Seoul is the world’s 6th most expensive city, which may require a little more planning if you’re travelling solo and on a budget. But that definitely doesn’t mean you should compromise on the experience.
There are many affordable activities to take in Seoul, from lounging in a uniquely Korean jjimjilbang (sauna), to climbing Bukhansan National Park with ahjummas (older women in Korea) - it's about the value of experience over the value of expense.
Here are 10 affordable activities that will give you a rich appreciation of Seoul.
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You can’t say you’ve been to Seoul without having gone to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. For only 3,000 won, you get to enter the traditional masterpiece - the Main Royal Palace of the Joseon Dynasty.The best times to visit would be between 10.00am and 2.00pm (except on Tuesdays - it’s closed), during this period you can witness the Changing of Guards ceremony.
Travelling solo to the Gyeongbokgung Palace doesn’t mean you have to settle for a selfie and miss out on the amazing architecture as your backdrop. Ask any local, even the ahjummas, as Koreans have amazing photography skills!
Price: Adults aged 19-64 (3,000won); Children aged 7-18 (1,500won)
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Monday and Wednesdays - Sunday: 9.00am - 5.00/6.30pm (depending on month)
(Closed on Tuesdays)
*Pro-Tip: Wear a hanbok and you get to enter for free.
Image credit: Korea Free and Easy
Incredibly childlike and innocent, Petite France is the first ever village idealized by “The Little Prince” - cementing the Koreans’ love for the storied prince. With its colourful shop houses and unique French style, this fairytale village has played host to countless popular Korean dramas, including “My Love from the Star”, “Secret Garden” and “Running Man”.
Apart from its Instagrammable backgrounds, Petite France also showcases a wide variety of European cultural performances, including Pinocchio, and Hand Puppet! Regardless of its European influence, there are still various Korean restaurants for a taste of local cuisine.
Price: Adults (8,000won); Teens (6,000won); Children (5,000won); Seniors (aged 65 & above)/Persons with Disabilities (6,000won)
Address: 1063 Hoban-ro, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
9.00am - 6.00pm (Last admission: 5.00pm)
*Pro-tip: Visit on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowd.
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Bukhansan National Park, or Mt. Samgaksan is a must for sporty travellers. The hike feels exceptionally surreal, and doesn’t feel like you’re in Seoul. The mountains provide a respite from the city life, and showcases a more beautiful and serene side of the city.
You may have planned to hike this alone, but don’t be surprised if you’re eventually accompanied by groups of ahjummas and ahjussis who hike Bukhansan as part of their daily exercise! You can choose to follow the crowd, or explore the Golden Buddha route (1 hour), or Baegundae route (4 hours) to reach the top.
Address: Gupabal Stn., Line 3, Exit 1.
From here, make a U-turn and find a nearby bus stop (2min walk). Take either bus 704 and get off at the entrance to the park (or simply follow the crowd!)
Opening Hours: From sunset to 2 hours before sunrise
(Hiking at night is prohibited)
*Pro-Tip: While it is a relatively easy hike, it is safer to wear the right attire, especially footwear.
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Akin to walking into a child’s drawing, the Ihwa Mural Village would be alike living the world in the eyes of an artist. Be surprised with aesthetically pleasing murals with every turn, as there are countless drawings spread throughout its walls and stairwells.
Address: Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Hyehwa Stn. Line 4, Exit 2)
Opening Hours: 24 hours
*Pro-Tip: Keep your noise level down to prevent disturbing the residents in the area.
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Abstract architecture with a distinctively neo-futuristic design, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is a must-visit if you enjoy the beauty of design and architecture. From art exhibits to museums in this area, the plaza looks exceptionally majestic at night, and would be worth a trip to envision the space age. Many fashionistas also flock to the plaza to take their #OOTDs.
Address: 281 Eulji-ro, Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea (Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Stn., Line 2/4/5, Exit 1)
Tuesday - Thursday and Sunday: 10.00am - 7.00pm
Friday - Saturday: 10.00am - 9.00pm
(Closed on Mondays)
Image credit: So Cool Korea
Hongdae District, or Hongik University Station, is the place to be to experience Seoul’s food, youthful nightlife, and shopping culture. There are countless Korean BBQ spots, popular cafes (such as Thanks Nature Sheep cafe), and hip shop houses dotted all along its streets. Not forgetting the bars and clubs. Hongdae is a must-go to truly embrace the vibrant dynamism of Korea.
Address: Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul (Hongik University Stn., Line 3, Exit 9)
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Myeongdong is a famous high-end shopping district, where many people go to for face masks, clothes, make-up, and more. But if you’re not a fan of shopping, Myeongdong still deserves a spot on your list for its amazing street food! You can enjoy hottock (sweet Korean pancake), eomuk (fishcake), grilled cheese lobster, pancakes, fried ice cream… the list is endless. Do remember to bring small change as the stalls may not have sufficient cash to provide change for your big notes, you big spender!
Price: 2,000 - 5,000won
Address: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (Myeongdong Stn., Line 4, Exit 6)
Pro-Tip: Head over to N Seoul Tower after shopping or eating at Myeongdong as it is only a 1km walk away!
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Dubbed the “Love Tower” of Seoul, the N Seoul Tower is a renowned national landmark, and one of the world’s top romantic destinations. It is also used ever so often as a filming location for Korean dramas.
The tower is known for its love lock fences, and slanted couple benches. There’s also good dining options, and an arcade.
Image credit: Walk with Cham
But most people come here for the panoramic view of Seoul’s cityscape. You can enjoy this from the tower’s Observatory Deck for 10,000won.
There are two ways to get up to the N Seoul Tower – by cable car for 6,000won (Adults) & 3500won (Children & Seniors) or by hiking up Namsan Park. It is quite a long up to the tower, but the view at the top will make it worth your while.
Price: 10,000won for 2-3 hours. This also comes with a free entry into the palace.
Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Monday - Friday and Sunday: 10.00am - 11.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am - 12.00am
*Pro-Tip: 5.00pm is the best time to set off on the hike and reach the top in time to enjoy the sunset view.
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This has to be included in every traveller's’ Seoul Bucket List! Grab a cup of Korean Instant Noodles and soju from any convenience store, and head over to the Hangang River at night for a truly peaceful experience. Be sure to pick a spot with the view of the 27 huge arcs along the bridge.
The Hangang River stretches across Seoul. In the day, there are a variety of activities such as swimming, cafe-hopping, and cycling, that you can enjoy along different sections of the river.
Address: Seoul-si, Gangwon-do, Chungcheongbuk-do, Gyeonggi-do
Image credit: Dive Price
The Siloam Sauna and Spa is the best place to be on a cold rainy day, or after a long day of shopping. Also known as a jjimjilbang, Siloam Sauna and Spa is easily the most popular and extravagant sauna and spa you can find in Seoul. Boasting fitness facilities, entertainment areas, countless types of saunas, and even cosmetic services like manicures and pedicures. Despite it being really popular, we still recommend it as the facilities are almost second to none for this price range, plus it’s also frequented by the locals - tell-tale signs of a good spot.
Price [Bath and Jjimjilbang (Sauna)]: Adults (10,000won); Children aged under 10 (9,000won)
Address: 49 Jungnim-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (Seoul Stn., Line 1, Exit 1)
Experiencing Seoul on a limited budget may be harder for solo travellers, but with these 10 activities, you will be able to interact with locals, and immerse in Seoul’s modern and traditional culture throughout your stay.