Day 1 was full of exciting experiences…what does Day 2 have in store? 

Our Japanese language reporter Go Hatori challenged himself with spending a weekend in Korea using only 50,000 yen (roughly US$350). That includes flight, accommodation, transportation, food, sightseeing, and even souvenirs. On Day 1, our reporter spent a leisurely day enjoying Korean street food, visiting a unique Starbucks and even getting a massage! But did he leave himself enough cash to work with on Day 2? Let’s find out!

Go had had a splendid night’s sleep at his budget hotel, and woke up relatively late. Since his flight back to Japan didn’t leave until 10:35 that night, he had plenty of time to just relax. He took his time checking out of his hotel, then boarded a bus for the restaurant that serves Korea’s best cold noodles.

It was called Eulmildae, and its reputation was off the charts. Go arrived just as the place opened at 11 a.m. but a long line had already formed outside.

Luckily, he only had to wait five minutes to get seated. He ordered their most famous dish, the Cold Water Noodles, which was 15,000 won (1,655 yen or US$11.39).

It came out almost immediately.

It even had crushed ice in the broth!

It was nice and cold–super refreshing–and the flavor was delicious enough to make the restaurant worthy of its reputation.

His fast broken, Go decided he wanted to experience a bit of nature, so he hopped on a bus and headed to the Hangang River.

He went for a stroll, crossing over a long bridge…

And found himself at Hangang Park, a very pleasant, relaxing place.

It was a ridiculously hot day, and many people were sitting with their feet in the water, so Go decided, “When in Rome!” and joined them. It felt super nice.

But now it was time to achieve the pinnacle of his trip. He hopped back on the bus and headed, once again, for the shopping area of Myeong-dong, where the one sweets shop he knew he absolutely had to visit was…

Shaved ice restaurant Sul-Bing Cafe!

There, he ordered their signature dish, the Kinako Mochi Sul Bing, shaved ice topped with roasted soybean powder and mochi, which was 9,500 won.

It was sooo goooood!! Though Sul Bing has a branch in Tokyo, there’s nothing like eating the genuine article in its place of origin.

Unfortunately, at this point, Go had just the equivalent of 1,341 yen [US$9.50) left in cash, and 2,950 won (US$2.25) on his T-money card. That really wasn’t much to work with. Since he still had plenty of time before he had to head to the airport, he went to the nearby Cheonggye-Cheon River

Where he soaked his feet together with other locals…

Strolled along the riverside…

And found other free ways to enjoy himself.

It was so hot that Go was drenched in sweat by the time he was done! He decided to freshen up and change before heading to dinner.

Since he only had enough money left for dinner, his stomach began to grumble more and more as time passed. Starving, he hopped on his last bus…

And headed to his final destination before going back to Japan: Hangul Tongdak!

The reason Go specifically chose this restaurant was because he wanted his last meal in Korea to be Korean fried chicken, but the more he researched, the more he learned Korean fried chicken restaurants aren’t popular with solo diners because they tend to serve huge portions.

Go didn’t really want to eat two servings of fried chicken on his own, so he did some more snooping and found Hanguk Tongdak, which serves smaller portions.

Plus, a whole chicken there costs just 5,000 won, and a draft beer was only 4,500 won! It was the perfect place for a solo traveler to eat a meal, with the right price, portion size, and level of comfort.

The kind of fried chicken at this restaurant is different from the kind of fried chicken you might be used to. Instead of cutting the chicken into pieces and deep frying it, the chicken is fried whole. This is called Tongdak in Korea.

And this is what it looks like!

Go sampled the beer and let out a contented “Ahh.” After walking 25,000 steps, a nice cold beer was the perfect way to end his day.

And the delicious fried chicken was the perfect way to end his trip! It was far and away the best thing he ate in Korea. Like, seriously, it was insanely good. It got better and better the more he ate. He could think of no better way to top off his adventure.

Satisfied, with a full belly, and exhausted from a long day of walking, Go was ready to go home, but he only had 2,950 won left on his T-money Card, so he used the last of his cash to charge another 3,000 won (329 yen). Then he boarded the subway for the airport and said goodbye to Korea.

In the end, Go’s cash spending was slightly over his budget by 32 yen (US 23 cents), but he did have a balance of 600 won (about 66 yen) remaining on his T-money Card when all was said and done, so in fact, he ended up coming in slightly under by 34 yen.

Here’s a breakdown of all his expenses:
Round-trip flight from Haneda to Seoul with Peach Airlines: 31,100 yen
Hotel room (with attached bathroom): 3,322 yen
T-money Card: 5,000 won (552 yen)
T-money Card Charge: 10,000 won (1,104 yen)
Toast from Isaac Toast and Coffee: 3,900 won (430 yen)
Cafe Latte from 7-Eleven: 2,200 won (243 yen)
Samgye-tang: 24,000 won (2,648 yen)
Starbucks Caramel Latte: 5,900 won (651 yen)
T-money Card Charge: 5,000 won (552 yen)
60-minute full-body massage: 38,000 won (4,191 yen)
Mung bean Chijimi: 5,000 won (550 yen)
Twisted donut: 1,000 won (110 yen)
Coke: 2,300 won (254 yen)
Baskin Robbins Mint Chocolate Chip drink: 1,200 won (132 yen)
Bottle of water: 1,100 won (121 yen)
Korea’s Best Cold Noodles: 15,000 won (1,655 yen)
Famous shaved ice: 9,500 won (1,044 yen)
Whole fried chicken and draft beer: 9,500 won (1,044 yen)
T-money Card charge: 3,000 won (329 yen)

Total spent: 50,032 yen
Minus Balance Remaining on T-money Card: 600 won (66 yen)
Total trip cost: 49,966 yen

Left over at the end: 34 yen

It was very close, but somehow he managed to keep his whole trip just under 50,000 yen, while also being able to splurge on some really nice meals and even a massage! It goes to show that even if you don’t have much money, you can still travel and have a good time.

Things were a little more expensive in Korea than Go expected, like the bottle of Coke that amounted to 254 yen and some of his meals. Sadly, that meant that Go couldn’t get souvenirs for his colleagues. Even so, 50,000 yen stretched surprisingly far. Where will he go next? We can’t wait to find out!

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