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Is food cheap in South Korea?


South Korea is a popular destination for tourists, students, and expats. One of the things that people consider before traveling or living in a foreign country is the cost of living. Food is an essential aspect of life, and it is natural to wonder if food is cheap in South Korea. In this article, we will explore the cost of food in South Korea, including the average prices, popular dishes, and factors that influence prices.

South Korean Cuisine

South Korean cuisine is known for its bold flavors, spices, and fermented dishes. Some of the most popular dishes include kimchi, bulgogi, bibimbap, and Korean fried chicken. These dishes are available in restaurants and street food stalls throughout the country.

Cost of Eating Out

Eating out in South Korea can be affordable or expensive, depending on where you go. Street food stalls and small local restaurants offer affordable meals for around 5,000-10,000 KRW (4-8 USD). However, high-end restaurants in popular areas like Gangnam can charge up to 100,000 KRW (84 USD) per person.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping in South Korea can be affordable if you know where to go. Local markets offer fresh produce at reasonable prices. However, imported goods like cheese and wine can be expensive due to import taxes. Discount retailers like Lotte Mart and E-mart offer a wide selection of groceries at competitive prices.

Factors that Influence Prices

Several factors influence the cost of food in South Korea. The first factor is location. Popular tourist areas like Myeongdong and Hongdae have higher prices due to demand. The second factor is seasonality. Some ingredients are only available during certain seasons and may be more expensive when out of season. Lastly, import taxes and tariffs can increase the cost of imported goods.

Street Food

Street food is a popular and affordable option in South Korea. You can find street food stalls throughout the country, offering dishes like tteokbokki, hotteok, and gimbap for around 2,000-5,000 KRW (1-4 USD) per dish. Street food is an excellent way to try different dishes without breaking the bank.

Coffee Culture

Coffee culture is prevalent in South Korea, with coffee shops on almost every corner. The price of coffee can vary depending on the location and type of coffee shop. Local cafes offer affordable coffee for around 3,000-5,000 KRW (2-4 USD), while international chains like Starbucks can charge up to 6,000 KRW (5 USD) for a basic drink.


Alcohol is a significant part of South Korean culture, with popular drinks like soju and makgeolli. Local bars and pubs offer affordable drinks for around 3,000-5,000 KRW (2-4 USD) per drink. However, high-end bars in popular areas can charge up to 20,000 KRW (17 USD) per drink.

Delivery Services

Delivery services like Uber Eats and Baemin are popular in South Korea, offering delivery from local restaurants and fast-food chains. The cost of delivery can vary depending on the distance and minimum order amount. However, these services offer convenience and the ability to try different dishes from the comfort of your own home.

Vegetarian and Vegan Options

South Korea is not known for its vegetarian or vegan options. However, some restaurants offer vegetarian and vegan dishes like bibimbap and tofu stew. These dishes can be affordable, with prices ranging from 5,000-10,000 KRW (4-8 USD) per dish.


In conclusion, the cost of food in South Korea can be affordable or expensive, depending on where you go and what you eat. Street food and local markets offer affordable options, while high-end restaurants and tourist areas can be expensive. Factors like location, seasonality, and import taxes influence prices. Overall, South Korean cuisine is diverse and offers something for everyone at different price points.

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips to save money on food in South Korea:
– Eat at local markets and street food stalls.
– Avoid high-end restaurants in popular areas.
– Shop at discount retailers like Lotte Mart and E-mart.
– Try local cafes instead of international chains.
– Look for vegetarian and vegan options to save money.
– Use delivery services for convenience but be aware of the delivery fees.

Is South Korea cheap for food?

Korean cuisine is generally affordable, and preparing meals at home using grocery store ingredients can be even more cost-effective.

How much money do you need for food in Korea?

The average cost of food for one day is ₩29,500 (equivalent to around US$24). The cost of food in South Korea can vary widely, with street food ranging from ₩1000 to ₩5000 (around US$0.82-$4.00) per day and a typical mid-range barbequed pork meal costing approximately ₩40,000 (around US$33).

Is South Korea cheap or expensive?

It is a well-known fact that South Korea is an expensive country, with its capital city of Seoul often ranking among the most expensive cities to reside in. In the Mercer Cost of Living Survey of 2022, Seoul was ranked as the 14th most expensive city out of 227.

How much money should I bring to Korea for 2 weeks?

The budget for a solo traveler spending 10 days in South Korea varies based on their travel style, but a mid-range option would be around $65USD per day. By staying in low-cost hostels, engaging in free activities, and consuming local cuisine, it’s possible to decrease the cost to around $40USD per day. This information is valid as of February 9th, 2023.

How much is a Big Mac in Korea?

The price of Combo meal in fast food restaurant (Big Mac Meal or similar) in Seoul is ₩7,898.Mar 3, 2023

Is South Korea expensive for foreigners?

Here is an overview of the monthly living expenses for various locations. Across the country, a family of four can anticipate spending an average of 2,300,000 KRW per month (equivalent to 2,000 USD) on living expenses (excluding rent). An individual who is living abroad can anticipate paying around 652,000 KRW (equivalent to 560 USD) per month (excluding rent).

– Take advantage of lunch specials and set menus offered by restaurants. These can be more affordable than ordering individual dishes.
– Try to learn some basic Korean phrases to communicate with locals and order food from small local restaurants, as they may not have English menus or staff who speak English.
– Consider cooking at home if you have access to a kitchen. Local markets offer fresh produce and ingredients that can be used to cook traditional Korean dishes at a lower cost than eating out.
– Check out university areas for affordable food options, as many students are on a budget and there are often student-friendly restaurants and cafes in these areas.
– Keep an eye out for seasonal promotions and discounts offered by restaurants and food retailers. These can be a great way to save money while trying new dishes or buying groceries.
– If you’re on a tight budget, consider packing your own lunch or snacks for the day. Convenience stores like CU and GS25 offer a variety of affordable snacks and pre-made meals that can be taken on-the-go.

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