If you have looked into traveling to Seoul then you already know about the Discover Seoul Pass. However, is the pass really worth it?
Many people refer to travel blogs to look for Discover Seoul Pass itineraries to see whether the pass is worth it. However, the truth is that many of these are unrealistic. Not only are many of them very rushed, but some are even physically impossible (unless you want to spend only 15 minutes at a museum).
That isn’t to say that the pass isn’t worth it – it can be. But it’s important to think about your priorities. Do you want to see everything in a very rushed manner, or would you prefer to take it a bit slower and enjoy each attraction to its fullest?
With the amount of unrealistic (or very rushed) itineraries out there, I wanted to look at the pass in more detail. Is it worth it for the average traveller? If not, who exactly can make the most use of the pass?
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What Is the Discover Seoul Pass?
Image from discoverseoulpass.com.
The Discover Seoul Pass comes in the form of a card or as a mobile pass and also allows you to use public transport (which is paid for separately). On top of that, the pass allows you to visit over 30 attractions in the city for free, while also allowing you discounted entry to many other attractions.
The pass lasts for 1-3 days depending on which version you purchase. The Discover Seoul Pass is very convenient and at first glance, it seems worthwhile. However, the price causes a lot of people to wonder whether the pass is actually worth it or not. Let’s have a look!
The pass includes a lot of Seoul’s top attractions. With it, you can see the stunning views from Namsan Tower and 63 Square. You can explore many of the museums of Seoul, learning about all manner of things. Further, you can even visit Lotte World with the pass!
With this article, I want to look at whether or not the Discover Seoul Pass is worth it. Who is it for? I will not go through all of the different attractions or make an itinerary – there are already a lot of those!
If you are looking for an optimised itinerary then consider reading this fantastic guide – 1 Day Discover Seoul Pass Itinerary.
Discover Seoul Pass Cost
The Discover Seoul Pass comes in three different lengths. Each length is progressively more expensive than the last, however, the pass does also become relatively cheaper the longer the duration that you purchase.
The pass begins at 40,000KRW and then increases at a rate of 15,000KRW per day. While the pass price for one day is quite hefty, the price becomes gradually more reasonable as you get towards the 72 hour pass.
Discount Discover Seoul Passes
While the prices on the table above are the listed prices for the pass, it is possible to find cheaper passes online. These websites often have discounts on the pass.
Discover Seoul Pass Overview
The pass will give you free entry to many attractions around Seoul. The most popular of which are the palaces (Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung), Namsan tower, Hanboknam (Hanbok hire), and a variety of museums. For a full list of free attractions, you can visit the Discover Seoul Pass website.
On top of the free entrance to the above locations, the pass also offers discounts to many more locations. The discounts range in amount and there are a LOT of different activities that you can choose to do. For the full range of discounts, the official site has a complete list.
Another bonus that the Discover Seoul Pass provides is convenience. If you are in Seoul for only a few days (1-3 days) this is perhaps the biggest advantage of the pass. With the pass, you are able to get a temporary Korean SIM card, travellers insurance, get assistance with Seoul Easy Travel Care and more.
Many methods of free transport are also available. From a free AREX (Airport Railroad) ride and free bike hire. The Seoul Bus Tour is also included on the card.
Benefits of the Discover Seoul Pass
The biggest benefit of the Discover Seoul Pass is convenience. It has everything that you need to enjoy a few days in Seoul and it also allows you to visit many of the most popular attractions.
The pass is also cheap – given the right situation. If you are coming to Seoul for only a few days the pass is a great option. I will explain this in more detail soon!
An example of when the pass can save you a lot of money is if you plan to spend a day in the Gangnam/Jamsil area. For example, one day of activities such as visiting Lotte World, the Coex Aquarium and then taking a Han River cruise can set you back around 60,000KRW. With the pass, it will only cost 40,000KRW!
Downsides of the Discover Seoul Pass
If you are in Korea for more than 3 days I would recommend against purchasing the pass. While the pass is a great deal for someone with a packed schedule, it’s hard to make the most of it if you want to take your time exploring Seoul.
This brings me to perhaps the biggest downside – once you have the pass, you are under pressure. If you want to get your money’s worth, you’ll be under a tight schedule.
This ties into my second point which is that you really don’t get a chance to explore. Want to visit that cafe you saw outside Gyeongbokgung? Spending an hour or two there will cost you not only the price of the coffee but also the money you are losing from not making use of the pass.
Finally, the pass isn’t really 24/48/72 hours. At most, it is for 12/24/36 hours. Of course, you have to sleep. But on top of this is that most of the attractions close in the evenings. If you are lucky, the passes are useful between 8 am and 8 pm.
Cost Efficiency of the Pass
If you are in Seoul for longer than a few days you will really struggle to find more value than the price of the pass. However, if you are in Seoul for a short period (under 3 days) or are someone who likes to go attraction to attraction to attraction, then the pass can be worth it.
An example trip to Seoul. This trip is for anyone who picks up the pass from Incheon Airport and uses it until they leave Seoul.
The AREX train (Incheon Airport to Seoul) is usually 9000KRW. On top of this, you can expect to spend at least 10,000 on public transport (per day).
The pass also includes a SIM card if you decide to use it. Short term SIM cards aren’t expensive in Korea, but you can expect to spend a minimum of 5000KRW on one of them.
On top of this, the pass also includes some bonuses such as travel insurance and Korea Easy Travel Care. For these reasons, the pass is a great all in one package.
The Discover Seoul Pass includes free entrance to many Seoul palaces!
The prices listed are the cheapest prices I could find for each attraction. If you visit the attraction and pay on sight, expect to pay more. For example, Namsan Tower costs 10,000 per ticket. However, online sites sell tickets as low as 5000KRW.
This is something that catches a lot of people. The prices you will pay at the door for attractions in Seoul are generally MUCH higher than what you will pay online. Nearly every attraction will have at least 20% off (sometimes much higher) if you purchase tickets online.
The pass also includes a lot of attractions – some of which are far more expensive than others. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular attractions:
Palaces (Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Changdeokgung) – 3000KRW entry fee (adult). The palaces have free-entry events throughout the year.
- N Seoul Tower – 7400KRW
- Coex Aquarium – from 21,000KRW
- 63 Square Observatory Deck – from 9000KRW
- Seoul Zoo + Sky Lift – from 18,000
- Seoul City Tour Bus – from 15,000
- Lotte World – from 31,500
- Eland Cruise – From 13,500
- Museums – The ticket also includes a large variety of different museums. Entry to these is generally 10,000-20,000 per museum.
These are far from the only activities that the pass includes, but they are a few of the most popular. Considering that the pass can be found for around 35,000KRW, you will have to visit a few of the more expensive locations to make it worth your while.
Namsan Tower is another attraction included with the card.
If you are in Seoul for only a few days then you can see why this pass is such a great deal – provided you manage to visit at least a few of the more expensive attractions. If you plan to visit Lotte World or Seoul Zoo, the pass is a fantastic deal. Especially when you add in the AREX and other transport.
On the other hand, if you are in Seoul for more than a few days you probably don’t want to spend your days trying to fit in as many activities as possible. It’s far more enjoyable to go at your own pace – even if it is a bit more expensive.
The one exception to this is if you leave a few pricey activities for one day. Visiting the palaces and Namsan Tower, for example, is cheap enough already. So do those in your own time. However, you can save all of the museums for one day and have a day of museum visits using the Discover Seoul Pass.
To make the most of the Discover Seoul Pass there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
- The pass activates and lasts for 24/48/72 hours from activation. Due to this, you want to make sure to activate it to fit your schedule. This usually means in the early morning or the night before.
- Take the weather into consideration. Since many of the activities are outdoors, bad weather can ruin your experience using the pass. Make sure to check the weather and pick a day(s) accordingly.
- The pass will activate as soon as you use it on any activity. If possible, try not to use it midday. If you are beginning at Incheon Airport it is worth calculating whether activating it on the AREX is the best choice or not. For example, it might be better off to just pay for the AREX if you need to rest after your flight.
- The pass also functions as a T-Money card. The T-money balance must be topped-up separately, but it means that the Discover Seoul Pass can also function as a transport card. Find out more about T-Money Cards and Seoul public transport.
Is the Discover Seoul Pass Worth the Money?
In short: The pass is worth it if you are in Seoul for under 3 days and want to visit many of the attractions on the list. For anyone else, the pass isn’t worth it.
The only other situation in which I can see the pass providing more value than its cost is if you are visiting Seoul and save many expensive activities for one day. For example, if you are spending a week in Seoul consider visiting all of the museums in one day so as to get the biggest discount.
While the pass can be valuable, I personally don’t like travelling under such pressure. For people who want to have an action-packed visit, the pass is a good choice. However, I prefer to take my time and explore the city. If this sounds like you also, then the pass isn’t worth it.
Discover Seoul Pass FAQ
How Much Does the Discover Seoul Pass Cost?
The pass starts at 39,900KRW for 24 hours and costs 55,000 for 48 hours and 70,000 for 72 hours. However, cheaper passes can be purchased online.
Where Can I Buy the Discover Seoul Pass?
The Discover Seoul Pass offers a mobile pass in the form of an app. This is the most convenient method as you can purchase it anytime from anywhere. Simply pick the card up at the airport! If you want to purchase it in person, visit a tourist information centre in Seoul. The full list is here.
Does Discover Seoul Pass Include Transport Costs?
No. While the card does function as a T-Money card (the transport card used in Seoul), this balance must be topped up separately.
What Are the Downsides to Discover Seoul Pass?
The biggest downside is that since the pass is time based, you may find yourself feeling very rushed. Some travelers may prefer to not have this pressure.
What Is Discover Seoul Pass?
Discover Seoul Pass is a card that allows the user to visit many of Seoul’s attractions for free (or with a discount) for a set period of time. It’s a good way to experience many of Seoul’s attractions while saving some money.
Is Discover Seoul Pass Worth it?
It depends. If you are in Seoul for a short period of time and want to experience as much as you can, then yes. It may well be worth it. However, for people spending longer in the city (or people who prefer to not rush their travel) the pass is not worth it.
What Attractions Can I Visit With Discover Seoul Pass?
You can visit a large range of places including Namsan Tower, 63 Square, Lotte World, Coex Aquarium and more. You will also receive discounts and many attractions and in some stores. For the full list, visit the Discover Seoul website.