It is a rather known fact that Seoul isn’t exactly a cheap destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best out of your visit, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Believe it or not, the Korean capital is brimming with affordable (and even free!) activities that will make your visit extra memorable.
Here, we round up cheap thrills you can try in Seoul in a day for less than 50,000 KRW:
For The Urban Explorer
Slip your feet into your comfiest pair of shoes and prepare to explore exciting Seoul! Make sure your T-Money card is charged (15,000 KRW is a safe daily amount) for your day of adventure!
In the morning, take a trip to Yeouido Hangang Park, a favorite spot of locals by the Han River. Here, you can take a leisurely walk or you may also rent a bike for 3,000 KRW per hour.
A lot of first-time visitors end up spending hours and hours at Yeouido Hangang Park, since its location is perfect for relaxing or unwinding, but if you want to move on to another location, make your way to Namsan, where you will find the largest park in Seoul.
You can hike up the mountain to reach the park, but if you don’t want to stretch your legs, you may also take the shuttle bus from Itaewon (No. 03) or Myeondong (No. 05) to Namsan.
The park alone is a great place to snap photos of the Seoul skyline, have a picnic, or go people-watching. Some would opt to go up the N Seoul Tower, the highest point in the city, to have an incredible bird’s eye view of Seoul. But to do this, you will need a ticket to the observatory, which will cost you 11,000 KRW if you buy your ticket onsite. So if you are keen on checking out the observatory, it is recommended that you book your ticket in advance. If you purchase your pass on KKday, you can enjoy a 25% discount on the original price!
For lunch, why not check out a nearby convenience store for affordable eats? Seoul is dotted with countless convenience stores, so you wouldn’t have any trouble finding (or stumbling upon) one! For less than 5,000 KRW, you can get yourself a bowl of ramyeon and a pack of kimchi!
As the day wears on, head on over to Cheonggyecheon Stream, an 11-kilometer long stream that runs through downtown Seoul. It starts from Cheonggye Plaza and passes under a total of 22 bridges before flowing into the Han River.
There are many places where you can begin your walk along the stream, but a good spot to start is at Gwanghwamun. Situated below the major roads of the city, Cheonggyecheon offers a refuge in the bustling metropolis.
At nightfall, make a stop at Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This mind-blowing arts and culture complex boasts top-notch architecture and state-of-the-art features. If you go on a weekend, you might find craft fairs and busking shows happening in the area. And if you get hungry, there are food trucks that offer wallet-friendly bites to satisfy your cravings. Meal prices range between 6,000 and 10,000 KRW on average.
Total Cost: Approximately 40,000 KRW
For The Foodie
Foodies have a lot to be excited about in Seoul! The South Korean capital is a culinary haven (c’mon, have you even seen the classic K-Drama Dae Jang Geum?), and your taste buds are sure to be treated.
Start your day with a cup of the Korean favorite iced Americano. If it’s cold, settle for a warm cup of cappuccino. There are a lot of picture-perfect cafes in the city where you can sit down and enjoy your cuppa and, maybe, some sweet pastries, too.
To give you an idea, the price of a cup of coffee usually starts at 6,000 KRW. Add a pastry to your order, and you’ll end up with a 10,000 KRW bill—at the very least. Not a coffee person? You can skip both altogether and just go for traditional eats at local markets.
Namdaemun Market, the oldest market in Seoul, is not only a place for cheap wares, but also for some delicious local fare! Have a go at dishes like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), bibimbap (rice with a variety of toppings), and japchae (glass noodles).
For an interesting twist to your meal, make a stop at Tong-in Market, where you’ll exchange your money for tokens, which you can use to create your own dosirak or meal set for as low as 5,000KRW!
For dinner, make the best out of your remaining budget to indulge in mouthwatering street food in Myeongdong! Try the simple yet delicious egg bread for 2,000 KRW, fried soft-shell crabs for 5,000 KRW, assorted kimbap for 6,000 KRW, sausages and tteokbokki for 5,000 KRW and more! You’ll get a bang for every buck you spend here!
Total Cost: Approximately 45,000 KRW
For The K-Pop Fan
If you’re a K-Pop fan, there’s no question whether or not you will enjoy Seoul! It is, after all, the beating heart of hallyu or the so-called Korean wave.
While concert tickets can set you back to at least 100,000 KRW, there are lots of fun activities you can enjoy in the city without breaking your bank.
On your visit, you might want to hunt down the GangnamDols of your favorite groups on K-Star Road—a street in the upscale district of Gangnam dedicated to celebrating top K-Pop groups like TVXQ!, Super Junior, and Girls’ Generation by giving them a (huge) commemorative idol doll carrying symbols significant to the group and their respective fandoms.
As Gangnam also has the highest concentration of offices of entertainment agencies, feel free to stop by the building of your favorite group. Do keep in mind, though, that you cannot enter these buildings. If you get lucky, you might catch a glimpse of your idols making their way to work.
If you want to sit down for a bit after all the walking, you’ll love the super chill vibe of Celebrity SUM Cafe, a cafe conceptualized by industry heavyweight SM Entertainment. Quench your thirst with fruit juices in your chosen souvenir bottle (9,000 KRW) or get a sugar rush from a cupcake (9,000 KRW) featuring a design inspired by your favorite SM Entertainment group.
There are two branches of Celebrity SUM Cafe in Gangnam—one right at the SM Entertainment Building (nearest subway station: Cheongdam, Exit 6) and the other one at the COEX Artium (nearest subway station: Samseong, Exit 6).
Now, what’s a Seoul trip without shopping for K-Pop goods? There are a lot of shops in the city where you can purchase much-coveted idol merchandise, but if you’re on a budget, the best place to hit is Myeongdong.
From albums to magazines to light sticks, Myeongdong’s underground mall has a number of shops that sell an extensive selection of authentic K-Pop items at incredibly low prices. You can also score outfits and fashion pieces for as low as 10,000 KRW!
For the ultimate guide to K-Pop shops in Seoul, read this.
Total Cost: Approximately 45,000 KRW
*Featured image via Shutterstock