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If you have plans to visit Korea for a few days, weeks or months and you are looking out for a temporary accommodation in Korea then Goshiwon, Hasukjib or Yeogwan could be the right fit for you. Goshiwon is more for students whereas Hasukjib and Yeogwan is more suitable for working professionals who are looking for a budget stay in Korea and does not want to go through the hassle of house renting, lease, deposit, utilities and so on. Read the guide below to check which one is more suitable for you.
Goshiwon – 고시원
Goshiwons are a remarkably cheap way of living in Korea. It is a very small and basic room where students often live in and study for a number of months in order to focus on a test (고시).
Living in Goshiwon is similar to living in a dormitory. Wireless or DSL Internet connection, cable television, a bed, a small fridge and a desk is usually provided. Every floor has one to three bathrooms and shower rooms that are shared along with kitchen, showers and washing machine. Nearly every Goshiwon has a kitchen with basic appliances, free rice, kimchi and seaweed. If you are fortunate you might get some free noodles as well.
Some also provide laundry soap, toilette paper, cooked rice, and bar soap. One of the biggest advantages of Goshiwon is that you don’t have to worry about utilities. The monthly rent it is all-inclusive and would range anything from 200,000 to 400,000 won per month. ($200 – $400 per month)
The Goshiwon is supposed to be a quiet place and not a place for friends to gather. The walls are usually extremely thin and even light talking can find its way around the building. Some goshiwons only allow students, some allow working people too. The cheaper goshiwons have problems with cleanliness, petty thieves etc. The more expensive ones are usually safe.
Hasuk Jib – 하숙집
Hasuk Jip is very similar to Goshiwon. The rooms are private and small but the kitchen and bathroom are shared. The main difference between Goshiwon and a Hasuk Jip is that with the Hasuk Jip you are provided with two meals a day – one for breakfast and one for dinner. Some places even do your laundry for you.
They are like boarding houses with small rooms complete with single bed, desk, and TV. Some places have in-room private showers and some have shared facilities.
Hasuk Jib is more suitable for working professionals and adults. You do not have to worry about utilities. Your monthly rent would run as low as 300,000 won a month and go up to 600,000 won or more, depending on location, room size, and services available. ($300 – $600 per month)
Finding a goshiwon or hasuk jib is very easy, but it’s very hard to do it over the Internet. Most of the ajummas who run these places are particularly not computer literate. Even if you are able to find one over the Internet, there’s a good chance that you’ll pay way more than you need to. So it is advisable to come here and look for the signs that say 고시원.
Yeogwan – 여관
Yeogwans are cheap hotels, which can be found everywhere throughout Korea. Usually, western-style beds are provided. Prices range from 20,000 won/night to 40,000 won/night. ($20 – $40 per night)
Minbak – 민박 and Yeoinsuk – 여인숙
Minbaks are homestays or ‘bed and breakfast’ style set-ups, usually found in rural areas and islands. You can expect traditional Korean comforts such as blankets and an ondol-heated floor, in place of a bed. Prices range from as low as 10,000 won/night to upwards of 50,000 won/night or more if you are in an area with heavy tourism during a peak travel time. ($10 – $50 per night)
Yeoinsuk are cheap inns, along the lines of minbaks or small yeogwans usually found in rural areas with blankets and ondol-heated floors, instead of beds. Prices range from as low as 10,000 won/night to 50,000 won/night or more, depending on location and season. ($10 – $50 per night)
Jjimjilbangs are also a great deal for the cost-conscious traveller in Korea. They are large, gender-segregated public bathhouses complete with hot tubs, showers, saunas and massage tables. For 6,000-10,000 Won, ($6 – $10 per day usage) one can sleep overnight there and enjoy the bathhouse and sauna, and wake up fresh and ready to travel the next morning. If you have bags and backpacks with you that are too big to fit in the lockers, the front desk will usually watch over your bags at no charge for the length of your stay.
Jjimjilbangs usually operate 24 hours and are a popular weekend getaway for Korean families to relax as the parents spend time soaking in tubs or lounging and sleeping while the kids play away on the PCs.