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How Much Money Do I Need to Travel to South Korea?

25th February 2020

In the last few years, South Korea has made a name for itself as a travel hotspot. Its unique cultural fusion of ancient customs and modern trends makes for an incredible tourist destination. Whether you are travelling to see the latest K-pop sensation, eat delicious food, peer across the border into North Korea or hike through breathtaking terrain, South Korea has something for every traveller. 

One of the trickiest parts about planning a holiday to South Korea is organising a travel budget and deciphering the Aussie dollar to South Korean won exchange rate. Luckily for you, the team at Travel Money Oz have put together a nifty travel budget planner that combines Numbeo data with the latest exchange rate to give you the most up to date idea of how much your trip will cost. 

Before we Gangnam style our way to the budget planner, let's take a look at what is included in a South Korean travel budget. 

What goes into a budget for South Korea?


Flights to Seoul are surprisingly affordable, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 (ripper deal) to $1500 (a bit more pricey). If you are travelling to Europe, consider flying with Korean Air as they will often give you a free overnight stopover in Seoul. 

Once you arrive in South Korea, you have a few different transport options. The country itself isn't that big, with Seoul only a four-hour train ride from the farthest city. When it comes to inter-city transport, you have a few options:

  • Domestic flights: If you're in a hurry, hop on a plane to another city. Just keep in mind that this is one of the more expensive travel options. 
  • Car hire: While driving in cities like Seoul and Busan isn't for the faint-hearted, driving through the South Korean countryside can be quite beautiful. Car hire is relatively expensive, though, and the English translation of maps aren't always that accurate. If you are hiring a car, grab it from the airport when you arrive as it will likely offer the best prices.
  • Train: Train travel is the most efficient and comfortable way of getting around South Korea, primarily because of their KTX high-speed bullet train that connects major cities across the country. Smaller towns are connected by their own rail lines. Purchase a KORAIL pass before you arrive to make things easier when you visit.
  • Bus: If you can't get somewhere by train, chances are you'll be able to get there by bus. They are cheap and rarely crowded outside big cities. Carry small bills for local bus fares as drivers don't always have a lot of change. 

When it comes to inner-city transport, public transport is the way to go. Seoul alone has more than 20 subway and extension lines in addition to hundreds of bus routes. Expect to pay about 1,250 KRW per ride, and grab a T-Money transit card to make your life easier. You can also grab a taxi, just bear in mind that traffic can get pretty cray-cray, so travel time might be longer than public transport. Taxi metres start at 3,800 KRW and go up from there. 


Bigger cities like Seoul and Busan, offer all of the expected accommodation options including hotels, motels, hostels, guesthouses and Airbnb's. Accommodation in the city can be expensive, especially during holidays like Chuseok (generally in September) and Korean New Year (late January/early Feb depending on lunar calendar). If you're staying in an Airbnb, don't be surprised if your bathroom doesn't have a separate shower or bath stall; instead, everything in the bathroom is all together, leading to a very wet floor after bathing. Keep in mind that traditional Korean style properties may only have sleeping mats on the floor as opposed to western-style beds. As you can imagine, Western-style luxuries will always come at more of a cost. 

If looking at guesthouses, you may come across a few different options:

  • Yeogwan are essentially older, less polished versions of motels. Generally found around bus and train stations, expect to pay between 20,000 and 40,000 KRW per night. 
  • Minbak are rented out rooms in a residential house. You'll find plenty of these on islands and near popular beaches and national parks. Expect to pay a similar price to a yeogwan; however, prices can skyrocket in peak season.
  • Yeoinsuk are super cheap rooms that will set you back around 10,000 KRW per night. Generally found in older parts of town, you'll find with some blankets, a TV and a heated floor to sleep on. 

If you plan on getting back to nature by camping or hiking, most national parks have campsite facilities that are either free or under 5,000 KRW per night. 

Finally, if you're keen on a traditional accommodation experience, look for temples or Hanoks. You can organise temple stays for around 50,000 KRW per night that offer meditation, tea ceremonies and a few meals. Hanoks are traditional Korean buildings found in smaller villages and dedicated city districts. Quite often a tea ceremony is included in your accommodation cost. 


Korea has incredible cuisine that ranges from Michelin star meals to street food stands, kitsch cafes and unusual supermarket snacks. Travellers of all budgets will find something to satisfy their cravings; however, we recommend giving these dishes a try while you're there:

  • Literally any of the street food at Kwanchang Market. Dishes range from 600 to 6,000 KRW, so you'll easily be left satisfied for less than AUD 15. 
  • Korean BBQ, in particular the pork belly and beef. Prices vary depending on what meat you choose but expect to pay around 25,000 for a substantial meal with high-quality ingredients.
  • Tteokbokki, which is spicy rice and fish cake with a red sauce (2,000 and 3,000 KRW).
  • Egg bread, which is a sweet bread with a fried egg inside (1,000 KRW)
  • Hodduk, a doughnut-like treat filled with peanuts and honey (1,000 KRW)
  • Foods on skewers. Think fish cake, fried squid, French fries and corn dogs. (8,000 KRW)
  • Gimbap, which is essentially a huge sushi burrito full of rice and, literally, anything else you want, with meat, seafood and vegetables being the popular choices. (2,000 – 4,000 KRW depending on filling).

Don't forget to go crazy with kimchi, which can be found pretty much everywhere. It's also worth noting that meals at 7/11 are very affordable and delicious. Finally, drinking is a big part of South Korean culture, with plenty of beers, cocktails and Soju to go around. Better yet, drinks are incredibly cheap to buy from supermarkets and drinking on the streets is legal. 


You won't be left struggling to find something to do in South Korea. Here are some of our top picks:

  • Visit any of the palaces, temples and Buddhist landmarks for a glimpse into ancient cultural customs. 
  • Shop at Myeong-dong, one of the worlds most extensive shopping malls.
  • Watch a Korean pop (K-pop) show
  • Go hiking, climbing or camping at any of the urban parks. 70% of the Korean peninsula is covered by mountainous terrain.
  • Visit the demilitarised zone and gaze into North Korea.
  • Head to any of the museums
  • Experience the incredible nightlife in the bigger cities, particularly Seoul, which was ranked the number one party city in the world.
  • Belt out your favourite song at Karaoke, otherwise known as Noraebang in South Korea.
  • Eat (a lot and everything)
  • Get a Korean makeover with any of the Korean Beauty products. K-style and fashion is a massive part of the culture.

Day tours and entry to landmarks will vary in cost, so do some research and plan accordingly. Otherwise, it is completely free to walk the streets and soak up the incredible vibes and culture.

Pre-travel expenses 

Aussie's can get a visa on arrival for stays of up to 90 days. It's also worth checking with your doctor to see if you need any vaccinations before your trip. 

We also recommend every traveller invests in travel insurance before their trip, regardless of where they are travelling. 

How much does a trip to South Korea cost?

Step 1

Enter your destination (South Korea)
Let us know how long you'll be away
Choose your currency. In this case, it will either be AUD or KRW.
Oppa Gangnam style! You've officially started your holiday budget.

Step 2

Are you planning on eating out for every meal or grabbing a few snacks and ingredients to cook from the supermarket? Here you need to estimate how much you plan to spend on food. Remember to put yourself in a holiday mindset - you're probably gonna opt for some fresh Bibimbap over a muesli bar from the supermarket. 

Step 3

In this section, estimate how much you plan on shopping while in South Korea. It's worth remembering that Seoul is a huge shopping destination, with plenty of malls, underground markets, department stores and high-end boutiques – not to mention one of the biggest shopping malls in the world. The international airport is a shopping mecca in itself. Whether you're after the latest Korean beauty trends, tech or clothing, you'll be able to find it (and spend up big) in Seoul. 

Step 4

This is for all of your transport outside of flights and cross-country travel. For the most part, it will be the subway or buses, so try and estimate how many trips you will take a day. 

Step 5

The hard work is done! Here you'll find a simple layout of your planned expenses in both Australian dollars and South Korean won. From here you can either go back and edit, or start saving for your holiday!

It's important to note here that this only accounts for your most basic expenses. You'll need to add in travel insurance and other daily expenses. It's also worth having a bit of wiggle room in the kitty for unexpected costs, like a last-minute hotel upgrade or a ticket to the latest K-Pop sensation. 

South Korean Budget Examples

Here are some examples of what the bones of your travel budget would look like. Please note all of these examples are based on seven nights of accommodation and are quoted in Aussie dollars. Prices will, of course, vary with seasonality and availability.   

Couples trip

This couple is living the high life in Seoul for a week. Think plenty of shopping, Michelin star meals and luxury accommodation.


$1475 per person

Sydney to Seoul return with Qantas. 



King room at the Grand Hyatt with incredible city views.


$300 per day

Fine dining with a few cheeky street food snacks to keep the good times rolling.


$300 per day

One or two day trips out of the city, however most of this budget is going straight to shopping.

Total for couple 


Lucky Qantas allows two 30kg bags each to carry home all of your shopping!


Family getaway

Mum, Dad and the two kids plan on immersing themselves in everything South Korea has to offer: ancient customs, K-pop, new food and scenic hikes.



Sydney to Seoul return with Qantas. 



Family twin room in a central location with breakfast included.


$170 per day

A few dinners out to enjoy the incredible cuisine, mixed with some cheap street eats and supermarket snacks and breakfast cooked at the apartment. 


$200 per day

Some day trips and tours will be the bulk of your expenses, with other days spent wandering streets and taking in the vibes and culture. 



The kids won’t stop raving about their epic holiday to South Korea. Coolest parents ever. 


Solo traveller

This lucky vagabond is about to embark on a week exploring Seoul and its surroundings.



Sydney to Seoul return with China Airlines.



Hostel bunk in a central location.


$40 per day

Visit the supermarket for snacks and cheap drinks, while indulging in plenty of delicious street food meals.


$100 per day

A trip to the North Korean border, some day hikes and a bit of shopping to keep you occupied.



There’s nothing wrong with a cheap and cheerful time in South Korea!


Last-minute tips

  • Most South Koreans understand simple English, but it is still worth making an effort to learn a few Korean phrases 
  • Visit during spring and autumn as winter can be freezing, and summer will greet you with swamp-like humidity.
  • Air quality isn't the greatest, so consider investing in a mask to fend off the fine dust particles in the air.
  • The water is safe to drink; however, the pipes it runs through aren't. Instead buy bottled water or fill up your bottle at safe-refill areas.
  • T-money cards are popular ways to pay for buses, taxis and the subway, and have recently been extended to retail and restaurants. They are connected to your bank and make automatic withdrawals every time you pay. You can also purchase a Korea Tour Card, which has all the benefits of a T-money card alongside additional discounts for tourists to attractions and shopping.
  • You're able to use a prepaid travel money card like the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass almost anywhere in South Korea, however not all ATMs accept foreign cards. Always look for the word 'global on ATMs to ensure your Currency Pass will be accepted.
  • Carry cash for smaller restaurants, tips and street food
  • Many merchants won't take card for purchases under 10,000 KRW
  • If paying by card, make sure you choose to pay in the local currency and not AUD to avoid extra conversion fees.
  • Research your 'per day' budget and include the things you want to do. Once you know the costs, you have a savings goal to work towards.
  • Take advantage of Travel Money Ozs Best Price Guarantee. If you find a better price from a competitor, we will beat it*.
  • Hostels are a great way to save cash and meet like-minded travellers.
  • Check out reviews if you think something is too good to be true. Chances are it might be.
  • Don't forget to factor in pre-travel costs like travel insurance, immunisations and visas.
  • Sign up for Rate Alerts. We'll let you know when the AUD is doing well against the KRW so you can purchase and maximise your travel money.
  • There isn't much direction when it comes to sidewalks. Take an 'every man for himself' mentality and you'll be fine. 

Flight costs are based on search from and are indicative costs only for travel dates 4 - 11 August 2020. Prices were sourced on February 22nd 2020^. Accommodation costs are based on an average per night price for budget, moderate or luxury hotels, as indicated in the table. ~Food based on the average cost of 1 coffee, 1 fast food meal and 1restaurant meal per person, per day. COST COMPARISON TABLE: All costs are based on estimated approximate costs from major metropolitan cities. "From" costs indicate costs that start from the indicated price and may be higher than shown. Average prices indicate a typical estimated cost you would pay for the indicated item. Prices may vary from time to time, and in different cities and towns within South Korea. This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.