My South Korea Itinerary Under PhP 20,000

South Korea is one of the most sought after destinations for Filipino tourists because of the growing popularity of K-drama in the country. Although I’m not a die-hard fan of the genre (don’t get me wrong, I do watch here and then to mend a broken heart… kidding!), I found the place very romantic, especially during the winter season.

Maybe you have considered opting South Korea out in the meantime because you’ve already visited Japan. Yes, the two countries share a number of similarities; however, they are still very much distinct. That’s why I’d recommend visiting the land of kimchi, and all things spicy, next. Check out my DIY travel diary.

I won’t be taking note of the meal expense for this trip just because it may vary for everyone.

Trip Dates: December 31, 2015 to January 5, 2016

Airline: Air Asia

Visa: South Korean visa has no fee for Filipinos traveling 59 days or less. However, you do have to process them yourself at the Embassy located in Upper Mckinley Road, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Visa requirements can be found here.

AdvenShar Tips:

  1. Prepare all your documents, and arrange accordingly. Before my trip, I was unemployed and I didn’t know I had to present my birth certificate to prove that I was going with my parents (to which we forgot and had to go back home!).
  2. Come in early to line-up, and avoid exceeding their cut-off time before 11:00 am.
  3. Processing and releasing of visa are faster if you’ve traveled to any of the OECD member countries within 5 years (US, UK, Japan, etc.), had previous trips to South Korea.

Pre-Departure Expenses

  • Air Asia Flight – PhP 10,684
  • Airbnb Lodging (Total for 5 Nights) – PhP 2,756.33/per person
  • Philippine Travel Tax – PhP 1,620
  • TOTAL (per person) – PhP 15,060.33

Read Also: A First-Timer’s Guide to Airbnb (Plus a Discount For Your First Booking!)

AdvenShar Tip: Watch out for discount coupons here!

Day 1: Arrival & New Year Celebration

seoul times square

Air Asia flights to South Korea will take you there by lunch (with no delay, of course). After arriving via bus and settling down at our Airbnb lodging, we took the train to Seoul Times Square to celebrate the New Year. Much to our surprise, the only celebration they had was a ticket requiring concert that featured popular Korean artists whom I didn’t know! Nonetheless, it was still a time of family bonding and reflecting on God’s goodness throughout the year.

Access: Arrive at Mullae Station, and walk a few kilometers towards Times Square Mall.

What We Spent On

  • Bus to Sillim Station – KRW 9,000
  • T-Money Load – KRW 9,000
  • TOTAL (per person) – KRW 18,000 (~PhP 737)

Day 2: Nami Island

Nami Island is without a doubt one of the best spots I’ve been to on this trip just because I have a soft spot for parks. To give a brief background, the island is shaped like a half-moon with beautifully lined trees that give you a picturesque backdrop throughout the year. Restaurants, food stalls, cafes, museums, and lots of activities are readily available for your convenience too.

Heard of the island before? Perhaps a little-known drama called Winter Sonata might have been the cause.

Access: Yongsan Station, take ITX-Cheongchun train to Gapyeong Station. From there, ride Gapyeong Tour Bus and arrive at Nami Island Station.

What We Spent On

  • T-Money Load – KRW 10,000
  • ITX to Gapyeong Station – KRW 4,100
  • Bus to Nami Island – KRW 6,000
  • Nami Island Ferry (Roundtrip) + Entrance Fee – KRW 8,000
  • Bike Rental – KRW 3,000 (shared; KRW 6,000 for one twin bike)
  • TOTAL (per person) – KRW 31,100 (~PhP 1,273)

Day 3: Gyeongbokgung Palace & Bukchon Hanok Village

gyeongbokgung palace

Gyeongbokung Palace is the largest, not to mention the most beautiful, among the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul. It served as the main palace and home to the Joseon dynasty kings. While much of the buildings have been destroyed by a fire, several of them were thankfully restored.

One of the best things about this part of the trip was getting to meet their local student volunteers who will happily give you a tour of the palace at no cost. Here, you can also experience the changing of the guards every now and then, plus a fair share of historical Korea by dressing up like them too.

After a wonderful morning, we visited Bukchon Hanok Village that’s only a station away. The famous tourist spot of traditional Korean homes is actually a residential area.

bukchon hanok village

Access to Gyeongbokgung Palace: Arrive at Gyeongbokgung Station (towards the exit, you will find the local student volunteers).

Access to Bukchon Hanok Village: Arrive at Anguk Station.

What We Spent On

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace Entrance Fee – KRW 3,000
  • TOTAL (per person) – KRW 3,000 (~PhP 123)

Day 4: Trick Eye Museum, Every Nation Seoul, and Namsan Tower

Sunday fell on the fourth day of our trip. And it was the perfect opportunity for us to visit the Every Nation church center in the country. Since the service was not until 1:00 pm, we had enough time to squeeze in a tourist activity in the morning.

The Trick-Eye Museum is an art gallery with 2D paintings that give you a 3D illusion. It’s a great activity to enjoy as a family, and you’ll never know the silliness it can bring out to a person once you actually try it out. The family-friendly exhibit is located in Hongdae area, with additional exhibits such as the Ice Museum and a Love Museum for the adults. After a fun time at the museum, and because Hongdae has a lot of fast food chains and restaurants, we stayed for a quick lunch before heading to church. To get to Every Nation, we took a bus and dropped off at Chungjeongno Station. You can check out more details on how to get there at the church’s official website.

That morning was my first time attending an international Every Nation service. It’s such a great feeling to meet an extension of your spiritual family and seeing them singing worship in a different language but to the same God is truly refreshing.

Later that day, we visited the famous Namsan or N Seoul Tower is a tall tower that could be synonymous to the world’s most iconic landmarks such as the Big Ben or the Statue of Liberty. It sits on an uphill location where it is divided into 3 sections: the tower itself, the Seoul Tower Plaza, and the lower section with shops, restaurants, and other facilities. It’s definitely a must-see, especially if you watch a lot of K-drama where you’ll easily recognize and understand why a lot of people come here.

Access to Trick-Eye Museum: Arrive at Hongik Station, and follow the map.

Access to Every Nation Seoul from Trick-Eye: Take 602 Bus towards City Hall, and arrive at Chungjeongno Station.

Access to Namsan Tower from Every Nation: Arrive at Chungmuro Station, and look for Green Bus 2 or 5 that leads directly up to the tower.

You can purchase Observatory tickets from Namsan Tower at Klook’s website. There’s even a combo offer for the observatory, Hello Kitty Island, and N burgers!

What We Spent On

  • Trick-Eye Museum + Ice Museum (20% Off) – KRW 12,000
  • T-Money Load – KRW 5,500
  • TOTAL (per person) – KRW 17,500 (~PhP 716)

Day 5: Everland Theme Park

Everland is South Korea’s largest amusement park that is more thrilling and adult-friendly than Lotte World. Fortunately, in contrast to Universal Studios in Japan, my experience here dealt with lesser people that resulted to less queuing time. Don’t get me wrong, this is still one of the most popular parks in the country; however, aligning your visit on a weekday (especially during the winter) gives you plenty of advantage (imagine less than 30 minutes queue – sounds like heaven!) than world-famous parks like USJ or Disneyland.

Access: From Giheung Station, take the Yongin Ever Line, and arrive at Jeondae Everland Station (the last stop). For other modes of transportation, visit this page.

Hassle-free purchases: Klook Everland ticket + Shuttle Bus Package

What We Spent On

  • T-Money Load – KRW 7,000
  • Everland (30% Off) – KRW 34,000
  • TOTAL (per person) -KRW 41,000 (~PhP 1,678)

Day 6: Rest and Travel Home

And finally, after a 6 fruitful day trip, it’s time to head home to Manila from Incheon International Airport.

What We Spent On

  • Bus to Sillim Station – KRW 9,000 (~PhP 368)

Total: ~ PhP 20,000

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