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How To Visit South Korea Without Going Broke

Five palaces for P440?! YES.
PHOTO: Pixabay

Have you been to the country that gave us Gong Yoo? Because you totally need to make the trip. Apart from gorgeous men, South Korea is rich in history, style, and out-of-this-world eats! And no, you won’t have to take out a loan just to enjoy what they have to offer. All you need are these budget hacks!

1. Have you ever heard of temple stays?

Apart from hostels—something South Korea has a lot of—you can also try a temple stay for a unique experience. It allows you to experience the daily lifestyle and rituals of Korean Buddhists. You’ll also be exposed to “traditional culture, rural village exploration, hiking, and ecology.” Depending on how many nights you stay, a temple stay can cost anywhere from 30,000 won (P1,300) to 100,000 won (P4,500). If, however, you’re still partial to hostels, most of the hostels charge P600 on average.

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2. Get the T-Money card.

The T-Money card is the equivalent of our Beep card or Singapore’s EZ Link. But unlike our Beep card, you can use the T-Money card on trains, buses, and some taxis—and even on small purchases at convenience stores! You can also transfer from one subway line to the next, or from one bus to another, or even from a subway station to a bus—as long as you do it within the limited time. And if you compare prices, using the T-Money card is around P4.30 cheaper than paying with cash. The card costs 2,500 won or P110, but you can refund whatever’s left at the end of your trip for a fee of 500 won or P22. (But why would you? The card doesn't expire and can be used on your next visits!)

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3. Palace hopping? Invest in the integrated pass.

This pass will give you access to five major attractions in Seoul, namely the four main palacesGyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Deoksugung—and Jongmyo Shrine. Without the pass, you'd spend 14,000 won (P615) on all five attractions, but with the pass, you can visit everything for just 10,000 won (P440). Every saving matters!

4. Avoid shopping zones.

Ok, maybe avoid is a strong word. Who can really resist the urge to shop in Garosu-gil's cute boutiques or Myeong-dong's maze of beauty shops? But if you want cheaper finds, try Korea’s underground malls! They have tops for less than P200! These malls are near train stations, and they’re a perfect reprieve for when you want to escape a rain storm, but still have enough energy to continue shopping.

5. Enjoy the streats!

Streats = street eats. Street food in Korea is affordable and delicious. And we don’t just mean delicious for street food either. One couple documented their street food finds in Korea, and we’re so impressed! Popcorn chicken with rice cake for P200? Egg muffin for P90? French fry-coated hot dog for P110? Gimbap for P90? All of the above! 

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