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14 Fun & Free Things To Do In Seoul That Prove You Can Still Have Fun On A Budget

Things to do in Seoul on a budget

It’s no secret that Singaporeans are obsessed with Korean culture. Ever since the K-wave hit our Little Red Dot a few years back, everyone’s been going crazy going after the best of Korean pop culture, food, and fashion – and we just can’t get enough. 

Good for you, Korea ain’t running anywhere; we’re the ones running to them. With CheapTickets.sg, quell your cravings for all things Korean by jetting off to Seoul at affordable prices! 

To add on to that amazing deal, here are some cool activities you can do there to keep your trip to Korea budget-friendly:

Note: This is an updated version of a 2016 article – offers listed in this article may no longer be available.

Table of Contents

Things to do in Seoul on a budget1. Visit Starfield Library & its towering shelves of books2. Have a picnic by Yeouido Hangang Park3. Visit the National Palace Museum of Korea for historical artefacts4. Appreciate art at Dongdaemun Design Plaza5. Be part of Noryangjin Fish Market’s bustling activity6. Transport yourself to olden-day Seoul at Bukchon Hanok Village7. Marvel at light installations at Cheonggyecheon Stream at night8. Guided foot tours of Seoul’s attractions9. Hike up the peaks of the highest mountain in Seoul10. Check out kitschy crafted goods at Hongdae Free Market11. Be wowed by multicoloured lights at the Han River’s Banpo Bridge12. Have a photoshoot at Common Ground13. Visit concept stores dedicated to K-pop stars like NCT, Blackpink & BTS14. Rock out to live indie music at Hongdae

1. Visit Starfield Library & its towering shelves of books

seoul starfield library Image credit: @jo_traveladventure via Instagram

If you’ve been on #KoreaTok long enough, you would have seen this towering bookcase not once, not twice, but multiple times on your FYP before. And it’s not hard to understand why. This IG-worthy photo spot is the Starfield Library at COEX Mall where over 50,000 books have been lined up neatly on their ceiling-to-floor shelves. 

seould starfield library ig worthy Image credit: @nathasyahumayra via Instagram

This is an actual public library for locals, so expect most books to be in Korean. That doesn’t mean English-speakers can’t pick up new knowledge here. There is a small section of English titles and magazines, as well as e-books available on iPads.

Even if you’re not here to read, the library does host occasional performances and workshops, so you can check their website before planning a trip down. Otherwise, take time to recharge – both your social and smartphone batteries – by snagging a spot at the many tables and chairs that come with power outlets that are free to use.

Address: 513 Yeongdong-daero, B1 COEX Mall, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: 10.30am-10pm, DailyContact: +82 2 6002-3031 | Starfield Library website

Getting there: Approx. 3-min walk from Bongeunsa Station

2. Have a picnic by Yeouido Hangang Park

yeouido hangang park cherry blossomImage credit: @ggul_dream via Instagram

Tune into any K-drama set in Seoul and we bet there’s at least one scene at the Han River, which then cuts through most of the city.

There are a number of parks you can visit along the river, but the one that pops up most often is Yeouido Hangang Park. This particular stretch has been featured in at least 30 Korean dramas such as Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol and The Secret Life of My Secretary.

yeouido hangang parkImage adapted from: Korea By Me

The park has lush greenery most of the year, but if you drop by in late March to mid-April, there’s a high chance the park will be filled with pastel pink cherry blossoms. And that’s not the only IG-worthy photospot around; walk around and you’ll also see lighted tunnels to pose under.

yeouido hangang park picnicImage credit: @ferry.kanok via Instagram

If you ask locals the best way to enjoy the river view, a picnic will rank high up on the list. But there’s no need to pack a basket before you go. There are plenty of convenience stores like E-Mart 24 or 7-Eleven around where you can get instant noodles and even alcohol. 

seoul eland cruiseImage credit: Eland Cruise

The other best way to view the Han River is via Eland Cruise. The ferry starts from the terminal at Yeouido Hangang Park and brings you on a 40-minute voyage along the river. Tickets start from KRW16,900 (~S$17.66) for a day tour. 

Yeouido Hangang ParkADDRESS330 Yeouidong-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea Opening Hours: Show Time Hide


Getting there: Approx. 3-min walk from Yeouinaru Station

3. Visit the National Palace Museum of Korea for historical artefacts

If all you know about Korean history is from watching historical dramas such as The Last Empress, then school yourself in facts, not fiction, at the National Palace Museum of Korea at Gyeongbokgung Palace. 

national palace museum of korea royal throneRoyal throne of King Taejo, the founder of Joseon Dynasty.Image adapted from: National Palace Museum of Korea

This museum holds over 40,000 artefacts from the Joseon Dynasty, an era that ran from 1392 to 1897. You’ll be able to sneak a peek at royal life, as the artefacts are displayed just as how they were used by various kings, queens, and their royal court. 

national palace museum of korea royal throneImage credit: @gyeongbokgung_palace_official via Instagram

The museum is attached to Gyeongbokgung Palace, where the Joseon Dynasty ruled their kingdom. It’s been thoroughly preserved and restored, so you’ll be able to see the palace in its full glory. This place has a rich history and you can join a free guided tour to learn more about South Korea’s dynasty past. The English tours run thrice daily from Wednesday-Monday.

Address: 12 Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: Mon-Tue 10am-6pm | Wed 10am-9pm | Thu-Sun 10am-6pmContact: +82 2 3701 7500 | National Palace Museum of Korea website

Getting there: Approx. 1-min walk from Gyeongbokgung Station

4. Appreciate art at Dongdaemun Design Plaza

dongdeamum design plazaImage credit: @ployarisa & @peteclue via Instagram

A hub for the arts, Dongdaemun Design Plaza is the place to be if you enjoy getting arty farty. While a lot of the exhibitions require tickets for you to enter, there are a couple of free ones from time to time. Even if you don’t go in, this futuristic-looking building is worth visiting for appreciation of its sheer beauty. 

seoul dongdaemum design plaza ig worthy photo spotsTons of IG-worthy photo spots.Image credit: @eatpraylove511 via Instagram

Dongdaemun Design PlazaAddress: 281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: 10am-8pm, Daily 

Getting there: Approx. 5-min walk from Dongdaemun Station

5. Be part of Noryangjin Fish Market’s bustling activity

noryangjin fisheries wholesale market

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is the Seoul version of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo – think seafood just caught off the coast of Korea for sale to restaurants and locals alike. But unlike its Japanese counterpart that closes at noon, Noryangjin is open 24/7. This means you don’t have to wake up at dawn just to check out the fresh marine gems here.

noryangjin fisheries wholesale market close up

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale MarketAddress: 674 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: 24 hours, Daily

Getting there: Approx. 2-min walk from Noryangjin Station

6. Transport yourself to olden-day Seoul at Bukchon Hanok Village

seoul bukchon hanok village

While you’re patiently waiting for time machines to be built, transport yourself back in time to old Seoul with a visit to Bukchon Hanok Village. Once inhabited by aristocrats of the Joseon Dynasty, this rustic village is located between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace, and Jongmyo Royal Shrine – check those out too if time permits.

bukchon hanok village tiled roofsImage credit: @thisisanastasiia via Instagram

Traditional tiled roofs set against the modern skyscrapers right outside the village offer an interesting juxtaposition, showing how Seoul has transformed over the past few centuries.

Bukchon Hanok VillageADDRESSGyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea Opening Hours: Show Time Hide


Getting there: Approx. 10-min walk from Anguk Station

7. Marvel at light installations at Cheonggyecheon Stream at night

seoul cheonggyecheon streamImage credit: @glokool_korea via Instagram

No fireworks? No sweat. End off a romantic evening stroll along Cheonggyecheon Stream on a high note with its spectacular light installation, where you’ll be mesmerised by sights such as an illuminated waterfall and a “rainbow bridge”.

Though man-made, Cheonggyecheon Stream is nonetheless a refreshing place, and you can get right up to the water’s edge thanks to the steps leading down to it.

cheonggyecheon stream sunsets It’s also a great place to catch sunsets.Image credit: @cheonggyecheon_official via Instagram

Address: Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Getting there: Approx 5-min walk from Sinseol-dong Station

8. Guided foot tours of Seoul’s attractions

seoul guided foot tours

Extending their kind hospitality to tourists, a group of locals have been providing free walking tours of Seoul attractions since 2013. Each tour lasts an average of 2 hours, where you’ll enjoy viewing the city from a local’s perspective. You can sign up for one via the Seoul Free Walking Tour Facebook page.

9. Hike up the peaks of the highest mountain in Seoul

baegundae peakThe view from Baegundae Peak, Bukhan Mountain’s highest peak.Image credit: @morkoshka via Instagram

Feeling your jeans get tighter after countless bowls of bibimbap? Sweat it out with a hike at Bukhan Mountain aka Bukhansan, Seoul’s highest mountain. It has 3 peaks of varying heights, so pick your path based on how much you’d like to challenge yourself. 

It’s definitely not going to be a walk in the park but there are some paved areas, railings, and staircases to aid you along the way.

Be prepared to spend your whole day here – scaling just 1 peak would take you from 5-7 hours depending on your walking pace and whether you take any rests. We highly recommend bringing some snacks along in case you suddenly get hangry halfway. Once you’ve conquered this peak, try out these other mountain climbing spots in our guide to hiking in Korea.

Bukhansan National ParkADDRESS262 Bogungmun-ro, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea Opening Hours:Thursday 04:00-17:00 Show Time Hide

Monday 04:00 AM-05:00 PM
Tuesday 04:00 AM-05:00 PM
Wednesday 04:00 AM-05:00 PM
Thursday 04:00 AM-05:00 PM
Friday 04:00 AM-05:00 PM
Saturday 04:00 AM-05:00 PM
Sunday 04:00 AM-05:00 PM


Getting there: Take bus 704 going towards Bukhansanseong Fortress from Gupabal Station and alight at the entrance to the park.

10. Check out kitschy crafted goods at Hongdae Free Market

hongdae free market Image credit: Younique Lifestyle of Korea

No used goods here – unlike the usual flea markets touting secondhand items, Hongdae Free Market is one full of kitschy stalls featuring handcrafted items by street artists and independent labels. If you haven’t already picked up souvenirs, head down on Saturdays when the market is open to get something unique for friends and family.

Note: Hongdae Free Market is only open on Saturdays from March to November.

Address: 19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: Sat 1pm-6pm (Closed Sundays to Fridays)

Getting there: Approx. 10-min walk from Hongik University Station

11. Be wowed by multicoloured lights at the Han River’s Banpo Bridge

seoul cheonggyecheon streamImage credit: @rebecaardelian via Instagram

Betcha haven’t seen a fountain spouting out of a bridge before, much less one illuminated with rainbow lights! There are a couple of bridges along the Han River, but Banpo Bridge is arguably the most popular – no guessing why. Bring your girl here and surprise her with this magical sight – or maybe even a proposal?

Address: Banpo 2-dong, Seoul, South Korea

Getting there: Approx. 8-min walk from Seobinggo Station

12. Have a photoshoot at Common Ground

seoul common groundImage credit: @lovefb731 via Instagram

Move over, Wheeler’s Yard – Common Ground has all the brilliant blue #OOTD backdrops anyone could hope for. And it’s high on the hipster quotient too – this cluster of stacked container blocks houses a hodgepodge of quirky cafes, permanent, and pop-up fashion stores, as well as a street market in the open area.

Address: 200 Achasan-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: 11am–10pm, Daily

Getting there: Approx. 5-min walk from Konkuk University Station

13. Visit concept stores dedicated to K-pop stars like NCT, Blackpink & BTS

Fangirling or fanboying has never been easier in Seoul. There are a number of museums and cafes run by artist agencies for fans to visit and geek out with fellow K-pop lovers.

Kwangya@Seoul Concept Store

kwangya@Seoul Concept storeImage credit: @arassijjang via Instagram

Those who count SM Entertainment artists like EXO, NCT, and Red Velvet as their faves will want to make a pit stop at the Kwangya@Seoul Concept Store. Here’s where you can get your hands on coveted merch like CDs, lightsticks, and t-shirts.

The place also has larger-than-life art installations done in collaboration with the artists themselves. You’ll go trigger-happy taking snaps for the ‘Gram.

Kwangya@Seoul Concept StoreAddress: Seongdong-gu, 685-700, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: 10.30am-8pm, DailyContact: Kwangya@Seoul Concept Store Instagram

the SameE Cafe

seoul the sameE cafeMerch for Treasure at the SamE Cafe.Image credit: @thesamee_official via Instagram

And as for fans of YG Entertainment’s Blackpink, iKON, and BigBang, you’ll want to add the SameE Cafe to your itinerary. It’s where you’ll be able to buy artistes’ merch while enjoying a pastry and a drink. Here’s an insider tip: head to the 2nd floor and grab a window seat that faces the YG Building. Who knows, you might just spot your fave artists heading to work.

the SameE CafeAddress: 6-3 Huiujeong-ro 1-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South KoreaOpening hours: 10am-9pm, DailyContact: +82 2 336 0536 | the SameE Cafe Instagram

We couldn’t possibly write about K-pop without at least mentioning BTS and the rest of the crew from HYBE Label. HYBE Insight is a museum that showcases albums, awards, costumes, and personal items from members of BTS, Seventeen, and LE SSERAFIM.

The Daydream Believers

the daydream believersImage credit: @sergey_editor_in_chief via Instagram

While the current museum is temporarily closed, there’s an exhibition to satiate fans in the meantime. Running from now till 27th August 2023, The Daydream Believers (US$27/pax, ~S$36.23) will feature portraits of 37 artistes. If you like what you see, these portraits are even available as photocards for sale at the gift shop.

The Daydream BelieversDate: Now till 27th August 2023Time: 11am-6pm, DailyVenue: 606, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South KoreaContact: The Daydream Believers website

14. Rock out to live indie music at Hongdae

seoul hongdae Image credit: @rockstar_sjy via Instagram

There’s more to Korean music than the world gives credit for – if K-pop and its synchronised dancing isn’t your thang, head to Hongdae, home to rows of cafes and bars hosting live music gigs. From funk to jazz and even heavy metal, there are indie bands and singers of all genres taking the stage. 

So grab a soju, and enjoy your night rockin’ out – sans exorbitant ticket fees and the pushing and shoving from crazy fangirls.

Accommodation in Seoul

To help narrow down your search for accommodation in Seoul, here are some choices you can get on CheapTickets.sg at special discounted prices. Whether you’re on a budget or would like to splurge for something more cushy, you’ll find a whole range of accommodation for every kind of traveller.

From now until 12th December 2016, redeem a $88 cash rebate on bookings with return flights and 3 nights’ hotel stay when you book with CheapTickets.sg!

2023 update: This promotion is no longer available.

Sleek and homely: SLA Seoul Loft Apartments

seoul SLA seoul loft apartments Image credit: Cheap Tickets

With a rooftop terrace, 42in flat-screen TVS, and sleek lacquered wood flooring, live out all your LA dreams at SLA Seoul Loft Apartments. Housing anywhere from a party of 2 to an entourage of 4 – take your pick from contemporary studios to stylish lofts which come fully-furnished, complete with a kitchen so you can whip up a feast if you get the late-night munchies.

SLA seoul loft apartments black and white designImage credit: Cheap Tickets

With a 24-hour concierge service at your every beck and call and daily housekeeping, this choice is perfect for your grad trip posse looking for a little down time at night.

What’s nearby: Changdeokgung Palace and Dongdaemun Market

SLA Seoul Loft ApartmentsPrice: From S$123/night, min. 3-night stayAddress: 158, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-450 South Korea

Note: This hotel is temporarily unavailable on CheapTickets

For the gal pals: Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong

seoul hotel skypark central myeongdong pink rooms Image credit: Cheap Tickets

Every self-proclaimed princess will love the pink princess-themed rooms at Hotel Skypark Central Myeongdong. Set in a glass tower, this hotel is 19 minutes away from Dongdaemun Market, and 25 minutes from Gyeongbokgung Palace via train. Perfect for groups of girlfriends on a BFF bonding trip!

seoul hotel skypark central myeongdong regular roomsAnd if not all of you share the same pink sentiment, they also have regular rooms that are just as posh.Image credit: Cheap Tickets

A literal stone’s throw away from Myeongdong station, you couldn’t ask for a better homebase for offloading all your midday steals.

What’s nearby: Myeongdong Station, large Lotte Supermarket.

Hotel Skypark Central MyeongdongPrice: From S$121/nightAddress: 16 Myeongdong 9-gil, Myeongdong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Note: This hotel is temporarily unavailable on CheapTickets

One for the ‘Gram: SR Hotel Sadang

seoul SR hotel sadangImage credit: Cheap Tickets

If you’re looking for a nest as beautifully curated as your Instagram feed – we present to you, SR Hotel Sadang. With an interior that’s both pleasing and edgy to boot, choosing to spend your stay in this boutique Korean gem will increase your photo-taking opportunities tenfold.

seoul SR hotel sadang bathImage credit: Cheap Tickets

With each room sporting a distinct mix of elements, prepared to be wowed whichever room you’re allocated. Surrounded by eateries, this boutique hotel also has a rooftop terrace and is situated near Sadang Station that makes zipping around town as easy as pie.

What’s nearby: Seoul Arts Center, and Seoul National University Museum of Art

SR Hotel SadangPrice: From S$147/night Address: 15, Dongjak-daero 1-gil, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, 07025, South Korea

Book SR Hotel Sadang here.

Seoul on a budget with CheapTickets.sg

seoul hanbok

Instead of binge-watching reruns of Running Man, pigging-out on Nongshim ramen, and waiting for Taeyeon to respond to your DMs – there are other ways to feed your K-crazy soul…like packing your bags and taking off to the capital of Korea itself.

And fret not, flying to the land of flawless faces won’t cost you an arm and a leg. With CheapTickets.sg’s two-way flight deals, you can jet off to Seoul from just $298* from now to 12th December 2016*.

Even if you don’t cross paths with your favourite K-Pop stars, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars to have come across CheapTickets.sg’s unbeatable flight deals. To clarify, the cheapest flight price is $328 and with their $30 flight discount you can get it at $298 all-in.

The discount is now valid until 12th December 2016. Their $88 cash rebate deal can be redeemed on bookings with return flights and three nights hotel stay.

seoul cheapticketsImage credit: Cheaptickets.sg

Muslim friends can get in on the fun too – while Korea is known for its chimaek and party vibes, its recently upped its game for Muslim friendly-travel, with yummy treats like Halal Korean BBQ, Bibimbap, and more!

Find out more about the Halal F&B options in Korea as well as Halal travel tips specific to Korea – specially curated in a collaboration between CheapTickets.sg and Have Halal Will Travel.

Note: Flight prices are dynamic so the cheapest flights may not always remain on a fixed set of dates. To help you out, CheapTicket.sg’s promo page will auto-direct you to the cheapest flights available at any given moment.

Most of the dates are a good amount of time away in 2017, so you can plan early for your vacation and not have to scramble with last-minute bookings. Of course, do feel free to play around with the dates to find out flight prices for other periods of travel.

2023 update: this offer is no longer available.

Get CheapTickets.sg’s travel deals here

This post was brought to you by CheapTickets.sg and Korea Tourism Organisation (Singapore).Original article published on 5th December 2016. Last updated by Gracelyn Lim on 20th June 2023.Promotions and offers mentioned in this article may no longer be valid.


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