With the Korean drama and fashion rapidly invading the country, one can’t stop but become a fan. From their cute and kilig romantic comedy to their traditional era action drama, it’s easy to fall in love and be part of the “Kinaen na ng Sistema” ng K-Drama.
We really dreamed of travelling to Korea mostly because of the weather, the culture and especially the food. Boink is a huge fan of Jumong, it’s a historical period drama series and portrays real scenario from their history. To add it up, Boink also loves Korean food and sometimes Kpop songs. So compared to me, his more excited to visit this place!
My first concern on travelling to Korea is its affordability. For me, it’s a bit expensive especially if you want to try to experience different things. But as a general rule, sticking to the planned budget is the key to having an inexpensive trip.
Here are the things that we’ve planned and done during our trip:
#1: Booking a Plane ticket
With the range of available airlines with a direct flight to Seoul, booking a flight should be a breeze. We booked our flight last March 2016 and travel date is last November 2016. We got our ticket at Cebu Pacific bound to Seoul for 4,500 each and I can say that it’s a really cheap deal. For my personal experience on how I get a cheap flight, you might want to check it here – How to get a Cheap Plane ticket.
#2: Visa and Proper Documents
- As our November trip is approaching, I started to check out important documents that we essentially need before we can exit the country. This is not limited to your passport, Korea visa and immigration documents that you may need during your flight.
- For the passport requirements, your passport should have at least 6 months validity. It means that your expiry date most be 6 months before your estimated departure to the country. And of course should be valid and not mutilated – this is an important lesson learned way back when my passport got mutilated – Help! My passport got mutilated. Most of airline booking doesn’t required passport details, giving you the freedom to check your documents after your booking. For process on how to get Philippine Passport, check my other post here – Philippine DFA Passport Renewal Guide.
- For the visa, Korea requires visa application to all people who wish to enter their country so applying for a visa is also required – First time guide on applying for South Korea tourist visa for Pinoys.
- And lastly for airport and immigration documents, as per my experience during quick interview with an immigration officers, you need to prepare documents that proves that you have plans on returning back.
1. Check-in online before the departure date especially if you don’t have check in baggage.
2. Prepare printed boarding pass.
3. During airline booking, pay the necessary terminal and travel tax to avoid queuing numerous lines. Currently, Cebu Pacific supports terminal and travel tax payments upon booking.
4. Prepare for necessary documents for immigration – Visa and Passport. Sometimes they also asks for Company ID, returning ticket and your relationship to the person you’re with.
#3: What to Wear and Where to buy winter clothes
We visited South Korea during Autumn-Winter season and we experienced our first snow there as well. With that, you need to armor yourself with proper clothing especially if like us, this is your first snow experience. Wear wisely as discussed in my other posts – What to Wear on an Autumn-Winter trip in South Korea. We bought our trench coats at Ukay-Ukay in Guadalupe Makati and other coats at Bershka. If you’re interested you can check out my other posts – Winter Clothes and Where to Find Them | Ukay Ukay Guide in Guadalupe. I have included the map of Ukay-Ukay that we found in Guadalupe during our cloth hunting.
#4: Where to exchange Philippine peso to Korean Won
We exchanged our Philippine peso to Korean Won on our local commercial bank a week before our trip. For requirements and other options, you can check it here – Where to exchange Philippine peso to Korean Won.
#5: Where to Stay in Korea and how to book or reserve accommodation
Deciding where to stay in Korea depends on many factors like staying on the best place, or experience unique accommodation, or just sticking on a certain budget.
For us, our qualifiers on choosing accommodation for this trip are (1) Location and (2) Unique Experience.
We stayed at Seoul Global Hostel for 3 nights in Myeongdong because it is near the shopping area and Myeongdong Market (streetfood haven). It is a bit pricey but being in the center means accessibility. Price per night is about PHP 2,400.00
We also stayed at Yoo’s Family Guesthouse for 1 night. It is a traditional Korean-style Guesthouse. Rooms all comes with heated wooden flooring or Ondol and traditional Yo mattresses and since we visited Korea during near Winter season, this is a perfect chance for us to try this out. Also, the place is just walking distant to the palaces like Changdeok Palace and Gyeongbokgung Palace so this is a win-win. Price per night is about PHP 3,000.00
We booked via Booking.com and payed during check-in. One of the reasons we choose Booking.com is because it’s feature of just reserving the accommodation and ability to cancel it on a certain time.
#6: What to Bring
- Download MRT Train Mobile Maps: MRT train system is one the efficient means of transportation in Korea. They are efficient and easy to navigate especially with the help of mobile train maps. We download Kakao Metro app by which helped us navigating around the city. It is available in App store and Play store.
- Download Google Translate: This is a powerful translator application. Perfect on times when you want to understand instructions on your travel.
- Download Google Maps: Google Maps is a navigation tool. You can save a map location that you can use offline afterwards.
- Pocket WIFI Egg: We rented our Pocket Wifi for 5 days and claimed it inside Incheon International Airport since we always want to be online during overseas trip. Rental can be picked-up and returned on different locations.
- Power Adapter: South Korea are using power sockets type C and F. We bought our sockets at Ace hardware store here in Manila.
#7: MRT system and T-Money
As discussed on #6 What to Bring section, we highly suggests to download a Mobile Train app for Korea Subway as this will help you navigate in the city.
As per our experience, we found T-Money as the most convenient way of payment when riding the MRT subway. T-Money is a re-loadable smart cards used for paying fares around Seoul and other parts of South Korea. Aside from fare payment, these can also be used in some convenience stores. T-Money have different designs and types. The simplest one is the basic card which costs around KRW 2,500 to KRW 4,000. The one that we bought is the smallest card with a lanyard that can be easily attached to phone or wallet – this is around KRW 6,000 to KRW 8,000.
T-Money can be bought inside the subway stations (Blue machine – T-Money Card Vending Machine & Charger) and selected conveniences stores.
The T-Money card itself doesn’t have any load yet, so make sure to reload it first before getting inside the station. On our case, we forgot to reload it and ended up having problem with the tap-out. Good things is that there are station staff and re-loadable machines before the tap-out counter so staffs were able to help us before we panicked!
For complete details on Where you can use T-Money, Where you can buy T-Money, Reload & Refund Locations and How to use it on different transportation, check visitkorea site.
#8: Things to do in Seoul South Korea
DAY 1: INCHEON – LIMOUSINE SERVICE – SEOUL GLOBAL HOSTEL – GS25 DINNER
We depart from Manila at 3:00PM via Cebupacific and arrived after 5 hours in Incheon Airport. Hello South Korea!
If you plan to stay in Seoul Global Hostel in Myeongdong, check my other posts on how to get there from airport – Seoul Global Hostel Myeongdong | How to get there from the airport.
After more than an hour of sitting comfortably in the city limousine, we arrived at Myeongdong City. Though due to poor planning, we arrived at the wrong drop off and ended up using the train to the hotel.
After arriving at the hotel, we settled our things and decided to buy our dinner at GS25 Convenience store. Our bento box have assorted goodness. This costs around KRW 12,500 around PHP 500.00.
DAY 2: EVERLAND – GANGNAM – MYEONGDONG SHOPPING MARKET
The second day, we visited Everland Theme Park. It is one of South Korea’s theme park which offers ride and attraction. An animal safari is also available where you can see wildlife animals up close! For details on how to get there from Myeongdong station, where to buy Everland tickets, what to eat at Everland and other stuffs, check my detailed post here – SK Day 2: Visiting Everland Theme Park South Korea.
At 4:00PM, we leave Everland and went to Gangnam and reached the area by 6:00PM. We initially wanted to stay longer at Gangnam specifically the area where Psy did his iconic Gangnam Style ‘Horse Dance’ Stage but there is an ongoing peaceful protest on the area that night, so we decided to just pass by.
Last stop for the day, we visited Myeongdong area. This place is a tourist spot. Here, you can find a lot of shopping items, food carts and cosmetic haven. Streetfoods start at 3,000 WON (around PHP 130.00). We tried a lot of streetfoods at Myeongdong, this is our recommendations – 10 Must try streetfoods in Myeongdong.
DAY 3: YONGPYONG SKI RESORT – LOTTE MART
We spend most of our 3rd day on the outskirt of the city and experience Ski at Yongpyong Ski Resort – First Ski Experience at Yongpyong Ski Resort. This is our first time to try Ski so it was one of the highlights of our trip.
And since we still have time on the evening, we decided to visit Lotte Mart where we bought most of our Pasalubong.
DAY 4: YOOS FAMILY GUESTHOUSE – CHANGDEOKGUNG PALACE – GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE – TOSOKCHON – NAMSAN TOWER (NSEOUL TOWER) – MYEONGDONG MARKET (HELLO KITTY CAFE, DOG CAFE, CAT CAFE, STREETFOODS)
On our 4th day, we decided to checkout from Seoul Global Hostel and check-in to our next place – a traditional Ondol accommodation at Yoos Family Guesthouse. We contacted the owner so we can leave our things early and start our Historical day tour right after it.
We took our breakfast at a nearby coffee shop. One thing that I’ve noticed about Korea is the various coffee shops around the city.
For the day, we decided to only visit one palace, but since Changdeokgung Palace is just a walking distant from our hotel, we managed to snap some photos outside.
At 9:30AM, we reached Gyeongbokgung Palace just in time for the Changing of Guards Ceremony outside the palace gates. After the ceremony, we tried wearing the palace guards uniform – for FREE! and decided to rent Hanbok costumes. We rented ours at Gung Nadri Shop, it is just right outside the palace. Did you know that when you go inside the palace in costume, the entrance fee will be forfeited? YESS! We only spent a few hours here because the snow started to fall real hard and we don’t want to ruin our costumes.
At 11:30AM, we had Ginseng Chicken at Tosokchon for Lunch. It is just near the Gyeongbokgung Palace and a must try food and restaurant in Korea.
After lunch, we decided to head to Bukchon Hanok Village, it is home to hundreds of traditional houses in Seoul but unluckily an ongoing rally was happening and police barricaded the passage to the Village. We attempted to pass through but then we are instructed to go back. Shocking experience lang.
Before the day ends, we visited 3 Unique Cafes in Myeongdong area and end our day by buying cute souvenirs at Myeongdong as well.
DAY 5: BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE – LOTTE WORLD – AIRPORT – MANILA
Our last day was supposed to be spent on Nami Island and Petite France. But, we only have around 9 hrs to spare before our agreed time departure to the airport, so we didn’t gamble our time and just decided to go to Bukchon Hanok Village and Lotte World.
After that, we head back to Yoo’s Family Guesthouse, fetch our things and say goodbye to Seoul. Til we meet again South Korea!
SUMMARY AND BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES:
|Time||Activity||Total Peso (x2)||Total Won||Notes|
|Ticket South Korea from Cebupacific||PHP 9,000.00||KRW 216,000.00||5 ways on getting a Cheap Plane ticket|
|3:00 PM||Departure NAIA 3|
|Airport Terminal Fee||PHP 1,500.00||KRW 36,000.00||Assuming KRW 24 per 1 PHP|
|Travel Tax||PHP 3,240.00||KRW 77,760.00|
|8:10 PM||Arrival to Incheon South Korea|
|Get Mobile Pocket Wifi for 5 Days||PHP 750.00||KRW 18,000.00||Pocket Wifi for 5 days|
|9:00 PM||Airport to KAL Limousine Bus||PHP 1,400.00||KRW 33,600.00||Airport Bus Limousine to Seoul|
|10:00 PM||Arrival at Myeongdong|
|Bought T-Money card||PHP 600.00||KRW 14,400.00|
|Euljiro3 samga to Myeongdong||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|10:00 PM||Check In to Hotel (Seoul Global Hostel)||PHP 7,000.00||KRW 168,000.00||Seoul Global Hostel for 4D/3N|
|11:00 PM||Myeongdong Shopping Street||PHP 5,000.00||KRW 120,000.00||10 Must try streetfoods in Myeongdong|
|Subtotal for Day 1:||PHP 28,610.00||KRW 470,460.00|
|Time||Activity||Total Peso||Total Won||Notes|
|7:00 AM||Walk Myeongdong Station From Hotel||PHP 0.00||KRW 0.00|
|8:00 AM||Myeongdong station to Gangnam Station||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00||Walk Gangnam Exit 10|
|8:40 AM||Bus 5002 to Everland||PHP 240.00||KRW 5,760.00||Everland Theme Park|
|10:30 AM||Everland||PHP 2,800.00||KRW 67,200.00||Everland Ticket|
|Everland Budget Expense||PHP 5,000.00||KRW 120,000.00|
|5:30 PM||Bus 5002 to Gangnam||PHP 240.00||KRW 5,760.00|
|6:40 PM||Visit Gangnam Stage||Gangnam Style Horse Dance Stage|
|7:00 PM||Gangnam to Myeongdong||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|7:30PM||Dinner at Myeongdong Streetfood||PHP 1,000.00||KRW 24,000.00||10 Must try streetfoods in Myeongdong|
|Walk to Myeongdong Global Hostel|
|Subtotal for Day 2:||PHP 9,520.00||KRW 288,000.00|
|SubTotal from Day1 to Day2:||PHP 38,130.00||KRW 915,120.00|
|Time||Activity||Total Peso||Total Won||Notes|
|7:00 AM||Ski||PHP 15,000.00||KRW 360,000.00||First Ski Experience at Yongpyong Ski Resort|
|Ski expenses||PHP 2,000.00||KRW 48,000.00|
|8:00 PM||Arrived at Myeongdong|
|Myeondong to Seoul Station||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|9:00 PM||Pasalubong hunting at Lotte Mart||PHP 3,000.00||KRW 72,000.00||Pasalubong Hunting at Lotte Mart|
|Dinner at Mcdonalds||PHP 1,000.00||KRW 24,000.00|
|Subtotal for Day 3:||PHP 21,120.00||KRW 506,700.00|
|SubTotal from Day1 to Day3:||PHP 59,250.00||KRW 1,422,000.00|
|Time||Activity||Total Peso||Total Won||Notes|
|7:00 AM||Checkout Gyeongbokgung to Yoong Guesthouse|
|Myeongdong to Anguk station||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|7:30 AM||Checkin Yoong Guesthouse||PHP 3,000.00||KRW 72,000.00||Yoos Family Guesthouse | How to get there from Myeongdong and to Airport|
|8:00 AM||Breakfast at a nearby Café||PHP 1,000.00||KRW 24,000.00|
|10:00 AM||Gyeongbokgung Palace||PHP 300.00||KRW 7,200.00||Gyeongbokgung Palace | Things to do|
|Hanbok Rental at Gungnadri||PHP 2,500.00||KRW 118,000.00||Gyeongbokgung Palace | Hanbok Experience|
|11:45AM||Lunch at Tosokchon (tried Samgyetang Chicken Ginseng soup)||PHP 1,300.00||KRW 62,000.00||Samgyetang Ginseng Soup at Tosokchon|
|3:00 PM||Anguk to Myeongdong station for Nseoul||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|Nseoul Tower Cable car||PHP 720.00||KRW 17,000.00||NSeoul Tower Ticket|
|Namsam Tower (N Seoul Tower)||NSeoul Tower | What to do and see|
|7:00 PM||Back to Myeongdong|
|Hello Kitty, Dog and Cat Café||PHP 1,300.00||KRW 30,000.00||3 Unique Cafes in Myeongdong area|
|Dog Café||PHP 800.00||KRW 18,000.00||Bau House|
|Cat Café||PHP 700.00||KRW 16,000.00||Godabang Cat|
|10:00PM||Myeongdong to Anguk station||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|Subtotal for Day 4:||PHP 11,980.00||KRW 66,700.00|
|SubTotal from Day1 to Day4:||PHP 71,230.00||KRW 1,709,520.00|
|Time||Activity||Total Peso||Total Won||Notes|
|8:30AM||Early Checkout at Yoos Guesthouse||Left our things at the hostel luggage area|
|15 minutes walk to Bukchon Hanok Village||Bukchon Hanok Village|
|10:00 AM||Anguk to Myeongdong station||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|Exchange our peso to won near Exit 8||PHP 5,000.00||KRW 240,000.00||Where to exchange Philippine peso to Korean Won|
|Myeongdong to Jamsil subway||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00||Take the Subway to Jamsil Station Exit 4 on Line No.2 and No.8|
|11:00AM||Lotte World||PHP 2,800.00||KRW 56,000.00||Lotte World Adventure|
|Food budget at Lotte World||PHP 1,000.00||KRW 24,000.00|
|4:00PM||Jamsil to Anguk subway||PHP 120.00||KRW 2,700.00|
|Arrived at Anguk; picked up baggage at Yoos|
|5:00PM||Anguk to Incheon Airport||PHP 1,000.00||KRW 20,000.00||Yoos Family Guesthouse | How to get there from Myeongdong and to Airport|
|9:00 PM||Dinner and Travel back to Manila|
|Subtotal for Day 5:||PHP 10,160.00||KRW 243,840.00|
|Total Expense incl. airfare for 2:||PHP 81,390.00||KRW 1,953,360.00||*Assuming 1WON=24PHP|
Related posts about our 5days-4nights South Korea DIY travel:
- SOUTH KOREA: DIY Summary and Itinerary for 5Days/4Nights
- First time guide on applying for South Korea tourist visa for Pinoys
- 5 ways on getting a Cheap Plane ticket
- What to Wear on an Autumn-Winter trip in South Korea
- Winter Clothes and Where to Find Them | Ukay Ukay Guide in Guadalupe
- Where to exchange Philippine peso to Korean Won
- SEOUL DAY 1
- SEOUL DAY 2
- SEOUL DAY 3
- SEOUL DAY 4
- SEOUL DAY 5