Journal Korea Korea 2024 ZoelieWho

Korea 2024 | Haul & Expenses

Before jetting off, I hustled day and night to wrap up all my work commitments. However, that left me with merely three nights before the flight to sort out my budgeting and planning. I must admit, it’s a tad embarrassing to confess that my initial budget was only half of what we actually ended up spending. But you know what? I have zero regrets!

With nearly two decades of shopping under my belt, it’s fair to say that my spending habits are well ingrained. Subconsciously, I find myself constantly evaluating whether I can afford each expense. Moreover, I’ve diligently saved up a substantial amount over the years. For larger purchases, I plan to responsibly utilize flexible payment plans offered by credit cards. Rest assured, I’m confident in my ability to manage these expenses without much difficulty.

Now, onto the exciting part, shall we?


I was surprised -but also not- to realize that I spent the majority of my money at Olive Young. What surprised me even more was the realization that I had actually spent more money than in 2019, yet it felt like I had bought fewer items. Back then, my purchases at Olive Young were mainly cosmetics. It seems that this time around, I must have felt a bit older, as I prioritized skincare over cosmetics.

In addition to a few packs of popular snacks, the majority of my purchases consisted of skincare products highly praised on both TikTok and Red (Xiao Hong Shu). The Real Barrier products were chosen based on my own reviews from years ago, as they proved to be highly effective for my skin. Essentials such as Euthymol toothpaste, hair oil, Pond’s makeup remover, and Abib shower gel were necessities for our stay at the Airbnb. I also picked up fabric sprays for our clothes.

One notable purchase was the Medicube Age-R Booster Pro, my very first beauty device. With its four functions, it essentially combines multiple devices into one. The Medicube sanitizing wipes and Glutathione Glow Serum were complimentary gifts from the department store. Interestingly, I couldn’t find the Medicube device at any of the Seoul Olive Young branches, so I had to travel to the Hyundai Pangyo Department Store to make the purchase. However, on my last day, I discovered that the Olive Young at Incheon Airport did carry the device, which would have saved me the trip. Both locations offered the same prices and immediate tax refunds, although the Olive Young branches may not have offered freebies.

(By the way, the snacks were okay-okay. Just meh.)

In terms of cosmetics, I replenished my favorite mascara, although I noticed a slight change in the formula. Additionally, I picked up some new eyeshadow palettes, lip products, cheek products, and perfumes.

Granhand’s Susie Salmon perfume smells amazing, although I must admit, if you’ve seen “Lovely Bones,” you’d understand the creepy and dark connotations. Tamburins offers some lovely scents as well, although they tend to be pricier. I treated myself to the Lale balm, as I couldn’t quite justify splurging on their full-sized bottle just yet.

When it came to accessories, I was disappointed to find that my favorite store had closed down. Other places were selling accessories starting from 6-7 thousand won and above. My only option was to check out Nyu Nyu. Would I recommend it? Honestly, no. Despite only purchasing 11 items, the total cost was almost RM 400.

My visit to Kakao and Line was also underwhelming. I had hoped to find phone cases and airpod cases, but they had limited options. Additionally, they were promoting Choonsik, a new character I had never seen before this trip. Although Choonsik grew on me by the end of my visit, I didn’t end up purchasing any Choonsik items besides a free balloon.

Finally, I picked up souvenirs from Studio Lightfull and the Dongdaemun Design Plaza store. These souvenirs consist of paper prints featuring Seoul-related designs.

Let’s dive into the numbers next.


Here’s a comprehensive overview of the total expenses incurred during the entire trip. The conversions from Korean Won (KRW) to Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) were calculated at a rate of 1:0.0037, slightly higher than the actual exchange rate of 0.0034-0.0036. This conservative approach accounts for potential bank fees, conversion fees, and transaction fees.

It’s important to note that some expenditures couldn’t be accurately traced as they were either not recorded or were paid with cash, for which receipts were not provided by Seoul Korean merchants on a consistent basis. This lack of documentation poses challenges in tracking these unrecorded expenses.

Total Spending


Amount in KRW Amount in MYR

Airasia Flight Tickets **


RM 3,974.06

Airbnb (approx. RM458 a night)


RM 3,662.94

Klook purchases ***


RM 253.45

Travelling Insurance


RM 172.00



RM 2,863.06

Shopping (-refunds)

₩ 2,382,980

RM 8,817.03


₩ 327,500

RM 1,211.75
Food & Beverages

₩ 672,300

RM 2,487.51

Grand total


RM 23,186.50

** The return trip airplane ticket encompasses meals for all passengers, 7kg carry-on bags, seat assignments, baggage delay protection, and a checked baggage allowance of 20 kg each departing (totaling RM 232.54) and 30 kg each arriving (totaling RM 472). The base fare for the ticket stands at RM 2,472, excluding additional fees such as taxes, fees & surcharges amounting to RM 344, and add-ons totaling RM 1,190.06. Additionally, a random discount of RM 14 was applied. Moreover, we utilized refund credits intended for the 2020 Seoul, Korea trip, which amounted to about RM 2,114.01.

*** The Klook purchases consist of a 10-day sim card plan priced at RM123.65, excluding additional minutes for outgoing calls. Additionally, four (4) one-way trip tickets for the AREX express train were purchased at RM32.45 per ticket, totaling RM129.80.

Total Spending (Shopping)

Shop Name

Amount (KRW)Amount (MYR)

Refunded (KRW)

Ancci Brush

₩ 69000

RM 255.30



₩ 99,000

RM 366.30



₩ 25,000

RM 92.50

₩ 2,000

DDP Design Store

₩ 11,500

RM 42.55


Fwee Agit

₩ 93,060

RM 344.32



₩ 45,000

RM 166.50


Hoka Bondi 8 (two pairs

₩ 438,000

RM 1620.60

₩ 24,000

Kakao Friends

₩ 75,000

RM 277.50

₩ 4,000

Medicube Age R Booster Pro

₩ 395,000

RM 1,461.50

₩ 25,000


₩ 103,000

RM 381.10

₩ 7,000

Olive Young

₩ 92,2420

RM 3,412.95

₩ 52,000

Retro Trader Cafe (Used Emerald GBA Catridge)

₩ 55,000

RM 203.50



₩ 139,500

RM 516.15

₩ 8,000

Tarot Bookstore

₩ 36,500

RM 135.05


Grand Total

₩ 2,506,980

RM 9,275.83

₩ 124,000

Honestly, the purchase of the Hoka Bondi 8 shoes was a game-changer. I wasn’t aware that we had Hoka available in Malaysia, but based on the prices we paid, I believe we got them slightly cheaper at around RM720-750 each. These shoes made our feet practically painless after just 1-2 days of wearing them! I’m eager to explore more functional walking shoes after experiencing this comfort.

Additionally, I treated myself to a Pokemon Emerald GBA cartridge without the box. This was quite a rare find, and most resellers tend to inflate the price significantly. Rather than waiting, I decided to seize the opportunity when I found one at a price tag that was reasonable. I also splurged on a tarot deck for my collection. It features a lot of gold foils, making it well worth the investment.

Is it worth it to buy everything in South Korea?
Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. While some items might indeed be cheaper there, you’d be surprised to find that many cosmetic brands are available in Malaysia at similar prices. Platforms like Shopee and Lazada are treasure troves for these products, and there are wholesale platforms like StyleKorean that supply to local shops, too.

When you factor in all the costs, including pre-travel planning, airfare, and accommodation, it might actually make more financial sense to shop locally in Malaysia, especially if your main goal in Seoul is just to shop till you drop.

Total Spending (Misc)


Amount (KRW) Amount (MYR)

AK Plaza Anime Gacha (won B prize)

₩ 13,000.00

RM 48.10
Cable Car Round Trip Tickets for 2

₩ 30,000.00

RM 111.00

GS25 Umbrellas for 2

₩ 28,000.00

RM 103.60

KT 20mins call credit

₩ 5,500.00

RM 20.35

Lotte World Acquarium Coin

₩ 9,000.00

RM 33.30
Lotte World Acquarium Tickets for 2

₩ 46,000.00

RM 170.20
Luggage Storage

₩ 24,200.00

RM 89.54

₩ 32,000.00

RM 118.40

One-way train ticket

₩ 1,500.00

RM 5.55

Photobooth Printouts for 2

₩ 5,000.00

RM 18.50

T-Money Card + Reloads

₩ 128,000.00

RM 473.60

Taxi Ride

₩ 5,300.00

RM 19.61
Grand Total

₩ 327,500.00

RM 1,211.75

For our public transport rides, we initially budgeted around 30,000 won, but we ended up spending double that amount and had only 1,500 won left. Unfortunately, I lost my card on the very last day, so I had to purchase a one-way train ticket for my final ride. Additionally, we took a taxi for the first time in South Korea, but it was a one-time experience because we couldn’t walk to the other end of the area. Otherwise, we preferred using buses or trains.

Due to the rain, we had to purchase 2 portable umbrellas just for that day itself. In hindsight, it would have been better to use the umbrellas we already had back in Malaysia.

As for medicine, we bought items for muscle soreness, sore throat, nose spray, wound ointment, and plasters.

(Oh, and my partner decided to be spontaneous. He thought, “Why not just give it a shot?” Well, turns out he ended up winning the B prize for that particular gacha ticket set.)

Total Spending (Food & Beverages)

Types Amount in KRW Amount in MYR


₩ 176,500.00

RM 653.05

Convenient Stores

₩ 78,100.00

RM 288.97

₩ 10,000.00

RM 37.00


₩ 358,700.00

RM 1,327.19

₩ 49,000.00

RM 181.30
Grand Total

₩ 672,300.00

RM 2,487.51

We anticipated spending more time in cafes and restaurants, so the amount spent was within our expectations. Overall, the food we tried was mostly enjoyable. However, the street food items turned out to be a bit of a wallet-drainer as they were significantly more expensive than before!

The only fruits I purchased were strawberries, and I bought two boxes on the last day, totaling around 40 strawberries. Unfortunately, we had a tough time finishing them because many of them were bruised, and I wasn’t feeling well.

Total Spending (Pre-travel)


Amount in MYR

Pet related (new XXXL cage, food, litter)

RM 1038.00

Power bank, cables, CCTV & hidden lens detector

RM 456.00

Warmth retention clothing

RM 195.00

Passport renewal & K-ETA

RM 276.00

Person Colour Analysis Payment Prior to Visiting

RM 898.06

Grand Total

RM 2863.06

Our cats are well-trained to feel at ease in their cages, and they often retreat to them as a safe space, especially when they feel spooked or want some quiet time. We’ve made it a priority to ensure they have plenty of free activity time when we’re around, allowing them to stretch their legs and play.

Given our past negative experiences with boarding places, where cats are often confined to tiny cages and cross-contamination is a concern, we prefer to have one of our trusted parents, who are experienced dog owners, assist with feeding and cleaning the litter box while we’re away.

To ensure our cats’ comfort and safety, we’ve invested in a spacious cat house that can accommodate all four of them. This arrangement allows them to stay together in a familiar environment, minimizing stress and ensuring they have enough room to move around.

In preparation for our trip, we’ve stocked up on their favorite kibbles and extra cat litter, making it easier for our caregiver to manage their needs without any added stress. Our goal is to make the caretaking process as smooth as possible for them, ensuring our pets are well cared for while we’re away, and giving us peace of mind during our travels.

You’ll find more detailed accounts of each location I visited throughout the “At Seoul, Korea 2024” page and its related blog post. So, don’t worry about missing out on any details!

Note: My trip was not sponsored in any way.

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