Seoul on a Budget – 10 Free Things to do in Seoul, South Korea

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Seoul is a city filled with beautiful architecture, a booming nightlife, and food that will satisfy any craving.

Several districts make up Seoul, and each contributes a different and unique experience to the city.

Fun fact: I’m half Korean! My mom grew up in Seoul, and I’m always fascinated by her stories of living in Seoul.

Tips to save money in Seoul, South Korea:

Here are ten free things to do in Seoul, South Korea.

1. War Memorial of Korea

The War Memorial of Korea is a large exhibit that holds items related to the Korean War.

The site was established to serve as a memorial to the people who sacrificed and lost their lives in the war.

There are over 33,000 artifacts in the museum, with around 10,000 that are accessible for viewing.

The outdoor area holds large weapons such as tanks, planes, and more.

Below is a statue depicting a South Korean soldier and his brother, who is a North Korean soldier asking each other for forgiveness. Be prepared to feel many emotions that will feel foreign to you.

Address: 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 04353, South Korea

Cost: Free

Related: How To Travel The World On A Tight Budget

2. Gyeongbokgung Palace

In 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace was built and is known for being the most beautiful out of all the palaces in Seoul.

Out of the five neighboring palaces, Gyeongbokgung Palace remains the largest.

This palace was the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty. Gyeongbokgung continued to serve as the main palace for many years, up until the area was destroyed in the Imjin War.

The palace was abandoned for two centuries but later restored. (There is 7,7000 rooms total!).

Make sure to catch the guard changing ceremony!

Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Cost: Prices vary depending on if you’re Korean, an international visitor, or if you have an Integrated Palace ticket. It’ll be between $1-$3 for a ticket. (Not totally free, but still extremely cheap!).

Check out this list of free things to do in Seoul, South Korea. Seoul is a must-see!

3. Bukchok Hanok Village

Near Gyeongbokgung Palace, and several other palaces and shrines, Bukchon Hanok Villiage is a neighborhood filled with traditional Korean houses, called Hanok.

This area is a hot spot for tourists as many of the hanoks stand as guesthouses, restaurants, and teahouses.

Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Cost: Free

4. Walk through Namsan Park to Seoul Tower

At the top of Namsan Park is Seoul Tower, Mt. Namsan, fountains, and more.

You can either walk up to Seoul Tower through the park or take a cable car to the top.

Visiting Seoul Tower is a must and if you feel likes splurging a bit, have dinner in the tower in the evening and enjoy the views of Seoul at night.

Address: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

Cost: Observatory: Adults 10,000 won / Children 8,000 won

Related: If you often travel, packing cubes are a must.

5. The Blue House

Several unique buildings all built in the traditional Korean style make up the Cheong Wa Dae, also known as The Blue House.

You can walk along the paths and take photos of The Blue House in designated areas (I got in trouble for taking photos elsewhere).

You can take a photo in front of Cheon Wa Dae, and then behind you will be an entrance to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Address: 1, Cheongwadae-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Cost: Tours available

Related: $1000 Travel Savings Plan

6. Cheonggyecheon Stream

Cheonggyecheon is a popular area for date nights and food trucks.

The stream was fully restored in 2005 and is now a booming hot spot at all hours of the day.

Plants are going up and down the stream, as well as a waterfall at the very end.

When I visited, there were also food trucks lined up and down on both ends of the stream, as well as mini booths selling handmade goods.

Address: Taepyeong-ro 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

Cost: Free

7. Hike Bukhansan National Park

On the northern tip of Seoul sits Mt. Bukhansan, a 78.45 km wide mountain.

Bukhansan translates to “big mountain in the north” and is known for its towering granite rocks that appear to be sliding off the mountain (but aren’t, obviously).

There are over 1,300 plants and animals living on the mountain and has over 100 paths leading to the rock.

Bukhansan can be hiked in all seasons with each season offering a different kind of unique beauty.

Address: Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, Seongbuk-gu, Gangbuk-gu, Jeongno-gu, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul-si

Cost: Free

Related: How To Learn A New Language On A Budget

8. Myeong-dong

A hot spot for shopping in Seoul, Myeong-dong has two main streets to shop on.

There are name brand shops, department stores that sell both clothes, shoes, and many other products.

If you want to buy name brand items, this is the area to shop in.

There are many different restaurants to choose from, including Korean, Japanese, and other cuisines.

Address: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Cost: Free

Related: Ibotta will help you save money on groceries, clothing, shoes, and a lot more all from a coupon-less app. Get $10 for signing up here.

9. Insadong

Insadong is a neighborhood filled with many Korean crafts.

You can find traditional Korean clothing here, herbal teas, calligraphy supplies, as well as many other prized goods.

The alleys are filled with street vendors, restaurants, and galleries.

Insadong also has street performers and artists. If you plan on buying a souvenir in Seoul, this is a great place for that.

Address: 62, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Cost: Free

10. Hongdae Market

Hongdae Market is a market for young artists selling creative items they’ve made themselves.

This is a trendy area filled with musicians, performers, and artists.

Hongdae is incredibly different than other markets, so if you choose to only go to one market, make it this one.

Address: 19-3, Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Cost: Free

Seoul Facts

  • Headquarters for Samsung, Kia, LG, Hyundai
  • There are 45 administrative districts, which are called gu. Each district has its own government
  • Has the highest rate of plastic surgery
  • Tipping is not necessary
  • Every South Korean baby is 1 year old once born
  • Has the fastest internet connection speed in the world
  • South Koreans drink the most liquor per capita (more than Russians!)
  • Around 45,000 people per square mile, making it one of the densest cities in the world

Getting in the Country

Passport needed for U.S. citizens

Basic Greetings

Hello – (ahn-yuhng ha-say-oh)

Please – (kuh-pee joo-say-oh)

Thank you – (kahm-sahm-nee-da)

You’re welcome (ahn-ee-ay-oh)

English? (yuhng-ah?)

Getting Around

Seoul’s subway transportation system is one of the best in the world.

The system is efficient, fast, and easy to use. From the airport to your destination in Seoul, you can use the subway system, or use the Airport bus for around $15 US dollars one way.

Seoul’s airport is English-friendly, and you will find people that will be eager to help you.

Public buses are inexpensive as well, and taxis are known for being affordable and abundant in the area.

Accommodations

An Airbnb in downtown Seoul goes for around $60 US Dollars for an entire apartment.

A hostel is around half that, but with the perks and features of Airbnb, I always recommend the latter.

You can get $40 by using my code here.

Food and Allergies

Food is cheap in Seoul and even cheaper on the outskirts of downtown Seoul.

I stayed with my Korean family in what I’d say is a “suburban” area of Seoul, and paid $15 US Dollars for a four entrée meal, along with the typical Korean sides.

I am vegan, and although there seems to be beef and fish in everything, I was able to get by eating only vegan foods.

If you’re allergic to dairy, you’ll be fine as Koreans don’t eat much dairy (at least compared to Americans).

Here is a free vegan guide for Seoul.

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Have you done any of these things in Seoul? What else do you recommend seeing?

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. This post was a bit of a walk down memory lane 🙂 We’ve been to about half of these along with the South Gate (before it was burned down). We loved trying the different food carts. Trying to remember if the Children’s Grand Park/Zoo is free (maybe?)

    1. I heard about it being burnt down, but it looks like it’s been restored! 🙂

  2. I’m thinking about living in Asia for a year (just to get around and take in the sights). The one thing that’s holding me back is how crowded is. I’m not sure about Korea, but Japan, China, HK are all so crowded!

    1. That’s awesome!

  3. Gah!!! It’s been my dream to go to South Korea. I feel a little jealous right now. 😛

    I’m very happy that you enjoyed your time there. I loved your post and it inspired me to continue to work towards my trip to SK (I am planning to go there next year).

    What’s your favorite Korean dish?

    Thank you so much for an excellent post and have fun in your travels!

    1. I have so many favorites! Japchae and Naenmyeon! 🙂

  4. Very good site and also the tips, won another follower thank you and congratulations to the site !!

    1. Thanks Mark! 🙂

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