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, and fashion – and we just can’t get enough. 

With Korea now being part of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, we can all finally head back to the land of kimchi for KBBQ, K-pop and shopping galore. With CheapTickets.sg, quell your cravings for all things Korean by jetting off to Seoul at affordable prices

To add on to that amazing deal, here are some cool activities you can do there to keep your trip to Korea budget-friendly:

Note: This is an updated version of a 2016 article – offers listed in this article may no longer be available.


Covid-19 restrictions in Seoul


Much like Singapore, Seoul has social distancing regulations that range from restricted opening hours to maximum group sizes. Most of their attractions are still open so you’ll still be able to explore the city. 

As of time of publishing, Seoul is currently in Level 3 alert and below are some the main restrictions to take note of:

  • You must be fully vaccinated before travelling to South Korea.
  • Private gatherings will allow up to 10 people regardless of vaccination status
  • Restaurants and cafes will only allow a maximum of four unvaccinated people per group
  • Entertainment places like night clubs will cease operation at 10PM
  • You can choose not to wear a face mask outdoors as long as you have received one vaccination

View more details on Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare website


1. Appreciate art at Dongdaemun Design Plaza


Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Image credit:
Farrah Espina

A hub for the arts, Dongdaemun Design Plaza is 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?

free things to do in seoul - Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Image credit:
Chezabelll

Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Feast your eyes on beautiful art pieces and installations – such as this field of LED roses.
Image credit: Chezabelll

Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Address: 281 Eulji-ro, Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

Getting there: Approx. 5-min walk from Dongdaemun Station


2. Brush up on your Korean with free language classes


free things to do in seoul - free language classes
Image credit:
Rela

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 Korean classes to visitors in exchange of getting to learn their language too. If you’re lucky, you might even find a handful of classes that are free. This is a great way to make new friends from different cultural backgrounds!

free language classes
Go as part of a group so it’s less intimidating.
Image credit: Meetup

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.


3. Be part of Noryangjin Fish Market’s bustling activity


free things to do in seoul - Noryangjin Fish Market

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 Fish Market

free things to do in seoul - Noryangjin Fish Market

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market
Address: 74 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1(il)-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

Getting there: Approx. 2-min walk from Noryangjin Station


4. Go crazy collecting beauty samples


free things to do in seoul - beauty samples
Image credit:
Pinterest

You may have heard that the famous Myeongdong has turned into a “ghost town” this period, but fret not as Seoul is chock full of beauty shops all around the city. Head to streets near universities like Hongik and Ewha and you should still be able to find all the skincare and makeup products you need.

Free samples are usually thrown in upon purchase, though some 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!

 beauty samples
Image credit:
Korea Tourism Organisation

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!


5. Transport yourself to olden-day Seoul at Bukchon Hanok Village


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.

Bukchon Hanok Village
Image credit:
@thisisanastasiia

Traditional pagoda roofs set against the modern skyscrapers right outside the village offer an interesting juxtaposition, showing how Seoul has transformed over the past few centuries.

Bukchon Hanok Village
Address: Gye-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Getting there: Approx. 10-min walk from Anguk Station


6. Marvel at a light installations at Cheonggyecheon Stream at night 


free things to do in seoul - Cheonggyecheon Stream
Image credit:
@glokool_korea

No fireworks, no sweat. End off a romantic evening stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream on a high note with its spectacular light installation, where you’ll be mesmerised by sights such as an illuminated waterfall and a  “rainbow bridge”.

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.

free things to do in seoul - Cheonggyecheon Stream
Also a great place to catch sunsets

Image credit: @cheonggyecheon_official

Cheonggyecheon Stream
Address: Cheonggyecheon-ro, Sangwangsimni-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Getting there: Approx 5-min walk from Sinseoul-dong Station


7. Guided foot tours of Seoul’s attractions


free things to do in seoul - free walking tours

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 two 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!

Note: Seoul Free Walking Tour is unavailable until further notice.


8. Hike up the peaks of the highest mountain in Seoul


free things to do in seoul - Bukhan Mountain
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 three 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 five to seven 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.

Also read our guide to hiking in Seoul and the rest of Korea.

Bukhansan National Park
Address: 262 Bogukmun-ro, Hyoja-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 4AM-5PM, Daily

Getting there: Take bus 704 going towards Bukhansanseong Fortress from Gupabal Station and alight at the entrance to the park.


9. Check out kitschy crafted goods at Hongdae Free Market


free things to do in seoul - Hongdae Free Market
Image credit:
Younique Lifestyle of Korea

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.

free things to do in seoul - Hongdae Free Market
Image credit:
Outruigeous

Note: Hongdae Free Market is only open on Saturdays from March to November.

Hongdae Free Market
Address: 19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: Saturdays, 1PM – 6PM

Getting there: Approx. 10-min walk from Hongik University Station


10. Be wowed by multicoloured lights at the Han River’s Banpo Bridge


 Banpo Bridge
Image credit:
Leo Guesthouse Hongdae

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?

Banpo Bridge
Address: Banpo 2(i)-dong, Seoul, South Korea

Getting there: Approx. 8-min walk from Seobinggo Station


11. Have a photoshoot at Common Ground


free things to do in seoul - Common Ground
Image credit:
@lovefb731

Move over, Wheeler’s Yard – Common Ground has all the brilliant blue #OOTD backdrops anyone could hope for. And it’s high on the 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.

free things to do in seoul - Common Ground
Image credit:
@isthiscountry

Common Ground
Address: 17-1 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 11AM–10PM, Daily

Getting there: Approx. 5-min walk from Konkuk University Station


12. Rock out to live indie music at Hongdae


free things to do in seoul - Hongdae
Image credit:
@shamashryu

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.

Note: Not available until further notice.


13. 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.

free things to do in seoul - M! Countdown live shows
Popular Korean boyband BTS showing off dem moves
Image credit: KCON 

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.

Note: M! Countdown live shows are not available until further notice.

Digital Media City
Address: 1606 Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu CJ E & M Center

Getting there: Approx 12-min walk from Digital Media City 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 2016, redeem a $88 cash rebate on bookings with return flights and 3 nights’ hotel stay when you book with CheapTickets.sg!

2021 update: This promotion is no longer available.


 Sleek and homely: SLA Seoul Loft Apartments 


free things to do in seoul - SLA Seoul Loft Apartments
Image credit: Cheap Tickets

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 two, to an entourage of four – 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.

free things to do in seoul - Seoul Loft Apartments
Image credit: Cheap Tickets

With a 24-hour concierge service at your every beck and call and daily housekeeping, this choice is perfect 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$123/night, min. 3-night stay
Address: 158, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-450 South Korea

Book SLA Seoul Loft Apartments here.


For the gal pals: Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong


free things to do in seoul - Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong
Image credit: Cheap Tickets

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!

Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong
And if not all of you share the same pink sentiment, they also have regular rooms that are just as posh.
Image credit: Cheap Tickets

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$90/night
Address: 16 Myeongdong 9-gil, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong website

Note: This hotel is temporarily unavailable on CheapTickets


One for the gram: SR Hotel Sadang


free things to do in seoul - SR Hotel Sadang
Image credit:
Cheap Tickets

If you’re looking for a nest as beautifully curated as your Instagram feed – we present to you, SR Hotel Sadang. 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.

SR Hotel Sadang
Just look at those bathtubs!
Image credit: Cheap Tickets

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

SR Hotel Sadang
Price: From S$250/night
Address: 15, Dongjak-daero 1-gil, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, 07025, South Korea

Book SR Hotel Sadang here.


Seoul on a budget with CheapTickets.sg


korea things to do

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 2016*. Even if you don’t cross paths with your favourite 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 2016. Their $88 cash rebate deal can be redeemed on bookings with return flights and three nights hotel stay.

seoul - website
Image credit: Cheaptickets.sg

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’s promo page will auto-direct you to the cheapest flights available at any given moment. Most of the dates are 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.

2021 update: this offer is no longer available.

Get CheapTickets.sg’s travel deals here!


This post was brought to you by CheapTickets.sg and Korea Tourism Organisation (Singapore).
Original article published on 5th December 2016 . Last updated by Tay Jin Heok on 16th November 2021.
Promotions and offers mentioned in this article may no longer be valid.