Shopping in Korea isn’t as cheap as it was 10 years ago. The cost of living in Korea has risen and so have consumer prices, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible to find a good deal. Here are 4 things you can still get relatively inexpensively in Korea.
*Note: The terms cheap/expensive are relative. For the purposes of this post, cost is in comparison to prices in America.
Medical tourism is a booming industry in Korea. Medical services around the world are very costly and have forced many people to go abroad for medical care. Korea’s combination of low prices and high quality doctors have made it a top destination for medical tourism, especially for plastic surgery. Some websites offer 2-week medical vacation packages, with the cost of flights and hotel included. Major surgery isn’t the only inexpensive medical service in Korea, routine checkups and procedures are also cheaper here than in many places around the world.
|Procedure||Approx. Cost in USA||Approx. Cost in Korea|
|Chest X-Ray||$370 USD (uninsured)||Less than $20 USD (uninsured)|
|MRI||$3700 USD (uninsured)||Starting from $450 USD (uninsured)|
|CT Scan||$1800 USD (uninsured)||Starting from $125 (uninsured)|
Tip 1: Set up appointments at big hospitals with English-speaking doctors. Smaller practices often have only Korean-speaking staff.
Tip 2: Dental services can also be quite inexpensive.
A suit tailored to your exact measurements can make you feel like a million bucks. Luckily, in Korea it won’t cost that much. Custom-tailored suits in Korea start at around 200,000 won (less than $200 USD), depending on the tailor and material used. You can even put together a whole outfit with a custom-tailored shirt and vest. The quality of the suits are well worth the money.
Tip 1: The process can be anywhere from one to two weeks. If you’re just visiting Korea for a short time, tell your tailor you are short on time. Most will try to work with your schedule.
Tip 2: Although there are many places that do custom tailoring in Korea, Itaewon is well known for their suit makers and most speak English.
Can you get an eye-exam, frames and prescription lenses for under 100 USD in your home country? In Korea, you’ll find eyeglass shops all over the country offering glasses at reasonable prices. For a large concentration of these shops for you to shop prices/frames, go to 남대문시장 (Namedaemun Market). Most will speak Japanese and some English and they can get everything done in less than an hour.
Tip 1: You get what you pay for. Cheaper frames are of lower quality, and brand names are more expensive.
Tip 2: If you have poor vision or astigmatism and require stronger prescriptions, it will take slightly longer to make the lenses.
Broke a heel running for the bus? Shoe-repair is done all over Korea in these little street side huts. They offer polishing, heel-repair, sole replacement and most other shoe related services. Heel replacements in Seoul start at 3,000 won (less than $3 USD) in non-downtown areas. Downtown areas (e.g. Myungdong, Gangnam, etc.) will replace heels for 5,000 won (less than $5 USD). These shoe repair shops can be found on streets in busy areas all over the country. Omnipresent and cheap, get any service you need done for less than 10,000 won.
What have you found to be really inexpensive in Korea? Share with us in the comment section.