In South Korea, there is abundance of lodging in all price ranges. It’s worth noting that costs in Seoul are usually twice as high as elsewhere in the nation.
Some higher-end hotels have rooms with both Western and Korean styles. The ondol , a complex Korean-invented floor-heating system in which hot steam (or, these days, water or electricity) warms stone slabs under a layer of clay and oiled paper, is the primary characteristic of Korean rooms. There are no beds; mattresses are simply placed on the floor. Other than that, there’s usually just a few low tables (and you’re supposed to sit on the floor) and maybe a TV.
Some of the cheapest lodging in South Korea is found in motels or yeogwan, although they are not the same as motels in the West and are more akin to Japan’s “love hotels.” Motels in South Korea are often extremely inexpensive motels aimed at young couples looking to spend ‘time’ together away from their elders, replete with plastic mattresses that sometimes vibrate, strategically positioned mirrors on the ceiling, and a VCR with a selection of suitable movies. For the budget traveler, though, they may just be a cheap place to stay, with prices as low as 25,000 per night.
The simplest method to locate a hotel is to check for the emblem and opulent architecture, which may be found near train stations or highway exits. They’re more difficult to locate online since they seldom, if ever, appear on English-language booking sites, although Hotel365 (Korean only) offers extensive listings for the whole nation.
Some hotels make it simple to choose a room by posting room numbers, illuminated photos, and rates on the wall. The lesser fee is for a two- to four-hour “rest,” while the larger price is for an overnight stay. Proceed to check-in by pressing the button for the one you prefer, which will become black. You’ll almost always be asked to pay up front, typically to a pair of hands behind a frosted glass window. Although English is seldom used, you just need to know the phrase sukbak (which means “staying”). You may or may not be given a key, but even if you aren’t, the staff can generally allow you in and out if you ask – just don’t forget to save your receipt!
Houses constructed in traditional Korean architectural styles are known as hanoks. Many of these homes going back to the Joseon period are being restored and opened to paying visitors in recent years, and serve as Korea’s counterpart of Japan’s ryokan and minshuku. With costs to match, amenities vary from extremely basic backpacker-style to over-the-top grandeur. Higher-end restaurants usually provide a traditional Korean supper as well as a choice of either a Western or a traditional Korean-style breakfast. Guests typically sleep on mattresses on the floor, much like their Japanese counterparts. Hanok lodgings may be found in ancient towns and cities like as Hahoe and Gyeongju, as well as old settlements like Bukchon in Seoul.
Hostels and guesthouses are available in South Korea, but they are not as prevalent as they are in other areas of Asia or the globe. A few hundred will be found in major cities like Seoul, whereas a few will be found in smaller towns. Even within one hostel, prices may vary greatly. In Seoul, mixed dorms average ₩15,000-25,000 per person; private rooms with a shared toilet and shower average ₩20,000-30,000 per person; and private ensuite rooms average ₩25,000-40,000 per person. Many hostels will offer a common area with free television, games, computers, and internet access; others will have a fully equipped public kitchen and other facilities.
A minbak may be found in rural regions surrounding national parks. The majority of them are just a room or two in someone’s house; some are more upscale and resemble yeogwans (motels) or hotels. They usually have ondol rooms with a TV and that’s about it. The majority of rooms do not have their own bathroom, but some of the more luxurious ones do.
For the budget traveler, jjimjilbang public bath houses may provide a good night’s sleep as well as a soothing bath and sauna. The cost of admission is between 5,000 and 12,000, and it includes a robe or t-shirts/shorts (for mixed facilities and the sleeping hall) to wear. Showers, public baths, eateries, computer/video game rooms, a room with DVD movies, and a heated hall to sleep in, usually with beds and sometimes comfortable head rests, are all provided. These establishments are mostly frequented by families or couples on weekends, as well as Korean working men from the countryside on weekdays (night), although visitors are welcome. Two lockers are usually given, one for your shoes (at the entry) and one for your clothing and other belongings (near the bath entrance). Although you may typically leave a big backpack at reception, it may not fit. A Jjimjilbang is no more uncomfortable than any other public bath in the West, so go ahead. Some Korean spas, such as the “Spa Land Centum City” in Busan, do not allow overnight stays, while others, such as the “Dragon Hill Spa” in Seoul, have time limits, but these are the outliers. You must take everything with you when you go and pay to return.
South Korea has a plethora of ‘Temple Stays’ across the nation. The fundamental concept is that you spend one or more days with the monks, living with them and participating in their rituals.
The biggest Buddhist sect in Korea, Jogye , offers a popular Temple Stay program in which tourists may spend 24 hours living at a Buddhist temple. At other temples, speaking Korean is helpful but not required; nevertheless, you will be asked to labor at the temple and wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. to participate in morning prayer. A “contribution” of 50,000-80,000 is anticipated in return for three meals and a basic bed for the night.