If you want to save money in Korea, there are a few simple changes you can make without putting a dent in your lifestyle. You can still enjoy Korean culture to the fullest, even while adhering to a budget! Here are some tricks I’ve used to save money while living and traveling in Korea.
Save Money in Korea on Transportation
Get a Transportation Card
One of the biggest costs, when you travel, is transportation. It’s an invisible cost that most people don’t anticipate. However, if you’re not careful, it can add up quickly.
The easiest way to save money on transportation is to invest in a T-Money Card as soon as you arrive in South Korea. The T-money card is an electronic transport pass that you can top up. Not only do you get charged less when traveling around using the card, but it is also much easier to top it up and not think about it for a while. You can use the card to pay for subway, buses, taxis, and even for items purchased in convenience stores.
Additionally, many locations that do not accept cash, like Starbucks, do accept T-Money cards. And so, even if your cards don’t work in South Korea, you can still be comfortable in a society that is going cashless.
Don’t Use Taxis Too Much
Taxis are so convenient and they’re always around when you need one. But, taxis are far more expensive than public transportation. If you need a taxi, by all means, use one, but be careful of the premium black taxis. They are more expensive than standard taxis.
Save money in Korea by Using Free Wi-Fi
Korea’s Internet speeds are some of the bests in the world, and so are the WiFi services. There is Free Wi-Fi available at almost every subway, bus station, restaurant, coffee shop, and bus. You can easily connect to free Wi-Fi in Seoul instead of paying a huge amount of money for data.
Save Money in Korea by Eating Like A Local
In Seoul, there are a lot of foreign restaurants. My advice is to eat more Korean food than foreign foods when you eat out. Foreign food is way overpriced and is usually not very authentic. The cheapest food you can find is traditional Korean cuisine. Not only can you try genuine Korean food in the country of origin, but you can also save money too.
You’ll find some incredible street food in Korea that is extremely cheap. There are dozens of dishes that you can try. There really are no bad options when it comes to Korean street food. And the best part is, you can normally find street food in tourist locations at any time of day or night.
Save Money in Korea by Shopping at Traditional Markets
I love shopping at traditional markets in Korea. This is a great way to save money as a resident or a tourist. Korea has a lot of traditional markets and there are a variety of things to buy from food to household items. The best thing is that they are cheap, and you’ll be supporting a small business.
One of my favorite Traditional Markets to take friends when they visit Korea is Noryangjin. It is one of the biggest fish markets in the world. You’ll get the chance to try seafood you can’t try anywhere else. Plus, it’ll be at a discounted price.
Save Money in Korea by Going to Cheap Chain Cafes
Coffee consumption is a big thing in Korea. The problem is visits to trendy cafes add up fast when a single cup is 5,000 to 6,000 won. If you need to kill some time or need a rest, there are a couple of alternatives that can save you money.
Firstly, you can grab a coffee at a convenience store. Coffees can go as cheap as 2,000 won at a convenience store. They have a wide variety of options, often more than traditional cafes. You can even get ice from the freezer to make all sorts of refreshing iced drinks. Once you have a drink, many convenience stores also have seating areas where you can enjoy your drink just as you would in a cafe.
Sometimes, you may want to go to a cafe and use their wifi or just to enjoy the atmosphere. There are a lot of cheap coffee shop chains like Mega Coffee, From Hearts Coffee, Paik’s Coffee, and Ediya. They are less expensive than Starbucks or trendy shops, but they have reliable wifi and decent enough decor.
Save Money in Korea by Using Free Samples
Many cosmetic stores offer a wide range of free samples. Even if you just buy a few thousand won worth of cosmetics, most shops will give you a bag full of samples. When you are running low on products or traveling you can always use samples.
I have had times when a single sample product has lasted me two weeks or even more. When you consider the number of samples you are given from a single shopping trip, you are looking at months worth of free products.
Save Money in Korea by Shopping Tax-Free
If you are a tourist, be sure to take advantage of tax-free shopping. If you aren’t a resident, then you don’t need to pay sales tax at larger businesses. When you go to chain shops and ask them if tax-free options are available. Normally, you will find that you don’t have to pay tax if you are making purchases over a certain amount.
However, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of asking for tax-free options, there is an easier option. There are great duty-free shops in Seoul and at Incheon Airport where you can buy excellent Korean and foreign goods without paying any tax. These shops remove the tax from the price directly, so you don’t have to worry about applying for tax refunds. Stores like Lotte duty-free and Shilla I-park are great places to check out.
There are endless fun free and cheap things to do in Seoul. Click Here for some budget date (or travel) ideas!