Traveling To Seoul For K-Pop: A Fan’s Actual Breakdown of Expenses

How much does it cost to travel to Seoul for a K-pop concert?
by | October 13, 2023


So you want to go to Seoul for a K-Pop event…

Well, the good news is, getting tickets to K-pop concerts, K-music festivals, and K-musicals is now more accessible to international fans than ever. The downside? It still costs a good amount of money. But don’t worry—if you can dream it, with patience and the right budgeting techniques, you’ll be able to make it!

In this post, I, a bona fide K-Pop fan, will share with you the actual breakdown of my expenses from my most recent trip to Seoul, so you have an idea of the costs that will come your way once you make your much-awaited K-Pop-related trip happen.

***DISCLAIMER: The prices stated here are from 2023 and are ever-changing IRL due to various factors, including the season, inflation, exchange rates, and even time-bound discounts. When planning your trip, it is always a good idea to set aside some allowance for each of your expected expenses for you to be able to travel more comfortably.***

 

 

Visa Processing – 0 PHP

For this trip, I used my valid multiple-entry tourist (C-3-9) visa, which was issued in 2019, so I didn’t have to shell out money for visa processing this time around.

However, getting that visa four years ago through a travel agency accredited by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of the Philippines cost me 700 PHP. And before that, getting a tourist visa at the Embassy was gratis or free (ah, good ol’ days).

If it’s your first time applying for a tourist visa, you might want to lodge your application at the newly opened Korea Visa Application Center (KOVAC) in Taguig. The service fee for a tourist C-3 visa is 900 PHP.

 

Check out this post for more info about applying for a Korean Visa:

 

Airfare – 12,251.19 PHP

When it comes to traveling for a K-pop event, chancing upon a seat sale of air carriers is a hit or miss.

Since you’re traveling for a particular event— sometimes, just a few weeks away—getting to save on airfare is not always likely. You can’t always predict when your faves will hold a concert, so you can’t really plan well in advance and pounce on a seat sale any time.

But, if you’re fine with traveling to South Korea just to take a K-pop pilgrimage—hit up some “permanent” popular spots, perhaps the company building of your faves or their go-to cafes—then booking during a seat sale would be a smart move.

That being said, you can expect to spend 12,000 to 20,000 PHP for a roundtrip ticket without a seat sale if you’ve chosen to fly with a low-cost carrier.

For this trip of mine, a roundtrip ticket cost me 12,251.19 PHP. This is inclusive of an in-flight meal and 20kg of checked baggage. Timely enough, the concert I was attending coincided with a long weekend (Ninoy Aquino Day), so I left on Thursday morning (17 August) and flew out in the late night of 21 August.

 

Travel Tax – 1,620.00 PHP

Several airlines include the mandatory travel tax in their fees, but most don’t, so make sure to pay 1,620 PHP at the designated Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) counter in the airport before your flight.

Alternatively, you may pay in advance through online channels or a Bayad Center near you, but these options come with, at least, a 50-peso “convenience fee.”

I opted to pay onsite. As my flight was scheduled early in the morning, the queue wasn’t long at all. I was done with the payment process in just a few minutes.

 

Travel Insurance – 1,065.00 PHP

Travel insurance is optional, but I always get coverage from my bank anyway out of habit, and, of course, for some peace of mind.

You can also easily include travel insurance in your flight’s add-ons, but the coverage types being offered by air carriers are usually limited to the flight only.

 

 

Pocket Wi-Fi – 610 PHP/5 Days

Since my phone is still under a lock-up period with my network provider, I can’t use a travel SIM Card to stay connected to the internet whenever I travel

Instead, I rent a portable Wi-Fi device, which I always reserve weeks before my trip through an online travel agency.

When it comes to choosing the right Wi-Fi device, you’d want one that’s from a reputable network provider in South Korea, like SK Telecom, LG U+, or KT Olleh.

Daily portable Wi-Fi device rental rates can range anywhere between 96 PHP and 180 PHP. Meanwhile, SIM card prices start at around 260 PHP. SIM cards are also usually bundled with transport passes like T-Money.

 

 

Accommodation (5D4N) – 14,737.57 PHP

Seoul has a lot—and I mean A LOT—of lodging options. You can stay in a hip hostel in popular districts like Hongdae or Itaewon or check in at a luxe hotel in an upscale area like Gangnam. The choices are almost endless!

In my past couple of trips to Seoul, I’ve stayed in hostel rooms (and once shared a room with a creepy sasaeng fan—eep!) and rented a room in an officetel via Airbnb with friends in Mapo.

For this recent trip of mine, though, I opted to stay in a hotel, especially since I wanted to minimize my exposure to others. I mean, COVID-19 is still very real. I wasn’t going to take any chances and miss my most-awaited concert!

I stumbled upon Toyoko Inn Yeongdeungpo, a budget-friendly hotel less than 10 minutes away from Singil Station. Since Lines 1 and 5 intersect here, traveling to major stations like Seoul Station, Yongsan, City Hall, and Gwanghwamun was a breeze. The hotel also serves traditional Korean breakfast for free at the cafeteria daily and is a 15-minute walk from the Airport Limousine Bus stop.

 

 

Pocket Money – 22,000 PHP (500,000 KRW)

Before my trip, I exchanged cash at a local money changer. The rate was a flat 22,000 PHP for 500,000 KRW that day.

This amount was enough to take care of my basic needs throughout the trip—T-Money top-ups, food, and small purchases.

I noticed a big difference in the prices of commodities in Seoul now compared to my last visit pre-pandemic.

Before, I’d be able to find big, filling meals for 7,000 KRW or less. Now, my meals averaged at 8,000 KRW—and that’s in non-touristy areas. I bought one seafood pancake in Gwangjang Market and it cost me a whopping 10,000 KRW! At a cafe near Gyeongbokgung, I was billed 13,500 KRW for a small slice of cake and peach iced tea.

Street food being sold in Myeongdong has also gotten more expensive, and even the prices of souvenirs increased. For instance, the 10+1 pairs of socks I’d buy in the underground mall used to cost me just 10,000 KRW. Now, for the same 10+1 promo, prices start at 15,000 KRW!

In the end, my 22,000 PHP budget wasn’t enough and I found myself spending an additional 6,278.53 PHP on my credit card—although this is mostly for pasalubong (Lotte Mart and SPAO budols).

I also have to mention that since it wasn’t my first time in Seoul, I did not visit tourist attractions with entrance fees anymore. If you’re going to hit up popular spots like the N Seoul Tower, Nami Island, Everland, or Lotte World, be prepared to spend more money because of admission tickets. I also did not splurge on K-Pop merch. I bought just one album—that’s it.

 

 

Musical Ticket – 3,261.23 PHP (70,000 KRW)

On to one of the two K-pop events I attended: Mozart! The Musical.

As a low-key EXO-L, I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity to see EXO’s leader (and my bias) Suho take on the titular role in Mozart! The Musical. And just as I expected, he was amazing!

I’ve attended EXO’s concerts in Manila in the past, but watching Suho as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart opened my eyes to another side of him that I haven’t seen before!

I guess that’s what makes K-Musicals great: You get to see your faves out of their usual idol image and slip into a different role—that is if they are into theater. Ticketing isn’t also as cutthroat as getting tickets for a concert, so the odds of scoring a seat in your preferred tier is higher.

But if you’re on a tight budget with no extra money to spare for a ticket and your fave is starring in a musical during your visit, you can actually wait for them at the theater’s back door for a quick glance before or after the show. Just make sure to maintain a safe distance from the artist and refrain from pushing other fans.

 

Concert Ticket – 6,879.71 PHP (154,000 KRW)

K-pop concert tickets in South Korea can range anywhere from 100,000 KRW to 200,000 KRW on average. Sometimes, the prices are tiered. Sometimes, they are not.

If you are looking to attend a music festival, where you can watch more acts, the tickets can be slightly cheaper if you avail of the early bird promo—something that was being offered when I caught the full set of Day6 at the Seoul Jazz Festival back in 2018. At that same event, I also got to watch soloist Heize and my favorite South Korean alternative rock band Nell.

The show I attended this visit, Comeback Again: 2023 INFINITE Concert, had the same ticket price across all zones—an agreement made among the group’s members shortly after launching their own company in May this year.

My seat was located on the second floor—not that I had a choice. Tickets for the show were sold out in minutes and remained so until D-Day.

In case you don’t know yet, in most instances, you can actually score a ticket from canceled transactions up to the day of the event. This is how I got to swap my original seat for a closer one when I attended SEVENTEEN: Ode To You in Seoul. I canceled my original ticket and booked another that was canceled by another fan.

But that is not the case for this concert. It was completely sold out. That doesn’t come as a surprise, since this is the first time in seven years that all members of INFINITE came together for a major concert.

Needless to say, seeing them, OT6, performing their hits like Be Mine, The Chaser, Bad, and my personal favorite Last Romeo with a live band (no less!) was beyond priceless.

 

 

Total – 68,703.23 PHP

I wouldn’t lie—this is not an amount an average fan with responsibilities can easily save up. I, too, struggle a lot to set aside some money for fandom-related trips.

In reality, traveling is still a luxury for many K-pop fans, and being able to attend a show in Seoul doesn’t make one any bigger or better a fan.

If you get the chance to see your faves stage a concert in their home country, though, I can guarantee you: It will be worth it.

 

Have you ever traveled abroad for a concert? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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Andy Flores is a pathological penny pincher with impulse shopping and binge-eating tendencies. She’s constantly saving up for new adventures, so she dabbles in writing jobs here and there. Her not-so-secret dream is to be an extra in a big Bollywood movie.

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