TRAVELING TO SEOUL DURING AUTUMN SEASON – Month of October
Who would have thought I would be able to visit the land of K-pop, BB cream and K-drama? I am grateful for God has always been good to me.
Millennials are into Korean media from music, TV series, fashion and beauty products. We support Kdrama and sometimes imagine what it feels like to be in Korea and meet the “Oppas”.
In this blog I will share details when you travel to Seoul during Autumn season. As of 2023, the exchange rate for every 100 Korean Won = 4.20 pesos.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO SOUTH KOREA
THINGS TO PREPARE BEFORE YOU PLAN AN INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL IF YOU ARE COMING FROM THE PHILIPPINES
1.) Source of Travel Funds – Why is this important? Applying for a Visa in the Philippines is tedious and requires background checking. Before you plan of traveling to any countries, stable income is a must, either you get you get your funds from Employment or from Business. Sometimes it could also be from a Sponsor. In reality, Immigration officers at Philippine airports might ask you for additional documentation such as payslip, business permits, etc apart from the visa. Check the Korean visa requirements here: https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_3277/view.do?seq=684566&page=2
2.) Have Savings Account at the bank
Save up and create a “travel fund” for yourself. Though there is no official amount that you need to have to get a Visa. Some say Php 30,000 – Php 50,000 pesos should be consistently available within the last 6 months with banking activity at least. However, the ideal computation should be based on your itinerary. Consider the number of days you’re planning to travel in South Korea, the food, the accommodation, plane ticket and the activities you want to do. As a budget traveler, you must show in your budget should be Php 3,000 – Php5,000 per day or at least USD 50 – 100 multiply the number of travel days.
Seoul is a big city in South Korea and not really cheap. A decent meal would cost Php 350-Php500. Transportation for a week would cost around Php 2,000 (Train Subway fare is 1,200 KRW = Php 50 for every 10 kilometer). Entrance fees to some tourist attractions cost around Php 2,000. Souvenirs will depend on your budget. Essentially, the overall cost varies on the length of stay and the activities that you do.
3.) Get a credit card – Why we include this in this blog post? There are reasons why you should or should not get your own credit card. But when it comes to international travel, a credit card comes handy for shopping, lounge perks, airline promos, other emergencies. For example, Gold credit card holders of BPI and BDO will possibly get multiple entry for South Korea.
4.) Get a Passport – Of course, why even plan of going to South Korea and meet your Oppa if you still haven’t got your appointment with DFA for passport issuance? Passport serves as a valid ID and an important document to traveling. If you already have one, have it renewed before expiration. It must be valid at least 6 months before travel date. Getting a passport these days should be easy because DFA has satellite offices even inside the mall and you can even do it by yourself online. Click this link to know the steps how to book an appointment with DFA:
5.) Don’t go to South Korea yet. Have a travel history from out of the country.
Go to a Visa free country for Filipinos before you apply for a Korean Tourist Visa. For instance, you can travel to Hong Kong, Singapore or Malaysia. In this way you will build a travel history. Also, Immigration Officers may find someone who does not have any travel history a red flag especially that there are also working opportunities in a developer country like South Korea for Filipinos. However, you do not have to worry about this if you feel like you are confident that you can prove your intention to travel for the purpose of leisure and you can provide the necessary documents, then you should be just fine.
7.) Apply for a Korean Visa – In the past, applying for a Korean visa is actually free, now it has a charge of Php 900 effective August 14, 2023.
I suggest you plan ahead and apply for a Korean Tourist Visa at least 1-2 months before your intended flight. 3 days up to 1 week travel duration is usually ideal for first timers.
- Philippine Passport
- Passport Photo – For Korea Visa
- Fill-out Korea Visa Application Form
- Proof of Financial Support
- Original bank certificate – addressed to Korean Embassy
- Original bank statements or passbook from the last 3 months – make sure you have active bank account and you have enough money that can sustain your trip.
In reference to above, research your budget during the whole stay so you can prepare this amount or more in your bank.
- Original Certificate of Employment
- Photocopy of ITR – Form 2316
- Photocopy of your credit card and statement
- Additional proof – itinerary and hotel booking
- Flight details
8.) Contact an agency to process with the Korean Embassy.
You cannot DIY (Do-It-Yourself) on this one. Though personal appearance or interview is not required. Getting an affiliated agent to process the Visa approval is required by the Korean Embassy. Wait for the results in 1-2 weeks. The agency processing fee depends but it should be on the minimal around Php 1,000.
9.) Get travel insurance – Premiums normally cost less than Php 1,000 per trip. Better be insured than sorry.
10.) Finally Visa is approved. Book your flight and accommodation.
Book ahead and look for cheap flights to Incheon airport. Please check out below airfare prices idea. The average price is around Php 10,000 roundtrip plus Philippine Travel Tax Php 1,620. I use Skyscanner app in searching for the lowest airfare possible. If you are lucky you can get a promo seat sale of Php5,000 for a roundtrip ticket in advance. But if you fly to the nearest date, the roundtrip fare from the Philippines can go as high as Php 20,000-Php 30,000.
When your intended flight is on October to experience Autumn, wear a thick jacket or coat. The temperature could fluctuate between 16-21 degrees celsius. It’s pretty cold.
Update Fare Roundtrip Prices as of 2023 (for Autumn 2024):
There are budget accommodation options in Seoul. I use Booking.com to check on the properties as it has a filter feature that allows you to customize your search. Hostel prices may vary depending if it’s close to the centre and its facilities. The average is around 800 pesos per night.
11.) Money conversion: 1 Philippine Peso = 22 Korean Won
It’s expensive coming to Seoul because they are a developed country. Have your cash ready in Korean Won prior arrival in South Korea.
12.) Go out, explore and try authentic Korean food
When you’re in South Korea, embrace spicy foods. Try chicken and beer or perhaps Soju at night. In the streets sample beauty products like face masks are given for free. Myeongdong is a lively shopping area. It is usually filled with locals and tourists.
You can also go to Namdaemun Market to eat on local street food. It is the largest and most traditional market in Seoul.
N Seoul or Namsan Tower is a tourist attraction. Iconic in terms that I have seen this location in several Korean drama in the past. It provides 360 degrees view of the city from the top. To come to the tower you need to ride a cable car which cost 13,000 KRW per adult or you can just walk and take the stairs.
The love padlocks are popular to both Koreans and tourists from all over the world. Finding your love and if you have already found one, putting your names in the padlock at N Tower makes it more special.
Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with travel agency and I’m not an expert. You can always refer to the Korean Embassy for inquiries. Actual experiences may vary.
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