If you’re backpacking across South Korea and need a cheap place to spend the night (and don’t mind being naked in front of strangers), look for a jjimjilbang. It is a 24 hr. spa where you can sleep. I have stayed at two. The first was in Gangnam, which cost 5,000 Won. The second was near Hanganjin in Seoul, which cost 8,000 Won.
They are not as easy to spot as a motel or hotel, so I just asked around until I found somebody who knew where one was. I learned not to assume that every taxi driver will know where to find one.
You are given a locker for your shoes when you enter, and then another locker for your clothes and other personal items.
Connected to the locker room is a room where you can watch TV, buy drinks, use the toilet, brush your teeth… Then you enter the spa room, which has showers, a cold pool, and hot tubs. Once you get over the awkwardness of being a naked man in a room full of naked men (they have them for women too, by the way; but no co-ed ones), it can be very relaxing.
The sleeping situation, however, is not relaxing. The first one I stayed at had one room for everyone to sleep in with a four-foot high ceiling. There is no air-conditioning or fans or vents. You sleep on a plastic mat with a small blanket, and a plastic cube-shaped pillow. I found it too hot and uncomfortable to sleep.
The second experience was a little different. The sleeping room was bigger with less men and a much higher ceiling. You could either sleep on a slab of marble with a marble pillow or on the wood floor. I chose the wood floor. Like the first time, it was too uncomfortable to sleep.
I would prefer an actual bed in a hotel, but depending on the size and popularity of the city and the time of year, finding an available may be difficult to impossible.
So if you need a good night’s sleep after a long day of traveling, and you can afford it, reserve a room at a hotel. Sometimes privacy and comfort are worth the extra 50 bucks.