Things to do in Seoul on a budget
It’s no secret that Singaporeans are obsessed with Korean culture. Ever since the K-wave hit our little red dot a few years back, everyone’s been going crazy going after the best of Korean pop culture, food, fashion, and more – and we just can’t get enough.
And with everyone taking grad trips these days, I can’t count the number of OOTDs taken in the land of kimchi popping up on my Instagram feed almost every other day. With CheapTickets.sg, quell your cravings for all things Korean by jetting off to Seoul for the affordable price of just $298!
To add on to that amazing deal, here are some cool activities you can do there to keep your travels super budget-friendly:
1. Rock out to live indie music at Hongdae
There’s more to Korean music than the world gives credit for – if K-pop and its synchronised dancing isn’t your thang, head to Hongdae, home to rows of cafes and bars hosting live music gigs. From funk to jazz and even heavy metal, there are indie bands and singers of all genres taking the stage.
So grab a soju, and enjoy your night rockin’ out – sans exorbitant ticket fees and the pushing and shoving from crazy fangirls.
2. Have a photoshoot at Common Ground
Move over, Wheeler’s Yard – Common Ground has all the brilliant blue #OOTD backdrops anyone could hope for. And it’s high on hipster quotient too – this cluster of stacked container blocks houses a hodgepodge of quirky cafes, permanent and pop-up fashion stores, as well as a street market at the open area.
Source: Common Ground
Check out the Food Truck Market area, with F&B options on wheels like this Kimchi Bus which serves up Mexican-inspired goodness.
Address: 17-1 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Daily; 11am – 10pm
Approx. 5-min walk from Konkuk University Station
3. Line up for M! Countdown live shows
This one requires a fair bit of effort, but if you’re a hardcore K-pop fangirl/fanboy, you’ll go all out to experience this. To get the chance to view artistes like A-pink and BTS perform in the M! Countdown live shows at Seoul’s Digital Media City, you have to first be affiliated with the local fanclub or get your name on their elusive guest list.
Popular Korean boyband BTS showing off dem moves Source
Be prepared to queue from as early as 5am just for a queue number, after which, you’ll be told to come back at a later timing in the afternoon or early evening to enter.
But it isn’t as simple as that – to be part of the lucky few, you’ll need to have the required item(s) before the staff let you in. This would usually be the artiste’s latest album, though in some cases you might need special official merch. It ranges from fandom to fandom, so it’s best to do your research first.
Note: not everyone with a number is guaranteed a spot! Sometimes they only let around 40 people in, so do mentally prepare yourself for disappointment just in case all the waiting is for nought.
Digital Media City
Address: 1606 Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu CJ E & M Center
Approx 12-min walk from Digital Media City Station
4. Appreciate art at Dongdaemun Design Plaza
A hub for the arts, Dongdaemun Design Plaza THE place to be if you enjoy getting arty farty. While a lot of the exhibitions require tickets for you to enter, there are a couple of free ones from time to time. Even if you don’t go in, this futuristic-looking building is worth visiting for appreciation of its sheer beauty. Tomorrowland, anyone?
Feast your eyes on beautiful art pieces and installations – such as this field of LED roses. Source
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Address: 281 Eulji-ro, Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Tue – Thu and Sun: 10am – 7pm | Fri – Sat: 10am – 9pm | Closed on Mondays
Approx. 5-min walk from Dongdaemun Station
5. Brush up on your Korean with free language classes
Who better to learn a foreign language from than the locals themselves? You’ll be surprised to know that Craigslist has plenty of postings for language exchange partners in Seoul, where locals extend free Korean classes to visitors in exchange of getting to learn their language too. This is a great way to make new friends from a different cultural background!
Go as part of a group so it’s less intimidating! Source
Okay, so there are a couple of dubious listings for “special friends”. Just make sure you read the descriptions properly so that you’ll know what you’re signing up for is legit! Unless, of course, you’re looking for that sorta thing. We’re not judging.
6. Be part of Noryangjin Fish Market’s bustling activity
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is to Seoul as Tsukuji Fish Market is to Tokyo – basically, a seafood paradise everyone should step into at least once in their lifetimes. But unlike its Japanese counterpart which usually closes around noon, this bustling fish market in Seoul is open 24/7! Which means you don’t have to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn just to check out the fresh marine gems here.
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market
Address: 74 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1(il)-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 24 hours
Approx. 2-min walk from Noryangjin Station
7. Go crazy collecting beauty samples
Beauty buffs, listen up: while there are plenty of beauty stores all over Seoul, Myeongdong is a treasure trove full of them. Handfuls of free samples are usually thrown in upon purchase, though many stores are also generous enough to give them out once you enter – with no obligations on your part. If you pop into enough stores, you’ll receive enough mini-sized packets to last your entire trip, and then some!
Tip: If you’re with friends, what usually happens is that only one of you will receive a sample. Put the separation anxiety aside and enter a good 20 seconds apart from each other to maximise your freebie collection!
8. Transport yourself to olden-day Seoul at Bukchon Hanok Village
While you’re patiently waiting for time machines to be built, transport yourself back in time to old Seoul with a visit to Bukchon Hanok Village. Once inhabited with aristocrats of the Joseon Dynasty, this rustic village is located between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace, and Jongmyo Royal Shrine – check those out too if time permits!
Traditional pagoda roofs set against the modern skyscrapers right outside the village offers an interesting juxtaposition, showing how Seoul has transformed over the past few centuries.
Bukchon Hanok Village
Address: Gye-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Approx. 10-min walk from Anguk Station
9. Marvel at a laser show at Cheonggyecheon Stream
No fireworks, no sweat. End off a romantic evening stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream on a high note with a spectacular laser light show, where you’ll be mesmerised by multi-coloured laser formations in shapes like flowers, hearts, and more.
Though man-made, Cheonggyecheon Stream is nonetheless a refreshing place, and you can get right up to the water’s edge thanks to the steps leading down to it.
Also a great place to catch sunsets! Source: @saramcbla
Address: Cheonggyecheon-ro, Sangwangsimni-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Laser show timings: 25-min shows at 1-hour intervals, from 7pm every night
Approx 5-min walk from Sinseoul-dong Station
10. Guided foot tours of Seoul’s attractions
Extending their kind hospitality to tourists, a group of locals have been providing free walking tours of Seoul attractions since 2013. Each tour lasts an average of 2 hours, where you’ll enjoy viewing the city from a local’s perspective. Head to the Seoul Free Walking Tour Facebook page to check the tour schedule and sign up!
11. Hike up the peaks of the highest mountain in Seoul
The view from Baegundae Peak, Bukhan Mountain’s highest peak. Source: @morkoshka
Feeling your jeans get tighter after countless bowls of bibimbap? Sweat it out with a hike at Bukhan Mountain aka Bukhansan, Seoul’s highest mountain. It has 3 peaks of varying heights, so pick your path based on how much you’d like to challenge yourself. It’s definitely not going to be a walk in the park but there are some paved areas, railings, and staircases to aid you along the way.
Be prepared to spend your whole day here – scaling just one peak would take you from 5 to 7 hours depending on your walking pace and whether you take any rests. We highly recommend bringing some snacks along in case you suddenly get hangry halfway.
Bukhansan National Park
Address: 262 Bogukmun-ro, Hyoja-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Daily; 4am – 5pm
Take bus 704 going towards Bukhansanseong Fortress from Gupabal Station and alight at the entrance to the park.
12. Check out kitschy crafted goods at Hongdae Free Market
No used goods here – unlike the usual flea markets touting secondhand items, Hongdae Free Market is one full of kitschy stalls featuring handcrafted items by street artists and independent labels. It’s only open once a week on Saturday afternoons, so make sure you plan your schedule to accommodate that! A perfect place to get unique souvenirs for friends and family.
Hongdae Free Market
Address: 19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Saturdays, 1pm – 6pm
Approx. from 10-min walk from Hongik University Station
13. Be wowed by multicoloured lights at the Han River’s Banpo Bridge
Betcha’ haven’t seen a fountain spouting out of a bridge before, much less one illuminated with rainbow lights! There are a couple of bridges along the Han River, but Banpo Bridge is arguably the most popular – no guessing why. Bring your girl here and surprise her with this magical sight – or maybe even a proposal?
Address: Banpo 2(i)-dong, Seoul, South Korea
Approx. 8-min walk from Seobinggo Station
Accomodation in Seoul
To help narrow down your search for accommodation in Seoul, here are some choices you can get on CheapTickets.sg at special discounted prices. Whether you’re on a budget or would like to splurge for something more cushy, you’ll find a whole range of accommodation for every kind of traveller.
From now until 12th December, redeem a $88 cash rebate on bookings with return flights and 3 nights’ hotel stay when you book with CheapTickets.sg!
Sleek and homely: SLA Seoul Loft Apartments
With a rooftop terrace, 42-inch flat-screen TVS, and sleek lacquered wood flooring, live out all your LA dreams at SLA Seoul Loft Apartments. Housing anywhere from a party of 2, to an entourage of 4 – take your pick from contemporary studios to stylish lofts which come fully-furnished, complete with a kitchen so you can whip up a feast if you get the late-night munchies.
With a 24-hour concierge service at your every beck and call and a daily housekeeping, this choice is perfect stakeout for your grad trip posse looking for a little down time at night.
What’s nearby: Changdeokgung Palace and Dongdaemun Market
SLA Seoul Loft Apartments
Price: From S$104/night
Address: 158, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-450 South Korea
For the gal pals: Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong
Every self-proclaimed princess will love the pink princess-themed rooms at Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong. Set in a glass tower, this hotel is 19 minutes away from Dongdaemun Market, and 25 minutes from Gyeongbokgung Palace via train. Perfect for groups of girlfriends on a BFF bonding trip!
And if not all of you share the same pink sentiment, they also have regular rooms that are just as posh. Source
A literal stone’s throw away from Myeongdong station, you couldn’t ask for a better homebase for offloading all your midday steals.
What’s nearby: Myeongdong Station, large Lotte Supermarket.
Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong
Price: From S$82/night
Address: 16 Myeongdong 9-gil, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
One for the gram: Hotel Karashy
If you’re looking for a nest as beautifully curated as your Instagram feed – we present to you, Hotel Karashy. With an interior that’s both pleasing and edgy to boot, choosing to spend your stay in this boutique Korean gem will increase your photo-taking opportunities ten-fold.
Just look at those bathtubs! Source
With each room sporting a distinct mix of elements, whichever room you’re allocated, be prepared to be wowed. Surrounded by eateries, this boutique hotel also has a rooftop terrace and is situated near Sadang Station that makes zipping around town as easy as pie.
What’s nearby: Seoul Arts Center, and Seoul National University Museum of Art
Price: From S$98/night
Address: 15, Dongjak-daero 1-gil, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, 07025, South Korea
Comfortable simplicity: Hotel Tong Vivace Dongdaemun
For those who prefer no-frills accommodation with a reasonable amount of comfort, Hotel Tong Vivace Dongdaemun is the perfect economy hotel for a good night’s sleep. Situated in the middle of the city’s shopping district, you’ll always be just minutes away from good food and fun.
What’s nearby: Dongdaemun Market, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Dongdaemun Plaza, Insadong, and Myeongdong
Hotel Tong Vivace Dongdaemun
Price: From S$64/night
Address: 23, Jong-ro 48-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Seoul, 110-842, South Korea, +65 6818 5688
Seoul on a budget with CheapTickets.sg
Instead of binge-watching reruns of “Running Man”, pigging-out on Nongshim ramen, and waiting for Taeyeon to respond to your DMs – there are other ways to feed your K-crazy soul…like packing your bags and taking off to the capital of Korea itself!
And fret not, flying to the land of flawless faces won’t cost you an arm and a leg. With CheapTickets.sg’s two-way flight deals, you can jet off to Seoul from just $298 from now to 12th December. Even if you don’t cross paths with your favorite K-Pop stars, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars to have come across CheapTickets.sg’s unbeatable flight deals. To clarify, the cheapest flight price is $328 and with their $30 flight discount you can get it at $298 all-in. The discount is now valid until 12th December. Their $88 cash rebate deal can be redeemed on bookings with return flights and 3 nights hotel stay.
Muslim friends can get in on the fun too – while Korea is known for its chimaek and party vibes, its recently upped its game for Muslim friendly-travel, with yummy treats like Halal Korean BBQ, Bibimbap, and more! Find out more about the Halal F&B options in Korea here, as well as Halal travel tips specific to Korea here – specially curated in a collaboration between CheapTickets.sg and Have Halal Will Travel.
Note: Flight prices are dynamic so the cheapest flights may not always remain on a fixed set of dates. To help you out, CheapTicket.sg’spromo page will auto-direct you to the cheapest flights available at any given moment. Most of the are dates a good amount of time away in 2017, so you can plan early for your vacation and not have to scramble with last-minute bookings. Of course, do feel free to play around with the dates to find out flight prices for other periods of travel.
This post was brought to you by CheapTickets.sg and Korea Tourism Organisation (Singapore).