Like the JR Pass of Japan, the Korail pass is a great way to travel through Korea at great value.
Once you’re done with Seoul, head out and explore the photogenic Nami island, taste the best bibimbap in Jeonju, and have the freshest seafood in Busan. Korea isn’t huge so all these places can be comfortably covered through a day trip from Seoul; on a scenic train ride of under 2.5 hours.
If you’ve read our Tokyo to Osaka itinerary or even the Osaka to Hiroshima itinerary, you’ll realise keeping a 10 day trip under S$1.1k isn’t too difficult. And if it’s possible in Japan, it’d be easy peasy in Korea right?
This trip, we cover 3 main cities over 7 days using the Korail Pass.
Budget Breakdown for 1 pax:
Transport: S$186.25 (Excluding flight of ~S$650)
*Prices might fluctuate a few dollars depending on exchange rate
Day 1-2: First 24 hours in Seoul
*We flew in around midnight so we’ll count Day 1 as the next morning.
Seoul city has a never ending list of things to do from dusk till dawn but since I hadn’t been back to Korea for a long time (almost 8 years!!), I thought I would see it through the eyes of a first timer. This is quite a rushed itinerary but you’ll see why in a bit! If travelling slower’s your style, you can definitely split the activities and sights over 2 days.
*Pro-tip: Get the Discover Seoul Pass which gives you free admission to 21 of Seoul’s hottest attractions for a period of 24 or 48 hours; even if you paid for the 48 hour pass, this itinerary would still be worth it.
The card also serves as a T-money card that can be used on subways, buses, as well as the convenience stores in Korea (even out of Seoul) and lasts for 5 years.
10AM – 11:30AM : Catch a hologram musical at SM Town CoEx mall
For the K-pop fans, this musical experience is an absolute must! But even for the not-as-enthusiastic-k-pop-lovers, this really surpassed our expectations. We caught the School Oz show; a beautifully written musical that weaved all the hottest k-pop tunes of the last 2 years into a solid storyline which left us all feeling fuzzy from nostalgia.
If you bought the Discover Seoul Pass, just catching the hologram musical would have already made your 24 Hour Pass worth it’s value.
Tickets to Musical: ₩44,000 (Covered by the Discover Seoul Pass)
How to get there:Line 2 Samseong station, Exit 5 & 6 (Theatre is on the 5th floor)
1230PM -1:30PM: Have Samgyetang at Tosokchon
Samgyetang (Ginseng chicken soup) is another must try in Korea and if you googled “Best Samgyetang in Seoul“, all the results on page one will direct you to ONE place: Tosokchon Samgyetang (토속촌삼계탕).
At 12:30PM, we arrived to a 50pax long queue. But more surprising than it’s unbelievable popularity is that we went from being the 50th customer in queue to being seated with our warm, ginseng rich bowls of samgyetang in just 20 minutes; is that impressive or what?!
So don’t be thrown off by the queue. It’s well worth it! They also serve really good Kimchi and a complimentary shot of Ginseng wine which you can add to the soup or have it on it’s own for an added kick of Ginseng.
Cost: ₩16,000 for the Signature Ginseng Chicken Soup
How to get there: Line 3 Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2
2PM: Catch the Guard changing ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
The Discover Seoul Pass gives you access to 4 different palaces but the most prominent of all is the Gyeongbokgung with a mountain as it’s backdrop. Twice a day (10AM & 2PM), you can catch the guard changing ceremony which is perfect if you’re coming from Tosokchon after lunch.
Entrance Fee: ₩3,000 (Covered by the Discover Seoul Pass)
How to get there: Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 4 (Across the road from Tosokchon Samgyetang) — Closed on Tuesdays
3PM: Museum Kimchikan
Just one station away from Gyeongbokgung is the Museum Kimchikan where you can sign up for kimchi making classes (Min 5 pax), try on a Hanbok, and learn more about the kimchi making process through the interactive displays.
There’s even a room where you can taste the different types of kimchi (self-serve). Of course, they also sell it by the packet there. This was a quick stop for us although the street (Insadong) it’s on is worth exploring too.
Entrance Fee: ₩5,000 (Covered by the Discover Seoul Pass)
How to get there: Line 3 Anguk Station, Exit 6 (Right side of Insadong street) — Closed on Mondays
4:30PM: Hang out with famous people at Grevin
If you haven’t had luck in spotting Korean celebrities on the streets of Seoul, it’s because they’re all hanging out at the Grevin Museum! — hurhur. Jokes aside, here’s where you get to take photos with some of the most famous human beings on earth. Spot Lee Min Ho, G-Dragon, even Obama and Trump!
Entrance Fee: ₩18,000 (Covered by the Discover Seoul Pass)
How to get there: Line City Hall, Exit 6
5:30PM: Catch the sunset from N Seoul Tower
Best seen at golden hour, this is probably the most iconic building of Seoul and is the best place to get a panoramic view of the city. Bring your own locks if you’re planning to leave one here but please don’t throw your keys over the ledge. The observatory on the 5th Floor is free but if you’re using the Discover Seoul Pass, head up to the top for a 360° view.
Cost: ₩10,000 to get to the top floor (Covered by the Discover Seoul Pass)
How to get there: From Chungmuro station, Exit 2, take Shuttle bus No.2 (₩1,200) in front of Daehan Cinema (near Popeyes)
8PM: Dinner at Palshik Samgyupsal (팔색삼겹살)
After an entire day of exploring Seoul, treat yourself to a hearty Samgyupsal (Pork Belly) meal at Palshik. This place is pretty popular with the locals; especially for it’s 8 marinate set. Try Samgyupsal in ginseng, wine, pine needles, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste and hot paste.
Cost: ₩43,000 for the 8-marinate samgyupsal set
How to get there: Line 6 Sangsu station Exit 1, walk for about 500m and it’ll be on your left
9:30PM: Wind down at Dragon Hill Spa
One of the last and most important experiences you must have in Korea is to visit a Jimjilbang (찜질방)! Dragon Hill is one of the biggest around, just across the street from the Yongsan station and has various levels where you can hangout (with and without clothes) 😉
Grab a Sikhye (식혜) — sweet rice punch, some roasted/smoked/charcoal eggs and enjoy the occasional entertainment (we caught a magic show) or test your tolerance in one of the heated/cold rooms.
Casual clothing and towels are provided but toiletries aren’t so bring your own. You can purchase a scrub towel for ₩1,000.
*We saved this for our last day in Seoul but if you’d like to save on a night’s accommodation, there are rooms with heated flooring where you can rest comfortably for the night.
Cost: ₩12,000 (Weekdays) ₩14,000 (Weekends), ₩15,000 (After 8pm) — S$14, 16, 17 on Klook.
How to get there: Line 1 Yongsan station, Exit 1
Day 3: Everland
Being a huge theme park lover, I had to somehow fit this into the itinerary. The problem with Everland is how far away it is from Seoul and the number of transfers needed to get there.
Although we usually recommend being at the gates as the theme park first opens, this time we decided to take a shuttle bus straight to Everland ($63 includes Everland Ticket). The great thing is the ride is only an hour long, you get to leave Myeongdong at 10:30am and it only leaves 15 minutes after the park closes.
We found plenty of time to cover all our favourite rides and even catch the parades, fireworks and a last ride before meeting the bus at the carpark for a comfortable one hour ride back to Myeongdong. Our top 3 favourite rides here are: Double Rock Spin, Hurricane and of course the most epic wooden roller coaster — T Express.
How to get from Seoul to Everland:
(For those who decide to save money and take the subway)
*This journey takes slightly under 2 hours and costs ₩2,350
(1) Take Line 3 Chungmuro Station to Dogok Station
(2) From Dogok Station, transfer to Budang Line, get off at Giheung Station
(3) From Giheung Station, transfer to Everline to Jeondae-Everland Station
Check out our Ultimate Everland Guide for more tips to maximising your time there.
Day 4: Day trip to Gapyeong (Nami Island, Petite France, Rail Bike Park)
If you’re a huge fan of k-dramas such as Winter Sonata 겨울연가 (2002), My Love From the Star 별에서 온 그대 (2014), and Love in the Moonlight 구르미 그린 달빛 (2016), a day trip to Gapyeong is a must; despite it’s long commute out from Seoul city.
There is a Gapyeong Tourist bus which will bring you through all these locations for a flat rate of ₩6,000 but only run once an hour and can get filled up quite quickly.
Miss a bus (or be too far behind in line) and you’ll be waiting another hour for the next bus. If you want to cover all 4 locations, keep track of time and try not to overstay each place.
Alternatively, there are also Nami day tours which cover your entire journey from Seoul (round-trip), your entrance fees and inter-location transport via a private shuttle bus.
For a more detailed guide, check: Seoul Day trip to Nami Island, Petite France, Garden of Morning calm and Rail Bike Park.
1) Nami Island (남이섬)
Filming Location of: Winter Sonata 겨울연가
Entrance Fee: ₩8000 (Includes ferry ride)
*You can also opt to enter the island via a Zipline for ₩38,000
2) Petite France
Check the various shows held around especially the Marionette Dance show held at the outdoor theatre.
Filming Location of: My Love From the Star 별에서 온 그대
Entrance Fee: ₩8000
3) Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원)
This spot is a little far away from the rest — a 45 minute ride by bus from Petite France — but it’s well worth the visual feast. The garden spans over 33 hectares with 22 themed zones. If you’re here during winter, be sure to stay for the Winter Light Festival where the entire garden lights up with neon lights.
Filming Location of: Love in the Moonlight 구르미 그린 달빛
Entrance Fee: ₩9000
4) Rail Bike Park
There’s one in Gapyeong which is just 10 minutes by bus from Nami Island but the more popular option is the Gangchon Rail Bike Park which is nearer to Gimyujeong Station. Gangchon offers better views and has these themed tunnels which switched up our experience quite a bit. But if you’re short on time, the Gapyeong Rail Bikes will be a more convenient option.
Filming Location of: Running Man Ep.144 런닝맨
Cost: ₩25,000 for 2 Seater Bike; ₩35,000 for 4 Seater Bike
How to get from Seoul to Gapyeong:
(From cheapest/most leichey to least budget/most fuss-free)
(1) Metro from Yongsan Station ₩2,350, 1.5hrs
From Yongsan station, take the GJ Line to Sangbong
From Sangbong station, transfer to the Gyeong-chun line to Gapyeong
(2) ITX from Yongsan Station ₩5,200, 50mins
If you’re holding on to a Korail pass and have an extra day to spare, book a reserved seat on the ITX from Yongsan Station. This requires no transfers and you’ll reach under 1 hour.
*If you’re getting to Yongsan via metro, be sure to have your T-money card tapped at the little stands on the platform before entering via the ITX or you’ll be charged double for the ITX journey as well as the subway ride.
(3) Round Trip Shuttle bus from Seoul to Nami Island From S$30
There are shuttle buses that will bring you there, let you explore free and easy before picking you up at the end of the day. Alternatively, you could also book a tour which will even include transport from Nami Island to Petite France, to the Garden of Morning Calm and even the Rail Bike Parks.
Day 5: Day trip to Jeonju
Days 1-4 are pretty jam packed days so Jeonju was a much appreciated change of pace. I guess it’s quite apt that Jeonju is also called the slow-city.
Gogung Bibimbap (고궁 전주본점)
First agenda of the day, grab yourself a good brunch from the “best bibimbap in Korea”.
Honestly, the main motivation to visit Jeonju for me was for me was the Bibimbap. Jeonju is known to be the birthplace of this traditional dish and I was willing to travel 2 hours just to try it. Ok, I might love the dish a little more than the average traveller.
Don’t just take my word for it, see this for yourself 😛
For one, the amount of ingredients in here is insane. We lost count pretty quickly and decided to just dig right in. It was absolutely delicious!
The bibimbap here is a little pricier than the ones you’d find in Seoul but is cheaper than Singapore and well, you really can’t say you’ve visited Jeonju until you’ve tried Jeonju Bibimbap.
There’s also a Yookhweh version (육회빕빔밥) which has the same variety of ingredients as the traditional bowl but with quality raw beef on top it all. That’s one epic bowl of bibimbap.
Cost: ₩10,000 for the Dolsot (Hotstone) Bibimbap; ₩13,000 won for Raw beef Bibimbap
How to get there: From Jeonju Hanok Village, take bus 974 or 976 (10 stops) to the Jeonju National Palace headquarters
Opening Hours: 10:50AM – 9:30PM
Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을)
Jeonju is actually pretty modern but most visitors come for the Jeonju Hanok Village which has the highest concentration of Hanok houses right in the heart of the city. We hear it’s more than 700!
We had lots of fun walking into random Hanok houses. One had a kimchi museum, another had a performance hall and there are even some that have been converted into guesthouses where travellers can stay for the night.
*Pro-tip: For the best views, locate a small hill on the way up to the Omokdae (오목대) pavilion. You don’t really have to climb too high before you see the famous rooftop view of the Hanok Village.
Across an overhead bridge from Omokdae is a really small village of houses with it’s walls colorfully painted. There are small home run cafes too but close pretty early.
How to get from Seoul to Jeonju:
(1) KTX (₩34,600): If you bought a Korail Pass, you can reserve a seat on the KTX which leaves from Seoul Station — 1h50m.
(2) Mugungwha (₩17,600): If you’re without a Korail pass, the cheaper option is via the Mugungwha which leaves from Yongsan station — 3.5 hours.
*If you’re following this itinerary, the 3 day Korail pass is worth it — trust me on this one.
Day 6: Busan
*Pro-tip: Download the Busan metro app (green logo). It even has a map function which will show you the nearest exits to your destination.
The next morning, we took the first train out to Busan via the KTX. This ride was slightly under 2.5 hours.
Haeundae Beach (해운대)
Korea’s most famous beach resides in Busan where the city meets the sea. In summer you’ll see the entire sand space lined with beach chairs and sun shades. But since it was quite chilly by the time we got there, the space was taken over by the BIFF (Busan International Film Festival). Also great for an evening walk where you’ll see lots of buskers lining the beach.
How to get there: Get off at Haeundae Station, Exit 5 and walk towards the sea
Busan Goraesa Fishcake Haeundae (고래사 해운대점)
On the way back to Haeundae Station (from the beach), stop by this fishcake place for lunch! You can’t miss the building with its giant (3 storey tall) skewers adorning the side of the building. Somehow you can always trust when there’s giant food structures outside the store ; case in point: Dotonbori.
The place sells over 30 different types of fishcakes — from tteokbokki fishcake (one of our favourites) to glass noodles and of course, everyone’s favourite oozy cheese-filled fishcake. You pick whatever you want, heat it up in the microwave provided and have it in the store.
Address: 541-1 U-dong, Haeundae, Busan, South Korea
Opening Hours: 9:30AM – 9:30PM
Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을)
On the other end of Busan (from Haeundae), is another must visit! This is often nicknamed the Machu Picchu or Santorini of Busan. Despite having already seen photos of the place, we were still awed when we stepped off the bus to this view.
*Pro-tip: The best views are from the rooftop of the Community Centre (감네어을터)
How to get to Gamcheon Cultural Village: From Toseong station, take exit 6 and hop on bus 1-1 (shuttle bus-type that says Gamcheon Cultural village on the side of the door.)
Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장)
Being right by the sea, Busan is also known to have the freshest seafood in the country. Head over to Jagalchi to take your pick. The indoor market was unbelievably clean and did not reek of strong smells common to most seafood markets.
After getting bombarded with offers on the second floor, we decided to head downstairs and realised it’s a lot cheaper! To compare, the small live octopus cost ₩30,000 at the restaurants but only ₩10,000 for 2 downstairs. Sashimi for various fishes cost ₩40,000 – 50,000 but ₩20,000 from the market. Since these were served raw, we only needed to pay a table charge of ₩4,000 which still came up to a really good deal!
However, if you’re planning to get something cooked, do ask for the cooking fee beforehand as these could cost a lot more than if you got them direct from the restaurants.
2 small octopus: ₩10,000
1 flounder (sashimi): ₩20,000
Table charge: 4000won/pax
How to get there: Jagalchi station, Exit 10
Accommodation in Busan: Hi Busan Guesthouse (3 minute walk to Haeundae Beach; 50 minutes by train from Busan Station) — comes with 2 fat cats that are always snuggling up to each other
Seoul to Busan via Train:
(1) KTX (₩59,800): 2.5 hours
(2) ITX (₩42,600): 4.75 hours
(3) Mugungwha (₩28,600): 5.5 hours
Day 7: Seoul
Spend the day shopping or catching up on the stuff you might have missed out on day 1. Some of our favourite shopping spots are Myeongdong for Skincare and makeup, Hongdae for trendy clothes, some traditional market.
We also ended off with a refreshing visit to the Jimjilbang at Dragon Hill (mentioned on day 1) before catching our late night flight back to Singapore.
Seoul City to Incheon Airport:
(1) Arex (43 minutes): For just S$8, you get to reserve seats on the Arex which will get you to the airport in 43 minutes.
(2) All stops train (60 minutes): The All Stops Train is a lot cheaper at just ₩4,150 but the down side is that the trains are almost always crowded so you might find it a hassle if you have a lot of luggage to handle.
Budget Tips in Korea
1) Food: The daily food budget was set to ₩15,000 – 25,000 but in reality, we spent way below this amount. With the exception of the Samgyetang from Tosokchon, Bibimbap from Gogung (Jeonju) and fresh seafood from Jagalchi market (Busan) — which are all worth every won(₩) — all our meals rarely exceeded ₩5,000.
Our favourite on-the-go meal are the freshly made kimbaps from the little stores at subway stations (₩1,500).
2) Accommodation: Since our itinerary usually involves getting up early and returning pretty late to maximise our day, hostels are almost always our go-to option. If you’d like a little more privacy, Airbnb homes aren’t a lot more expensive for 2-3 pax. Our favourite picks in Seoul:
– Brownie Guesthouse Hostel (Near Hongdae Station, Exit 3) ₩17,000 – 20,000/pax
– Airbnb listings under ₩20,000/pax: this and this
3) Discount Passes: Discount passes such as the Discover Seoul Pass and Korail Pass allow travellers like us to max out on the experiences without worrying about exceeding the budget; perfect for people who prioritise experiences during their travels.
If it’s your first time purchasing on Klook, use promo code <TTIKLOOK> for S$5 off!
|Thank You/ Thanks||감사합니다 (kamsahamnida)/고마워 (komawo)|
|Excuse me (getting waiter’s attention)||저기요 (jeogiyo)|
|(ask for something) please||____ 주세요 (juseyo)|
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We hope you found this itinerary useful!
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