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Is it cheaper to go to Seoul or Tokyo?


When it comes to traveling, one of the most important factors that people consider is the cost. Two popular destinations in Asia are Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan. Both cities have their own unique attractions, culture, and cuisine, but which one is cheaper to visit? In this comprehensive article, we will compare the costs of transportation, accommodation, food, and activities between Seoul and Tokyo to determine which one is more affordable.

Transportation Costs

One of the biggest expenses when traveling is transportation. In Seoul, the subway system is extensive and affordable, with a single ride costing around 1,250 KRW ($1.10 USD). Taxis are also relatively cheap, with an initial fare of 3,800 KRW ($3.30 USD). On the other hand, Tokyo has a more complex subway system and higher fares. A single ride on the subway can cost between 170-330 JPY ($1.50-$3 USD), and taxis have an initial fare of 410 JPY ($3.70 USD). Overall, Seoul has a more affordable transportation system than Tokyo.

Accommodation Costs

Another major expense when traveling is accommodation. In Seoul, there are many budget-friendly options such as hostels and guesthouses that cost around 20,000 KRW ($17 USD) per night. Mid-range hotels in Seoul can range from 50,000-100,000 KRW ($44-$88 USD) per night. In Tokyo, budget accommodations are also available for around 2,500-5,000 JPY ($23-$45 USD) per night. However, mid-range hotels in Tokyo can be more expensive than those in Seoul, ranging from 10,000-20,000 JPY ($90-$180 USD) per night. Overall, Seoul has more affordable accommodation options than Tokyo.

Food Costs

One of the best things about traveling is trying new foods, but it can also be a major expense. In Seoul, there are many affordable street food options such as tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and kimbap (rice rolls). Korean barbecue is also a popular and affordable meal option. Prices can range from 3,000-10,000 KRW ($2.60-$8.80 USD) per meal. In Tokyo, sushi and ramen are popular food options, but they can be more expensive than Korean cuisine. A bowl of ramen can cost around 1,000-2,000 JPY ($9-$18 USD), while sushi can cost even more. Overall, Seoul has more affordable food options than Tokyo.

Activity Costs

When traveling, it’s important to experience the local culture and attractions, but this can also be a significant expense. In Seoul, there are many free attractions such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village. Other activities such as visiting a jjimjilbang (Korean spa) or attending a K-pop concert can cost around 10,000-50,000 KRW ($8.80-$44 USD). In Tokyo, attractions such as the Tokyo Skytree and Disneyland can be quite expensive, with admission fees ranging from 1,500-7,400 JPY ($14-$67 USD). Overall, Seoul has more affordable activities than Tokyo.

Currency Exchange Rates

Another factor to consider when comparing the costs of visiting Seoul and Tokyo is the currency exchange rate. As of August 2021, 1 USD is equal to 1,145 KRW in South Korea and 110 JPY in Japan. This means that the purchasing power of USD is higher in South Korea than in Japan. Therefore, even though some expenses in Tokyo may be similar to those in Seoul, the overall cost may be higher due to the weaker exchange rate.

Seasonal Variations

The cost of traveling to Seoul or Tokyo can also vary depending on the time of year. During peak tourist seasons such as summer and winter holidays, prices for accommodation and activities may increase. It’s important to research the best time to visit each city based on your budget and preferences.


After comparing the costs of transportation, accommodation, food, and activities between Seoul and Tokyo, it’s clear that Seoul is generally more affordable than Tokyo. This is due to factors such as the lower transportation costs, more affordable accommodation options, and cheaper food. However, it’s important to consider the currency exchange rate and seasonal variations when planning a trip to either city. Ultimately, the decision of which city to visit depends on your personal preferences and budget.

Additional Tips for Saving Money

If you’re looking to save even more money during your trip to Seoul or Tokyo, here are some additional tips:

1. Use public transportation instead of taxis.
2. Stay in budget-friendly accommodations such as hostels or guesthouses.
3. Eat at local street food vendors instead of restaurants.
4. Visit free attractions and parks.
5. Purchase a local SIM card or portable Wi-Fi device instead of using expensive data roaming services.
6. Use a travel rewards credit card to earn points and miles for future trips.

Is it cheaper to visit Seoul or Tokyo?

According to the TZ Verdict, when comparing Seoul and Tokyo, some travelers who have experienced both cities believe that Seoul is more suitable for first-time visitors. This is mainly due to its affordability, particularly for solo or group travelers.

Is South Korea cheaper than Tokyo?

To maintain the same standard of living in Tokyo as you could have in Seoul, you would need approximately 6,341,563.3₩ (644,485.9¥) in Tokyo assuming you rent in both places, compared to 6,700,000.0₩ in Seoul. Our calculation is based on the Cost of Living Plus Rent Index, which compares the cost of living in different cities.

How much more expensive is Tokyo than Seoul?

The cost of living in Seoul, South Korea, is 5% lower than in Tokyo, Japan.

Is Seoul cheaper than Japan?

Comparatively, the cost of living in Japan is 8% higher than that of South Korea, with an average cost of $1200 and $1117 respectively. According to the list of the most expensive countries in the world, Japan is ranked 44th while South Korea is ranked 53rd.

Is Seoul expensive as a tourist?

Seoul, South Korea’s capital city, is known to be expensive, especially when it comes to accommodation. However, like many other countries, the cost of living in other parts of South Korea is more affordable compared to its capital.

Is Japan or Korea cheaper for tourists?

Many travelers often ask whether they should visit Japan or South Korea. To decide which country to visit, it is important to consider the cost. A week-long trip to South Korea can cost approximately $627 per person, while a week-long trip to Japan may cost around $787. Evaluating the expense will help you determine where you will get the most value for your money.

7. Consider purchasing a city pass or tourist card that offers discounts on transportation and attractions.
8. Look for deals and promotions online before booking accommodations, flights, and activities.
9. Avoid traveling during peak tourist seasons to save on costs.
10. Use cash instead of credit cards to avoid foreign transaction fees.
11. Shop at local markets and supermarkets instead of tourist shops for souvenirs and snacks.
12. Plan your itinerary ahead of time to avoid overspending on last-minute activities.
13. Take advantage of free walking tours or self-guided tours to explore the city without spending money on expensive guided tours.
14. Bring a refillable water bottle to save money on buying bottled water.
15. Consider using a bike-sharing service or walking instead of taking public transportation if feasible.

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