Sinchon in Seoul can be found on the subway ‘Green Line’ between the Ewha Woman’s University and Hong Ik University stops. Sinchon is home to YonSei University, one of the top three universities in Seoul, South Korea (the other two of the “S.K.Y.” Universities being Seoul University and Korea University). It is located right in the heart of Seoul, and has easy access to many of Seoul’s attractions.
One of the most important aspects of Korean culture, food, is found abundantly in this area. Sinchon houses numerous restaurants from varying cultural backgrounds; American steakhouses, Japanese style-Sushi, varying Chinese cuisine, and hundreds of variations on traditional Korean dishes.
Chances are, if you stop in at busy random restaurant in Sinchon, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food in comparison to the low cost. As a poor college student, I could easily stop by a nice hole-in-the-wall eatery and spend KRW 5,500 (approx. $5) on a delicious bowl of ramyen and a roll of kimbab.
Just a few blocks away resides the U-Plex. A big red sculpture that marks both an entrance to the underground subway system and to the department stores upstairs. The clothing and services in the U-Plex is prone to slightly expensive prices, but the clothing industry in general within South Korea tends to be expensive unless you know where to shop.
Lined along the streets to and from the U-Plex are a plethora of street food vendors, low-cost jewelry and clothing stores. Boutiques in Sinchon are naturally more expensive, but an occasional steal can be found on the sale racks.
However, if you’re willing to brave the subway or a taxi, some of the best shopping in Seoul (apart from the famous NamDaeMun) can be found the next stop over in Ewha Woman’s University or (on the other side of Sinchon) Hong Ik University (or HongDae as it is commonly referred to). Clothing here usually fluctuates from KRW 10,000 (for slightly cheaper quality) to KRW 35,000 (for greater quality and style).**
I’m the kind of gal who would much rather live in humble settings, and spend my money on good food and entertainment. In Sinchon, I spent approximately $1,000 on rent for 4.5 months living in a Yonsei’s dormitory on campus. As I gathered from talking to local friends, cheaper accommodations could be had, but that would also be matched up with smaller living space (literally a glorified closet at times) and more walk time to busier parts of the town.
Fortunately, the cost of transportation in Seoul is wonderfully cheap. From Sinchon, I could grab a taxi with 3 friends and travel 30 minutes to the Gangnam area, the bill totalling a meager $15 total, not even $4 each (this was the rate back in 2012). Even cheaper is the subway system of Seoul. Not only is it reputably safe means of travel, but the subway establishment is incredibly clean. Fare is only KRW 1,050 for the first 10km, after that (10km-40km) the fare drops to KRW 100 for every 5km!
It is arguable that the subway means of transportation is safer than that via a taxi. For non-korean residents/visitors, it is important to know the exchange rate of the American Dollar to the Korean Won- especially if you plan on hailing a taxi anywhere near an airport. Unfortunately, I must note that some Korean taxi drivers will try to take advantage of the unknowing traveler, by charging them excessive rates. Most taxi drivers have their meter in plain site, centered on the dash, make sure to keep your eye on that, know the exchange rate and basic korean phrases.
Compared to the United States and Japan, the overall cost of living in South Korea is joyfully low. I believe that focusing on humble living accommodations will allow the average Joe to better enjoy the culture, food, entertainment, and attractions… which I managed to find in Sinchon, Seoul, South Korea.
**The Korean Won is approximately KRW 1 : $0.00093. Therefore, spending KRW 10,000 approximates to $9.30.