I was browsing your blog and noticed that you mentioned that you wanted to plan a stay in Korea and Japan.
I just wanted to relate what I did, that worked pretty well for a cheap but quality place to stay, when I moved to Korea to apply for ESL jobs. You may already be aware of this option, but I thought I would write about my tip anyway just in case.
You will almost certainly need to take a taxi from the airport, however I suppose that you could take a bus if you can translate the bus routes and schedule. But giving the fact that you will have no clue about Seoul (unless you’ve been there before, I have no idea), I would suggest that you splurge on a taxi, especially if you are travelling at night. The city is just too big. Also, the taxi driver can negotiate for you with your room. He wont be on a kickback arrangement, especially given the type of motel where you may want him to take you.
Ok. What I did was to have the taxi driver take me to a love motel, which are all generally very nice throughout Seoul ( I didn’t live anywhere else). They are also everywhere. Having your own bathroom, TV with cable, and a queen bed is standard. They will also clean your room. The rooms can range in size however, so you may want to take a look before you decide. Many are nicer than others, but the minimum quality is generally pretty nice. The thing is, you should be able to negotiate a rate of 300,000 - 350,000 won for the month. Which, when I was there a couple of years ago, was equivalent to $300-350 for the month. $10-15 a night is good for a metro like Seoul. You may be able to get cheaper, especially the further outside Seoul you go. All in all, a cheap country for your basic needs. I hear Busan, the second largest city, and on the coast, is a good option as well. I am sure you can break the 300 mark if you try.
As a matter of fact Busan may be all around more user friendly for a traveler friendlier people, smaller but still big, cheaper, coastline, etc.. Seoul really doesn’t offer anything in an interesting or positive sense that cant be had in any other Korean metro.
The love motel owner may think you a bit strange, but will be glad for the steady tenant. The older couple that ran my motel gave me open access to the fresh linen and towel closet, as well as their private washing machine.
If you do opt for Seoul, try to locate central, as the outer neighborhoods will mean long subway or bus rides to get to the center.
The love motel strategy may work in Japan as well.
love your Blog. I am currently in real estate as you were, planning my internet strategy and travel escape as you did. Not back to Korea though, at least for many years(don’t piss any Korean women off-its like dancing with the devil himself), but that’s a story for another time.
You have a name, the one you stayed in sounds nice?
Excellent, love hotels are in most countries and often the quality of the rooms are better than the local Tourist Hotels. I have some funny stories about Love Hotels, however R or X-Rated.
Whey I was in West Africa, I learned to stay in, “Chambre de Passage.”
Which mean more or less Love Hotel, I used them for a month before I realized this phrase meant “Love Hotel.”
I'm stayed at the "Sheri", a yeogwan (korean motel) at the yeokgok subway stop, near Bucheon, on line 1 (southwest corner of the subway map just south of Onsu). Its behind the stairs, about a block down, on the quiter side of the subway station. The name is in roman letters on the side of the motel. I managed to make a deal with the manager for 350000 won( $12 per night) for 30 days which is great, however, I wouldn't recommend where I stayed simply because I made the mistake of choosing a motel in an outer suburb of Seoul ( still completely urbanized). I didn't know where I was in location to the main city when I arrived. It was 3am and I had no map.
If I were to do it again, i would certainly choose a more centralized location, as to avoid the 45 minute subway ride into town. It seems like no big deal at first to stay in an outer region of a city, however, it can be akin to living on the moon after a bit because there are NO foreigners and no one speaks english or they are too timid to try ( wrong frame of mind, I know, but its the truth). The only things to do were to eat and go to the internet cafe. Or take the trip into Seoul. Can't speak to the monthly prices closer to Seoul though.
The last part of my tip that Ieft out, that is almost crucial to make it work, is to have a small pocket calander with you. This is to be able to show the motel owners, and translator if you have one, how long you wish to stay. Without the calander, it may be tough to communicate what you want. Luckily, the motel owner had one hanging in his office that we used.
Also, if staying in Seoul, I highly recommend locating near a subway stop. At the airport, you can show the taxi drive a subway map, that you can print out here, www.asiastudytrip.com/study_abroad_images/Seoul_Subway_Map1.jpg , and pick a subway stop and say 'yeogwan'. Even better if you have an address of one that you want to try first. Almost all yeogwans have 3 little 'steam' sauna smoke symbols on their sign, so they are easy to spot if the first one doesn't work out. They are literally everywhere.
I recommend staying on the North side of the River, as near to that tangle of subway lines as possible. Seoul is huge, and the distances on the map are deceiving. Staying near a college area may be good. You may wish to try along line 4 as it rises above line 1 in the north. Anwhere along line 1 as it runs east-west above the river could be good.
Last tip, the forums at www.eslcafe.com tend to be great for Korea and Japan info of all kinds, as there are so many expat teachers there. Typing 'yeogwan' into a search box may yield results. One note though, I generally don't hear of teachers negotiating the rate i did for a month. Its hard to know who has actually tried and who is talking about only what they think they know, with no experience in actually staying a month at a yeogwan.