5 things to do in Seoul on a budget
It seems these days that the world has fallen in love with everything South Korean. From K-pop to Oscar-winning movies, skincare to food, there's no question Seoul is the best place to experience this dynamic culture up close.
For travelers on a tight budget, Seoul is even more appealing thanks to its affordability. While some things like going out to trendy bars and eating at Western restaurants can come with a high price tag, many other things in Seoul are cheap, or even free.
If you’re planning a wallet-friendly trip to South Korea, don’t miss these 5 things to do in Seoul on a budget:
1. Delve into the city’s culture and history – for free
Seoul offers free entry to the city’s most important historic and cultural museums. For starters, the Seoul Museum of History is a large free museum tracing the city’s history from antiquity to today. Interactive exhibits include a huge scale model of the city, a fascinating collection of old household items and a retro apartment — vintage sink and all. Pick up an English audio guide to learn how Seoul became the global megacity it is today.
2. Wander the Seoul highline
New York has the High Line, but Seoul has the Seoullo 7017 Skygarden. This 1km long converted highway overpass is now a lush garden space where visitors can marvel at city views, grab a coffee or check out an art exhibition. It also hosts pop-up events and concerts throughout the year.
The name “Seoullo 7017” comes from combining the year the highway was built, 1970 — and the year the sky garden was created, 2017.
You can book a free walking tour for Seoullo 7017, or one of 40 other walking tours organized by the city.
3. Check out an eSports match
If you’re keen to catch a local sports match when you travel, Korea’s eSports gaming culture is something else entirely. Korea is the home of eSports and here pro gamers are paid huge salaries each season with many achieving cult-like status as they play in large arenas among thousands of their fans watching on the big screen. See an eSports match in-person and join dedicated fans as they watch their favorite players battle it out at Starcraft and League of Legends. Head to LoL Park to get a taste of the action, with two matches a day. Tickets go on sale 48 hours before the match, and will only set you back 12,000won (€8.50).
4. Party at a convenience store
With over 40,000 convenience stores in Korea, the humble convenience store is an indispensable part of daily life for Koreans. Grabbing a quick bite at lunchtime, snacking on a kimbap on the way home, recharging your phone or using free WiFi or catching up over a few drinks with friends, whatever the problem – the convenience store is the answer.
For a cheap and cheerful lunch, choose a pack of instant ramen from the shelf, pay at the counter, then use the in-store kitchen to fill it with boiling water and eat at the plastic tables out the front. You won’t pay more than 3000won (€2).
5. Get the royal treatment at the 5 Grand Palaces
Visitors to Seoul with an interest in its rich dynastic history will love the splendor of Seoul’s 5 Grand Palaces. For a discount, visitors can pick up a palace pass for only 10,000 won (€7), allowing entry to all five palaces, especially if they plan their visit from Wednesday to Sunday when all five palaces are open.
This includes entry to Gyeongbokgung Palace, Deoksugung Palace Changdeokgung Palace including Huwon Secret Garden Changgyeonggung Palace and the Jongmyo Shrine.