South Korea is definitely in every traveler’s bucket list. It’s because the Kpop culture has taken over the world. All those Kcosmetics, Kstars, Ksongs, Kdrama and everything K aside from the Kardashians made Korea a very popular tourist destination…and did I mention Korean cosmetics already? That alone will make you fly across the globe. I sure did! Oh, sorry! I flew…but not across the globe. (^.^)
Traveling to South Korea on a budget is possible. The first order of business was to book a flight during the Air Asia seat sale and it cost us Php 7, 128 for round trip ticket! We made our booking in September and our flight was scheduled March. That gave us six more months to save for the actual trip expenses.
Where did we go once we arrived in the Land of the Morning Calm? Check out our travel itinerary.
Day 1: Arrival at Incheon International Airport.
Tip #1: Make an online reservation for your pocket WIFI before your trip and pick it up when you arrive at ICN hassle-free. We reserved ours from Korea Telecom (KT) for KRW 8,800 or Php 387 per day and it was superb!
Since our accommodation via Airbnb was situated near Myeong dong, we took the Airport Limousine Bus 6015 and traveled for about an hour before finally checking in to our very own Korean home. We got a room from Namsan Guesthouse 2 for Php 2,794 per night. Thanks to Airbnb discount credits!
We were so excited to explore South Korea that we literally threw our bags inside our room so we could head out again and sample some street food. You should really try Kerembang (some kind of Egg Bun), it was my favorite!
Next stop was Namsangol Hanok Village (“Hanok” means Traditional) just a few blocks away. This is a very good place to visit if you want a taste of Korean traditional life and a glimpse of their past during the Joseon Dynasty. What more? Admission is FREE!
After a lot of walking and picture taking, it was time to meet our Korean friend who will go to Namsam Mountain with us. Situated there is the famous N Seoul Tower which is a communication and observation tower.
For romantics, it is simply a place where they could put their love locks and make promises together. Cheesy, right? But that
is the same with Paris so let’s leave the lovers alone and continue with our trip.
Hiking up there is absolutely free. You only have to pay admission if you want to go to the observation deck but the view will be exactly the same as you are already on top of the mountain so, why spend?
It was a very tiring experience especially in a very cold night about -9 degrees Celsius. It was crazy to be in the mountains at that temperature but we want to make the most out of our time in Korea and N Seoul Tower is just gorgeous at night.
Day 2: Nami Island and Petite France
You’ve probably heard about Nami Island a hundred times because it is always on those Kdrama that you are watching. It is almost a crime not to visit Nami Island if you are in South Korea although it is an hour ITX Express Train ride way from the capital city. It is open whole year round and the admission fee is discounted for foreigners at KRW 8,000 or Php 350. Talk about hospitality!
Tip #2: Book your ITX Train Tickets before your trip to make sure you get to Nami Island the earliest time possible. You should get your ticket through Korail Website.
Stop trying to get your fill of the island before you go. Just stop. Because you won’t. You just have to accept that you need to leave the island soon so you can move on to your next destination and your next love… Petite France.
When you see a cluster of exotic colored buildings on you left-hand hillside that looks like it belongs to the Mediterranean coast and not in Asia, then you’re there! You’ll surely enjoy this small but bright and colorful village. Admission Fee is also discounted at KWN 8,000 for foreigners. Take a look!
Now, THAT is what I’m talking about! Are you getting the “My Love from the Star” feels yet? I bet you do!
Day 3: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insa dong and Myeong dong
Today is thrift shopping day because let’s face it, we want to bring some Kgoodies for our loved ones back home no matter how broke we are. But before that, let’s go see some royalty first. Off to the palace to see his highness!
Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the grandest and biggest among all five royal palaces. You can see a lot of tourists and locals wearing the traditional Korean Hanbok and walking like royalty around the palace grounds.
If you come here early, you will witness the ceremony of changing guards in front of the main gate where the entrance fee is FREE. Admission of KWN 3,000 or Php 150 pesos should be paid when entering the second gate to see the inner parts of the palace. That is cheap but we really don’t have much time.
Now, off to Insa dong to buy those souvenirs! This place is your best bet for the cheapest Ksouvenirs to bring home. They have the usual stuff like key chains, fridge magnet, purse, fan, chopsticks, etc. All you have to is to walk down that street and take your pick!
After getting your loved ones “pasalubong”, it’s time to hoard some beauty items for yourself because, to be honest, the main reason you came to Korea is to get those skincare products that will make you look like Song Hye Kyo (or maybe not).
But still, you wouldn’t miss going to Myeong dong especially when your Airbnb is strategically located there! 🙂
And while you are at it, buy more of those Kerembang (Egg bun) that I was telling you about simply because it tastes amazing and you are going home tomorrow. Spread your bag and get those FREE samples from the girls in the street using it as a lure to attract customers to their stores. Those samples alone are already worth the trip.
Tip #3: Go for stores with Tax Refund Logo. Keep your Tax Refund form and original receipt then claim your refund at Incheon Airport after you’ve checked in.
Day 4: Trip back to Manila
Okay, this day is kinda sad/happy day for me. Happy because I can finally get out of this Kfridge that has been -8 or -9 degrees Celcius during our whole trip. Sad because I made too many Kfriends and there are still so many Kplaces that I wanted to visit.
But those reasons will make me come back to South Korea, so again… it made me happy. 🙂
Tip #4: Encash whatever amount is left from your Seoul City Pass Plus (transportation card) from any convenience store inside Incheon Airport before you check-in.
EXPENSE BREAKDOWN IN PHILIPPINE PESO
7,218 – Roundtrip airfare
2,794 – Airbnb with free breakfast (3nights divided by 3 people)
2,000 – Food (street food/convenience store/grocery)
500 – Seoul City Pass Plus (Transportation Card)
387 – Pocket Wifi (3 days divided by 3 people)
470 – Korail ITX Express Train going to Nami Island
350 – Nami Island Admission Fee
350 – Petite France Admission Fee
TOTAL EXPENSE: Php 14, 069 or USD 282
Of course, shopping expense from Insa dong and Myeong dong is not included. Everyone has their own budget for this. 🙂
Thinking of traveling to Taiwan next?
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