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How we saved time and money exploring Seoul's hidden gems using this pass

By Camille Santiago Published Apr 23, 2024 9:58 pm Updated May 07, 2024 2:58 pm

For a change, I didn't plan this vacation to a tee like I always do. But as it turns out, even trips with a loose itinerary can be just as rewarding.

During Holy Week, I had the incredible opportunity to revisit South Korea with my aunt, Tita Sally, and my cousin, Inno. We started planning this trip back in February, but up to the day of our flight, we kept changing itineraries. We originally had the idea of going to Busan, Daegu, and Pohang (Hometown Cha Cha Cha fans, IYKYK!), but in the end, we stayed in Seoul for 11 days. It was our aunt's first time in South Korea, so we decided to focus on all the must-see sights and experience Korean beauty treatments (the latter was her request).

Klook hooked me up with some vouchers for this trip, and I knew exactly what to spend them on: the Discover Seoul Pass. This card is a lifesaver for tourists like us. It's basically a fast pass to a ton of attractions, letting you skip the lines for a limited time. We opted for the 48-hour pass (it's also available in 24 and 72 hours), which came out to a steal at P2,079 each.

With this pass, we could get into everything from museums like the Seoul Botanic Park and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, to historic places like Changgyeonggung Palace, the Korean Folk Village, and Gyeongbukgung Palace. It even covers entertainment spots like Seoul E-Land Cruise and Lotte World. Transportation is covered too, with access to the K Limousine bus, the Airport Railroad Express, and many more.

Even after the 72 hours are up, you can still use the card (physical or digital) to score discounts at concerts and duty-free shops. The physical card even doubles as a transit pass for buses and subways. How convenient!

The pass not only saves you money but helps you travel efficiently. Since we didn't have a solid itinerary, the pass offered a curated list of attractions, allowing us to discover hidden gems and pack our trip with unforgettable experiences. (Thank goodness my Tita and cousin were always up for anything!)

There was so much more we could do with Discover Seoul Pass, but we also wanted to just soak up the beauty of the cherry blossoms in the parks and have our own K-drama moments. Check out the list of attractions we visited using the pass and how much we saved in total below.

COEX Aquarium

Money saved: KRW 33,000 or P1,148
Address: Starfield COEX Mall, 513 Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul


We started the first day exploring the COEX Aquarium within the heart of Gangnam's Starfield COEX Mall.

The aquarium boasts a diverse collection spread across 14 themed zones. One highlight is Fish in Wonderland, a LEGO-themed room featuring aquatic creatures in “unexpected places” like bookshelves and phone booths. Another is Amazonia World, where you can encounter the fascinating river creatures of the Amazon rainforest. Meanwhile, the Deep Blue Sea Tunnel offers underwater views of manta rays and sharks gliding overhead.

Thrill-seekers won't want to miss the Ocean Kingdom, a massive shark tank showcasing over 40 different species – perfect for reliving that iconic proposal scene from Queen of Tears! In addition to these exhibits, admission includes access to free shows like mermaid performances and the chance to witness the daily feedings of manta rays, sharks, penguins, and seals.

After exploring the aquarium, head to the iconic Starfield Library—also within COEX—a breathtaking sight that's likely graced your TikTok feed. Immerse yourself in thousands of books, magazines, and e-readers, or simply marvel at the library's two-story design with its vibrant lighting and floor-to-ceiling shelves.

Namsan Tower

Money saved: KRW21,000 (adults) KRW16,000 (children, elderly) + KRW10,000 for Fast Pass
Not included: Cable car ride- KRW 15,000 roundtrip
Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

N Seoul Tower

You can’t say you’ve been to Seoul without visiting the Namsan Tower or N Seoul Tower. The observation tower, seen in many Korean dramas, is a local landmark that stands 236 meters. It’s the second-highest point in Seoul after the Lotte Tower with 555 meters.

Locals and tourists enjoy going to this place to see the majestic panoramic views of the city. It also has become a popular date spot for couples who would lock their "padlock of love” on the railings (another Queen of Tears moment for sure!).

Padlock of Love

While the cable car offers a scenic view going up the Namsan Mountain, lines can be long. In our case, we went there at around 5 p.m. on a weekday and had to wait an hour for our turn in the cable car. So, we suggest you take the bus or taxi to go there.

There are other things to do up there aside from the observatory and love padlock area as shops and restaurants are available inside. Or you can hike and walk around Namsan Park.

Depending on the day and time, there could also be a wait to the observatory. N Seoul Tower offers a Fast Pass for an additional KRW10,000 per head if you want to skip the line. Since our entrance fee is free, we decided to avail of this so we could maximize our time.

Hanbok Rental (Hanboknam in Changdeokgung)

Money saved: KRW30,000 or P1,102
Address: 86-1 Donhwamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul


Part of my aunt’s wishlist was to wear a hanbok, a traditional clothing worn by Koreans. Lucky for us, the pass allowed us to rent it for free.

Upon arrival, we found Hanboknam buzzing with customers. It's no wonder – spread across three floors, this spacious establishment offered a dazzling array of hanbok, far more extensive than the other rental shops nearby.

We presented our card to the staff and she gave us instructions on what to do. First, you’ll be asked to keep your belongings in the lockers in the basement, then head to the third floor to pick your outfits. Once you’re done, the ladies may opt to have their hair styled.

Our package allows us to rent the traditional hanbok the whole day, but if you want to upgrade and try the themed, wedding, lifestyle, or character hanbok, you can do so with a fee.

Options to add hair accessories, a bag, traditional shoes, a hat, or a sword for men are also available.

With its proximity to must-see spots like Bukchon Hanok Village, Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeongbukgung Palace, and Insadong Street, the store's location made sightseeing a breeze.

Gyeongbukgung Palace

Money saved: KRW 3,000 (adults), KRW1,500 (children)

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion

Changing of Guards by the Gwanghamun Gate

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion

Changing of Guards by the Gwanghamun Gate


The Gyeongbukgung Palace, which is a few kilometers away from the hanbok rental, is the biggest of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty in Seoul.

Like in most palace attractions, the entrance fee is waived if you’re wearing hanbok. Your entrance is also free if you have a Discover Seoul Pass.

This place is huge, so plan for a few hours of exploration. There’s the National Palace Museum, which houses artifacts, exhibits, and royal treasures from royal families; the scenic Hyangwonjeong Pavilion; Gyeonghoeru Pavilion or the Floating Pavilion, and more.

There are also special performances and ceremonies like the changing of guards which takes place every 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in front of the Gwanghwamun Gate.

Yellow Balloon City Bus

Money saved: KRW20,000 (adults), KRW15,000 (children above 6)

The Blue House

Presidential Residence

President's receiving room

The Blue House

Presidential Residence

President's receiving room


Seoul has hop-on-hop-off buses that conveniently let you get off at places near tourist spots. We decided to ride the Yellow Balloon City Bus, which only offers a Traditional Culture Course for Discovery Seoul Pass holders.

The bus passes through downtown Seoul, past palaces, and large traditional markets. We decided to get off first at Cheongwadae, which is also known as the Blue House. This recently opened public park holds immense significance as it was formerly the presidential residence and diplomatic heart of South Korea since 1948.

Entrance is free, and while we mostly saw local visitors during our visit, that's likely because it's still a new attraction. It only became accessible to the public in May 2022—the first time after 74 years.

I highly recommend this place to be added to your itinerary. Here, you can explore the presidential residence and main office building, where the Presidents once hosted guests and held social events. The surrounding park offers a tranquil escape, with plenty of benches for sightseers.

After the park, we hopped back on the bus and made our way toward Tongin Market for a unique lunch experience. Established in 1941, the market originally catered to Japanese residents during the occupation. After the Korean War, it transformed into a place for Korean street vendors.

Tongin Market

Its claim to fame? Customizable dosirak, or lunchboxes. Grab brass coins called yeopjeong and wander the stalls, choosing bites to fill your own personalized box. It's a must-try for anyone seeking a taste of Korean tradition with a twist.

Dosirak or lunch box meal

After having late lunch, we then went to Myeongdong (probably our third time this trip), for some shopping, and ended the day in Gwangjang Market where we had raw octupus and jeon from a random stall, and noodle soup from the ahjumma who was featured in the Netflix show, Street Food.

AREX (Airport Railroad Express)

KRW9,500 (adults), KRW7,500 (kids), P364

For our departure, we used our pass to get tickets on the AREX (Airport Railroad Express) Express Train. This is the ultimate time-saver, taking you straight from Seoul Station to Incheon International Airport in no time. Plus, the comfortable seating, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and free Wi-Fi ensure a smooth journey.

Total: KRW116,500 or P4,875
We saved: P2,796

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