South Korea is one of Asia’s most developed and progressive country , comparable to Japan and Singapore. As such, travelling to this country can be a bit costly and would require some preparation , and research.
Here are my recommendations from how to experience S. Korea without spending so much. As always, I lived by my principle of travelling on a practical note; and Not necessarily going the cheapest option , which can be a hassle sometimes. Hope this can help you in your preparation.
Transportation = Incheon International Airport is around an hour travel by subway to Seoul , which would cost you around 14,300 won (around 14 USD) . Bus options are available for around half the price , but will take you 2 hours or more. Transportation from airport to Seoul is highly organized , and the attendants can converse in english and are willing to assist.
Subway system within Seoul is very efficient, but can be a bit pricey, and would cost around 1 USD even if you travelled just a station away. But then again, I still recommend this , rather than hopping on a bus to roam around the city, which can be a bit confusing. Taxi rides are expensive , and would not go below 10 USD even for a relatively short distance. Moreover, taxi charges go almost double at night , at around 10pm, as soon as the subway operation ceases.
Where we Stayed = Banana Backpackers Hostel, which is very close to Angguk Station and Changdeokgung Palace, Jongno-gu. There were 4 of us and we took a private room for around 15 USD per person. But other options are available. Accommodations are cheaper in Jongno-gu area, which is nearer to the palaces and the old city center.
Where to buy stuff and pasalubong = Daiso branches are everywhere , selling cute items for less than 2 USD. Cheap items can also be bought in the outer streets of Seoul’s shopping districts like Myeongdong and Insadong. The main streets can be a bit pricey.
Freebies = Cosmetic shops in Korea, especially in Myeongdong, are very generous in giving product samples and freebies. Most even give out Face mask packs , which are sold at around 60 pesos (1.5 USD) here in the Philippines. As such, this can also be a good option as pasalubong to friends back home =)
Off the beaten path of Seoul,
Shops and Cafe hopping near Hongdae area and the University Belt
Coffee Prince – Famous for the Korean Drama Series that conquered asia the year 2007-08
Hello Kitty Cafe – just walking distance from coffee prince
Cats Living Pet Cafe
Bauhouse Pet Cafe for Dogs
Interesting Architectural Design of SSamziegil Shopping Complex at Insadong. To reach the upper levels, a gently-sloping ramp winds around the building, from ground-level to roof-top deck.
Explore Gangnam district street scene
Gyeonggi English Village at Paju City, around an hour travel by bus from Seoul . This is where the Drama Series “Boys over Flowers” was shot.
Le Provence in Paju City – cluster of Markets , vibrant and typically Korean.