Ladies and gentlemen, we have now touched down in Incheon International Airport. Woohoo! It’s time to hit the town! Wait, just hold on a second… Air fare = $$$$ + Accommodation = $$$ + Meals = $$. Aaaaaarghh first the hair pulling action, followed by foam forming at the mouth (just kidding). Fret not, folks! If you are on a budget and still want to enjoy your holiday, I have listed down 8 things you can do in Korea for absolutely free!

1. Free Hanbok Experience

seoul-global-cultural-tourism-center
Credit: you and me captured moments

Hanbok or the traditional Korean dress has to be in your MUST-DO-IN-KOREA list. You can find many places that offer hanbok rentals for photo sessions around Seoul. But you’re here for the stuff, right?

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Credit: mit

To get your picture immortalised in one of these outfits, head to Seoul Global Cultural Center  at M Plaza. There are various types of hanbok you can choose from complete with accessories and all (it would be weird to see your sports shoes or sneakers peek through from underneath the hanbok). English speaking interpreters are also available to answer any of your enquiries.

#HHWT Tip: Do try to visit before lunch for a on-site reservation as they do tend to be fully booked by the afternoon. You can continue with your shopping before heading back to try on a hanbok!

Duration: Approx. 5~10 min per person
Please visit the center in order to participate
No advance reservations taken – however you may call ahead in order to inquire about availability
Opening hours: Mon-Thu (4 days a week) 10:30-12:30 / 14:00-16:00 (Lunch break 13:00-14:00), Closed from Fri-Sun and public holidays
How to get there: Alight at Myeongdong Stn (Line 4). Exit 6. Walk 3 minutes. OR Alight at Euljiro 1(il)-ga Stn (Line 2). Exit 6. Walk 15 minutes

2. Experience traditional Korea

So you’ve gotten to try on a hanbok, now head over to the two hanok villages in Seoul and get a glimpse of the traditional Korean houses! You would feel like you’re filming a sageuk (historical drama) 😉

Namsangol Hanok Village

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Credit: kinfriend

Namsangol Hanok Village is located in the central district of Seoul. This village has five traditional hanoks (Korean houses) from the era of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The hanoks were brought in and restored to give a realistic historical feel from the period.

Weddings are a great presentation of the uniqueness of any culture. If you are lucky and get to visit on the weekend, you can witness a traditional wedding re-enactment held at Bak Yeong Hyo’s Residence.

2 - korean traditional wedding namsangol hhwt
Credit: korea herald

While immersing yourself in the classic Korean architecture and tradition, you can also enjoy many “selfie or wefie” moments around the village as it is surrounded by stunning Korean styled gardens complete with a flowing stream. So strike your best pose and snap!

#HHWT Tip: You can also try on hanboks at this hanok village but do note that there’s a rental fee.

Opening Hours: Apr-Oct: 09:00-21:00, Nov-Mar: 09:00-20:00
How to get there: Alight at Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 & 4), Exit 3 or 4. Walk along the road between oh!zemidong (Chungmuro Media Center) and Maeil Business Newspaper Building (150m)

Bukchon Hanok Village

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Credit: rok on

If your visit to Namsangol Village isn’t enough to take you back in time of the old Korea, Bukchon Village consists of hundreds of Hanok from the Joseon era! Some of these hanoks have been converted into traditional cultural centres, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses. You will definitely feel like walking into a time machine while strolling along these alleys that dates back to more than 500 years ago.

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Credit: rj koehler

Bukchon is known as the center for arts and culture. If museum-hopping is your thing, there are several interesting museums in Bukchon that may spark your interest – namely the Gahoe Museum and the Han Sangsu Embroidery Museum. However, do note that these museums charge a small entrance fee.

#HHWT Tip: Bukchon Hanok Village is located in the Insadong area. Don’t forget to explore the neighbourhood!

*Do note that Bukchon Village is an actual residential area. Please follow the precautions below when visiting Bukchon Hanok Village.

– Please keep noise levels to a minimum (e.g. no loud voices) especially in the 31 Gahoe-dong area
– Please keep group visits to a maximum of 10 people
– Please do not use microphones or loudspeakers
– Please do not take photos or film the insides of houses, even if the door is open

Opening Hours: All year round
How to get there: Alight at Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2. Go straight for about 300m to arrive at Bukchon Hanok Village

3. Free Walking Tours

free-walking-tour seoul
Credit: seoul magazine

Want to explore Seoul on foot? You’ll be surprised to find that there are actually quite a number of free walking tours provided by the Seoul tourism board as well as college students wishing to introduce Korea to foreigners and practice their English at the same time! These tour guides are all conducted by volunteers and you can make some friends along the way too 😉

Head over to Seoulmate and Visit Seoul for more info!

4. War Memorial of Korea

6 - korea war memorial
Credit: visit korea

This amazing country has had her fair share of bloodshed and tears in the past. The War Museum depicts the perfect picture of evolution that Korea has gone through in the past half a century. Visitors can learn about the war history through the well-preserved documentations, relics and military equipment that are on display in the exhibit halls.

war-memorial-korea
Credit: rj koehler

The War Museum consists of 8 main exhibit halls. Make sure that you come early because this museum is huge! It will take you around 2 to 3 hours to complete the tour.

Opening Hours: 9:00-18:00 (Last admission is one hour before closing). Closed every Monday. If Monday is a holiday, it will be closed on the following day instead
How to get there: Samgakji Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 1, 11 or 12. OR Namyeong Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 1

5. Catch Night Lights In Seoul

Being a metropolitan city, how can you ever miss the night sky of Seoul?

Dongdaemun and Cheongyecheon

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Credit: keneckert

Your visit to Korea is incomplete if you did not visit Dongdaemun. This place comes alive after sun down. No… I am not referring to bars and pubs or that sort of entertainment 🙂

Cheongyecheon in the evening
Credit: pinterest 

You can start at Cheonggyecheon which is a 3.7km stretched stream that runs through the city of Seoul. The stunning light and laser display along the stream is quite enjoyable.

While you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out what else Dongdaemun has to offer! No, it’s not JUST about shopping!

Opening Hours: Open all year round
How to get there:
Exit Dongdaemun Station (Subway Line 1 & 4) OR Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Subway Line 2, 4 & 5)

Banpo Bridge

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Credit: kongjak1

Also known as The Magic Rainbow Fountain, this is a spot to witness this amazing innovative architecture. Personally, it is not just the fact that it holds the Guinness World Book Of Records for the longest water fountain but it is also a fully functional eco-friendly double decker bridge!

14 - banpo rainbow bridge seoul korea hhwt
Credit: burnblog

This bridge stretches across the Han River and you can enjoy the light and water display from both sides of the bridge. The upper part of the bridge showcases over hundreds of different LED formation that illuminates numerous multi-coloured effects. It is ridiculously cool especially after the sun sets 😍

#HHWT Tip: While you’re waiting for the rainbow bridge show to start, you can head to express bus terminal for a shopping trip!

Opening Hours: April-June, September-October (Duration: 20 min) 
Weekdays: 12:00, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00
Weekends: 12:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00
July-August (Duration: 20 min)
Weekdays: 12:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00
Weekends: 12:00, 19:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00, 21:30
How to get there: Dongjak Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 1 or 2. OR Express Bus Terminal Station (Seoul Subway Line 3,7 or 9), Exit 8-1. Go straight for 250m, and turn right at the Express Bus Terminal 4-way intersection. Continue going straight for 400m and cross the street at the crosswalk. Go straight through the underpass to arrive at the park.

6. Mountain Climbing / Hiking

7 - dobong san bukhansan national park

Credit: as far as i can tell

Time to bring out your sports attire and burn off those extra Kimchi & Bibimbap peeps! Bukhansan National Park is not only for those adrenaline junkies but anybody who would appreciate the picturesque gorges and granite peaks. This park offers many trails with different difficulty levels that will suit your fitness capabilities.

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Credit: the seoul guide

The highest peak in this park is Baegundae and it stands proud at 836 metres. The climb up to Baegundae might take you around 2 hours depending on your pace but imagine the majestic view that awaits. It is definitely worth the sweat! As this park is only about an hour train ride from Seoul, you might be able to see Seoul city itself (if the weather permits that is).

Opening Hours: Open all year round but hiking at night is prohibited
How to get there:
Bukhansan National Park – Gireum Station (Subway Line 4), Exit 3.
Bukhansan Fortress – Gupabal Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 1. Take Bus 704 bound for Bukhansanseong Fortress (북한산성). Get off at the Bukhansan Mountain entrance bus stop.
More info: Website

7. Fun At The Beach

Have you actually seen the geographical topography of Korea before? Though South Korea is more notable for its metropolitan city, this country is surrounded by dozens of amazing beaches!

9 - seokcho beach korea
Credit: visit korea 

My personal pick would be Sokcho beach. Sokcho is a coastal city where their main industries are sea products and tourism. The beach is only open for swimming in between July and August 🙁 However, you can still enjoy a nice stroll or just get together for some fun activities by the beach. (We hear that Busan has some amazing beaches too!)

10 - seokcho seafood
Credit: visit korea

Sokcho is also a food heaven for foodies. There are many restaurants and markets around that offer unique cuisines that will definitely satisfy your appetite. Market and food stalls are just nearby the beach. You should head over and check out the sashimi & raw fish as Sokcho is famous for its high quality fresh seafood.

*Do note that these are not halal-certified, but the stalls mostly sell seafood only.

#HHWT Tip: It is quite a journey to get to Sokcho if you are coming from Seoul but Sokcho offers many more exciting activities and attractions for you to enjoy so the trip is definitely worth it 🙂

Opening Hours: July to August, daily from 6am to 12 midnight
How to get there: 
Go to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (Gangbyeon Station of Seoul Subway Line No.2, Exit    4) → Take a bus bound for Sokcho (Time it takes: 2hrs, 50mins to 3hrs, 30mins/ First bus at 06:25, last bus at 23:00 / Runs 49 times daily.)

8. Enjoy Annual Celebration & Festivities In Seoul
eulalia silver grass haneul sky park seoul korea autumn 2
Credit: seoulstateofmind

Seoul host various festivities throughout the year. Be on the lookout for any events that might be happening around Seoul during your visit. Though some events are only celebrated during certain times of the year, there are also permanent events that take place almost all year round!

Bosingak Bell-Ringing Ceremony

15 - bell ringing
Credit: visit korea

During the Joseon Dynasty, the bell ringing ceremony was created as a time indicator. The Bosingak Bell rings to signal the opening and closing of the four Main Gates and the four Small Gates in the capital city since the fifth year of King Taejo’s ruling.

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Credit: david bynch

Event showcase would include guard-changing ceremonies, picture-taking, guided tour and bell-ringing experience. The program takes place at noon daily (except Mondays) so show up early folks and perhaps you can get the chance to ring the bell yourself!

Opening Hours: 11:30-12:20 (Bell-ringing from 11:40/ once a day) All year round (closed on Mondays)
How to get there: Alight at Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 4

Seoul Lantern Festival

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Credit: dawn

The 2018 Seoul Lantern Festival will take place from November 2-25 along the Cheonggyecheon (Stream) in the middle of Seoul. Not only can you enjoy the beautiful and creative lanterns, you can also participate and release your own lantern!

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dawn

#HHWT Tip: There are various festivals and events (modern/cultural) held in Korea throughout the year. Be on the lookout as many of these celebrations are also free to participate in! Check out this website for more details.

Opening Hours: 5pm-11pm, November 2-25
How to get there: Exit Dongdaemun Station (Subway Line 1 & 4) OR Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Subway Line 2, 4 & 5)
More info: Website


Credit: @alienstae333 on Instagram

To seek fun and adventure doesn’t mean you need to break the bank. Though it’ll be more satisfying if you can get it for free 😂. So enjoy your holiday folks and Annyeong!

P.S. No trip to Korea is complete without trying halal Korean food and of course, SHOPPING!

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2 comments

  • […] budget, you’d be happy to know that you can still experience the best of the city with these 8 free things to do in Korea! And if you like trying out the unconventional, this will help […]
  • […] Brimming with cultural and historical sites, Seoul has a good amount of free attractions to keep your travel itinerary packed too. Our favourite is the free hanbok experience at Seoul Global Cultural Center. Followed by a chance to explore a traditional hanok village, listen to Seoul-ful stories from the free walking tours, visit the bustling Dongdaemun after sun down, and catch the Seoul Lantern Festival and other festivities. And that is just a summary of our full compilation here. […]
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