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How much cash should I carry in Korea?


Korea is a country that has a unique blend of both traditional and modern aspects. It is home to stunning natural landscapes, scrumptious cuisine, and a rich cultural heritage. However, when it comes to managing finances, it’s important to know how much cash you should carry in Korea to avoid any inconvenience. In this article, we will discuss the various factors that determine the amount of cash you should carry in Korea.

ATMs in Korea

One of the best ways to access cash while in Korea is through ATMs. Fortunately, ATMs are readily available across the country, and it’s easy to find one in any major city or town. Most ATMs accept foreign cards, but some may not, so it’s essential to check the availability of an international ATM before traveling to a particular area.

Using Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in Korea, especially in urban areas such as Seoul or Busan. You can use them to pay for meals, transportation, and shopping. However, keep in mind that not all businesses accept credit cards, particularly smaller establishments or street vendors. Therefore, carrying a reasonable amount of cash is always advisable.

Cost of Living in Korea

The cost of living in Korea can be relatively high compared to other Asian countries. The expenses for food, accommodation, and transportation can add up quickly. Thus, it’s crucial to have enough cash on hand to cover your daily expenses.

Traveling Outside Urban Areas

If you plan on traveling outside of urban areas such as Seoul or Busan, it’s essential to carry enough cash with you as ATMs and credit card facilities may not be readily available. It’s also worth noting that some rural areas may not accept larger bills or foreign currency.

Tipping Culture in Korea

Tipping is not a common practice in Korea. Most service providers, including restaurant staff, taxi drivers, and hotel employees, don’t expect tips. However, if you receive exceptional service or want to show your appreciation, a small tip of around 10% of the total bill is acceptable.

Crime Rate in Korea

Korea has a relatively low crime rate, making it safe for travelers. However, it’s always advisable to take precautions to prevent theft or pickpocketing. Carrying excessive amounts of cash can make you a target for theft. Therefore, it’s best to carry only the necessary amount of cash and keep it in a secure place.

Emergency Situations

In case of an emergency, it’s advisable to have some cash on hand. For instance, if you need medical attention, the hospital may not accept credit cards or foreign currency. Therefore, having enough cash to cover any emergency expenses is essential.

Currency Exchange

Currency exchange services are widely available in Korea, particularly at airports and major train stations. However, exchange rates may vary depending on where you exchange your currency. It’s best to do some research and compare exchange rates before exchanging your money.

Public Transportation in Korea

Public transportation is readily available in Korea and is relatively inexpensive. You can use cash or transportation cards such as T-Money or Cashbee to pay for public transportation. However, carrying some extra cash can be helpful if you need to take a taxi or a private car service.

Cultural Events and Festivals

Korea is home to many cultural events and festivals throughout the year. These events often have stalls selling food, souvenirs, and other items that may require cash payments. Therefore, carrying extra cash during these events can be helpful.


In conclusion, the amount of cash you should carry in Korea depends on various factors, such as your travel itinerary, the cost of living, and the availability of ATMs and credit card facilities. It’s always advisable to carry enough cash to cover your daily expenses and any emergency situations. Also, be mindful of your surroundings and take precautions to prevent theft or pickpocketing. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy your trip to Korea without any financial inconvenience.

How much cash should I carry to South Korea?

If you bring foreign currency, Korean won notes, or checks worth more than $10,000 or the equivalent in total into the country, you must inform Customs.

Do I need to carry cash in Korea?

When it comes to payment options, Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most places, while some upscale establishments also take American Express. For smaller businesses like restaurants or markets, cash is often required. However, it’s important not to carry too much money with you.

How much cash do I need for 2 weeks in Korea?

This depends on your style of travel, but a mid-range budget for a solo traveler spending 10 days in South Korea would be about $65USD per day. If you’re willing to stay in cheap hostels, stick to more free activities in Seoul, and eat local foods, then you could get it down to maybe $40USD per day.Feb 9, 2023

Is it better to bring USD to Korea?

For the most favorable exchange rates, it is advisable to convert your currency in Korea instead of your country of origin. Our suggestion is to take a portion of your home currency to Korea and exchange it at the airport upon arrival to ensure you have cash readily available.

Does usd go far in South Korea?

The cost of traveling in South Korea can vary greatly, with options ranging from budget-friendly food and lodging to luxurious hotels and dining. The local currency is the South Korean won (₩), which is valued at approximately US$0.0008, meaning that visitors can exchange one US dollar for around ₩1200.

Does Korea prefer cash or card?

While card payments are commonly used in South Korea, cash is still necessary for street food, small restaurants, and some forms of public transportation. Additionally, certain merchants may not accept card payments for purchases under 10,000 won, which is equivalent to around $10.

Mobile Payment Apps

In addition to cash and credit cards, mobile payment apps such as KakaoPay and Samsung Pay are widely used in Korea. These apps allow you to pay for goods and services using your smartphone, eliminating the need to carry cash or credit cards. However, these apps require a Korean bank account, so they may not be accessible to foreign travelers.

Language Barrier

While Korea is becoming increasingly globalized, many Koreans still speak limited English. It’s a good idea to learn some basic Korean phrases or carry a translation app on your phone. This can help you communicate better with locals and avoid any misunderstandings when paying for goods and services.

Customs Regulations

When entering or leaving Korea, it’s important to be aware of customs regulations regarding currency. You must declare any amount exceeding 10,000 USD or its equivalent in other currencies. Failure to do so can result in fines or even imprisonment. Therefore, it’s essential to keep track of how much cash you have on hand and declare it if necessary.

Budgeting Your Expenses

Regardless of how much cash you carry, it’s always a good idea to budget your expenses before traveling to Korea. This can help you estimate how much money you’ll need for food, transportation, accommodation, and other expenses. By doing so, you can avoid overspending and ensure that you have enough cash on hand for the duration of your trip.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how much cash to carry in Korea is crucial for a hassle-free travel experience. By considering factors such as the cost of living, availability of ATMs and credit card facilities, and emergency situations, you can determine how much cash to bring with you. It’s also important to take precautions to prevent theft or pickpocketing and be aware of customs regulations and language barriers. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy all that Korea has to offer without any financial inconvenience.

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