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Seoul under RM1700: budget itinerary from KL

World-famous for its rich and ancient culture, lip-smacking food and binge-worthy dramas such as Descendents of the Sun and Goblin, Seoul is basking in the glow of the global tourism spotlight. Explore the shopping delights of Dongdaemun Market, the regal beauty of Gyungbok-gung Palace and the historical intrigue of the DMZ affordably for your next holiday with Skyscanner’s budget itinerary to Seoul from KL.

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Suggested holiday duration: 3 days, 2 nights

Flights: Prices start from RM985 (return, per pax). Check out Skyscanner for more cheap flights, and ideally, book 20 weeks ahead to save more.

Accommodation: From RM57 per night at
Seoul Dalbit Dongdaemun Guesthouse located in the popular shopping tourist area of Dongdaemun (dorm bed with complimentary breakfast), or check out other hotels here.

Places to visit: Dongdaemun Market, Gyeongbok-gung Palace, DMZ, Gangnam district

Transportation costs: RM153 (KRW 41,000) for a 2-day Seoul CityPass which includes 40 rides on any metro/bus including the Seoul City Tour Bus, plus 2-way airport train transfers

Meals and drinks: Approx. RM200 (KRW 48,000) (for 2 meals per day plus café breaks)

Tours and admission tickets: RM183 (KRW 49,000) for a half-day tour of the DMZ and admission to the Gyeongbok-gung Palace)

Approx. total cost: RM1635 (without shopping)

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1. Getting into Seoul from Incheon International Airport

Adverising board at train station in Korea
Glide painlessly into Seoul on the comfortable A’REX Airport Express. Photo credit: Doo Hoo Kim/ Flickr

Though Incheon International Airport is about 50 kilometres from Seoul, getting to and from the airport is easy. A fast and cheap way into town is to take the A’REX Express train to Seoul Station (40 minutes, RM30/KW8000) where you can transfer to the subway. Alternatively, if you have a lot of luggage, you may wish to board one of the may airport limousine buses available outside the passenger terminal. These buses will take you straight to downtown Seoul within an hour, for a fare of about RM56 (KRW 15,000).

2. Getting Around

A subway station in Seoul.
The excellent subway system in Seoul gets you everywhere you need to be quickly and affordably. Photo credit: Keith Lee / Flickr

Getting around Seoul is extremely easy, with the city’s well-developed subway system. Trains are fast, clean and efficient, and head to every corner of the city. Tourists on a short holiday are advised to purchase the Seoul CityPass for RM93 (KRW 25,000) which gives you 40 rides on the subway and metro system and free rides the Seoul City Tour Bus, which takes visitors around the main tourist sights. Simply tap your card on the reader and you’re good to go anywhere and everywhere! Pick up your Seoul CityPass at Family Mart and GS25 convenience stores and tourist information centres around the city.

3. Shop at Dongdaemun Market

Seoul's Dongdaemun Market.
Dongdaemun Market is stuffed with everything a shopaholic could dream of, at budget prices.

If Seoul is a shopper’s paradise, then Dongdaemun Market is Nirvana itself. The largest wholesale and retail clothing market in the city, Dongdaemun contains everything you could possibly dream of at jaw-dropping prices – from the latest in Korean fashions to fabrics, accessories, jewellery and more.

Adding to the fun vibes, live shows by local bands and entertainers are common at this market. Seoul is, after all, the factory behind the K-pop phenomenon, so don’t be surprised if live music and dance performances suddenly materialise in front of you as you indulge in a spot of retail therapy.

Address: Euljiro 6(yuk)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Opening Hours: Open 24 hours

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4. Visit Gyungbok-gung Palace

Gyungbok-gung Palace in Seoul.
Gyungbok-gung Palace is a spectacular example of ancient Korean architecture.

Even if you’re not a big history buff, Seoul’s magnificent Gyungbok-gung Palace is most definitely worth a visit. Constructed more than 500 years ago, it was the largest and most prominent royal residence of the Joseun Dynasty, housing notable Kings and their families within its 7,700 rooms. Though much of the structure was destroyed during the Japanese invasion of Korea, it has since been restored and is today home to both the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.

Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Opening Hours: November-February, 9am-5pm; March-May, 9am-6pm; June-August, 9am-6:30pm; September-October, 9am-6pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

Ticket prices: RM11 (KRW 3,000) for adults

5. Take a DMZ Tour

Soldier in uniform waiting by blue walled building
The Joint Security Area between North and South Korea is one of the sights you’ll see on a DMZ Tour. Photo credit: Chris Marchant / Flickr

No trip to Korea is complete without a visit to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) for an overview of the complex recent history of the Korean Peninsula. Established in 1953, the DMZ represents a truce between North and South Korea in the form of a peace zone between the 2 nations.

Civilians are prohibited from entering the DMZ, but group tours by recognised tour agents are allowed. Tour prices range from RM172 (KRW 46,000) for a half-day tour to RM280 (KRW 75,000) for a full-day tour that includes lunch. Sights include the Joint Security Area, Dora Observatory, Odusan Unification Observatory, Freedom Bridge and Infiltration tunnels. You won’t be able to cover all of these sights within a few hours, so choose a tour based on the attractions that you’re most interested in seeing.

6. Gorge on Korean fried chicken at Han Chu Restaurant (한추)

Korean fried chicken.
Sink your teeth into delectable poultry goodness fried to perfection, much like this kind. Photo credit: [Edsel Little / Flickr]

It’s hard to find Korean fried chicken that isn’t good in Seoul, but Han Chu is widely regarded as one of the best in what they do. The flavour and texture of their chicken and fried peppers have become the stuff of legend, having spawned dozens of flowery blog entries by food bloggers across the globe. Many have gushed about the perfect contrast of crispy chicken skin with tender flesh, but is it really as good as it sounds? We’ll let you be the judge of that.

Address: 549-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Opening Hours: 5pm-3am daily

Prices: RM65 (KRW 17,000) for fried chicken, RM56 (KRW 15,000) for fried stuffed peppers

7. Go people watching in Gangnam

Blurred shot of shoppers in neon lit street
Welcome to Gangnam, wealthiest district in Seoul

Like Parisians, South Koreans are known for their impeccable sense of style, the best of which can be observed in the prosperous and centrally-located Gangnam district. Home to sparkling skyscrapers, high-end malls and the headquarters of some of the most prolific K-wave entertainment companies, Gangnam is populated by the young, beautiful and stylish, making it a fantastic place to sit down with a cup of coffee and thick toast piled high with calorific delights in one of the area’s cool cafes and just watch the people go by.

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Can’t wait to explore Seoul? Book cheap flights, hotels and car rental via Skyscanner today, or download our free mobile app for easy browsing and booking on the go.

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Originally published on 11 July 2016 and updated in June 2018. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.