Is Seoul Expensive for solo female travelers?
Aloha! I’m Soyeon from South Korea. I love nature and doing on a walking trips. So, Seoul is one of my favorite cities to travel to. because I can see different stunning views in each season. As a Korean, I’m so happy when people ask me “I’m planning to travel to Seoul”, or “Could you give me some tips to travel to South Korea?” These days, I can see lots of women travelers in the NomadHer community have asked these questions about trips to South Korea more and more. I feel that interest in South Korea is growing as Korean cultural content such as BTS and Squid Game are widely known around the world.
The most frequent question is about the Seoul travel budget. So I prepare useful tips about the cost of travel in Seoul. The information that I provide will help you enable to have a better understanding of where you start to prepare for the trip and search for information. Then it will be much easier for you to find more specific tips for the next stage to prepare for your trip to Korea. The budget in this guide is listed in Euro and South Korean Won(KRW) both.
✳️ Weather in Seoul
South Korea has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Therefore, if you are traveling to Seoul, it is recommended to come in spring or autumn. When you come to South Korea in the summer, you will experience two different kinds of weather: extremely hot and rainy season. Summer in South Korea is humid with no wind and scorching hot or it’s been raining all day.
Winter in Korea is very cold with strong winds blowing. Koreans wear long underwear under shirts and pants to keep warm during the winter season. If you are planning a trip to Korea, we recommend visiting in from March to May, and from September to November.
✳️ Accommodation in Seoul
Accommodation in Seoul is more expensive than in Southeast Asia but cheaper than in Europe. Guesthouses and hostels usually start from €20 (25,000 KRW) per night, and business hotels or residences start from €55 (70,000 KRW). In South Korea, it can be more expensive during the summer vacation season (July to August) and weekends, so it is recommended to make a reservation in advance. As Seoul is a city that represents South Korea, there are many female hostels run by female hosts too.
By the way, there is a special type of accommodation in South Korea. It is called Hanok. Hanok is a traditional Korean house first built during the Joseon Dynasty in the 14th century. Hanok was built in consideration of the Korean lifestyle and the surrounding natural environment. It is mainly made of wood, soil, stone straw, etc.
Also, you can send a direct message to locals to ask for more information in the NomadHer community!
If there is one thing that makes this Hanok even more special, it is the Ondol. Ondol heats the floor, not the air that heats the room.
When you come to Korea, it will be a good experience to experience a Hanok that warms the floor. In Seoul, there is a place called Bukchon Hanok Village where Korean traditional houses, Hanoks are gathered. The prices for this Hanok accommodation start from €100 per night (140,000 KRW). This depends on the size of the accommodation.
▪️ Guesthouse or Hostel: Starts at around €20 (25,000 KRW) a night
▪️ Business Hotel or Residence: Starts at around €55(70,000 KRW) a night
▪️ Bukchon Hanok Village Hanok Accommodation: Starts at around €100 (140,000 KRW) a night
✳️ Transportation in Seoul
Seoul, the representative city of South Korea, is closely connected by public transportation. It is well connected to every corner of Seoul. Koreans often use public transportation such as buses and subways for commuting to work or meeting with friends because it is usually run on time. I will tell you how Koreans use public transportation and how much it costs!
☑️ Korean transportation app in Korea (Kakao Map): This is the app that Koreans use the most when they move. It provides real-time directions like the fastest way by walk, bus, or subway based on your current location and means of transportation. Kakao Map makes it easy to find a way when traveling in South Korea. This app is useful not only in Seoul but also in other cities.
☑️ Subway: There are a total of 9 main lines in Seoul. This line connects not only Seoul but also neighboring cities to the east, west, south, and north of Seoul. The metro connects the entire city so tightly that it takes about 3 minutes between each station. If you want to see a lot in a short itinerary, the fastest way is to take the subway.
☑️ Bus: There are many buses in Seoul. Green/blue buses mainly run downtown Seoul, red buses or bus numbers starting with M are intercity buses connecting Seoul with other cities.
Sometimes you feel that you want to look at the scenery outside the window. In that case, turn on the Kakao Map app and search for your location and the place you want to go then you can easily check the bus stop around you. If you are traveling alone, Taking the bus will make your trip more colorful.
☑️ Subway and bus fares :
I recommended purchasing a T-money transportation card when using the subway or bus. You can purchase and recharge easily this transportation card at a convenience store(GS 25, CU, 7-Eleven). The fee for purchase is €3 (4000 KRW)
▪️One-way subway fare (For adults): Basic fare is 1 euro (1250 KRW) / based on the transportation card
▪️One-way bus fare (For adults): Basic fare is 1 euro (1200 KRW)/ based on the transportation card
☑️ Things good to know:
▪️ €0.07 (100 KRW) will be added for every 5 km within 10 to 50 km if it is over the basic distance (10 km)
▪️ Apply discount when transferring buses with a different number(In case of that you take the bus within 30 minutes).
▪️ Discounts on bus-subway transfers also are applied.
▪️ When getting off the bus or subway, be sure to tag the transportation card to charge it up to the distance.
☑️ Related websites:
✳️ Food in Seoul
South Korea is famous for making a variety of dishes depending on the seasonings and recipes. So, It is also a place where you can find its food industry is competitive to reach out to people. For example, in the case of Chimaek(a pairing of fried chicken and beer), which Koreans love a lot, There are lots of different tastes of chicken depending on the seasoning and brand. Fried chicken, a global food, is reborn in a Korean style.
The price of food at a Korean restaurant is €6 to €9 (8,000 to 12,000 KRW) as of 2022. A simple meal at a Gimbap restaurant or snack bar costs €2.5 to €4.5 (3,000 to 6,000 KRW). If you want to eat western food such as pasta at an Italian restaurant in Seoul, it costs around €14 (18,000 KRW)
If you walk the streets of South Korea, you can often see street food. They mainly sell gimbap, toast, tteok-bokki, fish cake, and various kinds of tempura, so I recommend trying it at least once. The price is around €2.25 (3,000 KRW). I recommend you to bring cash when eating street food.
The following are representative dishes popular in South Korea!
☑️ Chimaek : Chimaek is a pairing of fried chicken and beer. Koreans think that chicken with beer is a perfect combination that goes well together. Since the domestic fried chicken market is highly competitive, each brand competes with a variety of flavors with different seasonings. The cost is around €19 (25,000 KRW).
☑️ Korean BBQ(Samgyeopsal) : Korean BBQ is grilling pork right in front of the grill without removing the grease. It comes with a variety of vegetables and a seasoning called ssamjang. The cost is around €9 (12,000 KRW).
In most Korean BBQ restaurants, you may have to order at least 2 servings of meat. So it is a good way to find friends through the NomadHer community!
☑️ Bulgogi : Bulgogi is made of thin, marinated slices of beef. It is marinated in sweet and sour seasoning and on a stove-top griddle plate. The cost is around € 12 (16,000 KRW)
☑️ Bibimbap: Mix rice with a seasoning called gochujang and put various vegetables, and bulgogi. It is a representative Korean food that vegetarians also like as a healthy food containing a variety of vegetables. The cost is around € 8 (10,000 KRW)
✳️ Main areas in Seoul
Seoul is a very big city. but it is closely well connected with subway stations. Even first-time visitors to Seoul will be able to understand the city much more easily if they know the characteristics of each area based on subway stations. Here are the main areas to go together based on the metro station.
☑️ The area where you can feel the heat of youth day and night in Seoul :
Hongik University Station / Itaewon Station (Distance between two stations: 20 minutes by subway)
If you want to meet local hipsters in Seoul, this is the place for you. Especially if you go to Hongdae Station and Itaewon Station on a Friday or Saturday night, you will be surprised at how crowded and bright with lots of young people. With so many clubs, bars and pubs, many foreigners come here to enjoy the young culture of Korea. The entrance fee to the club is around €15 (20,000 KRW).
Especially in the case of Hongik University Station, there are many universities nearby, so there are many things to enjoy and the price is reasonable. You can find various restaurants and dessert shops that fill the street, a shopping street full of clothes and accessories, karaoke rooms, and busking. If you love music and shopping then this is the place for you.
▪️ The club entrance fee is around €15 (20,000 KRW)
▪️ The cost of Bars and restaurants is different from a restaurant. See the food section above.
▪️ Clothes and accessories in Hongik University Station are cheaper than in Europe. My friend from France bought sneakers, accessories, and clothing at an affordable price here.
☑️ The area where you can experience Korean traditional culture in the center of Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Station / Gwanghwamun Station / Jongno 5-ga Station (Distance between stations: about 10 minutes by subway)
South Korea has a long history of 5000 years, and there are many palaces and museums scattered throughout the city. If you are interested in Korean culture and history, I recommend getting off at these subway stations and looking around.
Seoul was the capital of the Joseon Dynasty for 500 years. In the center of Seoul, there are several palaces centered on Gyeongbokgung, where the kings of the Joseon Dynasty lived. The traditional cultural streets have developed around this area. It is an area where the present and the past coexist.
▪️ Gyeongbokgung: A representative palace of the Joseon where the kings of the Joseon Dynasty lived. Foreign language commentary programs are also in operation. The entrance fee is €2.3 (3,000 KRW) for adults.
▪️ Deoksugung: As one of the palaces of the Joseon Dynasty, it features traditional wooden architecture and Western-style architecture together. The entrance fee is €0.8 (1,000 KRW) for adults
▪️ Insadong Street: A street where you can find traditional souvenirs, traditional sweets, tea houses, ceramics, and art. The price of the souvenir magnet is about €1.9 (2,500 KRW).
▪️ Gwangjang Market: As the largest traditional market representing Seoul, you can enjoy a variety of traditional foods at affordable prices. Bindae-tteok, noodles, tteok-bokki, etc. You can enjoy food for around €2–5 (3,000–6,000 KRW). You can go on the Gwangjang Market night tour with locals and women travelers here!
☑️ The area where the heart of shopping in Seoul:
Myeongdong Station / Dongdaemun Station (Distance between two stations: 10 minutes by subway)
You may have seen Seoulites in Korean dramas or movies getting dressed well to show their individuality. The fashion culture of South Korea is dynamic and rapidly changing. Also, Koreans prefer natural makeup that shows the beauty of my face rather than heavy makeup. It leads the development of the cosmetics industry to produce high-quality cosmetic products at reasonable prices.
If you go to Myeongdong Station, you can see many Korean cosmetic brands in one place. If you are interested in clothes, we recommend Dongdaemun Station. This is a place where you can see Korean street fashion trends at a glance.
✳️ How to meet locals in Seoul
Traveling as a solo traveler gives lots of freedom. But sometimes, it would be more fun if you can hang out with local friends. One of the most difficult things about traveling abroad for yourself could be making local friends. Then, Is there any way to meet local friends easily?
Now in the NomadHer community, various meetups and camps are being held where local friends and female travelers can hang out together. There are so many meetups waiting for you, such as a night tour of Gwangjang Market, going to see a Korean baseball game and a surfing camp in Busan. You can also create your own meetup if you want, and find a companion to travel with you! You can check out what kind of place the community is by looking through NomadHer’s Instagram: @nomad_her!