South Korea: an introduction
From high-tech cities to Buddhist temple retreats, South Korea truly mixes the old and the new. With a transport network that’s second to none, fishing villages and remote islands are brought within easy reach. And the country’s dramatic mountain landscapes are criss-crossed with hiking trails, with idyllic rural cabins providing the accommodation.
Public transportation is inexpensive here, if you stick to the buses. You can also eat out at simple Korean restaurants and stay in the country’s network of budget hostels.
Daily spend: £30-40
Trains and ferries are a fast way of getting around. And in the country’s main cities, mid-range hotels are readily available. You could also mix in a few nights out a week.
Daily spend: £50-70
There are more and more lavish restaurants popping up. Travel can be done by rental car or high-speed train. Seoul has dozens of 4 and 5-star hotels, but they’re generally not as expensive as in western Europe.
Daily spend: £150-200
Prices are approximate and subject to change.
Money saving tips for South Korea
- Find free Wi-Fi. Seoul is one of the most connected cities in the world. You’ll find Wi-Fi hotspots everywhere.
- Cut down your tipping. It’s not expected in South Korea, though some of the more upmarket hotel restaurants are starting to introduce a 5-10% service charge.
- Get a T-Money card. It’s South Korea’s version of London’s Oyster card. You can get taxis, buses and trains with the card, and fares are lower than buying individual tickets
South Korea’s currency – the basics
The currency of South Korea is the South Korean won.
- Banknotes come in denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000.
- One South Korean won is subdivided into 1 jeon, but 100 won is the lowest amount that exchanges hands – it’s equal to about 6 pence.
- In 2009, the Bank of Korea released the 50,000 won note. A portrait of Shin Saimdang is on one side, the first woman to be featured on a Korean banknote.
- Smaller shops won’t have change for the 50,000 won note, so try and keep some smaller denominations.
- Exchanging won outside of South Korea is very difficult, so it’s better to do it before you leave.
The smart way to travel
Keep track of your holiday spending and instantly convert local prices into pounds with our free smartphone apps. There are three handy apps to download for iOS and Android, including Travel Essentials, Travel Money Card & Currency Converter. You can also download an instant currency converter for your Apple Watch.
Get your South Korean currency from us
We make it easy to get South Korean Won before your trip:
- Order online for a better rate on foreign currency – minimum order value of £400 applies online
- 0% commission, competitive rates on up to 70 foreign currencies
- Delivered to your front door or pick up from one of 11,500 local Post Office branches. Search for your nearest branch here
- Free delivery for branch collection and online orders of £500 or over for home delivery Monday-Friday. For online orders of under £500 for home delivery, there is a small delivery charge of £4.99
- Orders placed before 3pm, on a working day, can generally be delivered to your home the next working day. Where an order is placed on a Friday and delivery is required on a Saturday, there will be a charge of £1.50.
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