with one of the 150 bikes available outside Tokyo Imperial Palace. There's also Tsukiji Market, a must go for all tourists. Watch how Japanese enter a bidding war over their freshest catch of the day, and you might score a slice of sashimi for yourself.

Verdict: It's a tie!

Oh come on, we can't possibly take sides when both countries are offering free attractions, right?

4. Accommodation


Accomodation near Myeongdong, Seoul (technicolours)

Depending on how comfortable you wish to be and the location you wish to settle in at, we'd say accommodation prices in Korea are pretty affordable with starting prices for as low as SGD40 a night. There are inexpensive hostels at almost any corner of Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Hongdae and we assure you, they're not at all dodgy-looking.


Capsule hotels in Japan (Kojach)

If you haven't already heard, capsule hotels are gaining popularity among budget tourists in Japan. At only SGD65 a night, you can get comfy in a capsule with a well-laid futon. The downside? Claustrophobic or tall travellers might suffer a little.

Verdict: Korea

It's difficult for Japan to shake off the image of being expensive in everything. SGD40 a night for a room in Korea VS SGD65 for a tight space in a Japanese capsule hotel? There isn't much of a fight.

5. Transportation


Taking a cab in Korea (The Choson Ilbo)

Basic transportation like for trains and buses within Seoul are priced close to Singapore's. Bus fares start from around SGD1.60, and train fares around SGD 1.70. Base fare for taxis starts at SGD3.60, with a 20% bump from midnight to 4am.


Tokyo, Japan

If there's one thing Japan is famous for, it's their high cost in everything — transportation fares are no exception. A seven day rail pass costs SGD378 and the cab fare starts at SGD8. Say what?

Verdict: Korea

Pretty sure it's obvious that Korea is taking the cake for this round.

6. Air Tickets


Flights from Singapore to Korea (lkarasawa)

A direct roundtrip flight from Changi Airport to Incheon Airport costs about SGD700.


Flights from Singapore to Japan (lkarasawa)

A direct roundtrip from Changi Airport to Narita Airport costs about SGD1100.

Verdict: Korea

How about we take the price difference and go for a round of crazy shopping in Korea?

Final Verdict: Korea

Gyeongbukgung (Thomas Park)

While it's clear that Korea is the final winner for budget travellers, Japan and Korea are both beautiful countires to visit regardless of season. If you're still having troubles on picking which country to visit, take a look at some of the travel activities available in Japan and Korea.

>> Kimono Experience in Kyoto
>> Universal Studios Japan

>> Hangang River Cruise
>> Korea Demilitarized Zone and Joint Security Area Tour

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