If Seoul, South Korea Is Too Pricey, Try This Budget-Friendly Travel Dupe

Seoul is a popular vacation destination that's full of rich cultural experiences, beautiful architecture, and delightful activities. You can visit historic palaces and villages or go shopping in a night market. Not to mention it's home to various K-Pop artists for those who are fans. It's a wonderful spot, the only downside is the cost. It's an expensive city, but, if you're willing to skip Seoul for somewhere more affordable but just as engaging and exciting, then opt for a trip to Taipei, Taiwan. The city of just over 2.7 million (compared to Seoul's 9.9) is home to beautiful attractions and phenomenal food — it's Asia's next big food destination, so foodies take note. It's not Seoul but it certainly comes close.

Of course, the culture will be different when you travel to Taipei, so if you're set on seeing all things Korean, then you'll want to spend the extra cash for a trip to Seoul. However, if you're open to experiencing a different culture, then Taipei can be a delightful off-the-beaten-track alternative.

Accomodations and transportation

One of the largest costs for vacations is lodging, and that'll likely be the case for your trip to Taipei. The average four-star hotel price is about $140 while similar hotels in Seoul on the other hand average $187. You can also find budget hotels for around $36 per night, and there are several hostels in the city with dorms under $20. These prices enable you to have extra cash to spend on food, experiences, and souvenirs.

Another way to save is to take public transportation. Taipei metro fare starts at less than one U.S. dollar, whereas the price is over a dollar in Seoul. This cheap price makes getting around the city affordable and easy. You can also bike if you're familiar with the road rules, which will save you even more. Renting through YouBike in Taipei is only $0.32 per 30 minutes.

As for things to do, you'll find plenty in Taipei just as you would in Seoul. For example, like Seoul, Taipei also has a bustling night market scene. Raohe Night Market is great for foodies. It has been around since 1987, making it one of the earliest established night markets. You can satisfy your tastebuds with local favorites here.

Low cost activities

To save even more, consider filling your itinerary with free and low-cost activities and sightseeing. For example, Seoul has some beautiful hot springs, and Taipei does too. One relaxing spot to check out is the hot springs in Beitou. The entrance cost is about $1.27 and it gives you access to all four of the hot spring pools. Or maybe you're a history buff who wants to see historic and culturally significant landmarks. Similarly to Seoul, Taipei is also home to beautiful temples. One such spot is the Longshan Temple in the Wanhua District. The Buddhist temple is dedicated to the "Guanyin Buddha," a bodhisattva known for her compassion. There's no cost to the site and once you're finished there, you can explore the Longshan Plaza, which is an underground shopping area.

For those who love nature and want to explore the natural beauty of the area, you can go for a hike. Seoul has plenty of hiking options and Taipei does too. One popular place to take a trek is Elephant Mountain. The hike takes about 30 minutes or less to complete, making it a perfect way to reconnect with nature and take in beautiful views of the skyline without sacrificing too much of your day — and it's entirely free.

While Taipei isn't Seoul, it's certainly worth adventuring to. You'll find plenty of low-budget things to do, food to eat, and sites to see in this underrated East Asian destination. So next time you're looking at a trip to Asia, don't forget about Taipei.