At the border, entering the "country" of Transnistria. Photo taken December 8, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Tiraspol, Transnistria...the country that doesn't exist.

Where are they going next? Northern Moldova. Arrive December 11th.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What it cost for a month in Korea

This is actually our October expense report, but we'll give a little more detail about our costs in Korea since 28 of the 31 days of the month were spent in Korea itself.

Overall, the trip was slightly more expensive than we expected. But we had a lot of help from friends and the people we met along the way. Korea is probably one of the most expensive places to visit in Asia, except for Japan and the larger cities of Singapore and Hong Kong. It's certainly not as cheap as what we've heard regarding Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and that area.

First of all, our airfare was a real deal. We bought it last May, so that $942 expense is not included in our October list of costs, but of course it's relevant to the total cost of the trip.

Groceries: We spent a total of $310 for the month, and while they may sound very reasonable for two people, we also spent a lot on meals out. See the "entertainment" category below where we include our restaurant expenses. Groceries in Korea are actually quite expensive. I'd say most items are more expensive than Canada or the U.S., and beef is really expensive. The most reasonable meat is probably pork. Despite the abundance of seafood available at the markets, we still found it to be expensive.

Also, one of the reasons our grocery bill was high was that we actually didn't stay in a lot of places where we were able to do our own cooking. So a lot of that $310 was for snack foods and lunch type of foods.

Alcohol: Pretty good, at $92! But then soju is really cheap in Korea! Beer is actually fairly pricey, but a little cheaper than Canada. Wine is not really common in Korea, although it's certainly available.

Miscellaneous: Always a wild card here. Our total in October was a fairly high $375, but that also included a leftover internet bill of $140 from our last month in Saskatchewan. So a more accurate representation of the month is $235, and out of that $138 was for local transportation like buses, subway fares, and taxis.

Oh, the one glaring example of something cheap in Korea? Taxis. We refuse to take a taxi in Canada or the U.S. because they're ridiculously expensive. But in Korea, taxis are everywhere and you are hard pressed to ring up a fare higher than $5 or $6!

Entertainment: Again, higher than normal because we ate out a lot. We spent $411 on restaurants and admission to attractions. We had 18 meals out during the month. Actually, we had a few more than that, but our Korean friends wouldn't let us pay for any of them! Like anywhere, Korean restaurants can be very expensive, or they can be relatively cheap. It's not difficult to find a meal out for as little as $6 per person if you look around for it. Also, there is no tipping in Korea and no added taxes after the fact. The price you see on the menu is the price you will have paid when you leave the restaurant. What a concept!

Overnight: When we were able to, we stayed with couchsurfing hosts and friends. But we ended up paying for nine nights of hotels or hostels. This total came to $386.12, or an average of $42.90 per night. We always had a private room with our own bathroom, and they were always spotlessly clean.

Travel: This is where we include any intercity travel or ferry service. Considering we did quite a lot of moving around, our expenses were a reasonable $364.32. For two people, that's not bad. We could have flown for cheaper. In country flights in Korea can be had for as little as $19 one way, but our intent was to see the country, not it's airports. So we used trains, buses, and ferries. Excellent service from all three of those categories.

So, if you include the airfare, and remove the unrelated expenses, our 28 days in Korea cost a total of around $2,500 for the two of us.

12 comments:

  1. That is really a good deal considering all you did. Most people would probably spent more than that for a week on vacation in Korea.
    That is about what our monthly costs are to live fulltime in our RV.

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    1. It's true most people would spend more. The couchsurfing really cuts down on the overnight expenses and we always love the experience that couchsurfing offers. We get a much better feel of the people and the country this way and to us this is what traveling is all about.

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  2. Wow! You certainly can make a buck (or a Loonie) go far! I'm glad you don't work for any government tax agency, you'd know how to squeeze the penny out of a taxpayer! :cD

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    1. We would never want to have a job with any government tax agency! ;-)

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  3. We could not live in solitary confinement for $2,500 a month. But somehow we usually end up on the "treating" end of the scale rather than the "being treated" end. It must be a talent.

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    1. Try as we might Croft, we just couldn't seem to get them to let us pay for things and trust me, we really tried. We treated June and Park out for one meal and Ruth also was able to make them a meal. Also, we were able to take Kim out for a meal and Ruth made Tom and Elicia a meal. We offered our hosts some gifts, and they immediately went to find something to give back to us. I guess this is just the Korean way and we wouldn't forget to pay this forward to any couchsurfing guests that we are able to host in the future.

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  4. I'd say couchsurfing saved you quite a bundle.

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    1. Yes, the couchsurfing did save a lot on our overnight expenses but we do the couchsurfing for the experience more than for the money we save. We have met many new friends that we are still in contact with even today and some of them are from 7 years ago.

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  5. $2500 for a month overseas sounds pretty reasonable. We may start looking at two one-month trips a year to other countries. Looks like it was a memorable trip.

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    1. I think doing two one month trips abroad each year is a great way to do it.

      It definitely was a memorable trip.

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  6. Once again amazing low numbers for such a great trip. Enjoy Seattle!

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    1. Thank you Cheapchick, and it was a great trip.

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