Kait and I spent 6 nights in Seoul, and while it’s a much smaller sample compared to the 30 days we spent in Taiwan, hopefully a review of our spending will still be useful to people.
First, the total up front. Over 7 days and 6 nights in Seoul, we spent $1,095.88 CAD (Everything will be in CAD unless otherwise noted). This works out to $156.55/day. Here’s the breakdown:
- Accommodations: $577.98
- Food: $340.48
- Transportation: $68.05
- Activities: $107.47
- Souvenirs: $1.90
Of note, we also spent $181.83 “Shopping” which includes gifts and everyday things for ourselves which I wouldn’t categorize as travel related (unlike souvenirs, which I think of as travel related keepsakes).
For comparison, here’s a table of spending by country. Numbers in brackets are per day averages.
Nothing too interesting here. We spent our entire stay in Korea at the same hotel in Seoul. We paid $577.98 for 6 nights which worked out to $96.33/night. (The reason the per day average is different is because I averaged the cost of accommodations over our total days). This was a discounted rate because we booked our flight to Korea on Expedia and they give you an opportunity to book hotels at a discount at your destination. (And not a fake discount. We did a lot of comparing the discount rate vs non-discounted rates on a variety of sites including Expedia itself). I was expecting the per night cost to be higher in Korean compared to Taiwan, but I was happy we found a good hotel with a great location for less than $100/night.
Food in Korea, both in restaurants and on the street, appear to be more expensive than comparable food in Taiwan. I would estimate things were +25% more anecdotally. The bigger jump in our per day spending came from the fact that we had a longer list of things we wanted to try in Korea, so we ate at pricier places more frequently due to our shorter stay.
We had no intercity travel at all since we stayed in Seoul the whole time. However, if you consider Incheon Airport outside of Seoul, we spent 10,000 KRW ($11.32) on an Airport Bus into the city and 6,900 KRW ($7.81) on an Airport Express Train back to the airport per person. The Airport Express Train was by far more comfortable, cheaper, and more convenient (assuming you can get to Seoul Station without too much difficulty). The rest of our transportation costs came from taking the Seoul Subway. Most rides (under 10km I think) were 1250 KRW ($1.41).
Taiwan’s total for transportation was higher primarily because we did a lot of travelling between cities in Taiwan. Comparing the intracity travel costs, Taiwan was significantly cheaper that Korea (or really, just Seoul). Lots of rides on the Taipei Metro were only 16 TWD, or $0.64 compared to Seoul’s $1.41.
There were only two activities that we spent money on in Korea, and over 90% of it was spent on our DMZ tour. The other activity was the entrance fee to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The rest of our time was spent walking around exploring neighbourhoods… and shopping.
As mentioned in the Taiwan Spending post, we tend not to spend too much on Souvenirs. For Korea though, I set aside some coins as keepsakes since I collect coins and I’ve never been to Korea before. 50 and 10KRW coins are difficult to come by (basically nickels and pennies). Your best bet would be when there are percentage based sales (e.g. 30% off) or in my case, our hotel happened to have coins for me to exchange with them.
Overall, our spending in Korea was pretty much in line with my expectations, and even the amount spent on gifts and personal shopping were quite reasonable. We’re in Japan now, and while I originally thought Japan would be more expensive than Korea, I have a feeling our spending average will be close (or even less). We’ll see how it goes. We’ll be in Japan for just under 30 days, and we’ll be travelling throughout, so we should get a pretty good idea of average spending across Japan.
Anyone have experience travelling around Japan and Korea? What were your experiences with cost comparisons?