Years ago, I honestly thought you will have to be in your thirties with an ₱80k salary to be able to go to places like South Korea or Japan. Looking back, I hate how ignorant I was. Traveling outside the country can be very intimidating especially when it is your first time. You see those Nami Island pictures of your friends and you immediately associate those thick colorful foliage with some huge amount of money. For a stunning picture like that, it must cost a fortune! you think. But later in here, you will find out that you will only need to save ₱15k to set foot in Seoul, Busan, Everland , Nami and even Oedo Island!
To those who do not know, this is my first post and let it be known that I made this blog for dreamers like me. I can only hope that through Sunny Someday, I can drive you to get out of your comfort zones and make you not live the same life over and over again. I have laid out below a detailed guide to your South Korea trip. This is especially helpful for those first time out-of the-country travelers. My goal here is that you don’t make the same travel mistakes as I did and that you get the cheapest deals when you travel.
THINGS TO DO AND BRING IN SOUTH KOREA
Before the trip
- If you wish to follow the itinerary below, book an early morning flight to Incheon and a late night return flight from Busan. You can save a thousand pesos instead of going back to Seoul to catch your flight after you tour Oedo, Geoge and Busan. South Korea trip is a 4-hour flight plus 1-hour time difference. So if you take a 4AM (PH time) flight from NAIA, you will arrive in South Korea at 9AM. Also, patiently wait for Cebu Pacific‘s piso fare. You can get a roundtrip ticket for as low as ₱2,500 (included in the expenses below).
- Apply for VISA a month before your scheduled trip. Read VISA application guide here.
- Buy Everland Ticket at klook.com and bring printout of electronic ticket. I’ve been using this app ever since my first travel. You can save by at least ₱1,000 per Everland ticket compared to buying it in their website or upon arrival in Everland. Also, when you install the klook app in your phone, you can save additional ₱60. If you’re traveling with friends, ask them to install the app if they want to save ₱60. If only I had six phones, I could have saved ₱360 when I bought mine and my friends’ tickets. I don’t joke about savings btw.
- Book your Hostel or Guesthouse via booking.com. My friends and I stayed at Leo Guesthouse. You need not pay ahead. You will need a credit card though and if you don’t have one (and if we are friends), just contact me and you can use mine. I could really use some GetGo points. Haha.
- Buy dollars a day before your South Korea trip. This means convert your ₱10,000 to dollars and make sure you have at least ₱2,500 left in your wallet for the taxi fare to and from the airport and the travel tax of ₱1,620 to be paid in the airport. For convenience, you may buy Korean Won directly instead of dollars like what my friends did. But if you want to save at least ₱800, buy dollars first (I bought mine at BPI) and convert it to Korean Won upon arrival in SK airport. Dollar conversion savings aren’t true all the time, though. It could be that I was just lucky (you have no idea how much I hate this word) at that time.
- Buy universal/travel adapter for your phones and camera or bring powerbanks. You can’t use your chargers in SK because their outlets have two round holes. You can buy travel adapter in ACE Hardware, OMNI brand is only ₱200+.
- Download the app SUBWAY KOREA. You’ll need this to navigate train stations in SK. You can use this even without wi-fi while you’re on the train. Before going to Korea, familiarize your self with the subways. Don’t get overwhelmed by the names of the train stations. Nobody expects you to memorize it. Familiarize the colors, though. It’s very helpful.
- Pack lightly so that you won’t have to add baggage of ₱450. My baggage weighed only almost 5 kilos. I only brought dresses instead of jeans. If you’re traveling via CebPac, this means you have 2kilos left for pasalubongs when you go back to PH.
- Exchange your money (dollars) into Korean Won inside the airport. Money changers are available 24/7.
- Buy T-Money Card and load the card ₩50,000 at any of the convenience stores (7-eleven, Mini Stop, etc.) inside the airport. This is a transportation card that you will use on subways and public buses and even buying water or food in 7-eleven. Check the balance of your card time to time and on your last day in Korea, you may have your remaining balance refunded at the same store where you bought the card or at any convenience store inside the airport.
- Buy 1 Liter of water and use the bottle for refill at the guesthouse in the next mornings before your trip.
- Breakfast at the guesthouse includes unlimited bread with jam and coffee. Note that you will have to toast your own bread and make your own coffee downstairs. If I were you, since it’s unlimited, I’d pack my own sandwich to get through the day. Besides, I did not include in the expenses below the daily snacks. You won’t have time for snacks anyway. 🙂
ITINERARY AND EXPENSES
Bukchon Hanok Village
Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden
Entrance Fee: ₩8,000
Myeongdong Shopping Street
N Seoul Tower
Cable Car: ₩8,500
Cheonggyecheon Stream and Plaza
Shuttle bus fare: ₩5,000
Entrance Fee: ₩8,000
Bike fee: ₩3,000
Entrance Fee: ₩8,000
The Garden of Morning Calm
Entrance Fee: ₩8,000
Entrance Fee: ₱1,420 via klook.com
Bus to Geoge Island: ₩27,200
Ferry Boat Fare to Oedo Island: ₩17,000
Entrance Fee: ₩11,000
If you take a super late night flight in going back to PH, you can still stroll Busan for 3 hours before heading to the airport. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures in Busan as we opted to stroll in Geoge island after Oedo, Windy Hill and Hakdong Beach. We also stayed in Geoge for one night, thanks to ate Therese Kim and her family below. 🙂
Total expenses: ₱14,948 (Conversion rate: 1 Korean Won = ₱0.04)
- ₱2,500 budget for airfare
- ₱1,620 travel tax
- ₱5,568 Day 1 – 4 total expenses above
- ₱1,620/₩40,500 for 3 nights guesthouse accommodation
- ₱2,000/₩50,000 T-Money card load
- ₱1,600 for food at ₩5000 budget/meal
- ₱40 for 1 liter of water
Note that included in the expenses above is only a three-night accommodation at Leo Guesthouse. This is assuming you can take the earliest flight from PH to Incheon. The hotel budget above is also based on a weekday rate. The Friday to Sunday night rate is higher by ₱400 per night. If you would like to stay longer than 4 days in Seoul, it will only cost you at least ₱1,100 daily for the guesthouse, food and train and of course, one vacation leave credit or your one day salary.
Also, a decent meal in South Korea normally costs ₩5000 to ₩8000. But every morning before your tour, esp. in Nami and Everland, buy lunch pack meal at 7-eleven, it only costs ₩3500.