Every time I go on a trip, I always get feedback from friends and family that I am rich and that I have a lot of money because I can afford to travel. I actually don’t like it because I am not rich, how I wish I am. Lol. Money is not everything you need when you travel. It also requires an open mind and a lot of courage. Well of course I need money to travel but I always travel on a budget. If Korea is your dream destination but there are things that are holding you back from traveling, these tips I will share might help you achieve your dream trip to the Land of the Morning Calm.
Be aware of the airline promos
It all starts with the promo fares. You can book a round trip ticket to Incheon or Busan for as low as P4,900. It does not include baggage allowance yet but you can just add later on. Cebu Pacific, Air Asia and Jeju Air have direct flights from Manila to Incheon. I follow their Facebook pages and I’m subscribed to newsletters for updates.
Find an affordable place to stay
So you already have a plane ticket. The next thing to do is to look for an affordable place to stay. There are a lot of guesthouses, pension houses and hostels in Korea which you can book from P800-P1,200 per night. If you don’t mind sharing a room with strangers, you may look for a dorm type room which is way cheaper. Plus you’ll get to meet new friends. I always book at Booking.com for rooms with free cancellations. What I like about it is that you’ll have to pay directly at the property upon check in. And by the way, I’m already a Genius member in Booking.com, which means I get additional discounts in some properties. I don’t know how I unlocked that stage but maybe because I booked 5 times in a year. Well, loyalty really leads to discounts and perks.
Applying for a visa can be very stressful especially for Filipinos, I understand it very well. You have to prepare all the documents, go to the bank and to your HR. Sometimes while your visa is on process, you can hardly sleep thinking what would be the result of the application. But Korea visa is probably one of easiest visa to apply for. It is free if you are applying for a tourist visa which is a maximum of 59 days of stay. You don’t have to pay thousands of pesos unlike other visas. But if you are going to apply through a travel agency, then you might have to pay for a service fee. No need to set appointments, just go to Korean Embassy to submit your papers. Easy, right? Just make sure all your documents are complete before going to the embassy.
One question I get a lot is about the how much show money do you need in your bank accounts. The Korean Embassy doesn’t really require an amount or a show money. You just have to have enough money to fund your whole trip. Check out their site for the requirements and updates.
How do I fund my trip? Months before I travel, I set aside a portion of my salary every payday and every day I put a small amount to my travel fund if I have a extra money. As little as P50-P100 per day.
Now you already have a plane ticket, booked a place to stay, you have your visa and your pocket money, it’s time now to fly to Korea. I always have a detailed itinerary every time I go to Korea. Shopping areas and amusement parks are not on my list. Those are the places where you’d most likely to spend huge amount of money. The fact that I’m not a shopaholic and I don’t enjoy those crazy rides, I’d rather spend my money on food.
When it comes to food, it is usually expensive in popular areas such as Myeongdong, Gangnam and Dongdaemun. I always stay in Dongdaemun area, but I have found some affordable restaurants and cafe’s. You just have to explore the place. That’s what you are there for in the first place, to explore. You’ll find them in the not so crowded area and some narrow alleys. When I was in Myeongdong I had my favorite caramel macchiato in one of the cafe’s there which costs around￦5,000. But then, there’s this cafe near the places I stay in Dongdaemun, where I got the my caramel macchiato for only￦2,500. That’s exactly half the price. If you are really on a tight budget, there are what they call “lunch boxes” in convenience stores which cost around ￦2,500-￦5,000. It’s already a complete meal, including rice, meat, veggies and side dishes.
Going around Korea is very easy and convenient. You don’t have to take taxi all the time because their transportation system is very efficient. Most places can be reached by subway or bus. Use the T-money card instead of purchasing single journey tickets. You can save ￦100 each ride by using T-money.
Popular places in Korea, particularly in Seoul and Busan have no entrance fees. If there are, it’s only minimum amount usually from ￦1,000-￦5,000 except for theme parks which are more expensive.
Here are some popular places you can visit for free:
Gwanghwamun Square is just across the Gyeongbukgung. You can see the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun Shin. You can also try wearing a Hanbok for free.
Ihwa Mural Village is in the area of Ihwa-dong. It is the most popular mural village in Seoul. You can find paintings on the walls of the houses and art installations.
Naksan Park is near the Ihwa Mural Village. You can see the Seoul Fortress Wall and a stunning view of the city.
Take a relaxing and romantic walk through the 10km long Cheonggyecheon Stream in downtown Seoul.
Bukchon Hanok Village is the most popular hanok village in Seoul.
Namsangol Hanok Village is another hanok village in Seoul which you can visit for free.
The Namsan mountain where the N Seoul tower is located is also entrance free unless you want to go to the observatory, you’ll have to pay for ￦10,000 admission fee.
Yeouido Park and Yeouido Hangang Park is a recreational area near Han River. Don’t miss this place during spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Another place to catch the cherry blossoms on spring is on the 15km long Yangjae Stream.
The Hall of Peace in Kyunghee University is an event’s place where a variety of events are being held regularly.
The K-star road in Gangnam is a must visit place for all K-pop fans out there. Most talent agencies of your favorite K-pop stars are located within the area.
Haeundae Beach is the one of the most visited places in Busan.
Gwangalli Beach is my favorite place in Busan especially at night.
Gamcheon Culture Village is village of colorful houses and you’ll find painted murals all over the place.
Unlike most temples in Korea which are located in the moutains, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is in northeastern coast part of Busan.
Dongbeak Island is an island in Busan where you can see both the Haeundae and Gwangalli beach.
Nurimaru APEC House is situated in Dongbaek Island. You can go inside for free.
The Busan Tower is situated at Yongdusan Park. There are also more to see in the park such as the statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, a flower clock and stunning view of Busan.
Find out more about these places for you to be able to save more on your trip. Korea is not all about K-pop and K-drama, the country has a lot to offer.
Travelling to Korea doesn’t have to be that expensive. But it still depends on how you travel. For me, travelling is about learning, not only about the places you see but also learning about yourself.
Check out https://maewanderer.com/2017/06/11/essential-tips-for-your-south-korea-trip/ for more travel tips. Enjoy exploring Korea as much as I do!