Planning a trip to Korea? If you’re expecting a basic selection of hotels in Seoul, you’re in for a nice (or not-so nice) surprise. There are the usual hotels, resorts, and hostels in the country, but there are also other, stranger types of accommodations that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.
Sure, you know all about hotels and motels, but have you ever stayed in a love motel? You may have been in a ton of hostels and Airbnbs in the past, but trust us, a Korean jimjilbang is an entirely new experience. The options can be quite confusing to a first-timer, so here’s KKday’s handy guide to help you figure out where to stay in Seoul.
In Korea, you don’t just get to visit temples, but also stay in one if you want. Temple stays are a unique experience that allows you to live in a temple for a few days, joining in the day-to-day life of Korean Buddhist monks. Expect to participate in a range of traditional and religious activities, including meditation, prayers, chanting, tea ceremonies, and simple meals.
Temple stays are more than just a typical hotel in Seoul; it’s a spiritual and cultural experience. If you’re interested to connect with the Korean culture and your spirituality in a deeper way, this is a wonderful and one-of-a-kind way to do it.
A hanok is another type of accommodation that lets travelers feel more like a local in a foreign country. Similar to a guesthouse, a hanok refers to traditional Korean houses with clay-tiled roofs, sliding paper doors, and plenty of natural materials. Rooms usually open to a beautifully landscaped courtyard.
Hanoks are great places to stay in Korea, especially if you want something traditional without the stricter routine involved in temple stays. This type of accommodation is best for peace, quiet, and total relaxation.
Visit Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul for a glimpse of traditional hanok and book a photoshoot with KKday while you’re at it.
Jimjilbang or saunas let you pay a minimal fee to sleep on the heated floor of a bathhouse with other guests. It’s the cheapest type of lodging available in Korea, so don’t expect luxury accommodations. After all, you’ll be sleeping on the ground with a bunch of other people, which could be uncomfortable and noisy to more refined travelers.
There is a nice treat to jimjilbang guests, though: access to sauna or hot baths, which can be heaven-sent to weary travelers. If you just need a place to crash that is cheap, open 24 hours, and offers a unique experience, a night in a jimjilbang could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Book spa services at a traditional jimjilbang with KKday.
Typical motels are just smaller, more spartan versions of hotels, but love motels are a little different. As the name suggests, it’s a more intimate place geared specifically for couples. Love motels are usually rented by the hour and they’re easily recognizable from the outside, since most have a heart somewhere in the name or logo. Most of their driveways also usually have a curtain over them for the privacy of the guests.
While these establishments are meant for romantic rendezvous, love motels don’t turn away regular travelers, either. In fact, many travelers prefer them, because most are clean, affordable places to stay with a large bed, ensuite, and a huge television. However, make sure you don’t mind the extra features you won’t find at a regular motel, such as heart-shaped beds, dim lighting, mirrors, and even the occasional a condom dispenser.
A yeogwan is basically Korea’s typical inn: very affordable, but quite basic. Compared to love motels, yeogwans tend to be older, smaller, and grungier, but they’re great options for travelers on a budget.
If you’ve made it to the city without knowing where to stay in Seoul, keep an eye out for this type of bare-bones accommodations that are found everywhere in Korea, especially near train and bus stations. Each room is equipped with ondol or heated floors with a mat that you can sleep on, with shared bathrooms outside.
Minbak also offers ondol-style accommodations, but instead of formal inns, these are simple private rooms that are available for rent in a residential property. Private home or property owners turn their spare rooms into alternative accommodations for travelers who don’t want to shell out the money for a hotel in Seoul.
Good minbaks are a cozy lodging option for travelers who want kitchen facilities and other comforts of an actual home.
Book a ticket on a City Tour Bus and discover Seoul, South Korea with KKday!