156,672 miles + 2 IHG Free Nights + $1,172.24= Trip for 4 to South Korea

south korea

Over Spring Break the Michael W Travels family went on a trip to South Korea. This was our first trip back to Asia since we visited Myanmar in spring 2015. It would also be our first visit to the region as a family of 4!

So why did we pick South Korea for our Spring trip? There were a bunch of good reasons!

  1. Kim and I have wanted to visit Korea for quite some time
  2. We love visiting Asia
  3. The flight was on sale (with miles) so it seemed like a decent deal to pull the trigger on
  4. None of us have been there before

We booked the flight in late August 2016 but didn’t do much of the actual trip planning until around a month back. Kim and I are pretty good at putting itineraries together and this worked out just fine as we all had an awesome experience during our visit to South Korea.

After some research, Kim and I decided on focusing our visit to two areas- Seoul and Jeju Island. This worked out very well as we had a ton to do with our time during the trip! As usual, it would’ve been nice to have a few more days… Regardless as I like to say, a short trip is better than no trip! 🙂

Here are the trip planning details for our visit to South Korea.

The Flights:

I booked the flight to South Korea last August, a week before Theo was born. I debated until just before the deal expired whether or not to book and I’m definitely glad that I did.

New York to South Korea:  We flew coach on United Airlines and Asiana to get to/ from South Korea.

On the way:

  • Newark (EWR) to Beijing (PEK) on United
  • Beijing (PEK) to Seoul (ICN) on Asiana


  • Seoul (ICN) to Shanghai (PVG) on Asiana
  • Shanghai (PVG) to Newark (EWR) on United

The cost of the flight was 52,224 United miles each + $65.49 in taxes per person. This brought the cost of the flight for three of us to 156,672 UA miles + $196.38.

I called in to add Theo as a lap baby and was told the cost would be a percentage of the ticket price as if it was a regular fare. The lap ticket cost $243.86. A bit pricey but what can you do…

The total cost for our international flights came to 156,672 UA miles + $440.24.

Seoul to Jeju Island: This is actually the busiest flight route in the world so I figured we’d have lots of options when booking. We considered a few airlines and ended up booking with Jeju Air due to the price and flight times offered.

We flew: Seoul Gimpo (GMP) to Jeju Island (CJU) roundtrip. The cost was 100,866 Korean Won each which is approximately $88.89 USD. Theo’s lap baby ticket was free.

The total cost to fly from Seoul to Jeju came to 302,600 Won= $266.70 USD.

The total cost for all of our flights= 156,672 UA miles + $706.94.

Hotel/ Accommodations: 

We decided to start and end our visit in Seoul, while spending the middle of our trip on Jeju Island. We ended up staying in three different places during the visit.

Here is where we stayed:

  • Nights 1-3: Seoul– Fully Hong Hostel Insadong- The price at around $61 per night was very reasonable and in an excellent location (but a really tiny room with a bunkbed). Total cost= $184.
  • Nights 4-6: Jeju– Days Hotel Seogwipo- We booked a secret price offer from Hotels.com so we got a good deal plus earned free night credits with their program. Really nice hotel at a bargain price! We paid $51.44 per night. Total cost= $169.78. I then paid with discounted Hotels.com gift cards so the price was further brought down, coming to $135.78!
  • Nights 7 & 8: Seoul– Intercontinental Seoul COEX- We used Kim and my anniversary free nights which made the stay free! (If we paid, the hotel would’ve cost $224.74 per night.)

Total cost for 8 nights: 2 IHG Free Nights + $319.78.

Car Rental:

To best maximize our time on Jeju Island, a rental car was a necessity for us. We could’ve hired a driver for around $100+ per day but that definitely sounded like a waste of extra money.

I thought about buying a GPS chip for my Garmin but the reviews didn’t sound great so I decided to rent a navigation system. This was probably the best $8.94 per day I spent during the trip!

Our car rental for three days with Sixt came to $145.52. (I could’ve saved a few dollars on a cheaper car but I don’t think that there would’ve been any way to fit all of our things in the car!)

Total Trip Costs: 156,672 miles + 2 IHG Free Nights + $1,172.24.

In the end, I think we did a pretty good job with keeping our trip costs down. We had a great time in South Korea and our only regret is not having more time to explore!

Stay tuned for some posts about our trip! Have you been to South Korea? If so, what did you think about the country?

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6 thoughts on “156,672 miles + 2 IHG Free Nights + $1,172.24= Trip for 4 to South Korea

  1. questions on miles- We booked the flight a while back! I honestly wouldn’t consider a visit to South Korea brave nor is a trip there scary… The award flight was on sale last summer so after much debate I decided to book it.

    If you haven’t been to South Korea, I highly recommend going!

  2. Visiting Korea amid of the military tension? Wow you are Brave! What’s the next destination, Syria?

    Also, 1-way economy flight from US to Korea costs UA 35000 miles, how are you able to get the round trip priced for 52224 miles?

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