Traveling Outside Korea… on a Budget

Travelling Outside Korea… on a Budget.

When coming to Korea, I was not only looking forward to experiencing the culture here, but also going away on the weekends to see other countries. However, being a student, I don’t have unlimited funds to do this, so I had to ensure I has making the most of my money! Here are my suggestions for the best places to visit if you are looking to escape Seoul for a few days.


  1. Japan

This is probably the most obvious travel destination considering how close it is. I decided to go to Tokyo and my flights were just over 200,000 KRW. However you can easily get flights to Osaka for a similar price, or cheaper in most cases. In the Tokyo vs. Osaka debate I would suggest going to Osaka. Tokyo is very similar to Seoul, so you aren’t experiencing much of a different atmosphere. Osaka has many great cities nearby that are a very short (and cheap) train ride away, such as Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe. From a budget standpoint Tokyo is much more expensive in terms of accommodations and food, especially when you are staying in central Tokyo. In a city like Osaka or Kyoto you are likely to see more clearly what the Japan culture is truly like, as opposed to the cold, congested nature of Tokyo. You can read more about Osaka in Kristi’s article’s here and here.

Flights to Osaka are approximately 1h 45 min




  1. Philippines

You can get dirt-cheap flights to Manila. I found flights from a Thursday to Monday morning for a mere 100,000 KRW with Air Asia! Now this might be less common, but average flights to/from Manila range from about 120,000 KRW to 180,000 KRW. I personally, didn’t want to travel around Manila alone as a girl, so I paid another 100,000 KRW to fly from Manila to Kalibo, so I could go visit the beaches of Boracay. Which are deemed very safe and are ranked as some of the best beaches in the world. Many of the other exchange students have been booking flights to Cebu, which are a little bit more expensive, with most flights being over 200,000 KRW. However once you are in Philippines, as it is considered South East Asia, it is very cheap. For my accommodations in Boracay I am paying approximately 10,000 KRW a night, and food is very cheap. One of the best things about the Philippines is that there are often very good flight deals from Seoul if you watch the prices often.

Flights to Manila are approximately 4 hrs.


source: lonely planet


  1. China

Beijing and Shanghai are often good places to fly to with fights costing around 200,000KRW to 280,000 KRW. I found flights to Shanghai for 200,000 KRW and I was strongly tempted to book them, however, what is complicated about China is that you need a Visa to enter the country. Now for those of you who are smart and plan ahead, get your tourism visa for China BEFORE you come to Seoul. However, if you are like me and did not do this you can likely get it when you come to Korea, but it is kind of a headache. If you Google this, you will get an unclear answer if it is possible for you to get a visa because it is said your Alien Registration Card needs to last 6 months after your return from China. But as you know, being an exchange student out ARC only lasts 6 months to begin with. In order to get your visa you must have all your hotels, flights, and itineraries planned. Some of the exchange students have been successful in getting their Chinese Visa here. I didn’t want to take the gamble of booking everything and then not being able to get my visa, so therefore decided to go to Hong Kong instead of Shanghai (where you don’t need a Visa). So you can, apply for your Chinese Visa before you come to Seoul, if that ship has already sailed, you will have to go through the headache of getting it in Seoul.

Flight to Shanghai is approximately 1hr 50 min


source: startupbootcamp



Other Recommendations:

Although not as cheap in terms of flights, I highly recommend going to Taiwan or Hong Kong. Both have flights ranging between 250,000 KRW to 350,000 KRW. Taiwan is cheaper than Hong Kong once you arrive there in terms of accommodations and food, and is said to be very beautiful and have a very rich culture. Both places are well known for their food cultures, and it is likely you will eat five times a day in either place. Hong Kong is a very distinct city and is a sight to behold in the evening as the skyline lights up the Harbour.


Flight Booking Tips:

  1. Use Skyscanner or Momondo: when you use Skyscanner you can look up Seoul to “Everywhere” so you can find the cheapest places to fly to in the time period you want to fly. You can also select the entire month as opposed to certain days and it will show you which dates of the month are the cheapest to fly to for your destination of choice. Momondo also shows you the cheapest days to fly to your destination whenever each time you search, regardless of whether you search a whole month like on Skyscanner.
  2. Last minute deals are rare: don’t wait to book flights thinking they will get cheaper as time goes one, while this may happen occasionally, it is very rare. In most cases flights get more expensive the closer to the date you book.
  3. Research often: every week or so look up if there are any deals on weekends you might want to travel. If you are flexible and patient, you will be bound to find some good travel deals.
  4. Clear your browser history and cookies, or always search in an incognito window. If you’ve ever wondered why one day you will look at a flight and then the next day the price has gone up, it is because websites can specifically target you by your cookies. If the site realizes that you have looked at that flight previously, it will raise the prices the next time you go to the site.


Article by Lindsay from Canada

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