In college, I was addicted to KPop. Yes, I’m not ashamed to say that. Haha! In 2015, One of my closest friends invited me to join her 2016 birthday celebration in Seoul. Who was I to decline to that kind of invitation, right? We had 10 months to prepare. We applied for our Korean Visa just 2 weeks before the trip (Hope this helps) and luckily we were approved! I promised to spend not more than Php20,000 for this trip. I heard from friends who had been to Seoul that it is not that expensive there. I was wrong. I had to sacrifice some things and skip meals. Don’t worry, I have managed to survive and I didn’t feel hungry at most times (kinda used to taking late lunch).
Fellow Filipinos, here are some things to expect in South Korea:
- High-speed Internet connection.
- A decent meal is worth Php300-500. That’s about Krw8,000.
- Some can speak and understand English. So do not worry about language barrier.
- They are tall – Ok, most of them.
- Street food and convenience store food can save lives.
Let’s talk about the basics first:
- We stayed in 24 Guesthouse Myeongdong. We booked a double bed with private toilet thru Booking.com. We paid Php2,500/night. This is a good location because our hostel is very near Myeongdong shopping area, the tour pick-up points, NSeoul tower cable car station and the bus stop from and to Incheon Airport.
- We also pre-booked our 2-day activity on FunKorea.com. I highly recommend this. We walked more than 12 hours a day so you’d probably also like to rest en route back to the hotel. 1st day includes Nami Island, Petite France & Garden of the Morning Calm. Day 2 is Everland.
- Buy T-Money card. This will be very helpful if you’re going to use the subway/ buses and it is available in almost any convenience stores. I loaded KRW40,000 (Php1,700).
- Download Seoul Subway Map App so you can easily navigate thru the winding subway stations in Seoul. Trust me, the subway will be very helpful in getting you to those places you want especially if you’re on a tight budget.
To Seoul – I got my RT fares (Manila to Incheon) from Cebu Pacific for Php4,000. This is when they held the promo in December 2015. I heard from a fellow traveler that Cebu Pac always has 3pm flights to Seoul. AirAsia has 7am available flights to Seoul.
To Myeongdong, Seoul – We arrived in Incheon around 9:00 am. We headed to the bus terminal counter and paid KRW15,000 (Php635). We were lucky that we got on the last trip at 10:00 pm. The last bus stop is Myeongdong so don’t worry getting lost.24 Guesthouse is very near the bus stop. You just have to cross the road and walk for 5-8 minutes.
To Gyeongbokgung Palace – Ride the subway to Gyeongbokgung station and head to Exit 5.
To Lotte Mart – Via subway, go down at Seoul station then head to Exit 1.
To Ihwa Mural Village – Via subway, go down at Hyehwa Station and take Exit 2. From the station, you have to walk around 20-30 minutes up the hill. It’s going to be an uphill battle!
Day 0 – DINNER/ REST.
8:00 am to 9:00 am – Prepare. Have a heavy breakfast
9:00 am to 9:30 am – Take the subway to Gyeongbokgung Palace
9:30 am to 10:15 am – Take photos and watch changing of the guards at the main entrance
10:15 am to 3:00 pm – Pay for the entrance fee. Tour the palaces. Take heaps of pictures. There are 4 palaces that you can explore. You can just walk going to the other 3 from Gyeongbokgung.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm – Late LUNCH
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Enjoy Bokchon Hanuk Village. Rent the traditional Hanbok.
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm – Go back to Myeongdong.
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Walk around Myeondong street/ Shop/ DINNER/ Rest
8:00 am – Pick-up time from Myeongdong to Naminara. Don’t be late!
8:10 am to 6:00 pm – Whole day activity. Nami Island, Petite France & Garden of the Morning Calm (Make sure to request Garden of the Morning Calm after Nami Island)
7:30 pm – Head to NSeoul tower cable car
8:30 am – Pick-up time from Myeongdong to Everland.
8:45 am to 5:40 pm – Travel time to Everland. You may enjoy the park for 7 hours. 6:00 pm is the last public bus to Myeongdong so better get your silly ass over there on time.
7:30 pm to 8:00 pm – Travel time from Myeongdong to Cheonggyecheon Stream via subway
8:00 pm to 9:40 pm – Walk along the stream. Look for Youth Avenue. Drink, eat and chill.
10:00 pm – Last train to Myeongdong is at 10:00 pm so better be on time!
Day 4 – is actually our free day. We went to Lotte Mart where we saw clothes on sale. We bought pasalubong and headed to Ihwa Mural Village to take some more pictures.
- Php3,000 – Hotel share
- Php5,300 – 2 day activity via FuntasticKorea.com
- Php1,620 – Travel tax
- Php4,500 – RT tickets Manila to Incheon
- Krw15,000 | Php632 – Bus from Incheon International Airport to Myeongdong
- Krw1,000 | Php42 – Bottled water
- Krw1,500 | Php63 – Egg & rice for lunch
- Krw2,500 | Php105 – Sandwich from convenience store
- Krw1,500 | Php63 – Noodles from convenience store
- Krw40,000 | Php1,670 – Palace entrance fee
- Krw20,000 | Php840 – T-Money load
Day 2 to 4
- Krw870 | Php36 – Bottled water (I swore to refill it)
- Krw15000 | Php640 – NSeoul Tower cable car fee
- Krw25,000 | Php1,050- Souvenir
- Krw2,500 | Php105 – Decent meal sharing
- Krw8,000 | Php335 – Other food expenses
Total of Php20,053 – Including RT airfare, activities and accommodation. If it wasn’t for the overflowing bread and strawberry jam that the guesthouse provided I would be dead. Haha! I also packed sandwiches so I can take it with me and eat it during lunch. I didn’t eat dinner on our first night so I could save. I had always ate heavy during breakfast so i’ll be fully fueled for the day during the trip. Remember to take heaps of photos! So many picturesque locations that were shown on K-Dramas. Enjoy!