Althea's Adventures

Winter in South Korea: Php25,000 All-In Budget

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Korean Drama, K-Pop, and Korean BBQ are very popular in the Philippines. I love Korean BBQ!!! As for KDrama, I was only able to watch Full House, which I find super cute. But, I really want to visit Korea for their cherry blossoms during spring and snow during winter.

  • Spring –  March to May
  • Summer – June to August
  • Autumn – September to November
  • Winter – December to February

Fortunately, last July 2018, there was a Cebu Pacific Air‘s piso fare. We were able to book Manila-Incheon-Manila for PHP 2,900 round trip per person! The best part is, we booked it on a winter!!! I was so excited! To get tips on how to score a piso fare, click here.

Here’s our receipt for two via Cebu Pacific Air. Manila-Incheon and Incheon-Manila.MNL-INC jpg.jpgINC-MNL jpg.jpg

Visa Application:

We applied for our Korean visa last January 2019 through Reli Tours and Travel. We submitted our complete requirements and paid PHP 700. After 7 business days, we got our visa! You can’t apply for a for single entry or multiple entry unlike with Japan visa, you’ll only know once you get your visa. The Korean Embassy granted me a multiple entry visa, 5 years. I think the reason I was given a multiple entry visa was because I have traveled to three OECD member countries such as Japan, Australia and USA.

Here are the requirements for the Korean tourist visa application with no guarantor:

  • Philippine Passport – valid not less than 6 months
  • Photocopy of Passport bio page
  • Photocopy of all visa over the past 5 years
  • Original PSA Birth Certificate
  • Original PSA Marriage Certificate – if applicant is married
  • Original Bank Certificate – Embassy of Korea usually ask for Php 10,000 per day. Example – if you’ll be traveling for 5 days, you need to have at least Php 50,000 account balance in your bank certificate
  • Income Tax Return – Form 2316
  • Certificate of Employment
  • Korean visa sized photo with white background
  • Visa Application Form – can be downloaded at Reli Tours and Travel website

Reli Tours and Travel have branches at SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Southmall, Hotel Dusit Thani Makati, and Lucky Chinatown. To contact them, just click the link and it lead you to their website.

What To Bring During Winter:

  • Since it’s winter, you have to bring jackets, coats and thermal wear
  • I bought heat tech top and leggings at Uniqlo. It helps a lot so you won’t freeze, especially on a negative degree temperature
  • Gloves, beanie, earmuffs, shawl
  • Winter face mask
  • Lip balm to avoid chapped lips
  • Moisturizer and lotion to avoid dry skin

Transportation:

It’s easy to go around Seoul, we just bought T-Money from the airport. T-money is a rechargeable series of smart cards used for paying transportation fares in and around Seoul and other areas of South Korea. T-money can also be used in lieu of cash or credit cards in some convenience stores and other businesses. We loaded our card with 30,000 KRW (PHP 1,500) each for our 5 days stay.

For directions, I used Google Maps and the Seoul Metropolitan Subway app.

Our 5 Days and 4 Nights Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival at Seoul

Our flight schedule was 5:10 PM. Travel time from Manila to Incheon is 3 hours and 45 mins. Since it’s a late arrival, I didn’t plan anything at night.

Welcome to Seoul!

Prior to going to Korea, I already bought a SIM card through Klook. All we had to do was go to Gate 6-7 to get it. They are open 24 hours.

Since we arrived late, the subway was already closed. The airport guard told us to take the bus, which is just outside the airport. Someone will assist you, just tell him where your hotel is and he will tell you what bus to take. One way ticket to Seoul station was 9,000 KRW or Php 450, more expensive than taking the subway.

And after an hour, we made it to our hotel! So nice that the train station is just 3 minutes away from our hotel. We arrived around 3:00 AM already, we saw a note and keys of our room in the reception area.

We booked our accommodation, K-Pop Guesthouse, through Agoda. We paid PHP 8,500 for 5 days and 4 nights. You can find cheaper options in Agoda (PHP 6,000 for 5D4N) depending on the season. It was winter and peak season that’s why it’s more expensive. We’re budget travelers so we’re happy with this little room. It has air-condition, TV,  slippers, and towels.

Breakfast is free – coffee, bread, peanut butter, strawberry and apple jam from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM. You can cook and eat in the pantry area even during lunch and dinner. We saw some tourists buy groceries at the Lotte Mart and cook their meals here.

Day 2: Nami Island & Vivaldi  Park Ski World

We slept around 3:30 AM and set my alarm at 6:00 AM so we can prepare. We were still so sleepy, but we booked a tour and we can’t miss it! We left around 7:00 AM, fortunately the meeting place is just 2 stops away from our guesthouse.

Okay, I didn’t finish the Goblin series, but I love Gong Yoo! So I had to…

And my very supportive boyfriend told me to pose like this… (hiyang hiya ako sa mga dumadaan pero sabi nya go lang daw hahaha!)

I booked our Nami Island & Vivaldi  Park Ski Resort tour via Klook. Inclusive of: Ski equipment (skis, ski boots, clothes, goggles, gloves), 1 hour basic ski lesson (1 instructor for each group of 15 people), Nami Island tickets, English/Chinese speaking staff and round trip transportation. It was the KTOURSTORY company that assisted us with our tours. Nami Island was about 1 1/2 hours from Myeongdong.

Nami Island

Nami Island is a tiny half-moon shaped island located in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, South Korea. Tourism boomed because of the KDrama series, Winter Sonata.

Group photo for our Nami Island tour!

5 minute ferry to Nami Island

It was -8 celcius brrrr!

I’ve been waiting to have a photo here since I booked our tickets! One of my favorites!

Our tour guide said this is one of the tourist spots because of the KDrama. I’m really not sure, but I took photos because the background is nice.

I love the trees all over the island

Once upon a time, someone taught me how to make stone stacks.

There are fireplaces where you can get some heat, it helped a lot because we were freezing!

So, this is the Winter Sonata place. Kaeser had a lot to tell about this KDrama series and it’s all in the vlog!

The river turned into ice, I was in awe!

Vivaldi Park Ski World

Vivaldi  Park Ski World has been noted for being the most visited Ski resort in Korea for seven consecutive years. It has its state-of-the art facilities and slopes suitable for all levels. Only 45 minutes from Seoul, it is the closest ski resort from a Seoul and the largest Ski area in Seoul metropolitan region.

I must say that the struggle is real when putting everything together. From putting on your ski clothes, your ski shoes and bringing along these ski equipments. For a short woman like me, I was already tired before the actual ski. LOL!

They divided the group to the English and Chinese instructors. And we were given these tickets to we can get into the ski area.

Once we got it, we had our ski lessons for about 30-45 mins. This was our group.

I was attentively listening, can you tell?

But, he wants a selfie. Okay, fine!

Practice before our guide leaves us on our own

And, off we go!!!

It was tiring but so much fun! We really enjoyed every moment of it!

I’m not missing a selfie in the ski park

I can’t wait to go back with my boys! Save. Save. Save.

There are snacks in the ski park as well, so you can rest and eat when tired

We left the ski park at 5:00 PM and arrived Myeongdong around 6:30 PM. I highly recommend skiing or snowboarding during winter. For me, I’ll never know when I can go back so we really made the most out of it!

Myeongdong

Myeongdong is a shopping area packed with international fashion brands, luxury department stores and homegrown cosmetics shops. Street food is very popular here as well. Since that’s our last stop, we strolled for a bit before going home.

We tried the strawberry dessert in the street and it was yummy! It’s 3000 KRW or Php 150.

There’s a 7-11 near our guesthouse and we bought our dinner there. Look at the serving per meal, all these for 10,000 KRW or Php 500.

Watch the vlog here:

Day 3: Everland

It was February 14 and I planned to spend Valentine’s Day at Everland (although we don’t really celebrate this). Everland opens at 10:00 AM and it’s 2 hours away from Seoul, so we made sure to leave our guesthouse early.

My very own Gong Yoo❤️

The last train to Everland, the Everlane. How cute is this?

Everland is South Korea’s largest theme park. Located at the Everland Resort in Yongin, a city in Gyeonggi-do, it receives 7.3 million visitors annually and was ranked sixteenth in the world for amusement park attendance in 2014. I also bought our tickets via Klook. We didn’t have to fall in line and went straight to the entrance.

I felt like a princess on a carriage

First stop, this crazy ride – T Express. It’s a wooden roller coaster and part of the 10 best roller coasters in the world. Kaeser won’t miss it even if I had to wait for an hour for.

Just a few steps from the T Express is the Snow Buster.

This is the ride that I won’t miss! How I love the snow even if I can’t feel anything anymore!

My favorite part at Everland is the Safari World. When you look at it from the outside, you won’t believe that there’s a whole different world inside. I promise, it’s AMAZING!!! We had to ride a mini bus to tour around.

Bengal Tigers

Lions

Hyenas

White Tigers

Brown Bears!!! I was shocked! There’s a lot of them!

Did I mention that I love animals? Yes! Every country I go to, I make sure to visit a zoo. Here’s a closer look at some tigers, this is already outside of the Safari World.

Next stop, Panda World!

Before seeing the pandas, little butterflies will welcome you! They’re the white flying things in the photos, better view is in the vlog.

Here goes the pandas, there’s two of them

Kaeser loves extreme rides, and all I did was wait for him in the cold. Sometimes, I wait in the comfort room because it’s warmer LOL!

Some rides are closed during winter. Nevertheless, we enjoyed strolling around. Look at these Instagrammable spots.

Just before leaving, we had to take a photo with their Christmas tree.

It was a fun day! Watch more on the vlog.

Hongdae

Hongdae is a region in Seoul, South Korea near Hongik University. It is known for its urban arts and indie music culture, clubs and entertainments. Somewhat like Myeongdong, it’s also a shopping area but was told it’s cheaper. You may also enjoy the street food and performance on weekends.

On weekends, you’ll see random performers on the streets. They sing, dance and do magic as well. If you enjoyed it, you may leave tips.

More shopping area

Restaurants everywhere

Ooops, I had to! This is a strawberry nutella waffle, costs 4,800 KRW or PHP 240. So good!!!

Seorae Korean Charcoal BBQ

Seorae is an authentic Korean BBQ restaurant near our guest house. We got curious, so we had our dinner there. We ordered pork belly and octopus, we loved their sauce. Although it’s not cheap because you order per grams, it costs 16,000 KRW or PHP 800 for 400 grams pork belly. This amount doesn’t include the rice, only the sauce and some side dishes. I must say, it’s worth trying.

Everland vlog:

Day 4: Exploring Seoul

We didn’t have to wake up early that day since it’s a free day. I planned an itinerary and we’re not on a tour so no rush on getting up. BUT! When I was about to take a shower and saw that it was snowing from the window, I hurried and told Kaeser we need to go out ASAP! You’ll see my reaction with the snow on the vlog.

It’s a different feeling when you experience snowfall than just seeing snow on the floor. I was ecstatic!

It doesn’t matter if it was already 10AM and we haven’t had breakfast. I want to feel the snow falling as we don’t have snow in the Philippines. Our weather is just rainy season and summer.

Kaeser was happy too!

We had breakfast at Dunkin Donuts at the Seoul Station before our busy day.

Bukchon Hanok Village

The Bukchon Hanok Village is a Korean traditional village in Seoul with a long history located on the top of a hill between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine. The traditional village is composed of lots of alleys, hanok and is preserved to show a 600-year-old urban environment.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395, it is located in northern Seoul, South Korea.

Before we entered the palace, I rented a Hanbok. A Hanbok or Joseon-ot is a traditional Korean dress for semi-formal or formal attire during traditional occasions such as festivals, celebrations, and ceremonies.

I made the most of out the Hanbok, I felt like a princess in a palace!

Good thing, Kaeser had his moment too! LOL.

Staring at a snowy lake

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, also called the DDP, is a major urban development landmark in Seoul, South Korea designed by Zaha Hadid and Samoo, with a distinctive neofuturistic design characterized by the powerful, curving forms of elongated structures. It looks better from above and in person.

Lotte Fitin – Bowling

While waiting for the Led Rose Garden to light up, we came across the entertainment and play area at Lotte Fitin. It looked too inviting so we decided to play bowling!

Bowling!!

Strike!!! Video is on the vlog!

DDP Led Rose Garden

The DDP LED Rose Garden is a permanent exhibition of roses that light up automatically as the sun sets. The exhibition is located next to the Yigansumun Exhibition Hall at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). There’s a total of 25,550 LED roses

Meat-ing

An all you can eat Korean BBQ buffet located at Hongdae. Since I love samgyeopsal, I really researched for the best and cheapest Korean BBQ in Seoul and I found this online. It didn’t disappoint! I’m only missing the cheese, but everything was good!

Check out as we explore Seoul on a snowing day:

Day 5:  N Seoul Tower & Souvenir Shopping

Haneul Park

When I saw Anne Curtis and Erwan’s prenup photos in Seoul, I researched and I told myself I need to go there! And so we did!

Picturesque landscape featuring paths through tall, lush grass to a hilltop with sweeping vistas.

Starfield Library

Starfield Library is located in the center of COEX Mall. It is an open public library where anyone can freely come to sit down, take a break, and immerse themselves in books. If you’re a book lover, you can’t miss this place!

Let me just tell you that to have a photo ALONE in the stairs is a struggle. It took about 20 or more tries. I wish we caught it on video, but Kaeser was busy taking the perfect shot.

N Seoul Tower

The N Seoul Tower is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul, South Korea. I forced Kaeser to climb 1.6 kilometers of steps to reach the N Seoul Tower! Oh, it was so much fun (not really LOL).

We went before sunset, so the view was amazing!

The main attraction, I would say, are the love locks. They are really cute, I even read some notes on it. You can bring your own or buy the lock with key from there. A heart lock with key costs 10,000 KRW of PHP 500.

Such a pretty sight!

Myeongdong

And because WE LOVE the street food in Korea, we went back at Myeongdong to taste some more!

Lotte Mart at Seoul Station

Just before heading to the airport, we decided to make this our last stop. We went to the Lotte Mart at Seoul Station to buy goodies since it’s very near our guesthouse. We bought mostly chocolates, but you can buy skin care, perfumes, noodles, food, kitchenware and a lot more.

Also, Lotte Mart is tax free so you can refund the tax easily right after you shop.

Our flight going back to Manila was 2:55 AM. We went back to the guesthouse to fix our luggage and change clothes. We left the guesthouse at 10:00 PM since the last train to Incheon Airport is 11:00 PM.

Peace out, Seoul! Til I see you again!

Last day in Seoul was extra fun! Watch below.

 

Korean Food

To be very honest, we spent A LOT with food, especially with Korean BBQ/Samgyeopsal. Korean food is delicious, however, it’s quite expensive. Here are their meal prices for your reference:

  • 7-Eleven – Php 150-200 for a full set meal
  • Korean Cup Noodles – Php 45 and up
  • Regular restaurant – Php 350 and up
  • Korean BBQ/Samgyupsal – Php 700 and up
  • Street food – usually Php 200 and up per order (BBQ on stick, grilled octopus, hotdog, gimbap, etc)
  • Lobster with cheese at Myeongdong street – Php 750 per order

Shopping in Seoul

  • Myeongdong
  • Hongdae Shopping Area
  • Lotte Mart at Seoul Station
  • Dongdaemun
  • Express Bus Terminal Station (Gangnam Goto Mall)
  • Namdaemun Market
  • Insadong
  • Ewha Womans University Shopping Street

Our Detailed Itinerary and Expenses: KRW 1 =  PHP 0.047

This was our actual expenses. Please note that I did not include the souvenir shopping here as it depends on how you want to spend for those. Expenses will be different if you go during spring, summer, or autumn. Korean expenses jpg2.jpg

This was the itinerary that I planned for our 5-day winter trip.Korea itinerary jpg.jpg

I hope this blog helps! Remember that this is a Do-It-Yourself budget travel and may not fit for everyone. It’s always up to you if you want to save, or eat and shop more. You can also opt for convenience and book a package through a travel agency like A&K Travel and Tours. Happy travels! 🙂

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