South Korea: A Glance of a First World Country

Having (only) visited third world Asian countries, it's very obvious to see that South Korea is a more advanced, more systematized, and a more developed country. Honestly, I secretly wished we could also have these in the Philippines. Maybe in time. ^_^

Anyway, here's a prelude of my 1st glance of South Korea. Please bear in mind that this itinerary is not a jam-packed one. It's not the usual amazing race kind of trip. I planned this South Korea itinerary to be a petix and relaxing one. ♥
○ Visa is required to visit South Korea. Application is easy and visa processing is free!

○  Based on the internet forums that I've read, it's sometimes better to exchange Peso to Won here in Pinas. This is the first time I didn't exchange my Peso to US Dollar. Thanks to Sanry's (Glorietta branch) for giving us a good Peso to Won exchange rate. Check first to compare if the exchange rate in money changers are good enough.

1 won = 0.038 pesos
i exchanged P25,000 to ₩657,894. good enough, considering we wont bother ourselves to exchange currencies upon arriving in Seoul

○ Since I bought this Manila-Incheon-Manila tickets on a promo (P3,500 including baggage allowance and travel insurance), and a one-way flight will take around 4 hours, I realized I needed a leg room for convenience. I purchased a seat on the first row. My 1F seat only costs P100. It's 1A, 1B, and 1C seats which costs P200 each.

spacious and convenient 1F window seat for only P100

○ Incheon airport is so huge and fabulous, but this toilet seat amazed me the most. A plastic is placed to cover the toilet seat. You just need to press the red button and the used plastic will be replaced with a new one. Fantastic! (slow claps)

revolving toilet seat cover - super like! ♥

○ Korea's train system is very systematized but Im happy I chose to ride the Airport Limousine Bus as I stepped out off the airport. Yes it's not cheap compared to taking the train going to Seoul but just so you know it's such a hassle to transfer train lines, walk for a kilometer, and carry all your luggage from level3 subway up to the ground floor - without the use of elevator. Not all stations have elevators, and most of the time these are only for old people and pregnant women.

very systematized (and convenient) bus transportation from the airport to the main city
Incheon to Myeongdong = ₩10,000 (P375)

○ As I mentioned above, taking the train is a lot cheaper and faster. Dont forget to download this Jihachul application on your mobile phones. I cant emphasize enough how helpful this is.

Jihachul application featuring Korea's subway route

○ Moving on, the 2nd amazing thing I noticed as I reached Seoul is their taxicab. Hyundai's Sonata, seriously?! Flat rate is ₩2,400 (P90).

oh my, the ever sexy looking Hyundai Sonata is used as a taxicab? whoa!
and for the record, I've not seen a single Honda car in my entire trip. #kalaban

○ On our first night, we chose to stay in a guesthouse near Myeongdong shopping area. A good choice of location specially for those who love to shop. It's also very near the train station, so perfect!

twin room at New Myeongdong Guesthouse = P2,500
with ensuite bathroom, hair dryer, tv, fridge, aircon, room temperature controller

○  These are the common electrical sockets / power plugs in Seoul. Good thing I was advised about this so we came prepared. Power Adapters are available at CDR-King. ^_^

electrical sockets in Seoul
though you can borrow a power adapter in most of the hotels and guesthouse, it's best to have one so you can charge your cameras and cellphones all at the same time!

○ Myeong-dong is Korea's trendiest shopping area, with over 300,000 square meters of shops selling clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories, and cosmetics. Though it's not cheap at all. The only cheaper finds are of course the cosmetics. Biggest size of BB creams only cost P500 to P600, cheaper compared to Manila price of P900-P1,000.

The Face Shop is on sale! Buy 2 Take 1 on BB creams!
a lot of nicer freebies are given after my purchase ♥

○ Not really  fan of shopping and city-hopping so I included to watch a Korean Musical Drama in a traditional theater instead. Miso (meaning Smile) is a performance that not only showcases the UNESCO World Culture Heritage of Pansori (traditional Korean narrative song), but also presents a variety of other traditional instrumental performances including Samulnori (traditional Korean percussion quartet), and the beautiful Korean Buchaechum (fan dance). The live music, the costume, production, and overall performance are all awesome

Miso ticket costs ₩45,000 (P1,688)

○ On the next day, we flew to Jeju island. We booked through Jeju Air where round trip tickets cost P4,000. This could have been a lot cheaper only if we booked months in advance. 

So is Jeju worth seeing? It's more than that!

the Dolhareubang or the Stone Grandfather
this shamanistic statue is believed to be offering protection and warding off demons. it is also given to women with have fertility problems.

Jeju Folk Village
traditional houses are designed based on the occupation of the residents

Seopjikoji on the east coast

Hallim Park's Waterfalls

beautiful Hyeopjae Beach on the west coast

Awesome Threesome statue at Love Land
this park is made to educate young couples whose marriages are only arranged
..oh, and it's warmer in Jeju. 13-16degrees so keri ang sleeveless at skirt! ^_^

○  My friends and I stayed at December Hotel. A super spacious family room for 4 persons only costs us P3,500! Just ask and this small hotel can provide. Great deal.

we're very happy to stay in this budget hotel for 2 nights

○ How I wish I stayed longer in Jeju than in Seoul. On the fourth day, we flew back to Seoul. We spent another 2 days exploring the city.

these vibrant red leaves alone already delighted us big time

○ My friend is right when he said "never underestimate autumn". I was wearing thermal undershirt and pants in the morning. The weather became kinda tolerable so i took these thermal wears off. Very wrong move. The temperature dropped at 10degrees that night. I cant do anything but feel sorry for myself. Haha 

 my 1st autumn experience
for many are called but few are frozen!

○ Everland's T-Rex is the world's steepest wooden roller coaster. I cannot ride that attraction specially when the temperature is already 10degrees on the ground!

world's steepest wooden roller coaster at Everland
day pass costs ₩33,000 (P1,238). originally it is ₩40,000 but we got discounts because of their foreign visitor promotion.

○ Koreans are romantic, expressive, and very appreciative people. A man in his 30's already has 2 kids. It's also noticeable that almost all Koreans take pride on what they do. Say a ticketing officer, a bus driver, a vendor, or a simple grocery cashier can be seen with a cheerful face and I felt that there's privilege doing that specific job.

koreans are romantic, cheesy, expressive, and very appreciative people

○ For some reason, I can't find a difference between the Korean cuisine I tasted here in Manila and every meal I ate in South Korea. They tasted the same. But actually, the food presentation is better here in Manila. ^_^

grilled pork barbecue, bibimbap, and pajeon
as expected, meals are pricey. a decent meal costs ₩8,000 (P300). grilled meat costs ₩15,000 (P560) on the average.

○ We stopped eating Korean food on the third night. Quota na! Im already starting to smell like kimchi. ^_^ Thank goodness there are lots of alternatives, like Domino pizza!

superb Domino's deluxe pizza and heavenly baked potato with creamy cheese

○ We spent our last night in Hi Guesthouse. We got a 4-bed dormitory for ₩75,000 (P2,800). Bathroom is shared but it's okay. The guesthouse is modern, well maintained, cleaned, and most of all the owner is very helpful and he's very good in English.


and after

○ Moving on, the temperature became crazy on our last day in Seoul. The temperature dropped at 10 degrees and the breeze made us felt sick. Im not in the mood anymore to watch the "Changing of Guards" ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

 Changing of Guards ceremony

○ Finally, since we've got a lot more of Won left and a few more hours to kill before our evening flight, we decided to hoard our favorite items, and souvenirs for friends and families. We went to Doota Mall and Lotte Mart.

best tasting Cheese Muffin from Dunkin Donut ₩1,800 (P67) and perfectly blended Iced White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks ₩6,000 (P225)
i got addicted to this combo. cant resist to have them whenever I see them ^_^

from the best airport to the worst, from a chilling 10degrees to a very humid 29degrees temperature, so long and thank you to the land of BB cream and Lotte Pepero ₩3200 (P120)!

○ I still have some Won left so I exchanged ₩75,200 in the airport. ₩on to Peso exchange rate is 30.08. Not bad, I still got P2,500 as I went back home. Matagal pa sweldo no! ^_^

○ Total budget for a 5-day trip in South Korea (Seoul and Jeju) is P30,000. This includes airfares to Incheon and Jeju.

Resorts World Manila

Resorts World Manila is Philippines’ first integrated tourist destination, boasting an array of activities to experience; dine in surrounding restaurants and/or enjoy games, shows then find sanctuary after a day of admiring the picturesque place at the hotel and casino.Name it, you’ll find it.  As a leisure destination, it really is a go-to.

Hotels and Casinos are now the hotspots of the country’s leisure and entertainment.  Resorts World Manila is the place’s biggest gaming venue.  The hotel ambiance and Filipino hospitality combined spells world-class services. Resorts World Manila is a perfect get-away inside the city!

Relax, shop, dine, enjoy and play at Resorts World Manila – so they say!

South Korea Visa Application - Aprub!

Honestly Ive never listed South Korea in my countries to visit, but thank goodness for the traumatic experience in Bali, I now prioritized to visit 1st world countries. Harhar

Without any doubt, I chose South Korea right away. The fact that Koreans have high respects for Filipinos is already a good reason for me to go. Not to mention Jeju Air sent me an Etude House BB cream just because I signed up on their site. ^_^

Airfare Ticket:
Promo fare, opcors! I got my Manila-Incheon-Manila tickets for only P3,500. This includes baggage allowance, travel insurance, and 1st row seats for both flights. (tip: 1st row D,E, and F seats only cost P100. only 1st row A, B, and C seats cost P200) Quite a steal, but if only I've studied my route before booking the flight, I'll choose Manila-Busan then Incheon-Manila.

The requirements I submitted:
1. Application form (answer every item. i wrote "vacation" on the purpose of trip question. at the time of my application, i have not reserved any hotel yet so i just wrote "undecided" on the question address and home phone in Korea. i wrote all the countries Ive been to for the last 5 years.)
2. Passport
3. Photocopy of the 1st page of my passport
4. Passport size photo (any background color will do)
5. Photocopy of ITR (I submitted two ITR's - 2011 and 1st quarter of 2012. As you know I got retreched last March. This is very important. No work - No visa. No proof of income - No visa.)
6. Certificate of Employment (I submitted certifications from my previous and present employers. It includes my hire date, position, salary, the company address, office number, and a statement that my manager has approved my vacation leave for this SK trip. haha)
7. Bank Certificate (BPI charges P100 for this certificate and you can get it right away. so how much money to show for south korea visa application? it depends on the length of your trip. for a 7-day trip, then I think P50,000 in your bank account would do.)
Best part is - visa processing is free!

The day of visa application:
1. Since the Korean Embassy is open from 9am to 11am, I chose to go 30 mins before the cut off time. This is a very good idea. Wala ng applicants masyado by that time, nakauwi na sila. =)
2. I can ride a taxi to go there but since I live somewhere along C5-Taguig, I just took a jeepney and I asked the driver to drop me off McKinley.
3. Anyway, slippers and sleeveless tops are not allowed in the building (gaga ko lang di ko naisip to) but good thing my travel buddy Penggay let me borrow her jacket. Achieve, pinapasok ako ng guard!
4. I got my number and waited for my turn. When it's finally my turn, I walked towards the designated window and handed my documents to the person in charge. She handed me a claim stub, and that's it. Im done in less than 15 mins.
5. Processing will take 5 working days.

Visa releasing day:
Like the day of my application, I went to the embassy 15 minutes before cut off time. Releasing is only from 2pm-4pm. Again, wala ng aplikante at this time kasi nakauwi na sila. No waiting time for me.


Visa is valid for 90 days / 3 months since date of issue. Maximum length of stay is 59 days.

plotting my route - the old school style
ansabe ng google maps sa very detailed map ko?
update 10/22/2012 - summary of my South Korea trip
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