korean homestay {코리아 홈스테이}

9:45 AM Sian Mei Yeoh 4 Comments

the hallyu wave has made korea to be a very desirable travel destination since a couple years ago. i have to admit i jumped on the bandwagon since i found my kpop loves, super junior. 

i've been very lucky to have been to seoul twice last year. my first time was semi-sponsored by korean food foundation (i say semi-sponsored since i extended my stay, which i have to pay on my own -- which is only fair). but because i loved it so much and could not get enough, i vowed to return for a second time but for an longer stay. this time i was traveling solo so i wanted to try something different..

first thing that came to mind was... homestay!


i've wanted to try out homestay in a different country for a while now - to submerge myself in its culture and experience the lifestyle of the locals. i've had some reservations about it (i.e. is it safe, would it be clean, is it going to be awkward since i was living in someone else's home, etc) but what convinced me was the opportunity to learn and be a part of the korean lifestyle. 

despite my concerns, those are a couple of things that can be alleviate some of it with a few simple steps :

o1. only apply for homestay on trusted websites and as recommended by the korean tourism board :: 
o2. make sure you research more about the area you are planning to stay (via internet or perhaps trying the korean embassy in your country to find valuable information)
o3. as far as i know, seoul is quite safe to travel on your own although i still kept a watchful eye on my surroundings at all times, keeping myself safe as much as i can.

here's a gist of the procedure, which i hope would be of help to you :) ::


i decided to go with homestaykorea since i checked both out and find that i found a few families i'd like to stay with for a week. also, the many positive guest testimonials kinda had me swayed towards it too. to start your application with homestay korea,
  • register with a username and password. wait for email confirmation.
  • log in with your username and password then click on my page and update your profile. if i remembered correctly, this needs to be completed before you could apply for a homestay.
  • once completed, go to homestay icon (located up top on the page) and you will find on the left column  make a new application where you can fill out your travel details.
  • explore the families who are offering their homes to you using search host and you can click on their profile for more details. if you are interested in a particular family, you could select and ask to see if they would accommodate you.
there is a FAQ section which will be helpful if you are stuck at your application or feel free to comment to ask me and i will help you as much as i can.

also the biggest question is probably the fees -- most of these are listed in USD so be aware of the exchange rates before deciding :: general rule of thumb is that it  gets cheaper pernight the longer you stay.

i was delighted to have had a few host families inviting me to their homes once i had my travel info up. this meant i could pick out whom i preferred and confirm with the hosts where the payment follows after - which can be done via paypal, bank transfer or western union. an email with the full amount owed will be sent to you. you will be given the host's information so you could get to know them a bit before heading out to their homes and well, set up a meeting point when you actually get there..

in a nutshell version ::
  • register with homestay
  • fill out personal information & travel information
  • request or wait for invites from homestay families
  • confirm your homestay family/location
  • payment procedures
  • host information is given for communication prior to travel date

anywho, more about my personal homestay experience.

i was paired with a family of three and the homestay mom was such a sweetheart. we conversed via email before i got there on things i wanted to know about which were answered promptly. we set up a rendezvous on the day we were supposed to meet..


yes, it rained cats and dogs when i was supposed to meet up with her >.< AND the bus dropped me at a spot that was not directly in front of nambu bus terminal, so i got semi lost and i had to call my homestay mom but she could not really tell where i was from my poor description lol. but i finally asked the starbucks barista and found out that our meeting point was just about half a block away, walking distance.. in the rain...

long story short, i managed to find my homestay mom, she drove me to her place which was a few blocks away, i dragged my bag up to the 4th floor (no elevator) and was greeted by three adorable dogs -- one of them is especially friendly..who looked for me whenever i got back for the day cos i would hear him outside my bedroom door. love!




and while i had plans to go out for dinner on the first night, i ended up requesting my homestay mom to call for take out from this delicious roasted chicken place, goobne chicken {굽네치킨} recommended by her and my homestay buddy from hongkong, {lst} whom i'm rather grateful to have met a new awesome friend on this solo trip. since the weather was horrible that night, the three of us chatted the whole evening to learn more about each other while enjoying our dinner.





the chicken wings were yummy on its own and with the sauces. there are two sauces - one spicy and the other subtly sweet, where i liked both.  the perfectly roasted chicken wasn't greasy and the meat was moist and seasoned well. i almost had trouble putting down those chicken wings and the thing that stopped me was the fact that i shared this chicken set meal with {lst} lol.

the meal was made more awesome when our homestay mom offered some  tasty kimchi -- salty, sour and spicy! (speaking of which, i miss kimchi T.T)



before i went off to my own room to rest, my homestay mom asked if i wanted anything in particular for breakfast since breakfast was provided but i insisted that i wanted to go out in the morning to enjoy seoul more and would most likely skip on breakfast. i did ask her if i could have a korean dish we could make together at some point during the week so i could learn from her. she was more than happy to agree ^^ ( i love her!)

in terms of my bedroom, i got a spacious one that faced the beautiful garden but i shared bathroom with the family, which didn't really bothered me at all.  it was a comfortable room, clean and adequately furnished. and i could access my room without having to enter through the main entrance. they have this special lock where you will only set your password on the day you get there and you won't even need key to access the house.




i crashed for the night very quickly due to exhaustion...

some things i really love about my decision to do homestay was that i found a nice family who opened their cozy, comfortable home to me and were more than willing to recommend places to visit and events in seoul that i could go to. some nights, i chat with the family and occasionally observe what goes on their daily lives. what i thought was pretty cool was that my homestay mom had her own vegetable garden up on the roof of the building.






due to some circumstances we couldn't make dinner together but on the day i was due to leave, my homestay mom specially made me some korean mandoo which is a combination of chives, tofu and meat which i enjoyed.  i was very happy to have had a chance to taste her homemade food :)



the dipping sauce was a combination of vinegar, soy sauce and gochugaru for a bit of heat.



i really enjoyed my homestay experience and would do it again in a jiffy. probably the best accommodation in korea especially if you are traveling alone. i met a lovely korean family, made a new friend from hongkong whom i had a tremendous time with as a shopping and food buddy and most importantly, experience seoul and its culture in a different way. 


to my homestay mom, 

안녕하세요!

thank you for opening your lovely home to me and i'm very glad to have met you. i hope that we can continue to stay in touch :) 너무너무 감사합니다! 보고싶어요! 또 만나요! when i return to seoul, i'd love to visit you once again ^^

love, 
시안 :)

p.s. yes, i've finally finished this entry after like gazillion weeks and have a ton to catch up on. but i will try to keep to my resolutions as much as i can! heheh. 화이팅! please bear with me, will ya?


4 comments:

Qimiko said...

Hi how much did u pay for yr homestay? What did u need to pay for staying with them? Did u tour korea yrself? Im planning to go with my family and we dont like tour package so i want to get as many info as possible. Yr help is highly appreciated. Tqvm😊

@Qimiko
there are more details from their korean homestay website as i have mentioned in this blog entry.
since you are going with your family, perhaps try asking the hosts if they can accommodate your family. also consider hotels as well depending on the size of your family.

the fees are found here: http://www.homestaykorea.com/?mid=bbs_faq_homestay_guest&page=2&document_srl=1875

i totally agree with the tour package and i prefer exploring on my own on a free & easy way. my advice is to find out what you would love to do and plan out days like tour packages would and of course the maps and directions to get there on your own. i have done similar things for my tokyo trip which can be found on this website as well. learn how to ways on subway (i have a post on korean subway - jihachul as well) since you would need to get around and public transportation is probably the cheapest way to get around.

Rachael said...

Hi! thanks for the info! I was wondering how much would it cost roughly for a month? as the prices there are skyrocketed, some even more expensive compared to the hotels. Also, when i tried setting up my account it keeps telling me its a spam and i can't do it at all. D: some help here! :xx

@rachael:

i am not sure how you can fix the spam as you are trying to set up your account. perhaps you could try to email the webmaster for the website but i haven't had any issue with homestaykorea.com

however, i can certainly let you know what the prices are for the homestay. if you are planning to stay for a month at the homestay, you can probably calculate how much it will cost you (breakfast included)::

1. first 10 days: usd 40/night
2. next 10 days: usd 25/night
3. additional 10 days: usd 20/night

there is a placement fee of usd 30 as well.

hope this was helpful :)