Korea Costs: Budget for 11 days



Time for a wrap up of our Korea costs – we spent 11 days in this fabulous country.  It wasn’t cheap.

We arrived in Korea after our week in Hong Kong and Macau sitting at an average of USD$62.25 each per day, the costs driven up by those last 30 days in China.

We know that Korea isn’t going to be cheap, in fact we expect it to be the second most expensive country to visit from this first year of travel, behind only Japan.

We had a very leisurely 11 days in the country – there was no rushing around, and it has been rather relaxed. Our 4 days in Seoul, were more about pottering, although the day trip we took to the DMZ and the JSA was superb, it was fully organized, managed and massively expensive (to our budget) at USD$120 each for the day.

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It was well worth it. Also in Seoul, we spent three hours (and wish we’d had longer) at the Korean War Memorial, which is more museum than memorial and is one of the best museums on war that I’ve ever been to and it was completely free.


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Transport in Korea wasn’t cheap – not when you’re comparing it to say the subway in Beijing, or the Star ferry in Hong Kong – each metro journey in Seoul cost us 1,050 KRW (USD$1) , our train from Seoul to Mockpo, cost KRW 25,600 (USD$23.84) , the ferry to Jeju was a further 30,000 KRW (USD$27.93). Buses were a delight, especially from Seoul to Sotchko – where we hiked Seongsan Mountain, but they were expensive, 18,100 KRW (USD$16.86) each way. The luxury was worth it.

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Remember that little pink bus and the chicken attack?? Buses on Jeju were expensive too, and drivers while very friendly, triggered flashbacks about the Road to Shangri-La. To get back from Jeju to the mainland, we flew for a bargain USD$31.25 each, much cheaper than our planned overnight ferry which would have come in at least twice the price. The airport bus from Seogwipo to Jeju was 5,000 KRW (USD$5.12).

And now, we’re leaving Korea on the Kampu Ferry, in second class bunk beds at 95,000 KRW each, there’s a further 15,200 KRW in departure tax and fuel fees to pay too, giving us a total get out of Korea cost of 110,200 (USD$102.60).

That we have the ENTIRE 49 bed cabin to ourselves is by the by.. all the Koreans and Japanese traveling either opted for the “floor rooms”, where they’re sleeping 8 to the floor per room, or upgraded to first class, where you get four bunk beds in a room, or the suites. I think with our curtained choice of 49 beds we’re actually much better off!

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Our accommodation costs in Korea were an average of USD$14.75 each – we had 4 nights in Seoul, 2 nights in Mockpu, 4 nights on Jeju and one final night in Busan. The most expensive accommodation was Mockpo at $19.21 each and the cheapest was Seoul at USD$13.02. The last night in Busan was the worst night’s sleep we’ve had since the train journey from hell. The two dogs belonging to the hostel started howling at around 3am and didn’t stop until after we breakfasted at 9am.

There was almost nearly a dental cost for Korea too. A re-occurrence of the tooth abscess problems from Russia caused a visit to the dentist for Nigel, which, after an XRay confirmed, yes there’s still a problem. One prescription for antibiotics later and the dentist is saying 10,000 KRW. No, No, says Nige, joking with the dentist, “for free?”. Ok, says the dentist and now won’t take any money. Perhaps we should ask for free more often!

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Our final costs for Korea? We topped out at USD$59.25 each per day and on leaving Korea, our daily average is now sitting at USD$63.79. As I mentioned we’re on the ferry to Japan, which promises to be even more expensive. Nige is reading the Lonely Planet from two years ago and going progressively paler at the costs he keeps calling out. Still, we’ll enjoy the peace of this gently rolling ferry and the space that will be a forgotten luxury as we rock into Japan.

Gan-sam-nihda Korea, its been wonderful. Sometimes a little weird, but wonderful.



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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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