Travelling to South Korea on Tight Budget

By Didy - 1/12/2019

If you are one of my follower on Instagram, you may notice that I just came back from South Korea (Selebgram syndrome allert, lol). Lots of friends asked me, how was South Korea, how about the budget and even said to me " you're lucky because you have lots of money so you can travel to South Korea". Then, I was just laughing to respond them.

I'm not a crazy rich Indonesian, I need to save up my money every month, every day and need to cut something not important from my daily needs and live as a minimalism to travel anywhere that I want at least 5 times in a year, I mostly hope 4 times in domestic destination and 1 for going abroad.

Well, Travel can be an expensive hobby. That's true !!, Wether we are roaming around South Korea or flying to some exciting country on vacation around the world. Some people are always being mindful of their finances and the cost for vacation. 

But, for me personally, travelling is like an investment to your knowledge, your body and your happiness. 

Ok, by budgeting and seeking out affordable alternatives to what is easy and be first presented, you need to be able to more easily embark on trips and make the most of your time.

I dunno why, most of the time I'm just thinking about how I could afford more travelling even you know that sometimes I feel broke, haha. But, I always have tricks to find any alternative to afford my adventure. So, from now on I wanna tell you how to travel to South Korea on really tight budget, as the title, alright.

Actually, I'm quite often to share my tips to travel anywhere with tight budget. But, I've never shared my strategy specifically while I traveled to South Korea, here is I try to guide you about travelling to South Korea on "tight budget".  I wanna share some tips that I use last week on my journey to South Korea.


Transportation must be the first element of travel, it means we need to put it at the first. Transportation is often an unexpectedly expensive aspect that many people do not expect. Anyway, South Korea is often praised for its public transportation network due to availability and reach. 

I've always been impressed by the simple navigation and use public systems in South Korea, but some choices are more affordable if you know where to look for. Before going too far, I warn you, I won't tell about cheap airplane ticket because there are a lot of blogpost about how to find cheap airplane ticket, I even ever wrote the tips here. On this blogpost, I'll tell you the transportation in South Korea that maybe you can be a travel reference.


Korea train express or simply we can say KTX is the most obvious choice for people who has short on time. But, keep in mind that this kind of transportation is also the most expensive choice of trains in the KoRail fleet. I may suggest you to choose The Mugunghwa train instead of KTX that's 40% less than KTX. To get even cheaper tickets, you can reserve a standing ticket. Mostly, the train offers this option, and they are far cheaper.

For your reference, KTX fares vary depending on your destination. A short jaunt for example from Seoul Station to Suwon will run about 13,000 won (~$11) and the popular ride to Busan will cost you about 56,000 won (~51) for an economy class seat.

2. BUS

Having to suffer through traffic, buses are slightly slower than trains but they are often very cheap and sometimes go places that train tracks prevent. Bus terminal can be found in almost every town or city and allow for the most consistent from public transportation. The only real options for buses is to to differentiate between direct limousine bus and "all stop" buses, the direct limousine bus of course being slightly more expensive.

Any city, such as Jeju island does not have train. So, you have no choice to only use them. Calm down, bus in South Korea is really comfortable and easy to use, they use number bus for their track and you can easily pay by cash or T-money (just tap the card, but you need to top up first). And to make your bus journey more easy I suggest you to download Naver map, it's absolutely will help you to find your bus in South Korea. 

The fares for bus actually quite cheap it depends on the distance, I only paid mostly around 1,100 won to move somewhere in Jeju Island (~$1).


If you're in city with subway system such as Seoul, I highly recommend this public transportation. I have really great news for you. That The Metro system is ridiculously easy to use. There is everywhere and maps galore in the crazy underground world. Plus there are endless amount of corridors filled with food and shopping store. You could literally live down there haha. Your fare  will be around 1300 won (~$1) for a single ride. There are some rules for when this rice goes up on longer trips, but it remains relatively cheap compared to anything else in the city.


Taking a taxi in South Korea is very convenient for international visitors importantly if you want move from point A to B without stop or if you don't the place exactly. Taxi can be found easily in South Korea. However, you can also call the taxi or ordered through Kakao taxi. The base fare will vary by region, but I think taxis use the same fare calculation of increase by time and distance traveled. 

While virtually all taxis operating in South Korea accept credit cards but some taxis may request cash only. So, keep this is in mind and make sure to have some cash (in won) with you if you plan to use taxi in remote areas.

B. Food

Next thing that you should concern with is FOOD. Yaps, food is necessary for the most basic instances of living, food is both important and enjoyable. Korean food is legendary and typically cheap, you may also find for incredibly cheap food in South Korea.

In your imagination, maybe you are gonna think of dakgalbi, bibimbap, tteokbokki or kimchi once I say about Korean food. To tight my budget for food I always controlled, I ate rice with full of dishes only once per day at lunch, in order to tight the budget and also the Korean portion is really big big portion, so it basically really ok for me to only eat once rice in a day. 

I took only fruit or bread for breakfast and chips plus ramen or noodle or street food for my dinner.

Place to find them is really easy, I mostly ate in the restraint for lunch and bought bread, fruits and snack in convenience store such as seven-eleven, CU and GS 25 and also I really enjoyed to have street food at the traditional market. I mostly just spent 15,000 - 18,000 per day (~$14-15).

C. Accomodation

I'm honestly say that I didn't put any budget for accomodation because I use Couchsurfing to find local host as free. But, don't get me wrong . I love to use this app and really enjoy to join this international backpacker community because I can feel travelling sensation from local side. 

And you know, I also accept another traveller at my place for any other backpacker if they want to visit my town, Serang-Banten, feel free to come.

Many foreigners across South Korea offer couches and floor space in their appartments to travellers for no money which makes Couchsurfing one of the more affordable platform for accomodation including in South Korea. While there is little guarantee for comfort or privacy, you can often find honest people willing to show you around and give you place to stay in their own homes.

I personally freaking in love with all my host in South Korea, they are really nice and amazing, I loved to talk to them about Korean culture until late night, lol.

D. Activities

There are many things to do and enjoy in South Korea, and will not spend much your money. Literally, I mostly choosed the free activity. Well, I'm gonna share you some top options for enjoying a day of your journey in South Korea.


What's a free and takes a little effort ?, Yaps, walking absolutely free !!. Many cities in South Korea have beautiful and historic locations near each other and within easy reach by public transportation. Major cities have rivers rife with natural beauty which provide perfect avenues between different cultural sites, but local neighborhood also really worth to be wandered for leisurely afternoon.


Next, you can also take hiking in South Korea.  The landscape of South Korea is littered with mountains and national parks, mostly they are free but some national parks may charge a small entrance fee, many mountain are free. You can definitely hike the large majority of these beautiful mountains without spending much more money. And also hiking keeps you are healthy while traveling.


No doubt that South Korea is a country laden with rich culture and tradition. There are few places better to experience artifacts and relics of this long history than temples, palaces and museums.

Most of them are free and offer wonderful chance to experience of Korean culture, but a seldom few require a few dollars as an entrance fee (museums and palaces only). Some of the most beautiful historical places being religious, historic and cultural are often found in these places. Thankfully, these are some of the most affordable options for entertainment.


Some of my most relaxing days in South Korea have been walking along beaches and rivers. There are few better ways to experience and enjoy South Korea than a day spent enjoying its water ways with picnic thrown into the mix. From The Han River in Seoul to the beautiful beaches in Jeju island, these areas are magical and worth every small cent.

That's some activities that won't make you broke in South Korea, but sometimes I also loved to shop in some mall and skincare store (cheaper than in Indonesia, I guarantee).

Wait, I forget something. Another things that you need to prepare before you travel to South Korea is learn hangeul and basic Korean conversation, because most of them don't speak English well. So, it will help you to communicate with them. Mostly I use offline Google translate to communicate with them. Importantly to ask the way, bargaining and ask for halal food. 

I think enough for the guidances to have tight budget travelling in South Korea. I'm pretty sure by exploring South Korea you will get more knowledge and refresh your mind and also your Instagram feed will look stunning than before of your South Korea photos, lol~.

If you have more tips to share for spending less money in South Korea, please share them on the comments bellow or shoot me on my social media or email. I hope this guide will give some assistance to you to plan your trip to South Korea.

Happy travelling ✈️✈️✈️

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  1. Asli ... tidak update blog, tahu-tahu sedang ke Korea Selatan. Awesome! Foto-fotonya keren, perjalannya juga ... mantap jaya.

    1. Hahah Iya Mbak, Alhamdulillah seruuu. Makasih sudah mengikuti blog ini. Soon mampir ke blogmu juga ya Mbakku 😁

  2. Sekarang pake bahasa Inggris! cus international blogger ini mah! Welcome to Korea ya kak :)

    1. Wkwkkw #DemiBantenMendunia dan pundi2 dollar AdSense 😂😂😂. Sayang kemarin Gak sempet ketemu Teh 🤣