Korea for Budget Travelers is a guest post by: Laura Nalin, Willful and Wildhearted.
Seoul is one of those cities that everyone’s heard about, but few actually make the trek to see for themselves. While it was long overlooked by travelers for years, Seoul has finally earned its spot on the tourism radar – and for good reasons, especially for budget travelers.
First, Seoul’s urban framework is a perfect combination of contemporary modernity and timeless tradition. Whether travelers are looking to get swept away within the dynamic myriad of clubs until dawn or a more relaxing stroll through the clusters of traditional homes in the city’s historical village, there is something for everyone – particularly for those traveling on a budget. To prove that, I’ve made a list of the top 3 attractions throughout Seoul that won’t burn a hole in your wallet:
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1. NAMSAN TOWER
Located atop one of the city’s busiest neighborhoods, this icon of Seoul offers the best view in town. Depending on the day, travelers and locals alike can be treated to a variety of traditional performances, art exhibitions or concerts once they’ve reached the top.
NAMSAN TOWER ADMISSION:
- Adult: 9,000 (~$7.50 USD) Children: 7,000(~$6.50 USD)
- Visitors can also get discounts at Namsan Tower.
HOW TO GET THERE:
- Take the subway and drop off at Chungmuro Station (Line 3 and 4).
- Once you go out of Exit 1 at Chungmuro Station, you will see the Daehan Cinema.
- Look for Bus #5 heading toward Namsan Park.
- Take bus all the way to the last stop.
Tourists have the option to either take a leisurely hike to the tower or pay a small fee to board the cable car. I personally love the quick 30-minute hike up and down, as I can get views like this:
This attraction is popular among family and friend groups, but like many things in Korea, caters to couples. The park is akin to Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris, as couples from across the globe have gathered to show their love and appreciation for one another by leaving behind a love lock.
Once couples have locked up, they can donate their keys to Postbox of Love, a campaign created by the Korean government to deter people from throwing their keys into the sea or the ground. Considering a percentage of money made from donations is donated to underprivileged children, I think it’s safe to say that Namsan Tower is a place where the love just keeps on giving.
2. IHWA MURAL VILLAGE AND NAKSAN PARK
One of my favorite things about the neighborhoods of Seoul is the unique character each of them possesses. There are a number of mural villages interspersed throughout the country, but for me, the Ihwa Mural Village takes the cake.
One of the reasons the art village is special is because it is situated within a dal dongnae, also known as a “moon village.” In sum, moon villages are mountaintop homes which have been forgotten during the rapid industrialization of Korea. The quaint homes are not only charming, but offer an excellent backdrop for the lovely murals scattered throughout the alleyways of the forgotten neighborhood.
Several of the old houses have been converted into inviting yet quirky cafes or restaurants, all of which are perfect spots to relax after exploring the village on a quiet afternoon. Once you’re finished wandering around, you can take a short walk up to Naksan Park to watch the sun set behind Seoul’s impressive skyline.
MURAL VILLAGE ADMISSION:
HOW TO GET THERE:
- Get off at Hyehwa Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 2.
- Turn left once you pass Marronnier Park.
- Continue to walk toward Naksan Park (there will be signs) until you come across the murals.
3. GYUNGBOKGUNG PALACE
Tucked away within the bustling city, this tourist attraction cannot be missed. Not only is this royal palace absolutely stunning, it holds strong significance to Korea‘s history. Also known as “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven,” the palace once served as the residence of the Joseon kings and, at its peak, housed more than 300 buildings. However, the palace was burnt to the ground on two separate invasions by the Japanese government.
Despite this, Korea has maintained strength and determination to ensure its history and culture remains in tact. The government has worked hard at renovating the destroyed imperial land and have done an impeccable job.
- Adult: 3,000 (~$3.50 USD) Children: 1,500(~$1.30 USD)
- FREE during the month of July
HOW TO GET THERE:
- Get off at Gyeongbokgung Palace Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 5 and walk straight.
Korea is definitely a beautiful place to visit, and there is much to see beyond what I’ve listed here. These are my favorite places within Seoul and I hope you find yourself exploring this gorgeous city and have as much fun as I do living here! Thanks for reading!
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