That said there is only one problem about traveling here, South Korea is probably the most expansive country in Asia. Yes even more than Japan. But don't worry, this article aims to give some hints on how to budget travel in Korea, maybe you'll have to give up something, but still enjoying and deeply experiencing this beautiful and underrated country.
Nothing could beat though the freedom of the bicycle, South Korea it's a very easy destination for bicycle touring beginners so consider buying a bike.
This guide is based on our sole experience, so please contribute in the comments!
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Camping in South Korea
But even when there are not such facilities camping in South Korea is easy, legal and can even make you meet new friends. The country is indeed full beautiful wooden gazebo, you will find those at every corner, and they are purposely made for resting, so why don't just rest there? We even camp in one of this gazebo in the center of Seoul!
Most of these are wide enough to pitch a small tent inside, so to have a comfortable shelter to don't get wet or get to hot, even if this are in a very exposed position don't worry, you may have a nice surprise in the morning with some kind Korean bringing you coffee literally in your bed! This happened more than often to us.
Sleeping in a Korean public bath (Jjimjilbang)
Warmshower and Couchsurfing are widespread in Korea but many members don't speak English and so often are shy to host you. Give it a try anyway, we met very beautiful people.
Great meals are not cheap though, compared to the Asian standards, So, how do we experience the Korean food on a budget?
No problems, there are many ways.
Instant noodles are for sure the cheapest option but beware to don't abuse it, they are very unhealthy.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are quite expensive, beer is around 1.50€ for a 500cl can, for more specific product's price check Numbeo.
Public baths are widespread but not so easy to recognize (memorize 찜질방), in countryside we often used to quickly soak in rice fields irrigation channels, may seem not to polite but usually Koreans just laugh at it.
Like Japan, in South Korea is not possible for non-residents to purchase a Korean SIM card, so you have to rely on WiFi, not a big trouble though.
Anyway, roads are sealed and well maintained, the only "real" mountains are in the north but South Korea is a constant up and down that could be quite challenging for you legs.
Getting to South Korea overland
Transportation in South Korea
Buses are plentiful and economical. A bike can go under the bus for free without any packaging. This is great for jumping from one route to another. Average price ₩35,000 to cross the country by bus.
A very modern train takes you from inside the airport to the beginning of the cross country bike path in 20 minutes. Stay on for 20 more minutes to Seoul. It's just ₩8,000 and bike goes aboard free and fully assembled. Weekends and holidays only.
Ferries connect all of the islands not served by bridges, sometimes can be hard to understand the routes, especially in minor ports where you'll hardly find any English spoken, but don't let this put you down, explore the islands, especially the less known ones, they are some of the most amazing and pure parts of South Korea, Once we took a random ferry, one other time we pointed a little island on a map and went there, both times we didn't regret.
Small fees apply for bicycles but can go aboard fully assembled.