Where to stay: Seoul, South Korea through Airbnb

Friday, July 03, 2015

Searching for a budget but good accommodation in Seoul is challenging but not for the second time. During the second week of June, my sister and I went to Seoul again for vacation and we made sure we have an option other than Namsan Guesthouse for our accommodation. Having experienced Airbnb for a family trip in Makati City, we had the option to look for a budget accommodation in Airbnb.

In a nutshell, Airbnb is a website that provides the opportunity to locals to share their accommodation to tourists for a fee. Locals can either rent their house's private room or the whole apartment.

As we were a bit awkward with fellow foreigners especially those who understand little English, we looked for an accommodation in Airbnb that rented the whole studio or apartment. Our requirement: it MUST have a separate shower. Seoul's tiny apartments usually have shower heads connected from the bathroom's faucet to save space.

Other criteria include the availability of a kitchen, proximity to tourist spots, proximity to the subway, security, elevator, and of course, a  sense of non-shadiness.

It has a kitchen!

Our first booking was in Oksu, which is near Hangang Park. It was not the nearest accommodation to the subway but we liked it because it had two double beds. Unfortunately, the owner of the studio had to cancel our booking due to her mother's health status so we had to find another accommodation ASAP.

And so we landed in Mapo-gu Office, an accommodation that is nearer to the subway. Being in a building, I thought it was more secure and it was - it had two locks: one to enter the building and another to enter the studio.

The building of the studio we stayed at.

You just need to cross two pedestrian lanes to get to the bus station.

All these we did in Airbnb.com - we just ticked the entire home/apartment option, the duration of our stay, and the number of people who will be staying. We facilitated the payment using a credit card. The first time when the owner cancelled our booking, they gave back our payment as credit so we can book the accommodation we prefer.

On the duration of our stay, the owner of the studio communicated with my sister through LINE. It was certainly a hassle-free stay. Plus, the building had two restaurants and two cafes on its first floor, plus two more convenience stores nearby. A long walk away is Homeplus, a huge supermarket where locals do their grocery.

The studio was small but more than enough for the two of us. The price was lower than our rent in Namsan Guesthouse plus we have the whole studio to ourselves. We can do the laundry, cook, and wash the dishes, which is awesome. The only downside is that we don't have free breakfast, but that's fine - we can cook breakfast for ourselves.

Here are photos of the studio:

The building has an elevator - another requirement during our search.

The studio is secured with a digital lock.

The neatly folded beddings as we arrived at the studio.

We rearranged the beds to create more space.

There's also a washing machine.

The table can be pulled out to save space.

The fridge - before and after 

Aircon! It looks brand new.

The most important place and criteria of our search - the bathroom should be separate.

The studio overlooks another building, which is sometimes our entertainment... we can see people moving about in their studios 

Another eye opener is Seoul's ordinance or probably a nationwide law of recycling. We also do recycling in the Philippines but not as organized as how Seoul is doing it. On the first floor of the building, there were several sacks with labels for glass bottles, PET, styrofoam, cardboard boxes, and plastic. My sister also observed that in certain packaging, like for beauty products, there are labels on recycling instructions. We didn't get to experience before when we stayed in Namsan Guesthouse.

The trash/recycling area

All in all, we recommend booking through Airbnb, given that you also identify requirements and criteria in picking the place. Even if you're a first timer in the place, you can rent through the site, especially since the owner can be your first friend in the country as you can ask him/her regarding directions and even customs.

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