Although department store products, ritzy bar tabs, and imports like fruit tend to be on the pricier side in Seoul, the city is full of affordable goods and services for the budget traveler. So, what’s cheap in Korea? Read on to find out.

Our guide to finding things cheap in Korea!


Food

food that's cheap in korea

Bungeoppang, a sweet red bean-filled pastry

Everybody’s gotta eat! Seoul is a foodie’s dream, as it has everything from traditional Korean fare to designer dessert concoctions such as Remicone’s Thunder Bomb. While the more exotic options usually come with higher price tags, standard Korean restaurants are fairly cheap. At most casual restaurants, you can have a hearty meal of meat, such as samgyeopsal or galbi, noodles, or soup paired with various banchan for less than 10,000 won per person. Another bonus: tips aren’t expected in Korea.

Cheap snack houses known as Bunsikjips (분식집) exist around Seoul as well. These places offer light Korean dishes such as dumplings, tteokbokki, sundae, odeng, and twigim for around 2,000-5,000 won each. Check out SeoulSync’s review of Mapo Mandu, a bunsikjip chain.

Street food is also cheap in Korea and incredibly diverse— you can experience everything from kimbap to churros to glazed chicken in a waffle cone. Calories don’t count when traveling or indulging yourself—eat up!


Korean clothes, shoes, and accessories 

clothing markets that are cheap in korea
Seoul has an incredibly diverse shopping scene. While department store clothing is generally more expensive, you can find a wide range of cheaper made-in-Korea clothes, shoes, and accessories from street vendors, subway stations, and alleyway stores. Popular shopping areas for inexpensive Korean fashion include Dongdaemun’s night market and malls, Myeongdong, Hongdae, Gangnam Station, and the area around Ewha University. Be aware, however, that many vendors will not let you try on clothes beforehand, and women’s clothing is usually one size fits all.


Socks

cheap sock prices in Korea!
Korea has an abundance of cute, wacky, and inexpensive things for sale, and socks are no exception. You can easily find socks with a multitude of random designs, from Brad Pitt to sushi. Pairs of socks are often sold for 1,000 won by vendors around the city.


Museums

museum prices cheap in korea

A previous exhibition at MMCA Seoul, “Home Within Home” by Do Ho Suh

Whether you’re a history buff, art critic, or just a casual museum-goer, Seoul probably has a museum for you. The city is home to over 100 museums, ranging from the National Museum of Korea to the Trick Eye Museum. Many museums in Korea have relatively inexpensive, if not free, admission. Many also offer group discounts or have free admission days, so be sure to check beforehand if you’re planning on going.

Here are a couple of renowned museums in Seoul with admission prices that won’t break the bank:

Museum Kimchikan
Adults (ages 18+): 5,000 won
Children: (7-17) 3,000 won, (3-6) 2,000 won
FREE for children below 3 and seniors 65+

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
Adults (18+): 10,000 won
Children and Teens: 6,000 won
Seniors and People with Disabilities: 5,000 won

National Folk Museum of Korea
FREE with ticket to Gyeongbokgung Palace:
Adults (19-64): 3,000 won
Children and Teens (7-18): 1,500 won
FREE for children under 6 and seniors 65+

National Museum of Korea
FREE admission to Main Exhibition Hall and Children’s Museum

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA)
4,000 won
FREE for those under 24 or above 65, college students and teachers, MMCA members

Seoul Museum of History
FREE admission


Subway Fare

Transportation that is relatively cheap in Korea.
South Korea boasts one of the cleanest, most efficient, and cheapest subway systems in the world. With nine main lines and extra commuter lines, the subway system can get you where you need to go while avoiding the rush-hour traffic. Basic subway transit fare for adults is 1,250 won with a T-money card.


Soju

Cheap to get your drink on in Korea!

If you’ve ever been to Korea or even just watched a Korean drama, chances are you’ve seen the iconic green soju bottle. Soju, a grain or starch based Korean liquor, is by far the country’s most popular alcoholic drink. For many Koreans, drinking is just a part of life—one study shows that Korean adults drink about 1.5 bottles of soju per week. Often paired with food, soju is used to celebrate, to bond, or to forget. You’ll see soju bottles on tables of businessmen out relieving stress after work, in advertisements featuring smiling celebrities, and clutched in the hands of clubgoers in the street desperate to get drunk for cheap. Different brands of soju are found in almost every convenience store and Korean restaurant. Due to its widespread availability, soju is incredibly cheap in Korea; You can pick up a bottle for 1,500 won (less than $1.50) at the local convenience store.

Here’s what the “typical” night out with soju looks like.


Jimjilbang
(
찜질방)

Saunas are a cheap option to recharge in Korea.

Whether you need a place to crash after a night of soju-fueled debauchery or just want to unwind after a tough week, jimjilbangs present an inexpensive solution. Jimjilbangs are Korean overnight spas, and depending on the size, feature amenities such as showers, hot baths, saunas, massage rooms, and sleeping rooms. Many places offer services such as massages, skin exfoliation, nail care, and snacks. Open 24/7, jimjilbangs range from around 7,000 won to 15,000 won a night. YES, you’ll probably see naked ajeossis or ajummas (depending on your gender) at some point, but overnighting at a jimjilbang is a must-have Korean experience. Check out what happens when Conan O’brien and Steven Yeun venture into an authentic jimjilbang in LA.

Have any additional things you think should have made our list on what’s cheap in Korea? Let us know!

Images: FoodShoppingMuseumsSubwaySojuJimjilbang

About The Author

Kelly Yoon

Kelly is currently a college student majoring in marketing and international business. She loves sneakers, photography, and large cities.