How to Budget for Seoul


Seoul, as we know is not the cheapest place in Asia. I knew by making Seoul the first destination of my 4 month South East Asia trip, it wasn’t going to be like the other Asia countries where you could probably live of £6 or less a day for food if you wanted to. Researching and reading other travel bloggers posts about how to budget for Seoul got me thinking I was going to have to eat at convenience stores and shop for groceries at supermarkets to cook at hostels, aka no fun at all.

So, I kept record of my daily expenditures to ensure I wasn’t going to go over budget because let’s face it I had 4 more months of travel remaining and I know I have the tendency to be impulsive and splash out. In total, I kept aside £450 (approx 787,929 KRW) for spending money and at the end of my trip I managed to spend a total of £415 (726,422 KRW) for 10 days including accommodation. This was an average of around £41.50 a day (72,657 KRW) without having to ONLY eat food at convenience stores, this also included delicious dinners some days and believe me lots of ice cream and desserts. We did have the odd couple of days where we just bought pastries from a bakery and noodles from a Lotte Mart but hey, I wasn’t complaining. The bread and pastries at the bakeries were always delicious and it was exciting to try new noodle Kim Chi spicy flavours. Read this blog for fascinating convenience store eats you’ll want to try!

Here’s a couple of good pointers that helped my spend not go over budget.

  • Travel with a friend, you’ll be surprised the difference it makes to half the cost on general food, lavish dinners and transport (if you plan to take any taxis).
  • Stay in hostels because this is where most of your spend will go. You won’t be staying in the room the whole day and most of the time other fellow travellers are out of the room from 10am through to the whole day. For those who aren’t a fan, there are lots of Airbnb options out there ranging from £9 per night for an entire room/apt.
  • Don’t pay so much attention looking for costly tours, there are lots of things to do and see around Seoul that are free.
  • Shopping – one thing you won’t be able to refrain from in Seoul as it’s becoming one of the fast fashion capitals in the world. If you do plan to shop, seek the more inexpensive shopping districts. I would avoid places like Gangnam or Cheongdamdong for shopping. If you’re a bargain hunter, Dongdaemun trading hours are 24 hours and allows you to use those excellent bargaining skills of yours.
  • Go to bakeries for breakfast and visit cafes or have street food for lunch/dinner. There is a ridiculous, amazing variety of street food creations that you have to try and have even been adapted in other countries. Most cafes also have cool interiors and chilled out atmospheres. Aim to seek local eateries that have cost around 6,000 KRW a meal and your money should last you a longer way.
  • Limit your nights out, club entries and alcohol eat your wallet. Alternatively, pre-drink at your accommodation, Soju (Korea’s most popular alcohol beverage) is affordable and accessible everywhere.

As mentioned above, I kept a diary of my daily spend so I thought I’d share the below with you to get a rough idea of how much your essentials will be! Yes Tequila shots included 😉

Costs have been converted to GBP based on the current exchange rate. 

Water (500ml) – 400 KRW (23p)
Cass Beer from Lotte Mart or 7 Eleven – 2,000 KRW (£1.14)
Mango Shake – 5,800 KRW (£3.31)
Single Gin and Tonic / Whiskey and Coke – 8,000 KRW (£4.57)
Tequila Shot – 5,000 KRW (£2.86)
Soju – 1,300 KRW (74p)
Fresh Pomelo juice from street markets – 5,000 KRW (£2.86)
Regular Juice from a convenience store – 1,300 KRW (74p)

7 Eleven sandwich – 2,000 KRW (£1.15)
Convenient store noodles – 1,000 KRW (57p)
Packet of crisp – 1,200 KRW (69p)
Traditional meal in Bukchon Village – 36,300 KRW per person (£20.80)
Pizza slice in Hongdae – 3,500 KRW (£2.00)
Chicken and Soup Fish Cake meal at Kkanbu – 16,500 KRW (£19.18)
Mc Donalds meal – 6,700 KRW (£3.84)
BBQ sticks via street stall – 650 KRW (37p)
Bread/Pastries from the bakery – 2,000-4,500 (£1.15-£2.58)
Korean BBQ, ribs and pork belly – 19,500 KRW each (£11.18)
Shaved ice, ice cream mango and cheese dessert – 11,000 KRW (£6.30)
Footlong ice cream – 2000 KRW (£1.15)
Live Octopus from the fish market – 10,450 KRW (£6.04)
To slice live Octopus in restaurant at the fish market – 10,000 KRW (£5.78)
Egg Burger from street stall – 2,500 KRW (£1.44)
Kim Chi Doep-bap 6,500 KRW (£3.75)

Bus to the airport – 15,000 KRW (£8.60)
Travel card and initial top up – 12,500 KRW (£7.20)
Subway distances within 10km – 1,250 KRW (72p)
See the official subway site for more information here.

Club Entry – 15,000 KRW (£8.66)
Zip tote bags from street stall – 10,000 KRW (£5.78)
Changdeokgung Palace Entry – 3,000 KRW (£1.73)
Socks at the market – 1,500 KRW (87p)

Read here for more information on costs of living.

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