Have you ever thought about visiting South Korea? Is it on your list of places to go or had it never crossed your mind about adding it to your travel route? This was exactly us. Not only was it not on our travel route, we hadn’t even discussed visiting South Korea. It was only because of a friend who said how beautiful the place is and how underestimated it is. Joe was massively keen after hearing that but I was still skeptical. I’m not sure about you but when I hear South Korea, all I hear is Korea and then North Korea. Bad!, I know but it’s the media, the news, the mis-conceptions.
When Joe said he wanted to head to South Korea, I simply just said no. I said I don’t want to go, I wouldn’t feel safe and there are other places I would rather be. But Joe being Joe, kept going on about it and kept trying to persuade me that it was absolutely fine to visit there. So I did a bit of googling and every news article, blog & travel operator said how it was one of the safest destinations to visit and it’s becoming more and more popular with tourists. All I needed was some black and white information and I was definitely keen on visiting South Korea.
Visiting South Korea was never a part of our travel route…
Being so close in Malaysia and deciding not to follow rainy season to Indonesia, we just thought why not. Flights were pretty cheap, around £80 each so there wasn’t really any reason not to. Although one thing about being excited and spontaneous, is that we didn’t actually do any research on the country. All we knew that it was safe to go & was really pretty during the season we were going which was October (Autumn).
A result of spontaneity
So we started doing a bit of research about how much accommodation was, the cost of eating out there and just general touristy things to do. Turns out, South Korea is pretty expensive. Well a lot more compared to other countries we had visited. We read some travel website and other blogs about how people had travelled around the country, but it wasn’t helping us as much as we thought. In the end, we knew we just had to go and experience it for ourselves & learn along the way.
We had so many questions just like you might…
We definitely learnt a lot in South Korea and for the sake of our budget, we had to make it as cheap as possible. So if you are thinking of visiting South Korea and travelling on a bit of a budget, here’s some answers to questions we had before going. If we knew all this before we went, it probably would have made us feel a lot better, more prepared and a lot of less worried about how much we might spend.
So here goes…
Here are just the big questions we had but if you do have any more, feel free to drop a message in the comment box and we will be happy to help!
Where are the best places to visit?
Now this really depends on how long you have in South Korea. It’s not a huge country so maybe decide how what sort of thing you want to do and that will probably help on the kind places you want to visit. I would highly recommend visiting Seoul & Busan.
Seoul is the capital of South Korea and it really does not disappoint. It actually reminded of Singapore, it was that nice! It is a huge city and there are so many things to do there and THE SHOPPING!…well if you like shopping, i’ll let you experience that for yourself. If I had more space, unlimited baggage limit and not that small issue of a budget, I would have shopped until I dropped. Last but not least, I would also recommend staying in Dongdaemun. It’s a really good location to the subway, the shops and popular tourist sites. Like I said, there is tons to do in Seoul, have a read to get some ideas. Things to do in Seoul
Now you can’t miss Busan. It was recently given the title of The Number 1 Best Place to Visit in Asia by the Lonley Planet. It’s about a 5 hour bus journey from Seoul and costs around £20. Or if your stuck for time, both Seoul & Busan have airports so might be more convenient for you. Busan isn’t that big and it’s get with public transport so where ever you stay, your pretty much in a good location. We stayed right next to Busan Station which was ideal. If you need ideas of what to do in Busan, check out my previous post Things to do in Busan.
Is it safe visiting South Korea?
So this was one of my main concerns and that was me being so naive. I think when someone says there visiting South Korea, they automatically think of North Korea. Of course that isn’t going to be the best of places to visit, I mean you can. They do do tours there to explore and learn but they are very strict on who goes and what you can do there. Anyway, South Korea couldn’t be more different. It was probably one of the safest places I have felt our travels and we didn’t have one bad experience there. Obviously, you should always be wary of your surroundings and there is no need to be counting wods of money in public or flashing fancy gadgets around. But we felt so at ease in there. We soon learnt how friendly Korean’s are and so willing to help. We even had one guy buy our bus ticket as we didn’t have change. Couldn’t communicate what so ever due to the language barrier but he got the jist we couldn’t pay and just got up a paid the driver.
Don’t ever be put off just because of what people think or what they may say.
Every country has dangerous parts and you always need to be careful where ever you go, even if your home town. So never let mis conceptions, the media or the guy you met travelling last week, stop you from travelling and exploring beautiful places like South Korea.
The best way to eat on a budget…
Not going to lie, eating out in South Korea isn’t the cheapest. Sometimes, if you find a good food court in a shopping centre your onto a winner so you could always head there. We didn’t really eat out much, due to trying to keep things cheap. Which I know, is a shame as we didn’t really get to experience Korean food. We tried to stay in hostels that have a kitchen so we can cook our own meals. We try to do a decent shop at the local supermarket mainly consisting of eggs and bread for breakfast and then rice and chicken for dinner. Really not that exciting but it was cheap and so worth it. The food was really nice and it felt so good being able to cook our own food again. There are loads of restaurants in South Korea so you might do a better job than us with finding cheap food, but it worked for us and helped keep our budget steady.
The main and easiest way to get around South Korea is by subway. It’s definitely not as intimidating as the London underground but once you know where your going, you just follow the route on the map! Ticket stations are usually right at the entrance and they cost from about 1,500-5000 won, depending on the length of your journey. Also, if you keep hold of your ticket, you can deposit it and get a refund of 500 won. Getting the subway is the best way to get around, just maybe try to avoid rush hour because they will literally squeeze onto the train in the tiniest of gaps and it’s not the best of experiences.
Where to stay?
If your visiting Seoul, we coudn’t recommend Dongdaemun Inn enough. The owner was the friendliest person ever to greet us and was keen to take us out for dinner to show us around on the first night. He was so helpful with what to do and where to go. Even giving his honest opinion on what places were like. South Korea can be quite expensive for accommodation but here, it was all we needed. The room was quite small and basic but it was clean & comfy. That’s all we really want.
Visiting South Korea should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is such a beautiful country and I think no-one really thinks about going there, which is a shame. I for one being one of those people. Hopefully this changes and more people can see what an incredible place it really is.