Where to Stay in Seoul for Less than $50 USD a Night

where to stay in korea for cheap

where to stay in korea for cheap

(Click images for sources)

If you’re traveling to Korea and wondering where to stay in Seoul, finding an affordable place to stay might be difficult. But it shouldn’t be! Korea has tons of places to stay that are very budget friendly. All the locals know what’s up, and lucky for you we’ll let you in on the know! Here’s a number of accommodations that will fit pretty much anyone’s budget :)

Note: As of July 17th 2012 $50 USD is approximately 57,000 won.


Jjimjilbang (찜질방) – Approximately 10,000 won

This cheap accommodation is known by people that are even vaguely familiar with Korea. But just in case you didn’t know, jjimjilbang is a Korean style sauna where people go to sit in really hot rooms and sweat it out. You can watch tv, grab some food and drink, and just overall relax. People get so relaxed that jjimjilbangs offer sleep over rates, which typically stay under 10,000 won. If it’s a really nice jjimjilbang, it’ll cost you maybe another 1,000 won or so. Yo… “luxury” for an extra few 1,000 won? Yea!

Jjimjilbangs are great places to stay in Seoul (or in any other part of Korea) for a single night. Most people probably won’t want to stay longer than that as you have to sleep on the floor in a room with a bunch of other strangers (some who love epic snoring). But it’s probably the cheapest place to stay in Korea. For 10,000 won you get a locker, showers and sauna, free tv, computer access (for an extra 500 won) and a yoga mat to sleep on! Fantastic for 1 nighters, probably not awesome for anything more 😉

If you can read and type Korean, finding jjimjilbangs is easy. Go to Naver.com (Korea’s number 1 search portal) and search “area name” + “찜질방” and you should get a list of all the jjimjilbangs in the area you’re looking for.


Guesthouses – Starting at 18,000 won

This one is the most obvious choice. Seoul guest houses offer the same amenities that guest houses around the world offer: wifi, tv, laundry and all that other good stuff. There is dormitory style rooming or private rooms, but both options are typically less than $50 a night, and you can’t beat that price if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in Seoul. Some guest houses in Korea are actually housed in traditional style Korean homes, complete with ondol (floor heating). Some even offer Korean style breakfasts for a full traditional Korean-style inn experience. Try to look for these kinds of guest houses when you’re looking for a place to stay in Seoul! Also, guesthouses are well advertised in English on the Internet. Google it!

Tip 1: Most guesthouses in Seoul are located north of the Han River. North of the river is where most of the tourist spots in Seoul are, it’s the more traditional part of Seoul, and there’s generally more stuff to do for Seoul tourists north of the river.

Tip 2: Hongdae, Myeongdong, Insadong are popular spots for tourists to visit and are also places where there are tons of guesthouses located near each other. Alternatively, Gangnam (south of the Han river) might be harder to find a guesthouse.

If you’re searching for specific guesthouse recommendations in Seoul, check out our list.


Yeogwan (Lower Tier Motels) – Starting at 20,000 won

Yeogwans are Korean style motels. These motels typically have been around for a while, and they are rarely located in new buildings, so they’re not the most modern or cleanest places to stay. But for those traveling to Korea on a budget and not wanting to stay at a guesthouse, this is another option. The great thing is these are located everywhere throughout Korea (as opposed to guesthouses) and they don’t require any reservations, so this is another option to consider if you’re wondering where to stay in Seoul. It’s also kind of cool because these are extremely Korean (aka old); at many yeogwans you have the option of sleeping on the floor with Korean style blankets on top of ondol (Korean-style floor heating system). Just like you’re in the 1970’s!

Just an honest warning though, these motels can sometimes be pretty ghetto. Yeogwans have a bit of a seedy reputation as… well… you know when you see people go to really ghetto motels to do lots of sinful things in the movies? You won’t get murdered or anything, but yea… kind of like that.

Tip 1: These are really good options for traveling within Korea. They’re everywhere, cheap, and no reservations.

Tip 2: If you’re staying longer than a night, many yeogwans will be open to haggling prices.

(Generally, you won’t find these advertised on the internet. These motels usually rely on walk-in business, so you can just walk right in and get a room.)

Click here for our best budget motel recommendations.


Motels (Formerly Love Motels) – Starting at 40,000 own

The people behind motels finally got smart and took the “love” out of “love motel.” And although you might be discouraged to stay at a place that was formerly labeled a shag pad, you shouldn’t dismiss this as a viable place to stay in Seoul because a lot of motels are crazy nice! Sometimes they’re nicer than their more expensive cousins (hotels). Many have entertainment options like video games, jacuzzis, computers, karaoke machines and big flat screen tv’s, and some even have wacky themes like “Inca Sun” and “Fairy Tale World.” It’s a huge step up from yeogwans for only a little bit extra. These are fantastic options if you’re wondering where to stay in Seoul on a budget.

Just like yeogwans, these can also be found everywhere in Korea. However, some do require reservations. You might not find these advertised on English websites, so if you can, get a Korean friend to help you find one. Or if you can read Korean, here are a few websites you can try out: yanolja.com and moga.co.kr.

Tip 1: Many of these are still very functional as love motels (hourly rates). So be sure to find out beforehand if a longer-term stay is possible (leaving your stuff in the room/not having to check in and check out).

Tip 2: If you do find one that can take you during your trip to Korea, many motels will be open to haggling prices depending on how long you plan on staying.

Finally, if you’re looking for specific hotel recommendations, check out our list for best hotels in Seoul.

Keith Kim is a Korean-American living in Seoul, Korea. He likes espresso shots, photography art and he loves his Playstation 3. He started seoulistic.com as a hobby site, and is now in the process of turning it into a full-time business. Wish him luck! Check out his blog for an uncensored view on entrepreneurship, dating and life in Korea. Personal Blog: gyopokeith.com Facebook: facebook.com/gyopokeithkim Twitter: @gyopokeith Youtube: "Gyopokeith e-mail me anytime at: gyopokeith [at] gmail.com


  1. Jannah says:

    Great post! I love guesthouses in Korea. They’re so cheap, considering all the services they provide. What’s awesome is they normally provide free tour information and would even help you book tours/tickets over the phone (if you don’t speak Korean), sometimes at special discounted rates.

  2. Laura says:

    This is a very helpful post thank you! I’ve been wondering where would be a good place would be to stay in korea! Im thinking the guesthouses. Is there anything bad about guesthouses?

  3. Keith says:

    Laura, I think it depends on your level of comfort. If you want the cheapest, you’ll have to share a room with a bunch of strangers. But getting your own room at a guesthouse is not too expensive either. And I don’t think there’s anything bad about your own room :)

  4. Hannah says:

    Hi, nice post! Can you please tell us the names of the motels pictured here, as well as where they’re located? They look really nice!

  5. Keith says:

    Hey Hannah, click on the images. (not all have the sources, though :().

  6. Ellen Wookey says:

    Hello. I was wondering if you could recommend anything under 75$ a night near Gwanghwamun Square?
    My friend and I are going to be doing a tour of S.Korea but we have three nights in seoul and were thinking of doing the hop on – hop off bus tour that starts in Gwanghwamun Square.

  7. Roza S says:

    Good information, i will be going to Seoul on 06/03/2013-08/04/2013 i have been having a hard time finding a budget friendly place for myself, my 14 yr old son & 6 yr old daughter to stay do you have any suggestions? also somewhere that has access to foods, shopping & tourism as well as close to buses or subways. Any advice on how much money would be a good amount to bring? thank you

  8. vie says:

    helpful post…i wondering about motel..nice interior with good budget..usually i stay in guesthouse in Sinseoldong..owners are helpful ^^ but maybe someday i will try one of those mostel in Sinchon… @Rosa, u may check Namsan Guest House in Myeongdong ^^

  9. Keith says:

    @Ellen – I don’t know any specific hotels around the area. But there definitely are hotels/guesthouses in the area
    @roza – for 2 months, you might want to try a residence (serviced apartment). the price will be like paying rent, but you get an apartment for your own use. :) try googling “serviced apartments in Seoul”

  10. Michael says:

    Great article.. very” love it.. :)
    i’m going to visit korea in feb next year and i’m very exited about that..
    do you have any suggestion where i must go when i’m in there?? because i’m only stay for 5 days.. :(
    i hope i can get my visa smoothly..
    Thanks for the great article..


  11. Selin says:

    Is it possible to stay in a Motel or a Jjimjilbang as a 17 Year- old?
    With parents permission ?

  12. Brian Lee says:

    If you want stay in seoul, plz visit our website. http://www.housetay.com

    It is located in Hondae area ,cheap and clean.

  13. Jeremy says:

    Another viable option for cheap accommodations is Airbnb. Most apartments/studio’s for rent in Seoul are within the $50 range.

  14. rose gianne says:

    thanks for all those helpful posts! Anyway, once I get settled in korea, how do i get phone service connections with a mobile phone?

  15. Kevin Han says:

    Do you have any specific guesthouse recommendations Kieth? Thanks!

  16. psn says:

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  17. j says:

    Do you have sites that are in english language? Moga and yanolja are korean. Thanks!

  18. Nicole says:

    Another recommended guesthouse as well. Korea Central Backpackers. Centrally located with restaurants, cafe and other shops around. Stayed for 8 days. If you are fine with decent, comfy and clean accommodation then this shouldn’t be a problem. http://unicorns-are-real.blogspot.com/2013/11/korea-central-backpackers.html

  19. Allan says:

    Has anyone ever stayed in a motel so you can recount some opinion/experiences?
    I’m planning a 2 week trip and a motel with all its amenities+fancy rooms seems a serious option for a student budget solo traveller like me rather than a hotel.
    Just looking a good room to drop off bags + sleep comfortably in my stay with no hassle about what it is actually used for.

  20. Tina says:

    what about if you are going to live in Korea for a long time?

  21. Kawthar says:

    Hello, The first picture of the room on the top had caught my attention (the one with the bathtub on the side), can you please tell me in which hotel/apartment I can find it :). Thank you !

  22. angie says:

    Thanks for information… I am planing to travel to korea for 1 month, guesthouses sounds good 😀

  23. Elena says:

    for those who want to try the nightlife in Hongdae, I would recomend Chingu Guesthouse, in the heart of hongdae, and at 5 minutes walk of the subway station… Hongik Univ Station.
    https://www.facebook.com/chinguguesthouse you can learn more about them from their facebook page. It`s cheap, and the staff is super friendly. Hope I was of some help to someone ^^