Seoul on a budget: accomodations

I’m going to start another series that I hope to finish. I’m really good at starting things but I never seem to be able to finish anything! On this series, I’d try to recommend how much one would need to prepare for a trip to South Korea.

First in line is accomodations. Seoul is divided into 20 districts. It is almost as big as Metro Manila in terms of size and population. (Metro Manila 617 sq. km and 11 million people > Seoul 605 sq. km and 10 million people) We’re just lucky to have an efficient transportation system.

Location is important when looking for an accomodation. I would suggest staying in downtown Seoul, specifically in the Jongro, Jung and Yongsan districts. In Korea, the name of the district is proceeded by “-gu.” Jongro-gu, Jung-gu and Yongsan-gu are where the main tourist spots are located. I once toured a visiting Filipino family from San Francisco. They stayed at a 4-star hotel in Gangnam-gu. It takes about 45 minutes by subway from their hotel to Jongro-gu. (A neighborhood is called a “-dong”. Insa-dong is a neighborhood in Jongro-gu. Myeong-dong is a neighborhood in Jung-gu.)

Anyway, if you’re looking for BUDGET accomodations it would be best to stay in a hostel rather than a hotel unless you’re planning to spend more time in your hotel room.

Here are a few of those hostels I’d recommend based on their location:

Banana BackpackersTeacher Tesha and her pretty cousin Angela stayed here for two weeks last year! The hostel is a walking distance from Anguk subway station on line 3. It is also a stone’s throw away from Insa-dong, Gyeongbok palace (Gyeongbok-gung), Changdok palace (Changdok-gung), Samcheon-dong (highly recommended!), Bukcheon village (Bukcheon maeul) and so on. They also claimed that the male receptionist is an eyecandy. Their rates are 20,000 won per person for the dormitory; 35,000 won for the single room; 45,000 won for double and the family room is only 65,000 won. They offer free access to the kitchen and laundry facility. You can also have free breakfast with coffee or tea. Saan ka pa?!

Holiday in Korea Hostel – This one is recommend by someone who wants to remain anonymous. Please check the map for its location. They also have free breakfast, kitchen facility, coffee and tea, internet and laundry facility. Their dormitory is 17,000 won per person while the single room is 39,000 won. Their double or twin rooms are 44,000 won.

Seoul International Youth Hostel – Their dormitory style accomodation is 19,000 won per person for adults who are non-hostel members. The hostel is a 300-meter walk (my estimate) from both Chungmuro and Myeongdong stations. In fact, one can just take a walk to Myeong-dong from the hostel. Since it’s also located at the foot of Mt. Nam (Namsan), one can just hike to the mountain!

I wouldn’t recommend staying with Korean family unless you really know them well and you’re comfortable with them. When you receive something, you’re expected to give in return πŸ˜€

Next: From Incheon Airport to Seoul on a budget!

65 comments

  1. thanks for this very important info!

    may tanong po ako…

    seoul = metro manila
    jongro-gu = makati?
    insa-dong = ayala?

    1. hi tine! it’s just 35,000 won… cheaper than disneyland πŸ˜€ but on weekends you’ll spend time lining up for about 30 min to an hour for the rides…

      if you have a samsung card, you can get a 50% discount… so 17,500 won lang… we’ll go there on sunday

  2. thanks so much for this ms bechay! i will keep this in mind the next time i visit korea. i took a package tour the last time i went there (which was last month) and i had to stay in 3 hotels (well, 2 of them are condos–one near the airport, the other near mt seorak)…the next time i’ll visit i’m planning to stay near myeongdong because i love it there!

    the 3rd hostel looks good πŸ™‚ though the first 2 ones seem to be more economical, what with the free breakfast and all πŸ™‚

    take care!! πŸ™‚

  3. this is great advise specially for me who wants to visit seoul. the language intimidates me though, but i’m still hoping to visit one day.

  4. wow, thanks so much! this is very very useful (so I hope you do finish this great thing you’re starting now)…

    we’ve just been to seoul last week and we stayed at a guesthouse recommended from a forum. i personally did not like it so much because the facilities were too worn down and they give you 2 small hand towels instead of a regular bath-sized one. going to the guesthouse from Incheon airport via airport limousine bus was also very inconvenient with luggage because you need to take the subway stairs to cross the street!

    i’ll make sure to keep tabs on this post so i know which place to choose when i return to seoul this winter ^^. keep it up! thanks in advanced!

  5. Hi,just wanna get your advise is it possible to travel Korea by free & easy without any tour guide?I don’t speak any Korean language either ;p

    Thanks! πŸ™‚

  6. Hi foxy-roxy~^^

    If you want let’s go there together~^^ hihihihih

    I will be going there alone too, but my Korean fling will be

    meeting me there and he’ll be my tour-guide~^^ hihihih

    I’m kinda scared to travel alone but hey~

    it’s like once in a lifetime chance~^^

    Tines last blog post..To the Numbest Person…

  7. Hi,

    Your site is very, very helpful. I’m planning to go to Korea by the end of the year. I will look forward to your future posts about traveling to Seoul.

    Thanks!

    1. hi! thank you. i’ll try to post more as much as i can… and hopefully organize this blog so it’d be easier to navigate πŸ˜‰

  8. Hello again,

    Hmmmm…..this would have been really helpful for me earlier and should have read all your blog post since I’m a follower.

    Always been fascinated with Japan and Korea so I decided I will tour this year (leaving Canada on July 18 for Japan for 10 days).

    Anyhow, I was trying to book at Yim’s House (http://www.seoulbusinesshotel.com/index.html) but they were full but I was surprised to receive an email from certain Mr. Kwak (he even told me his almost life story on the email which I found interesting) and gave me 2 options where I can stay for 7 days (August 27 to Sept 3) http://minbak.enterhost.co.kr/

    Which one do you think would be a better option for me? Soul Guest House or Seoul Minbak? I intend to use the subways and buses extensively for touring Seoul and might also go to other provinces on a day trip.

    Thank you so much πŸ™‚

    1. I think the one at Hongik is better since it’s nearer to a subway and there are more commercial establishments in the area.

  9. hi ms. betchay, can you provide websites of the budget hotels in korea for advanced reservation purposes? thanks so much.

  10. hello, thanks for the information, this is very helpful,
    i intend to bring my family this christmas and a family room at the cost of less than 100 dollars is really a bonus, just wonder if they have free wifi access. thanks

  11. hi betchay im planning to go there in korea but im not yet sure im what month because my passport is still ongoing it is okey to u to help me where to go when im already there in korea? keep intouch my # 09055688567 and my eadd is punky_gurl53 i hope we will be friends bcoz i really want to there in korea bcoz of TVXQ and Lee Min ho,FIGHTING!

  12. Hi Betchay, I have been waiting patiently for your response. Know you’ve been busy these past weeks. Hope you can response to my email now. Aside from the Banana Backpackers, is there any other place you’d recommend for a single lady travelling alone? Know a good homestay or a guesthome for a month stay? Which area should I concentrate on where it is convenient to go everywhere? Rate lower than $700/mo.

    1. Hi Rosita! I don’t really know any homestay or guesthome. I’d recommend somewhere around the university areas like Hongdae, Anam, since there are lots of students there. These places are near the old downtown Seoul. Anyway, transportation here is so efficient that you could go around the city conveniently.

  13. hi betchay and all. am thinking of bringing the family to seoul this december for us to experience winter at a nearer area. would you know if the package tours are best for us or we do it alone. my worry is really the language as the tour offers english tour guides. your blog has helped a lot

    1. you don’t have to worry about the language barrier… as long as you have a sense of direction and you can follow maps, then you’re okay… koreans are generally helpful…

  14. Hi Ms. Betchay,
    We went to Seoul last November 28-Dec 2 and we had a wonderful time! I would like to thank your blog for giving important tips to those who are planning to visit Seoul, especially coming from a kababayan’s point of view.

    I would like to recommend Backpackers Korea (www.backpackerskorea.com) where we stayed or Hostel Korea (www.hostelkorea.com). It is located in Jongno-gu area, very easy to find and the owners are very accommodating and kind! I definitely recommend it to anyone planning a trip in Seoul on a budget. Few steps away from Sinseol-dong subway, easy to find and very homey! πŸ™‚

  15. Hi,

    Your site is pretty insightful and useful as well. I’m planning to go to Seoul and be able to experience winter. If push through, planning to go to go to some ICE FESTIVAL. Any advice you can share will be appreciated. Thanks!

    mark

  16. Hi everyone,

    I need some info bout korea.
    How much do I need to spend monthly.
    for food, transpo and accomodation?
    In 1 day how much will it cost to eat 3x a day?

    Thanks and regards to all.

    Lemuel

  17. Hi Ms. Betchay,

    Me and my friends are scheduled to visit Incheon & Seoul this May 2010.
    May I ask you on how can i reach this address below?

    4-1 Yuwol dong ujeong-go bucheon city gyeonggi-do south korea

    Thanks in advance,
    Anna

  18. Hi

    How much should i set aside for food for 2 persons 9.5 days in seoul covering lunch, dinner , snacks and drinks?
    Budget is moderate..

    Tks

    Shaw

  19. dear ms. Betchay,
    hello, i’m Deanna & my 3 friends & i have secured our tickets for seoul on july 2 til 16,2010. while reading through your blog…i’ve realized that our plan to backpack our way through Seoul is not as hard as we 1st thought!!! am so encouraged by your articles, especially since we’re now about to plan our 2-week itinerary, by ourselves!!!
    my friends(Filipinas ranging in age from 26,33,50 &52 yrs.old) met online because of our common love for Korean dramas, culture & most of all…for our great love for Gong Yoo(Korean actor)!!! LOL!!!
    we even coincided our trip to his birthday, in hopes of attending his fan meet!!!
    anyway, i plan to always visit your website & follow your recommendations, seeing that you’re a “Seoulite”)…your advices would greatly help us, since we’re 1st time travellers!!!
    So glad to have chanced upon your blog…thanks in advance!!!

    1. hi deanna! thank you. i hope you’ll have a great time here even though you’ll come at the tail end of the monsoon season… it isn’t difficult to go around seoul… you might also want to visit the provinces… i hope i’ll find the time to post about them… if you need help, just call me but not between 3-8 PM in july πŸ˜‰

  20. Hi there,

    II read another blog that suggested a Temple Stay.

    this would be great for my partner who is very much interested in eastern spirituality.

    sadly the blog is not being updated and no questions are getting answered.

    I would not even dream of where to start looking for information on this.

    If you have any ideas of where to inquire It would be most appreciated.

    regards, Nick

  21. hi Ms. Betchay!I’m Xen. i was just wondering where in seoul will i be able to see celebrities? and where is lotte world located? how about Jamsil? i find your blog very interesting & definitely helpful too, i’m going to visit often. =) and by the way ms. betchay, just recently cebu pacific offered one-way fare to Incheon for only 1,500php but we didn’t grab the chance since we don’t have friends living there, so we booked hongkong instead. =( thanks so much!!

  22. hello bechay, can i email you privately? im going to korea in september…please answer through my email…thanks.

  23. Hello Bechay,

    Your site is very helpful. πŸ™‚ I would just like to know how long would it take us to get to Everland from Myeongdong? Thanks.

  24. Ms. Betchay,
    Thank you dahil napaka laking tuloy ng site mo sa lahat pati na sakin na gusto mamasyal sa South Korea. Ask ko lang, pwede ba isakay sa metro train ang mga luggages? To and from the airport, balak namin na mag train nalang kasi mahal ang taxi. Salamat πŸ™‚

  25. hi ! we are a group of 20 going to seoul in feb 11-13 2011.
    we have booked with sunshine guesthouse. have you heard about this place? what can you say about it? appreciate your thoughts.

  26. Hi,

    This is really helpful. We’re planning to go here hopefully before this year ends. I am really looking forward to it..

    Thanks.

  27. hi ms betchay. came across with your very useful blog. am going to seoul 3rd week of feb 2011. Would there be snow?how is the weather there?what is the best buffet restaurant in dongdaemun market? is dongdaemun far from lotte world?thank you so much. hope to receive your reply before i leave. thanks

  28. Hi ms. betchay,

    I find your blog site very helpful. I am planning to go to Korea with my husband and 2 kids this coming November 2011. I am planning to make our own iterinary. I hope you could give me suggestions on where to go.. I plan a 5 day visit. The hostels are very helpful esp for us who is in a budget. One more, is it hard to get a visa? Thanks! jen

    1. Hi Jennifer visit childrens park in seoul and it is for free they have amusement and zoo also ,nami island is the best place to visit also before anything else and to get more idea where to visit on ur first day try to visit the korean tourism organization you can get all information there ….and try to visit this site dynamic busan free tour for foreigners this is so nice experience and imagine all for free(:

  29. Thank you very much for the very informative blog. My husband and I along with our 2boys (ages 9and 10) r planning to have our next vacation to SK. We plan to stay for a week on Sept. 2011 or march 2012 Pls help me with our itinerary. We like a cultural tour, kids friendly tour (lotte world and Everland is a must!). We r also on on a budget tour (that’s why we appreciate your info very much). We would love to watch the cultural and taekwondo shows because my kids r into the sports.
    We would like to experience a hanok stay, frm the SKtourism site, Friends House, which is located in Si Jongro-gu, seem to be nice. What do you think? Tnx much

  30. Hi! i have been reading your blog from time to time for any post. i’d love to go to korea during the music festivals.i love kpop and i would also like to visit YG, Jtune Camp and JYP/SM coz of 2ne1, MBLAQ and 2pm.Where should i stay so i could go to all these places efficiently.i also would love to visit Koreanovela sites.Thank you so much!Pls. email me back even if you are too busy.Kangsamnida!

  31. Hi Ms. Betchay,
    Are the mentioned hostel/places above still existent or are you still suggesting these budget places to stay? I’ll be going to SK by the end of October along with 7 friends. Thank you!

    1. Hi Lee i will suggest you cheap and nice accomodation in seoul that we stayed and this guest house is near everywhere try to visit seoul walker guest house and hey back packers this 2 guest house is really nice and the owner is very accomodating….

    2. Hi Lee! I would suggest Seoulwise Guesthouse in Hongdae. It’s a new place. They opened summer of last year so everything is new and clean. They also provide free breakfast. Three friends stayed there last year for two weeks and they paid about 20,000 pesos for their stay. I’ve been to the guesthouse twice.

      Here’s their FB page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seoulwise-Guesthouse/114145145298171

      Two people I know stayed at Seoul Namsan Guesthouse but they thought it was difficult to go up the hill. They eventually stayed at a hotel in Cheongnyangni with a Filipina they met.

  32. Hi Bechay. My daughter and I are coming to Seoul on Oct. 24, staying at Chungmuro Residence in Myeongdong. Do you guide visitors or can you refer a guide to us? On the 27th we will be joined by another Mom with 2 daughters. Do you think it will be better for us to rent a van with guide for 8 hours. Thanks so much.

  33. Hello Ms. Betchay..

    I guess this is now the time that I will try to make you “Kulit” I just booked a ticket today for our SK Trip. Me and my office mates go to Korea on holy week of 2012 – April 05 to 09, 2011. We can only travel on Holidays together due to our work.

    Anyway, they keep bugging me, how much would it generally cost us for this tour? 2 of us will go to Busan on April 2, what would be the best place to visit there? Is Jeju Island expensive for backpackers? I know it’s too early to ask a lot but we were so excited to plan our trip this early, we’ve been checking things and google SK’s map and being an accountant, we really wanted to make a good our trip memorable and yet affordable..

    I will e-mail you one of these days sana wag ka makulitan sakin..

    1. Hi Xiandi!

      Me and my friends are also planning to visit Seoul by fall pa naman next year, so may one year pa kami to prepare.
      According to someone we know who’ve been there twice, ang minimum budget daw for a day is around PHP2500 (or around $60) (that includes meal,transpo and light shopping. Not included pa ang hostel). Sa hostel naman they can be as cheap as $13 a night per peson. Ewan ko lang sa Busan and Jeju island kung magkano aabutin.

      1. Thanks Foxylady..sobrang excited kasi nung mga ksama ko..actually 9 kami lahat pagdating ng April 5. Medyo mahal yata kasi ang transpo from Busan area to Jeju-do to Seoul eh in 1 week parang gustong libutin nung friend ko ang buong Korea..na shocked nga sya sa fare sa ferry from Busan to Jeju nkita nya kasi around 200,000 won ata..kaya sabi ko sa kanya mg goodbye muna sya sa Jeju heheh…I’ve been planning to go to korea for a long time now ko lang cla na convince mag book. Our airfare cost us 5k for round trip kya medyo ok na yan..Sana lang wlang mging aberya sa visa namin..

        1. Hi Xiandi!

          Try to check this site, baka makatulong sa inyo kung gusto nyo pumunta ng Jeju. : http://www.yehaguesthouse.com/service/reservation/reservation.php?lang=eng&menu=2

          They offer accomodation at cheap room rates pati na rin cheap flights going to Jeju and also local tour package.

          If you don’t have a place to stay in Seoul yet, you may wanna check out Sunshine Guesthouse (http://www.sunshineguesthouse.com/en/). They offer cheap rates, and the good thing about them is that it’s in the center of downtown Seoul, just beside Insadong.

  34. Dear Ms. Bechay,

    We are a group of 3 50ish females and my daughter who is just 21 years old. We will be travelling to Seoul on April 27 to May 4 and we already have a booking in Namsan Guesthouse 2. They booked us in the 4th floor, the hotel by the way, has no elevator. Do you think it will be convenient for us to stay there?

    Also, our itinerary includes the 5 palaces, Insadong, Everland, Lotte, Coex, Bokchon village, Han river cruise, temples and museums and if we still have time, Nami Island. We plan to go to Jeju on our next visit. We dont want a too hectic schedule cause we want to have a more leisurely travel for us to appreciate the place. Of course we want to throw in a lot of shopping. Would it be okey if you could advise us if the places i mentionedis enough for the 7 days vacation or if there are places which are more exciting to visit other than those mentioned above.

    Thank you and more power to you.
    cristy

  35. Hi Ms. Betchay!

    My fiancee and I are planning to go there in August for our honeymoon. We originally wanted to go to Jeju for a couple of days but we’re having a hard time getting a cheaper flight. If we go by ferry, it would take more than half of the day. We’re trying to decide whether to book at a Hotel or a Hostel. We’re on a budget by the way. Are the hostels in Korea as small as in Hong Kong’s?

    Also, do you have any suggestions on the transportation in going to Jeju Island?

    thanks!

  36. Thanks for this great information πŸ™‚
    Actually, I’m still planning to go to S.Korea someday together with my friends. But we’re still earning for the budget hahaha. That’s why I need to seek for the affordable ones. ^_^

    And oh~ I just bookmark this post πŸ™‚ I will read this post again when the time comes πŸ˜€

    God Bless, Ms. Betchay !

  37. Hi, thanks for the informative blog posts. We will be in Korea on Oct. 9 – 14. I have also read that streets along hostels are usually inclined and i’m kinda worried since I’m going with my mom. Can you recommend budget accomodations with comfy locations for seniors? Thanks!

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