When planning your trip to Korea for either a long term or short term period, it is always important to consider all of the different options for accommodations. Hotels seem like an obvious choice but these can be expensive. Seoul is a city of over 12 million people in the city proper and so space for citizens and visitors alike is not as easy to come by as it is at home. Also, because Seoul is so large you’ll want to be sure to be in a good location. Seoul’s subway system is great and efficient, but travelling for 40 minutes by subway one way everyday to meet a friend for coffee, or to go to one of Seoul’s many malls gets old. I have stayed in places that had a less than ideal location and I ended up spending 2 hours a day on the subway.
When considering hotels there are a lot of different options. First of all you’ll want to decide whether you want to stay at a western or Korean style hotel. Western hotels will be familiar to people from the US and Europe, including household names such as the Hilton, Marriott, Best Western, and Ramada hotels. Other comparable Korean hotels that are stylized after their western counterparts include the Koreana Hotel, the Lotte Hotel, the Hyundai Hotel (found in Gyeongju and Busan). Room prices for these hotels vary depending on the season and location but you can expect to spend around or above 200 USD per night to stay at one of these hotels. That being said, you will be getting some of the best and familiar accommodations Korea has to offer. These hotels will have a bilingual staff, western style beds, currency exchange services, and usually a western style breakfast brunch buffet.
If you’re looking to save a little money on your trip to Korea but still want to have the privacy of your own hotel room you can look into staying at one of the many motels found throughout Korea. I should say at this point that these motels are often referred to as “Love Motels” by Koreans and foreigners alike as they provide cheap places for people to well…you know…have private time together as a couple. These motels can be booked online at any travel site such as Expedia, or Orbitz and for the most part they are decent considering the price. Do your research on these motels and ask around before booking your reservation because some of them can by more questionable and seedy than others. Prices for rooms at these types of motels range from about 40 USD to 60 USD. Not a bad deal for a room with a private shower, air-conditioning, and most of the amenities offered at the more expensive hotels. However many of these motels will not have an English speaking staff, so keep that in mind.
For adoptees who are travelling in Korea and are really on a budget or are interested in a new experience and staying in a place where it is easy to meet other adoptees, definitely consider staying at any one of the adoptee guesthouses in Korea. In Seoul there are three guest houses that I know of, the first being the guesthouse at Holt International’s Post Adoption Services Office. The rates are about 45 USD per night, but unlike the other guest houses this does get you your private room. The guest house is literally on the fourth floor of the office and it is located in the Mapo District of West Seoul. This guest house is really just a place to stay though as in my friend’s experience it was a little awkward at times staying in the same building that the Holt employees worked at, and there is not the same opportunities for social interaction with other adoptees as there is at the next to locations I will discuss.
Woori Jip (Meaning “our house” in Korean) is another great place to stay for adoptees who are looking to stay in Korea on a budget. Woori Jip is run by the post adoption services organization InKas. For more information on InKas be sure to check out the article about the different post adoption services organizations found in Korea. Woori Jip is an actual home which is a nice set up because guests have full use of the house including the TV room, living room and kitchen. Each room houses a few guests but you will have your own closet and desk. Also the staff is very nice and helpful as well. The cost to stay at Woori Jip is roughly 300 USD per month. However this does not include the mandatory fee of about 110 USD for bedding. The fee is a one time fee as you purchase the bedding you will use during your stay at Woori Jip. Woori Jip is ideal for longer trips or adoptees who are studying here in Korea. Also, in order to stay at Woori Jip you must be an active member of InKas which means you should sign up at their website (http://www.inkas.or.kr) and pay 30 USD per year to maintain an active membership status. Woor Jip is in located in Sinchon, near central Seoul, north of the Han River. This location is close to Yonsei University and the Hongdae areas which is a popular hot spot of locals and tourists alike.
The KoRoot guesthouse is also a great place to stay and meet other adoptees during your trip in Korea. The KoRoot guesthouse is ran by KoRoot, an organization that helps adoptees who are returning to Korea and advocates for political action on adoptee related issues in Korea. The cost to stay at the guest house is about 15 USD and this includes your bedding, breakfast, and a home cooked lunch (except on the weekends). Like Woori Jip, the KoRoot guesthouse is an actual home and so adoptees have access to all of the home’s amenities such as the TV/lounge area, kitchen, and dining room. The are different guestrooms depending on your needs. KoRoot has one room dedicated to men, one to women, a couples room with a queen size bed, and a separate room for families. The couples room is slightly more in terms of cost. Also you can expect to meet many adoptees from around the world while staying at KoRoot, depending on the time of year. This is a great way to make new friends and have a group to go out with if you don’t know many people in Seoul. KoRoot is also air-conditioned during the summers and heated (floors included) in the winter. KoRoot has a great staff who is always ready to help its guests with translation services, tour tips, and even ordering deliver food. For reservations be sure to contact KoRoot via e-mail prior to your trip. Their e-mail can be found on their website along with more information (http://www.koroot.org/). KoRoot is about a 10 to 15 minute walk away from Gyeongbokgung Station although there is a bus stop in front of KoRoot as well. KoRoot is located in central Seoul north of the Han River.
Aside from these options you can also look into staying at other hostels in Korea. Hostels are a cheap alternative to hotels and some even offer private rooms for a slightly higher rate. You can expect to pay about 15 USD per night for a group room, give or take a few dollars. Hi Seoul Youth Hostel is a particularly nice hostel built in 2011 (http://www.hiseoulyh.com/eng/).