I was searching for information on where to exchange foreign currency, or where to find money changers in Seoul before my trip but information was limited, so I thought I’d post my own experiences here.
Unlike in Singapore where there are plenty of money changers, there is no such “gathering” of money changers in Japan. There’s the odd one here and there, but without the healthy competition you get from a sizeable mass, the rates are really quite crappy.
Besides, I also read that it is best to exchange for won within Korea itself, because outside of Korea, the value of won drops quite significantly.
Based on the above information, we bravely marched to Haneda Airport WITHOUT A SINGLE WON.
Haha, but we are not completely out of our minds (yet). We exchanged 100,000 won at Haneda Airport, just in case we’re super unlucky and all the money changers closed down at Gimpo Airport or something. That way, we would still have enough money to make it to town.
So where’s the best place?
After traveling to various tourist spots around Seoul over 10 days, I found that the best place to exchange money in Seoul is at Myeongdong.
There are many, many, MANY money changers in Myeongdong spread out across many streets and they are super easy to spot.
They have pretty competitive rates, but there is still slight fluctuation among the money exchangers. You can walk around and compare the rates, but after combing the area (twice! on two different days), I found that generally, this street offers the best rates:
Dunno what building this is I’ve been told this is the Chinese embassy, and lots of police line its walls guarding it, so you will definitely know you are on the right street when you come to it. The money changers face these high walls. It’s also super safe to change money there since you have free police protection haha.
EDIT 9/22: Because I’m so often asked what street this is, I actually went touring this area via Google street view and found the street.
TADAH. If you look at it via street view, you might notice that the buildings on the right look slightly different. That’s because Google took the image in 2009. But if you look carefully, the background buildings (Lotte and the other “A” building) are the same. Long story short: This is the street you want.
And yes, I actually spent good time and effort to playing detective to hunt this down, so I hope people appreciate it lol.
What currencies do they accept?
The safest ones are major currencies like USD, EUR, JPY and RMB. You will see these currency symbols on signboards everywhere.
But there are also many money exchangers that take a variety of other currencies not listed.
So even if your currency is not listed, just ask! Most of the time they will accept it. I had like £80 and they accepted it too!
Do they accept _[insert currency]_?
So many people have asked me this.
If it’s not listed in the photo above, and not one of the currencies I exchanged (JPY, SGD, £), then I really cannot say for sure.
There’s a good chance they would, but my guess is as good as yours.
Are the rates really better in Korea?
Yes, I would say so!
I exchanged both JPY and SGD on March 28.
According to the historical data on xe.com, the rates for these 2 currencies on that day were:
The rates I got from Myeongdong that day were:
- JPY: 10.44
- SGD: 840
This means that for every 1 yen I sold, I received 10.44 won.
Similarly, for every SGD $1 I sold, I received 840 won.
Note that this is not even taking into account the fact that rates on xe.com are usually unrealistic i.e. You will never get those good rates that xe.com projects from money changers!
So, yes. Definitely cheaper for me to exchange money in Seoul than in Japan!
How about other places?
Apart from Myeongdong, we only exchanged money at Dongdaemun, because we were in a shopping frenzy and got really low on won. We changed a minimal amount though, because the rates were not as good as Myeongdong’s.
I think I spotted a total of 2 money changers in Dongdaemun, so exchange your money there only if you’re really desperate (like we were).
The money exchanger presence is close to non-existent in Insadong or Itaewon though. I don’t even recall spotting any.
Well, hopefully this will be helpful to someone! :)
For other Seoul posts, check out the master post!