Korea has a wide array of accommodation types and looking for a place to stay can be quite confusing. Hence, most foreigners are not familiar with the commonly used terms here. While they may refer to the same vocabulary in English, each of them actually has its own distinctive meanings. Before we dive into the detailed explanation, there are two significantly different types of rooms that you need to choose – an “ondol” or a “standard” room. (Some accommodation provides both options, so in that case, you need to choose). An “ondol” room is typical for large group and guests will sleep on the floor on a thin mattress. On the other hand, a “standard” room basically means there is a bed and some furniture. Thus, whether you’re looking for a place to stay on budget or looking for a unique sleeping experience, I’ve got the list you need.
International chains like Marriott, Grand Hyatt and Hilton have been opening hotels in South Korea and there are now 5-star options in every major city. Prices fluctuate heavily throughout the year with the cost of hotel rooms doubling or even tripling during peak tourist months. They are comfortable to stay in and have a large variety of amenities. Most high-end hotels are divided into classes depending on its quality. The best are suites, followed by deluxe and standard. 5-star hotels in Korea can run a bit on the pricey side of things, from 160,000 up to 400,000 won one night.
Nowadays, every city and even small towns in Korea has many motels. They are usually clustered around bus stations, subway stations and bar districts. Motels in Korea is usually a place where couples go for a romantic adventure, and rooms can be rented by hour. However, most tourists recommend staying at motel because of its reasonable price and facilities. The rooms are normally equipped with a flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi, a small fridge and a toilet. The price ranges from 20,000 to 50,000 won per night.
If spending most of your day exploring the city and only using the place you stay to sleep, then guesthouse is a great option for you. Rooms are shared, and most of them are separated by gender. One room can be shared up to 30 people with only two toilets inside. The lesser the number of people in one room, the higher the room rate. If you want to have privacy and prefer to have everything on your own, then this is a big no for you. They may not offer as many amenities as a hotel room, but the cheap price makes up for that. A guesthouse can be as cheap as 10,000 to 50,000 won per night.
Pensions are often found outside of big cities. They are used for family or large group excursions. It can be half a building or the whole house and the rooms are usually very large. Kitchen utensils, fridge, rice cooker, microwave and electric kettle are provided, so you can cook there. Most pensions offer “ondol” rooms, so you need to sleep on the floor with thin mattress on. Do not worry, they will provide blankets. Pensions are quite expensive, but the cost can be divided among the group to bring down the price.
Hanok is a traditional Korean house and are built with natural materials and have beautiful sliding paper doors. Some are genuinely old houses, over 80 to 100 years old, but some are recently built. It gives off vintage vibes, as if you are living in a house built few hundred years ago. It is a place where you can really relax yourself and get away from the hustles of life. You will sleep in “ondol” room with soft mattress on a heated floor. The price is Hanok is a one-in-a-lifetime stay experience, so do not miss the chance to experience it when you travel to Korea!
A jjimjilbang, or sauna, usually has a steaming circle symbol on its signboard. Many foreigners and even locals like to stay overnight at a jjimjilbang because it is a cheaper alternative compared to other accommodation options. It comes in all shapes and sizes from holes in the wall that cost about 7,000 to 10,000 won per visit with no time limit. In addition, it is usually open 24 hours. You will be given a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Personally, I do not recommend sleeping at the jjimjilbang because it is quite noisy and not comfortable. Nevertheless, you should at least visit the jjimjilbang once to dip yourself into the hot baths and embrace the short escape from the reality of life. Click here to read about jjimjilbang experience.
Glamping is a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping”, and describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services which is usually not associated with “traditional” camping. These days, glamping is very popular especially among youngsters in Korea. The peak season for glamping is during summer. You can find many glamping sites at the outskirts of major cities like Gapyeong and Pocheon. You will live inside a tent equipped with bed, fridge, TV and BBQ facilities. The tent will be decorated with beautiful lights which hype up the glamping atmosphere. Most of the glamping tents do not have private toilet and shower rooms, so you need to share with others. The price for one night is around 40,000 to 100,000 won depending on its amenities and how luxury it is.
Aside from glamping, caravan stay is also well-known among families and young people in Korea. A caravan is a vehicle equipped for living in, typically a trailer towed by a car and used when traveling for recreation. Cooking equipment, induction cooker, kitchen utensils are all provided inside the caravan. Every caravan is equipped with a private toilet, TV, dining table, fridge, kitchen and beds. A caravan site is usually located near a mountain or lake. It is one of the best getaways from the busy town where you can spend time with your loved ones while enjoying the nature surrounding it. It costs around 100,000 to 120,000 won per night to stay at a luxurious caravan. They are cheaper options too ranging from 40,000 to 60,000 won, but with lower standard and less facilities.
I hope that this guide can provide more in-depth insights on the types of accommodation available in South Korea. Also, I really wish that you find this guide helpful and that it can clear up your confusion. Hope that you will have a splendid time and a great stay here in Korea!