The Hostel Life: Budget Accommodations in Korea

Saturday, November 17, 2018

I am sure almost all autumn trips are already set, but to those still booking last minute tickets or those planning to spend winter (or even early Spring!) in Korea, I decided to collect some of the hostels and guesthouses I've stayed in during my group and solo trips.

One of the things that I love about Korea is how you can go here even when you're on a budget. There are several options for accommodation namely luxury hotels, 3-4 star hotels, temple stays (on my bucket list!), jjimjilbang (or Korean bathhouse), Airbnbs, and even traditional hanoks.

Whenever I travel solo, I prefer the dormitory type which they either call a hostel or guest house. By this, you share one room with several travellers. Often times, you get an assigned locker to safe-keep your luggage or important things whenever you go out, or at night when you sleep. There are times when my bag is too big for the locker so I just bring my own lock and put my luggage in one corner of the room, near my bed. Safe naman so far, and honestly I think Korea is one of the safest places I've been to.

My luggage is usually too big for the locker, so I just lock it and place it in a corner near my bed:

Hostels also have different room types. First, there are mix dormitories where both men and women can stay, but there are also women only or men only rooms. There are rooms for 4, 6, 8, even up to 16 guests. Ang pinaka marami kong nakasama in one room is in Namsan Guesthouse in Myeongdong with about 21 beds! But hindi ko naman nafeel na we were packed, as each bed is covered with a thick sliding curtain to maintain privacy.

Restroom also varies per property. I've stayed in hostels with separate toilet area and shower area located on one floor (usually gender-segregated, but there are some that's also mixed). There are also restrooms that are exclusive per room, meaning only you and your roomies can use it. I am a bit of an OC, so I make sure to bring my own quick-dry towel and rubber slippers that I can use for the shower (although hostels also usually provide you these). I also make sure that my toiletries kit has a mini hook so I can hang it wherever.

New Sun Guesthouse in Hoehyeon (near Myeondong) provides these room slippers for their guests:

With this minimal space, you also have to strategize how you can smoothly get your things out of your locker or your luggage, especially at night when people are already resting and sleeping and the slightest sound of zipping you bag or opening a plastic may wake up someone (huhu).

A tip is to use those cloth packing cubes to segregate your things. I place these cubes directly inside my locker, and just leave my empty luggage in a corner of the room. What I do is I pre-style na my clothes and arrange them in the packing cubes, so I just grab them in one go, no need to think of what to wear during the trip. I also have a separate, color coded packing cube for my socks, for my underwear and bra, toiletries, makeup, skincare, and for my accessories (caps/ hats). Before sleeping, I make sure to take out the clothes (including socks and accessories) that I will wear the next day, and place them on top of the packing cubes para the next day when I get up, mauuna na ako sa restroom. Packing cubes for makeup and skincare usually I place them na in a corner of my bed since I use them daily. I also sleep next to my personal bag with my valuables, just to be sure.

Not Korea, but here's how I maximized my space in a sleeper train accommodation - I usually just sleep next to my things just to be safe.

It's more convenient to have a toiletries bag with hook so I can easily get and keep my stuff:

The octopus life, akk! I bring extension cords during my travel since I use and charge a lot of gadgets.

Anyway, with that long intro I hope you find the hostel life as an option if you're also traveling to Korea on a budget. Ang swerte if you can afford a hotel room!! Sa totoo lang there are days when I wish I have a private room and shower area to myself, but with my minimal budget, I guess an average of just Php 1000 per night is already sulit for now. Tiis tiis muna, "tutulugan lang naman yan", haha! Now sharing the hostel rooms and some snippets from some old blog entries on my experiences in them:


New Sun Guesthouse
Stayed 3x, Spring 2016 with friend, Autumn 2016 solo travel, and Summer 2017 with family.

I booked our guest house via Airbnb. With my Ate's help, we located an affordable and decent place that is near the subway and the shopping/food area. Lots of guest houses popped, but Ate warned me about streets na sobrang matarik. According to our taxi driver, Korea is 70% mountainous! 

I ended up getting a room at the New Sun Guesthouse Myeongdong for only Php 1600+ per room per night inclusive of WiFi and basic breakfast in the common kitchen. I also refill my water bottle here daily, so no need to purchase every time (tipid din!).

A downside in staying in New Sun is that there are no elevators, so you have to carry your luggage up these steep stairs (they go up to 3rd or 4th floor).

Here's how our room looks like, perfect if you are traveling in twos:

With private hot/cold shower room:

Lots of towels that you can regularly change:

Sachets of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (bring your own nadin, medyo konti).

Room is airconditioned, and you also get a box of tissue, comb, cotton buds, hair dryer, water heater, sockets (with adaptors), and a small ref with 2 free bottles of water:

Here's our bunk bed with 1 pillow and comforter each. I stayed on the top bunk, and always had comfortable sleep. They also have other room options with two bunk beds, twin beds, etc.

It's a box-type room, and sometimes we need to open the small window to let air in. But over-all, it is a clean place, we were able to find ways to fit our opened luggages in the small space. It's a safe and decent room to sleep at night. It also very near convenience stores,

Dustin Guesthouse Hongdae
Stayed during Autumn 2016.

I stayed in a Single Room in Dustin Guesthouse Hongdae for about Php 1600+ per night, and it is literally just a BOX! No windows, just a small bed, room is air conditioned, there's also a rod with few hangers to hang my coats on the side. My opened maleta wouldn't even fit the room, so I had to place the dirty ol bag on top of my bed just to pack or get my clothes!

I booked this room because it is cheap and conveniently located near the subway (Hongik University Station), and at the center of Korea's street music scene at night. Just go out and you're already surrounded by Korean restaurants and beauty stores!

The downside is that the place is on the third or fourth floor of the building, so I had difficulty bringing CARRYING my maleta without elevators. They also use passcodes and not keys on their doors, which I find scary since others can hear my code I was afraid someone might break in the room easily. I wonder if they change it for every new guest? And of course, the thought of living in a box might be uncomfortable to some, it did tickled my claustrophobia, but just a little! As long as I have the privacy, I am okay. 

I also don't have my own restroom, so I share the single shower room and separate toilet room with the other guests, located in the far corner of the hallway in my floor. It's not the cleanest during my stay. I wasn't able to explore the property thoroughly if there are other shower rooms, and didn't avail the free breakfast as I only stayed there for a night (Hongdae is near the airport too). 

If anything, I will recommend Dustin Guesthouse Hongdae just for its location--I was able to watch the young street performers till late and not worry about heading home since I just live in the next building!

You can check the other room types and rates of Dustin Guesthouse Hongdae HERE.

Namsan Guesthouse
Stayed during Spring 2018.

Namsan Guest House is one of the highest ranked accommodations in Agoda when arranged with cheapest price first, haha! I took it since I've heard about this hostel before, and after experiencing the most crowded, the smallest, and even the dirtiest guesthouses before, what can go wrong??? Price for a bunk bed in a Female Only Dormitory is only about Php 800+ / night!

The area is very near the Namsan Tower, thus the hostel's name. I did not realized that the walk, although it looks short on Google Maps, requires a looong climb up a steep road! Kamusta naman sa pag hila ng maleta, huhu!

When I saw a Namsan Guest House sign, it's just Namsan 1 palang pala and they have I think 3 or 4 branches heading up! Haha! Mabuti nalang Namsan Guest House 2 lang ata ako, I was there after the next block. (sorry will never figure out the Namsan Guest House numbers, when I booked sa Agoda it just stated Namsan Guest House. :p)

Entering the building, there are tiny cabinets where you have leave your shoes. They are labeled by capsule number so check which one is assigned to you:

This is at the common area at the basement level, where they also have the receiving area for check-in, and the pantry area for the inclusive breakfast and coffee.

While I was checking in, I saw guests wearing hanbok (Korean traditional costume) taking pictures by the provided photo wall. This is free for guests to use.

Simple breakfast, I saw breads and instant ramyeun and a coffee maker. I just availed the coffee.

Here's how my room looks like. There are 21 cubicles in the Female Dormitory, and a separate toilet and shower room on the same floor. They gave me the upper bunk, which felt uncomfortable at first since I have to climb and go down every time I need to go to the loo. But I got used to it eventually.

I also got the horizontal upper locker, which was difficult since I have to carry my luggage to and from it whenever I get my things. But I eventually created a system by putting all my packing cubes straight inside the locker, so when I needed anything-- I just take out the individual packing cubes instead of my whole luggage. Paraparaan lang talaga haha!

With almost all my guesthouses for this trip, noise and cleanliness were my major issues. But bilang cowgirl naresolve ko naman sila. With noise, edi okay pede din ako mag ingay ang dami ko pa namang supot haha joke lang! I was too tired to get bothered, I easily passed out every night. As for the cleanliness, buti nalang I bring my own quick-dry towel and my own rubber slippers which I use instead the free ones they have in the toilet. I also use the rubber slippers around the room and wala naman naninita basta hindi sapatos, hehehe.

Philstay Myeongdong Boutique-Women Only
Stayed during Spring 2018.

When I got back from Daegu, I decided to stay in another guest house in Myeongdong just so I can compare. Philstay Myeongdong Boutique-Women Only is one of the most convenient hostels I've stayed in Seoul, walking distance from the train station (Myeongdong Station) and the Myeongdong shopping center. It is the perfect place to stay for my last night in Korea, where I did lots of last minute shopping at night!

Door to the guest house is right next to a samgyeupsal restaurant, which is very lively at night.

I stayed in a 4 Person Dormitory at about Php 900+ per bed per night. This is the smallest common room I've ever stayed in (although wala talagang tatalo kay Dustin Guesthouse, but at least that one's private).

All our luggages and shopping bags were scattered in the middle of the room, blocking the way. They have lockers per person, but it is horizontal and small located at the bottom part of the bunk bed--usually left unused. Even with the space constraints, I appreciate that the cubicles are big enough and also has a blinds for privacy. I used to think all dorms have curtains per bed, but during my Euro trip I found out that this is only the case in Asian countries like Korea.

Property and room has no key or keycard, but passcodes you need to punch every time you enter. Make sure to keep this paper, or take a photo of it so you won't forget! WiFi is also provided.

This is my upper bunk bed. There's a small table where I place some nightly essentials such as my lip balm, water, and skincare stuff. Outlets for every hostels I stayed in are provided per bed. For Philstay, they even lend you a basket for your toiletries which I appreciate!

Since opening my luggage is not possible inside our tiny room, I always occupy the small space in our floor's landing where they have tiny seats and even a weighing scale--so I guess this is really the purpose of this area?

Doors to our room are labeled by letter. There are times that they all look the same, and can be confusing to me, haha! Right in front of the rooms are vanity desks with mirrors and hair dryer (not to be used at night). 

Meanwhile, there's a solo tiny toilet cubicle located a few steps down the staircase. 

While shower stalls are located same floor as the receptionist area (not so near my room). It's a bit of a hassle, but I was able to get by with just a night of stay. Saw these propery pictures online via Agoda.

Receptionist area, they are very accommodating during my stay. Was able to take the right bus to the airport after asking them tips and directions.

Common area near the receptionist desk, where you can eat or use your laptop. The hallway next to it leads to the shower rooms.

Here's how the shower room looks like. Nakaka loka na medyo clear yung glass cubicles so I just make sure may malaking towel ako to at least cover the front, and then stay sa side near the toilet. Ang sabitan niya is outside, a brown cabinet located near the door. But I still hang my clothes in the cubicle coz dyahe hehehe.

Again, no lifts so be ready to take the stairs all the time:


Jeju R Guesthouse (formerly Jeju R Hotel)
Stayed in Autumn 2016.

I only paid Php 1,148 (with taxes!) for my TWO nights in Jeju R Guesthouse. What a deal! I spent 5300 Won (or just Php 225) for the 15-minute taxi ride from Gimpo Airport to the guesthouse. My cab driver navigated his way through his mobile GPS.

I booked for Jeju R Hotel located in Seogwipo (one hour away from the airport), but because I was clueless about Jeju's cities, my cab dropped me off at the nearer Jeju R Hotel's Seogwang-ro branch! I think they now remained the other property to avoid confusions.

Good thing the guesthouse receptionist can speak in English and asked me if I prefer to stay in this branch, it's okay. He asked me to add a minimal fee since prices are different between the two hostels.

I was surprised when I went to my room and instead of dormitory beds, I was given THIS! My solo room and a private bathroom! I was settling down when I immediately received a call that there was a misunderstanding, HAHA! Sabi na too good to be true! Long story short, my name was mixed up with the one who reserved for this room, so I returned the keys (huhu) and went to my correct room.

The dormitory room is located at the 5-1/2 Floor, which sounds very Harry Potter ish, hehe!

Instead of a key, I only had to memorize the door's passcode to enter. There are ten beds in my room, but luckily, they made me stay in an all-female dorm. No one's checked in yet when I entered. Partly I imagined that I'll be alone that night with these many beds, wahaha.

My personal space, which is right next to the closets and the restroom. 

There are two bathrooms in our room, plus another one for the whole floor. So for the whole stay, I never felt na nakikipag agawan ako ng CR. Everything's also clean and complete (tissue, towels, water, shampoo and body wash are all provided). I also have a lamp and two electrical outlets next to my bed, and several scattered outlets all-over the room.

On my first night in the dormitory, and all beds were already occupied. I wasn't able to make friends during the whole stay, except for the Korean girl on my top bunk who offered a hairdryer when she saw me heading out in the cold with wet hair (haha!). She was also the first one who greeted me with a bow when I entered the room. I still have a lot to learn about dormitory living, but my solo first time experience is surprisingly not as bad as I thought.

You can check the other room types and rates of Jeju R Guesthouse HERE.

Slow City Hostel
Stayed in Winter 2018.

On my second time in Jeju, I decided to stay in Slow Citi Hostel in Seogwipo, nearer major tourist attractions. I've learned my lessons during my first trip in Jeju where I stayed near the airport, which is more than an hour away from the must-visit sites!

Slow Citi Hostel is one of the most highly ranked Jeju hostels in Agoda with a good price. I think I only paid Php 2000+ for my FOUR nights stay there. I was supposed to be in a four-bed women's dormitory room, but was given a solo room with a bunk bed and my own restroom. I waited for a roommate on the succeeding days by always fixing my stuff before leaving the room, but never ako nagkaroon. I just realized now that maybe it's because I was the only solo female traveller at that time kaya wala silang maitabi sakin haha.

Ahhh.. The warmth of staying in a hostel! I should have placed a Philippine flag there before I left hehe:

We always take off our shoes before entering the building:

On the night of my arrival, it was snowing heavily that there were major traffic and delays on the road. I thought everyone's already sleeping when I got in. I still went in to at least leave my heavy bag and sleep on the kitchen or something. Then an old man came out from the counter, and asked (in Korean) if my name is Ana Gonzales, huhuhu. I apologized for being so late and tried to explain the bus fiasco and the snowstorm, and although he only partly understood English, he even looked more apologetic that I had to go through all that, and again--HUHUHU.

We then argued about paying for my rent since I thought I already paid for it prior the trip by inputing my credit card in Agoda, but later on I found out na he was right pala na it was not yet charged. He just said that why don't we settle everything in the morning, get some rest first and call it a night.

Ahjussi (or mister in Korean) took my heavy luggage to the third floor to my room, and I thanked him endlessly since I am used to carrying naman my own things whenever I stay in a guesthouse but he still took the initiative. Hotel treatment for the price of a dormitory stay, I highly recommend this place na. I later on learned that the old man owns this hostel, grabe talaga when I think of it.

That's my bed, with a small flat pillow and a comforter. It is comfortable enough for me, and I slept well every night.

I also like that they have lots of electrical outlets to charge my gadgets, and rods to hang my clothes:

There's also a vanity desk with a wall mirror, two small towels, and a hair dryer: 

The restroom is so spacious and the best part is it's all mine! It is complete with big bottles of body wash, shampoo, conditioner, a toothpaste, a bar of soap, a roll of tissue, and of course a hot shower which I maximized every morning and night during my whole stay there:

I love my room. Even though it's nothing fancy, it felt nice, safe, and warm. On that first night in Jeju, I took my sweet time with my hot bath, making sure I use all of the free Korean bath toiletries, and even spoiled myself with a face sheet mask after. What a day! I took the lower bunk of the bed, and didn't even have to think too much like I always do every night. And what felt like the first time in years, I was immediately transported to a dreamless, satisfying sleep ~~~


MoonDong's Hostel
Stayed during Winter 2018.

I managed to find a guesthouse that I easily fell in love with. First SUPER CHEAP. Second, it's BY THE BEACH. The name of the place is MoonDong's Hostel and it is located just across Busan's Haeundae Beach. 

I arrived a bit early for the 4pm check-in. Unlike hotels in Manila that has early check-in, they don't even have a receptionist when I arrived at around 11am. I wandered freely at the receiving area, and fell in love with their common room. 

MoonDong's Hostel is located on the 6th floor of the Hotel Sky Beach. I got a bit lost looking for any signage of MoonDong's Hostel from the outside, but didn't see a single one! Just look for this building instead, the entrance is right next to a Tom N Tom's coffee shop and the BMW building.

The whole time I was there, only the service elevator was working for the 6th floor:

Hallway to the few dorm-type rooms of the hostel. The kitchen, a powder room, and separate male and female restrooms are located at the end of the hall:

Again, it was empty when I got there so I took the chance to take photos while contemplating on my next move.

Sobrang artsy dito, but best part is the view of the beach!

Sharing the photos of my room aka Bed in 6-Bed Female Dormitory. A night here costs only Php 575

I sent this selfie to my mom on my first night, haha! That's my bed, it has its mini table for my essentials (lip balm, water bottle), right next to the power outlet for charging my gadgets. 

Ganyan ako mag halughog ng things ko in this guesthouse, it is pretty spacious so I can just open my bag to look for clothes and other stuff. I also left it like that whenever I just go to the restroom because it is pretty much safe here even when I have 3 or 4 roomies. But whenever I go out, I just close and lock it, then roll it in the pinaka corner near my bed. 

Here's how a shower cubicle looks like in MoonDong's -- very neat, separate ang shower and the dry area where I can hang my stuff and change into my clothes. They also provide huge bottles of shampoo and body wash so no need to bring them. I also take pleasure in trying these Korean bath products, hehe!

Separate door for the whole cubicle, plus another glass door to the shower. I am also wearing here the pair of slippers they lent to me:

I slept well every night, even when the room is 3/4s filled walang invasion of privacy with these thick curtains. Sometimes, I love the hostel life! Also, you can see the tiny hook at the far end of my bed where there's a hanger for my coat and where I also hang my ear muffs.

Distance to the subway is fair enough, nice stroll where you will see lines of restos and shops. Easier without your luggage, of course. Bus stop for airport limo is also walking distance, around 15 minute walk that you can easily navigate with your Google Maps (just search for "Airport Limousine Bus Stop").

There are nearby convenience stores, and food is never a problem. They also provide hair dryer and even hair straightener (a whole powder room for the ladies), towels, clean sheets, doors conveniently use pass codes and not keycards, and on my last night they even have movie viewing and gaming in the common room. Will go back here if ever I find myself again in Busan.

Amazed by this solo powder room just for the ladies to fix their hair and put on their makeup! One time I stayed here just to semi watch the other Korean girls do their makeup + skincare as I put my own!

You can check the other room types and rates of MoonDong's Hostel, Busan HERE.


Go Hostel
Stayed during Spring 2018.

The walk to my guest house from the train station (Jungangno Subway) is very convenient! I did not get lost, I just typed in the name of the hostel on my Google Maps and then followed it. I booked the CHEAPEST guest house that I found in Agoda, which is Go Hostel. Their price is only about Php 500+ per night in their Bunk Bed in Female Dormitory Room. I think this is the cheapest accommodation I ever stayed in in Korea!

The reception is on the 2nd floor, so prepare to go up the stairs with your luggage to check-in. Leave your shoes and pick a slipper. I chose the rubber type which I was able to use nadin pati sa pag shower. 

Put your shoes on any of these cabinets:

The lady at the reception helped me with my bag after paying and getting my room assignment, since it's still one floor up at the third level. Here's how the common area on the third floor looks like. People hang out here to eat, talk, or do their own business. I go here to refill my water bottle for free, hehe.

For the small price, I was given a decent bed, a locker with my personal code, and a spacious room where I can freely open my bag to fix my things without disturbing the person next to me. 

There's a separate toilet and a single shower area just for those inside our room. Ang weird that the shower room has I think 2-3 showers in a tiny space (ano yun sabay sabay kami haha) so I just lock the door, bahala na sorry. There's also a sign that says that we can also use the toilets / showers at the second floor, but di ko na inavail yun. 

Shower room photo from Agoda:

There's also a powder area with 2 sinks with a hair dryer right in front of the shower / toilet rooms. I wasn't able to take photos of these na, but they are pwede na. Was able to get by with them, and they even provide towels, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. For Php 575 wala na akong reklamo! Everything's super okay for the price. :)

Photos of the female dorm. Malaki ang spacing here compared to my dorm experiences in Seoul. Hindi ka makakadistorbo sa kaluskos, and may couch pa nga sa gitna where some of my roomies hangout and eat strawberries!

The toilet and shower room are both on the far end of our room. I made sure to choose the bed na malayo dito so I won't get disturbed ng mga dumadaan lalo na pag sleeping time na (good decision!). 

I picked the lower bunk na open ang curtain, malaki space nya sa harap so minsan I just leave my open maleta there haha! But of course I fix my stuff whenever I go out.

We all get a locker. My maleta doesn't fit so I just put it next to my bed, and ok lang because as mentioned earlier spacious ang room. Inside the locker, it fits my backpack where I placed all my shinopping and dirty clothes.

The lady by the reception who also seems to own the place toured me around the guest house, and taught me the basic stuff like how to operate the hot-cold drinking water, where to get extra towels, how to use the lockers, lock the doors, etc. She's super friendly, and told me that if I ever see myself back in Daegu she will personally tour me around and even give me free accommodation! I later on found out that she used to own a Kbeauty store in the Philippines, but she had to leave. She always greets me with Mabuhay! and Kamusta! I super love this place because of the people!


Have you tried staying in a guest house while in Korea or in any of your travels? Share to me your experiences, tips, and recommendations below! Might be helpful for other readers!

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