Seoul is one of my favourite cities in Asia! It is an extremely underrated solo travel destination, but it shouldn’t be. The best part about travelling to Seoul alone is that it is so easy!
Anybody can have a successful solo trip to Seoul.
No matter how experienced or inexperienced a solo traveller you are!
Travelling to Seoul alone is a great starting point for any solo traveller visiting Asia for the first time. Seoul is easy to navigate, modern (but still full of history), has amazing food, and is less expensive than you may think. Seoul is 100% safe for solo travellers- even at night! I highly recommend a solo trip to Seoul for anybody even remotely considering it!
But there are definitely some things you need to be aware of before your solo trip to Seoul!
This post has you covered!
I’m going to share my top tips and tricks for travelling to Seoul alone.
These are tips I picked up during my multiple solo trips to Seoul. I definitely wish I had known some of these things before my first solo trip to Seoul!
1. Seoul is Less Expensive than You Think
When I planned my first solo trip to Seoul, I read blog after blog and heard person after person say that it is expensive to visit South Korea.
I think that narrative has to do with how close South Korea is to Japan. Korea gets lumped into Japan and thought of as an expensive country, but that isn’t the case at all!
I was shocked at how affordable Seoul is!
It is less expensive than Hong Kong, which is not what I expected when planing my trip.
You can get a restaurant meal for 10,000 won (about $9 USD), get tickets to a baseball game for the same price, and visit the most popular attraction Gyeongbokgung Palace for just 4,000 won (approximately $3.50 USD).
Pretty good prices for an East Asian country hey!
The two things that tend to be expensive are inter-city travel and hotels.
But even those aren’t unreasonably expensive.
You can find a good hotel for about $100 USD per night!
If you’re holding off travelling to Seoul alone because you want someone to split the costs with, you don’t need to!
South Korea is far more affordable than you’re led to believe.
The best part is if you’re travelling to other parts of the country, they are even more affordable!
I highly recommend you visit Gyeongju. It is one of my favourite cities in the entire country!
2. Seoul is Safe for Solo Travellers- Even at Night
Seoul is one of the safest cities in the world.
There is hardly any crime. Including petty crime!
Of course, there is still crime that happens in the city, but it is significantly less than in other countries around the world.
I’m normally very weary of being out and about when I travel alone.
I feel jumpy, on edge, and sweat more than I want to admit.
But, surprisingly, I do not feel that same level of anxiety when I’m alone in Seoul at night.
There is still some heart racing- especially if I’m walking alone down a dark street-, but it is so much less than I experience even in my home town.
Maybe it is because I know how safe it is when I’m there, how friendly the locals are, or how brightly lit and busy the main streets are.
No matter the reason, walking alone at night in Seoul is not an issue.
The city is completely safe any other time of the day as well!
Unlike some other cities around the world, you’re not a target just because you’re a solo traveller!
3. Be Careful Where You Stay
Okay. This definitely contradicts my last points, but it is important you stay in the right areas.
I had the mistake of staying not quite in the right area the first time I visited Seoul (and Gyeongju and Busan for that matter), and I don’t want you to make the same mistake as me!
When you Google where to stay in Seoul, there will be a number of neighbourhoods that my fellow bloggers recommend.
My personal favourite neighbourhood to stay in is Myeong-dong btw.
Then you go to your favourite hotel website (mine is Hotels.com) and start searching for hotels in that area.
It won’t take long to notice a pattern.
The hotels in the heart of said neighbourhood are more expensive than the hotels at the outer part of the area.
So being the frugal-minded person you are, you try to find the best deal on a hotel in a good neighbourhood.
That is what I’ve done every time I visit a new city in Korea, and it has always turned into a regret.
You see, the least expensive hotels near the popular neighbourhoods look good but oftentimes are not what they seem.
The first time I visited Seoul, I stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of the Myeong-dong area.
The hotel looked fine from photos, and it was half the price of other hotels in the district.
Turns out there was a reason for that!
It was located down some sketchy alley, and it just had a scummy vibe to the hotel.
That particular hotel was fine. Decently clean and a nice place to sleep at night.
It could have been much worse though! My experiences in Gyeongju and Busan taught me that!
In both those cities, I stayed at hotels on the outskirts of the most popular tourist neighbourhoods, and both times the hotels turned out to be (how to put this delicately) the type of hotel you can rent by the hour.
It resulted in terrible sleeps with people being loud in the rooms above and beside me. Plus the whole vibe of the hotels deeply changed after my first night and the sounds I heard.
I don’t want to say that every inexpensive hotel on the outskirts of the popular tourist neighbourhoods is like this.
That wouldn’t be fair, and it would be wrong of me to slander businesses I haven’t actually stayed at.
But I do want to warn you that it is probably worth paying a little bit more for a hotel in the heart of the popular areas.
That way you know you’ll be comfortable and won’t feel uneasy in your hotel.
That is, of course, extremely important when travelling to Seoul alone.
4. You Need a Wifi Strategy
Almost every blog you read about South Korea and Seoul will tell you that there is free public wifi all over the place, but that hasn’t been my experience in the country.
You need a wifi plan when travelling to Seoul alone because it isn’t as easy to find reliable free wifi as the internet would allow you to believe.
I have a in-depth post about wifi in Seoul you can read here, but I’ll give you a basic run down of your wifi options right now!
Essentially, you have three options when it comes to wifi in Seoul:
- Rely on public wifi at cafés, restaurants, museums, and hotels
- Rent pocked wifi at the airport (my recommendation)
- Use your personal Skyroam Wifi device and access the internet wherever you are
If you don’t already have a Skyroam, I highly recommend you rent pocket wifi when you land in Seoul.
It is super affordable and only costs a few dollars per day!
A pocket wifi device allows you to connect to the internet no matter where you are. You don’t have to rely on free public wifi (and the effort it can take to find it!).
I love being connected to the internet all the time when I travel alone. It is freeing to know I can always connect to Google maps, message my mom, or post on social media whenever I want.
And not be limited to just when I’m at a café or someone else with public wifi.
If you don’t want to rent a pocket wifi device, then your best chances at finding public wifi that actually works is at cafés, restaurants, museums (which are normally free to enter), and hotels.
It isn’t terribly common to be able to access wifi when you’re just out and about walking around, but it can happen.
No matter what your internet preferences are, it is best to have a plan before you arrive in Seoul.
You don’t want to be like me my first solo trip to Seoul where I was expecting for there to be wifi everywhere when there actually isn’t.
You Need to be Internet Safe
I preach this in almost all of my posts, but you need to be internet safe when you travel.
Especially when you’re a solo traveller.
You will be using public wifi at some point during your solo trip to Seoul.
Yes. Even if you rent a pocket wifi device or use your Skyroam.
Eventually, your wifi device needs to be charged, and you will be using the public wifi at the hotel.
Even if a wifi network has a password, it is still a public wifi network. Anybody who knows the password can access it, and it isn’t a secure network.
You leave yourself vulnerable when using a public wifi network. Anybody else who uses that network (and wants to/knows how to) can access your online data.
And steal it.
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a nightmare to try to cancel your credit cards because someone stole your banking information while you’re alone in Seoul.
The only way to keep your online data safe when using a public wifi network is by installing a VPN on your devices.
A VPN essentially puts a forcefield around your phone that keeps unwanted eyes from seeing and stealing your personal information.
It makes using a public wifi network just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who know the login information!
My Favourite VPN
As you can imagine, I’ve used multiple VPNs in my travel career. I cancelled every single one of them after the first year because they slowed down my phone to the point where I got so frustrated and stopped using the VPN.
That is until I found NordVPN.
It is the quickest VPN on the market and blows the competitive away speed wise.
One of my favourite features of NordVPN is that they have a strict no logs policy. This means they do not collect or share your private information!
They are based in Panama, which does not require them to collect logs like many other countries do.
Your data is 100% safe with Nord!
My other favourite feature (and one that is arguably more sexy) is the ability to cloak your location.
You can choose for it to appear like you’re in a different country than you actually are.
This means you can access that country’s Netflix library and watch shows that may not be available in your area!
There is no better way to pass the evenings when you’re alone in Seoul than watching a lot of Netflix!
All this for a very low price.
The monthly cost of a NordVPN subscription is less than the price of a Starbuck’s latte!
Plus you can connect up to six devices on the same subscription, so all your devices are covered for one low fee.
There is no excuse not to protect your online data and privacy with a VPN!
I always say that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online information!
5. Koreans Can be Blunt
I learnt this that hard way when someone in a skincare store I was wandering through was visibly horrified by my acne-riddled face and told me that it had to be fixed.
Another time, a lady commented on my weight.
I was so nervous about how blunt Koreans can be that I lost 20lbs before my next solo trip to Seoul. I met up with my Korean friend one evening for dinner, and she said “you look better than last time I saw you”.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Koreans being blunt. It is part of their culture, and they don’t mean it in a mean way.
In fact, their compliments are often disguised as backhanded ones.
Like my friend’s comment the second time I was travelling to Seoul alone.
I’m telling you, so you know what to expect.
If you know that you may possibly encounter bluntness or a backhanded compliment, then you’re prepared when they happen.
You don’t end up taking it the wrong way and feeling bad about yourself.
Or going back to your hotel to cry like I did after my interaction with the lady in the store.
You probably won’t experience any bluntness when travelling to Seoul alone unless you’re befriending some locals or something along those lines.
So don’t let it impact your decision on whether or not to visit Seoul alone!
6. The Café Culture is Strong
I’ve never seen so many cafés as I have in Korea.
They are literally everywhere!
Seriously! You can’t walk a block without there being at least one and probably two or three cafés!
An essential activity when alone in Seoul is visiting cafés and people watching!
It is so much fun. Especially in Myeong-dong and Insadong where there is lots of stuff going on!
A lot of cafés are on the second or third story of buildings, so you get a great bird’s eye view the area.
It is the perfect way to relax and have an afternoon break.
Plus the tea, coffee, and snacks at Korean cafés are delicious!
Seoul is where my love of matcha originated!
Plus you can find some of the cutest and most unique cafés in the world.
So definitely set some time aside during your solo trip to Seoul to relax, have a cup of tea, and take in the sights and sounds of Seoul from a café.
7. Be Careful What You Wear!
This one is more for the readers who identify as female.
Sorry everyone else!
For the most part, there isn’t much of a dress code for women in Korea.
You can wear short skirts, shorts, tight clothes. Pretty much anything is okay.
And people in Seoul are stylish!
The only thing you want to avoid is bare shoulders.
No tank tops and no strappy dresses. Unless you’re wearing a sweater over them.
You won’t be asked to leave an establishment, and nobody will say anything to your face.
But you will get some weird looks.
Trust me, I wore a tank top on my first solo trip to Seoul, and you definitely notice people staring. And it isn’t because I was white. It was because of my bare shoulders!
Again, nothing will happen if you choose to show your shoulders, but you will definitely feel like the odd one out!
8. Street Food is Your Best Food
Seoul has some of the best street food around, and you don’t want to miss out on it!
Plus it means you don’t have to eat at a restaurant alone. I know a lot of new solo travellers are very nervous about eating alone, and this takes that worry away.
There is street food all over Seoul! Even in quiet side streets you wouldn’t expect have a vendor or two.
The best places for tourists to find street food is at Myeong-dong or Insadong. They are popular tourist areas, and street vendors know that is the place to set up shop!
You can find pretty much any type of street food in Seoul!
There are traditional Korean foods, ice cream s’mores, potato spirals, porridge, and so much more.
There are literally streets lined with street vendors, and you can find anything you’re craving (for the most part).
One area where the street food lacks is in vegetarian options. 🙁
You can still find plenty of vegetarian options, but you have to look a little harder! Also, if there is a sauce be sure to ask the vendor if there is fish in the sauce. That is quite common.
Oh. Did I mention that the street food is quite affordable too!
You can get a number of different items and have it cost less than a sit-down restaurant meal.
I love that street food allows you to try a number of different items and experience different traditional dishes without committing to a large portion of it.
Pick an evening and dedicate to exploring Myeong-dong and trying all the street food.
It will be one of the highlights of your solo trip to Seoul!
9. Have a Plan for Myeong-dong
Speaking of Myeong-dong, you need to have a plan before you arrive.
There is temptations everywhere, and before you know it, you’ll have blown your budget and have to buy an extra suitcase for your flight home because you have so many skincare products!
You have nobody with you to reign in your spending, and things can get out of hand quickly because there are so many temptations!
That is why you need a plan before you visit the shopping district.
Even if you’re not a skincare lover.
It will suck you in!
Set a budget or have a list of items you are going to purchase before heading to Myeong-dong.
It is one of the best tips for planning a solo trip to Seoul I can give you!
Having restraint is easier said than done in such a busy and exciting area!
10. Koreans are Friendly but Reserved
But, Erica, you said Koreans are blunt!
Yes, yes I did, and it is true.
Koreans are both friendly and reserved but can also be blunt.
For the most part, Koreans won’t approach you and strike up a conversation. You will mostly be left alone to do your own thing.
If you choose to strike up a conversation with someone, they will likely be reserved and friendly to you.
Your attempts at conversations probably won’t go beyond small talk, but that’s okay!
If you’re lost or need assistance in any way, the locals are more than happy to help you!
There are even tourist booths set up in the major tourist locations where volunteers answer questions and help tourists when they are lost.
Expect all your interactions with the locals to be friendly!
Yay! We love that as a solo traveller.
Solo Travel Myths
Are you ready for your solo trip to Seoul yet?!
I truly believe travelling to Seoul alone is one of the best decisions you can make! It is such an amazing city with a mix of modern and traditional wrapped into one bustling city.
I hope these tips and tricks help you plan your solo trip to Seoul and convinced you that it is a great destination for solo travellers.
Seoul is such an easy city to get around. The transportation system is a breeze, and you can walk to a lot of the major tourist attractions.
Plus now you know that the rumour that Seoul is an expensive city is false! You won’t break the budget when travelling to Seoul alone, so you don’t need to worry about saving up thousands of dollars for your trip.
And the food is to die for!
So what are you waiting for? Seoul is waiting for you to explore it!