28.1.18

Autumn Alone in Korea 2017: Pre-Planning Tips, Visa Application & Hongdae

I have already shared with you the first part of my autumn in Korea trip. Since I was only granted a single entry visa, I decided to do the media familiarization tour with KTO and Cebu Pacific and then just stay behind until my family arrives-- 7 days later. So I literally had a week ALONE in Korea. A country I have never been to. I was a bit scared but also super excited at the thought of discovering a new place all by myself. So guys, eto na!!! I'm finally sharing with you the first part of my solo travel in the land of oppas, unnies, kimchi, Samyang, soju and 10-step skin care-- Korea!!! But first, some pre-planning tips including budget! Yes, you can travel to Korea without draining your bank accounts. Photos and stories below...




1. AIRFARE

Before getting invited by KTO, me and my family already booked tickets to South Korea when Cebu Pacific held a VISA promo / online seat sale last June 2017. Visa card holders get 50% off their total fare. We've always wanted to experience autumn (autumn virgins haha), so I brought it up with the fam and they all said yes. Thanks Mother for letting us use your card haha! Anyway, we all paid different amounts (parents got insurance and we all got different baggage allowance) so I will just share with you my own estimate cost. The airfare was just more or less P4,500 each + P1,200 for my 15kg baggage allowace = P5,700 for a roundtrip ticket to Korea! Not bad!


2. VISA

Okay, so here goes. I submitted my application and requirements through Cebu Pacific/Strat Works who were in charge of our media trip. We were told that we needed to print the forms and fill them up correctly (I had to research and read blogs on how to do this--all caps, black ballpen, etc) and submit every document we can that might help us get approved easily. After 3 days, I got my visa!

Here is a list of forms and docs I submitted as a freelancer:

1. Correctly filled out application form with complete details
2. One 34mm x 45mm passport size photo (but I sent like 5 hehe)
3. Original passport (I also sent a photocopy)
4. Photocopy of passport bio page
5. Bank Statement with transactions for the last 6 months. (make sure there's movement because they'll know if you just borrowed show money)
6.  Photocopy of visa within the last 5 years of any OECD country you've been to (in my case, Japan)
7. Certificate of Employment (if employed! I work freelance so I don't have this)
8. Bank Certificate with account details (type of account, opening date, current balance, ADB)
9. ITR (since I don't have an updated one as a freelancer, I submitted a letter explaining why and included supporting documents)
10. Supporting Documents (Project contracts, Invoice & billing statements from past projects, Flight ticket, Hotel booking)



How much is the visa fee for Philippine passport holders?
59 days (or less) stay in Korea -- FREE!!!
60 to 90 days stay in Korea -- PHP2,000

*My family submitted their application through RAKSO Travel Agency and they paid P1,200 for the processing fee.


Where can you submit your visa application?

122 Upper McKinley Road
McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio
Taguig city 1634, Philippines

Walk-in from: Monday to Friday 08:30am ~12:00pm

* Visa processing takes 3-5 days

For other Visa Requirements, click here: 


3. ACCOMMODATION

For our family trip, we booked a room at New Sun Guesthouse in Myeongdong. It was highly recommended by Ana and the cheapest I could find in the area. Of course there are cheaper options, but they are far & slightly inconvenient. This one is a winner! It's just a few minutes walk to Shinsegae Mall, Namdaemun Market, Myeongdong & Namsan Park, near Hoehyeon train station and our room has a private bathroom. SOLD!!! We booked their family room (with 4 beds, 2 bunk beds) with ensuite toilet. 

 I love how you can Book Now, Pay Later through AGODA. Also, they now have a Pay at the Hotel option which we used for our upcoming Asia trip on March. 

Family room! Small yet cozy. Will feature hostel on my upcoming family trip posts.

We paid, P15,301.35 for the whole room for 5 nights. That's just P3825.34 per person for 5 nights, or only P765 per night. Such a steal!!!

Book here:



For my 7 days solo trip, I booked a room in Hongdae via AirBnb. Since the family is staying in Myeongdong (a popular tourist area), I thought why not stay in another area naman that is more about the locals and the city's culture. I chose Hongdae because I wanted to experience this youth culture hub that is known for urban arts, indie music and unique cafes & restos. It is near Hongik University so tambayan sha ng mga bagets, artsy people and hipsters. Loved the vibe here! Lakas maka bagets.

Booked a private room at Liz's house!

I was supposed to book a bed in a hostel but then I saw this listing on AirBnb. The price was cheaper than a bunk bed, it's near the train station and just walking distance to the market and other hip spots. SOLD! I used my AirBnb gift credit (which I got from referrals, thanks guys!) so I was able to save a lot. It helped too that the guesthouse offered a weekly discount for long stays. Anyway I tried finding the link on AirBnb but it's not there anymore. I think they renovated or moved so they deleted the old listings and put up new ones! Just click the link below to view the rooms for rent by Liz! :)


I booked an airconditioned private room with shared bathroom for just P770 a night!!!


Liz's House is located in Dongmak-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea, a few minutes walk from Yapjeong station.


 Total was supposed to be P6,016 but after the discounts I only paid P3,780 for 7 nights!!! That's just P540 per night!!!


So guys please sign up using my code so we all get credits! Hehe. Click this link to sign up: 


 4. TRAVEL APPS

Okay so since I was travelling alone, I downloaded a few apps to help me with my journey. I was able to go to a lot of places, K-drama locations included, with the help of these apps! I mainly used Google Maps, Waze & Seoul City Metro Lite for navigation. Shared with you screenshots of the actual apps for reference!

        This app guides you as to what train line to switch to or hop into. 

There's just so much to see in SoKor or Seoul and this app will help you trim down your choices and create a travel guide. 


5. Connection / Portable WiFi

I survived 15 days in South Korea because I had fast, reliable internet connection everyday! I was able to research on places to go to, use my apps, navigate with ease, connect with friends and family and work because of this EGG portable WiFi. I love that this device is super lightweight, thin and easy to use. It could even fit in my tiny pocket. Only downside is that it drains fast especially if it's always on, but you could always use a powerbank to recharge. Can't believe I only paid P2,050 rental for 15 days!!! 

Book here!


6. OUTFITS / PACKING

As I said in my first posts, it was my first autumn!!! So I really didn't know what to expect. I only know that I MUST pack coats and sweaters. I'm a light mother packer (hahaha) so it was fun challenging myself to pack lighter than what's normal for this sort of trip. As usual, I did a dress rehearsal of my outfit per day and wrote it down for reference. I prepared 18 sets (always include extras for emergencies) and only packed 2 pairs of shoes (white sneakers & black boots), one of which I wore na sa airport. I didn't have weather appropriate winter coats that time, so I brought 3 (1 black, 1 denim, 1 gray) that I thought looked nice with all the outfits I prepared. Sana pala I only brought 1! Found so many cheap coats in Korea (Hongdae & Ewha Univ markets) and I ended up buying 2. Haha. Super perfect also the  American Tourister Handy Spinner Hardcase Luggage Bag I used for this trip because it's stylish & almost weightless. I hate luggage bags na walang pang laman pang handcarry na sa bigat. Agree? My baggage only weighed 23 kgs! I was expecting it to exceed my 40 kg allowance TBH. 


Also, most of the time, my skin care thingies takes the most space in my bag. If you want to save space and you're planning na rin to shop in Korea (coz duh, land of skin care), then leave some of them and just buy there! It's only a bit cheaper but saves space db. Haha. I deliberately forgot to bring my moisturizer which was a stupid thing to do because it was freezing cold and my skin got so dry it felt like it's gonna crumble anytime, so I ended up buying this facial mist moisturizer at Olive Young (their version of Watsons). 


After a few days of using it, my skin got back to normal and I loved how my face looks and feel after spraying it so I bought a bigger bottle that could last for a year. Now I'm obsessed with it that I even asked Ana to buy an extra bottle for me a few weeks ago. It's 6,500 won or P300 for the small one. LOVEEE!

Here is a list of things I packed for the trip!

1. Three Coats
2. Sweaters (I only packed 2 sets of pantulog haha)
3. Three pairs of jeans  (one of them I wore na sa airport)
4. Uniqlo Extra Warm Heat Tech top & leggings (laglagan na, I only brought 1 pair which I used for 15 days! Don't judge me d naman ako pinawisan dun hahaha)
5. Slippers (I can't step into shared bathrooms without wearing one hehe)
6. Electronic stuff (chargers, multi port USB charger, universal adapter)
7. Toiletries (the guesthouses I stayed at had free body wash, shampoo & conditioner na pala)
8. Skin care products 
9. Makeup - just a few!
10. Undies


So without further ado, here are some photos from my first day & night in Seoul!!!

In my last post, I mentioned that after Lotte Sky Tower the rest of the tour group headed back to the airport and I stayed behind to finally begin my solo adventure! After saying our goodbyes and with my bags in tow, I headed straight to to the train station. I was like a lost kid haha. Ana let me borrow her T-Money card so I won't have to buy one. 

T-Money is a basic smart card that you could use for commutes (train, buses, taxis) and for shopping at convenience stores. You just load money into it through machines at the train station or selected shops. It's also more convenient than buying a subway ticket and having to get the refund for the ticket (you get 500 won back after every trip). A new card costs 2,500KRW. 



Just look for these machines. Don't worry there's an English translation. 

 Reloaded 10,000 won into my card

South Korea's subway system is pretty straightforward. It's not complicated as Japan. Hehe. It's easy to understand, much like Hongkong or Singapore! :)

 Not all train stations have elevators. HUHUHU. I had to drag my 23kg suitcase down these steps.

 I used my Seoul City Metro Lite app to know which trains I should hop into to reach Hapjeong station!

 After about 20 minutes, I finally reached my stop-- HAPJEONG!

My AirBnb host sent me a super detailed instruction on how to get to the guesthouse from the train station. As in complete with video pa! Thanks Liz! I just played the video while walking and I got to my destination easily. After more or less 5 minutes...

I made it!!! I found it!!! Woohoo! 

 This is the tiny alley (just a few steps away from the main road) where it is located

Restaurants beside and across it

There are 2 interesting restaurants across it. I saw lots of young people eating and drinking there. Sana tinry ko. :(

No frills guesthouse! Each floor has a separate entrance. 

My room was on the 3rd floor (had to take the blue stairs on the right of the photo) so mejo struggle because of my huge luggage bag. Someone helped me carry it when I got there but I had to carry it down myself when I checked out. Sabog matres levels guyz. I love how each floor has a separate door and a digital lock. 

Upon entry, I was asked to take off my shoes. There's a sink, cabinets with utensils, ref, kettle

Small hallway going to the rooms. This floor has 3 rooms. 

Our shared toilet! It also has a hot & cold shower and toiletries.

Shower room! 

My room! A steal for just P700 a night.

 My room also has a digital lock so I felt super safe inside the house. There's WiFi too!

 Double bed with clean sheet and comforter. I was able to sleep soundly on it! No bed bugs!

 Small table and a chair where you could place your things. No closet inside the room but there's a small clothes rack and a few hangers which I used for my coats.  

 Love the full length mirror! I noticed that there's an abundance of full length mirrors everywhere, even in train stations. They say it's because Koreans are very conscious about their appearance so they use it often. 

 The room is just enough for me! Not too small and not too big. :)

This is how sockets in Korea looks like! Good thing I brought my universal adapter. 

After settling in, I felt pangs of hunger. It was almost midnight when I finished fixing my things, so I decided to save the tour for later and ended up buying food from a convenience store nearby. I bought a roll of spicy spam kimbap, cheese samyang, soju and water! Budget meal haha. I spent the rest of the night researching for possible K-drama tour locations and Facetiming with Nico. It was my first time to travel alone and it was the longest we've ever been away from each other--and honestly, I LOVED IT. I think this trip really helped me realize a lot of things especially after everything we've been through last year. I honestly think it changed me. La langs. :)


 Video call pa more

I woke up late (as in almost sunset na haha) the next day and I still had a lot of kimbaps left, so I ate it for late lunch/early dinner. Haha. It was the only time I was able to catch up on sleep especially after our super packed media tour where I only had 3 hours of sleep everyday. Sulit! Reacharged! Hehe. 

 It was already dark when I got out of the house!

 You would see this resto on the corner of our street (not alley). You won't miss it. It's so pretty and bright.

 Main street or intersection. If you turn right, you'd end up at Yapjeong train station. Turn left and you'd reach Hongdae market!


Saw this cute vintage store along the road

 One of the prettiest stores I've ever seen. It's like Style Nanda.

 I wanted to take a photo sa chair but am shy haha

 While I was walking, I saw many pretty boutiques and concept stores!

 There were also hundreds of restaurants and hole-in-the wall food places

 I honestly thought this was a church. Restaurant pala!!!

 Saw this small restaurant serving affordable soup and dumplings! 

 Parks everywhere. I love it.

 Noraebang!!!

 I guess I finally reached the market!!!

 OMG where to start?

 Claw machines that we often see in K-dramas! Waaah




 While walking, I passed by the Trickeye 3D Museum!


 So many cute clothes on sale!

 The same coat I bought in Myeongdong, only 5,000krw cheaper. Huhu.

 Reached the end of the market road and crossed the street to where the performers are!

 This whole stretch was filled with independent street artists! So inspiring!

 Ito super galing! They sang One Last Cry and other english songs. Ganda ng voice!

 Ito lakas maka boyband! BTS? EXO? They drew in the most crowd!

 Such a cutie! My oppa loving heart was so happy. Haha.

 If may boyband, may girl band din! Performance level these girls! :)

They could be the next Girls' Gen? Red Velvet? TWICE? 

Pogi ni kuyaaaa! So basically you watch them perform and if you loved them, you put money inside their cases.

 Cute sweaters and outfits for 15,000 won or P700! Still a bit pricey for me that's why I did not shop that much. 


Shopping is cheaper in Hongdae than Myeongdong, but Ewha University is much cheaper than Hongdae! Parang math question db haha.

 I can't make up my mind as to where and what to eat, so I ended up here. KFC forever! Haha.

 As usual, no rice! So I bought honey biscuit (OMG i missed this) and cheese fries with my chicken. I think I paid 7,000krw for this meal. 

 Hello unnie! I feel so much closer to them now. Haha.

 Saw this store selling socks for just 550 won per pair! Paid 4,400 krw or P200 for 8 pairs. Oha.

 Checked out Daiso but did not buy anything


 One of the best performers during my whole stay! OMG she's got mean pipes. Mejo Moira but stronger haha.

 These artists just set-up anywhere and perform! Coolest thing ever. Ang cute din ni Kuya noh? Haha!

Also watched these guys perform. Galing din!:)

 Lots of interesting restaurants in the area:)

 Street performers and a man dancing! Sikat this guy in the red coat sa Hongdae I just forgot his name! :(

 Lolo's got game! He played classical music and won the crowd. :)


I don't want to overload you with photos, so I'm ending my first post here. Will save my K-drama tour Day 1 & 2 for the next entry! Hope this post helps you plan for your next trip. :) Still so much to share so I hope you stick around! Gamsahamnida for reading! :)


BUDGET (Airfare, Accommodations, Others in PHP)
Airfare - 5,700
Airport Tax - 1,620 (mine was c/o KTO but will include for total)
Accommodation (family, 5 nights) -  3,825
Accommodation (solo, 7 nights) - 3,780
Portable WiFi - 2.050
________________________________
TOTAL = P16,975


Budget for Solo Travel Day 1& 2 (KRW/Won)
T-Money load - 10,000
Convenience store purchases - 10,000
KFC dinner - 7,000
Socks - 4,400
Black coat (same as my brown one haha)- 30,000
_____________________________
TOTAL = 61,400 won or P2,941


*budget depends on shopping habits and food preferences




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