Living in a tropical country, it is normal for us, Filipinos, to dream of experiencing winter. It’s also the only season I haven’t experience too, so along with my cousins, we booked a winter sonata getaway to Seoul, South Korea. Our travel date is in the first week of March (Feb.28 – Mar 5, 2019), which is the last days of winter (also somehow warmer na). We considered our parents who’ll be traveling with us. They’re not good with the cold.
P.S. We are 15 people in the group consisting of three families. Imagine the challenge of making a Seoul DIY Itinerary. May God guide us. HAHA
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is the capital of South Korea and today’s one top destination of most Filipinos, you know, since the K-drama, K-pop, K-beauty fever epidemic. It’s also the largest metropolis of South Korea that you’ll be needing more than five days to explore almost all the districts of this city.
Seoul is my second favorite Asian city, closely competing next to Tokyo. It is just because I love beautiful things, and Seoul seems to adore the beauty in all aspects so much. Let’s also add the culture, people, and food into the equation. And also, it’s a little cheaper here than in Tokyo.
There are numerous airlines – PAL, CebPac, AirAsia, Jeju Air – that offer a direct flight from Manila to Incheon. I copped a Cebu Pacific MNL-ICN flight for P8,000 for my family. It’s a little pricey, but seat sales less than P5,000 is rare for five seats, so we settled on that since the travel date also is just four months away.
Cebu Pacific, though has only one flight schedule from Manila – the departure of 5 PM from Manila and 12:45 midnight from Incheon. Our first day is just for sleeping.
South Korea is not visa-free for us Filipinos, so before our trip, we need to apply for one. Just like Japan, South Korea is not anymore accepting individual visa processing. All visas will be processed only through their accredited travel agencies.
We went to Reli Travel and Tours Agency in SM Megamall for our visa processing a month before our travel date. One month is not recommended now due to the number of applications. They advised applying two months before with prepared documents. Regular visa handling is P700, but we got ours only at P450 at the travel expo.
Seoul DIY Itinerary (w/ budget)
7:10 PM – Flight to Incheon
Our supposedly 5:10 PM flight was delayed for 2 hours. And oh, you need to pay that travel tax of P1,620.
11:30 PM – Arrival to Incheon International Airport
It was already late, and the arrival hall is quiet already. Before our trip, I contacted a rental van to pick us up at the airport because we are 15 in the group, and the airport express was already after 11 PM. The van costed 160,000 KRW (7,300 PHP) for 14 people. It’s almost the same price as the airport limousine bus that’s available at midnight. Nevertheless, my family loved the van, lakas maka artista.
Driver’s WhatsApp/Viber Number: +82 10 4080 1483
12:30 AM – Self Check-in in our Airbnb
We decided to stay in Hongdae because of the university vibe, and how all Airbnbs in Myeongdong is fully-booked. We booked this Airbnb with three bedrooms, one room per family, for P44,340 for four nights. If you’re still not in Airbnb, you can use my referral link, so we’ll have both discounts on your first booking.
Here’s the link to the Airbnb.
1:00 AM – Bought some midnight meal on the convenience stores
Most of the restaurants were already close at 1 AM, well most in our area. So we settled on instant noodles on the convenience stores around.
9:00 AM – Travel to Everland
We rode the subway to Gangnam Station that costs 1350 KRW (~65PHP) or less if you’re nearer. Then from Gangnam Station Exit 10, ride a bus 5002 that will drop you at Everland (2600 KRW / ~120PHP). It was a 90-minutes ride, so better start early.
It is a lot less hassle to purchase a round trip shuttle to Everland in Klook. It costs P500, which is almost the same when commuting.
10:30 AM – Everland
Everland is the biggest theme park in South Korea that is for all kinds of age. There are zoos, gardens, and extreme rides. An adult ticket costs P1444 in Klook, a lot cheaper than the walk-in price of P2,500.
- Everland is in Yongin province, which is mountainous, so it is a little colder there than in Seoul. Bundle up!
- Choose to go on a weekday and research if your chosen date is not a Korean holiday. We end up going on a Korean holiday (March 1 = Korea’s Independence Day), and it is jam-packed that all queue is 3 hours long.
- Most Zootopia attractions are closed in winter, and T-Express (the most famous ride) has the highest possibility of being closed during winter.
- Food is pricier inside, but you can sneak out foods since they’re not that strict with bags.
8:30 PM – Snack Shack Gangnam
For dinner, we tried the famous Shake Shack in Gangnam for the experience. The simple Shackburger costs 6,900KRW (~300PHP) that, for me, was worth it.
DAY 1 EXPENSE: 2500PHP
RT Transpo to Everland – 400PHP
Everland Ticket – 1,444PHP
Lunch & Snacks – 350 PHP
Shake Shack – 300 PHP
We availed a Nami + Vivaldi Ski Resort tour on Klook for our Day 2. This tour is only available during the winter, and it costs P3,267 with ski lessons. It is cheaper when you’ll just avail sightseeing tours (P2669).
7:00 AM – Meeting time with Klook
Do not be late. Klook is quite strict with time and can wait for 10 minutes only. There are three pick-up places – Hongdae, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun Stations.
09:00 AM – Nami Island
Nami Island is beautiful in winter, with the leave-less trees and sunny weather. From Gapyeong, we rode the shuttle boat to Nami Island and walked along the Pine lane until we reached the end. There’s no already snow when we went, but I think it will be gorgeous if it still has. Legit winter sonata feels.
We were given only until noontime to enjoy Nami Island, and it is not enough to tour around the island. We didn’t even get the chance to eat dak galbi, but that’s the downside of getting a tour anyway. Everything will be fast-paced.
12:30 PM – Ski Clothes Rental
Before going to the ski resort, we stopped by a ski rental clothes and got ourselves the conspicuous ones. These clothes were already included in the package, so you don’t have to pay for anything.
1:00 PM – Vivaldi Ski World
In Vivaldi Ski Resort, we were divided into the activities we availed. The aunties availed the Vivaldi Ski Resort tour only while the millennial group got the ski/snowboard lessons. I got the ski lesson since I researched that it is a lot easier and cheaper than the snowboard.
Our guide taught us the basics (how to go forward, backward, and brake) before we head up to the beginner’s slope. I also bought the unlimited ski lift ride (+1000 PHP) to reach the top of the hill and have the full ski experience. I was struggling with going down the first time but was able to get it after some hours. My body hurts after but no regrets.
P.S. Bring some efficascent oil if you’re skiing/snowboarding.
4:30 PM – Travel back to Seoul
They are very strict with time. Everyone must be in the waiting area at 4:30 PM.
7:00 PM – Meating Samgyupsal in Hongdae
Since we didn’t have any rice meal the whole day, we decided to try the unlimited samgyupsal near our Airbnb. It costs P500/head but has a 2-hours limit.
DAY 2 EXPENSE: 4894PHP
Klook Tour – 3267PHP
Ski lift – 927PHP
Burger King – 200PHP
Samgyupsal – 500PHP
9:00 AM – Myeongdong Cathedral
Since it’s a Sunday, the family decided to attend the English mass in Myeongdong Cathedral at 9 AM.
11 AM – Early Lunch at Woori Garden, Myeongdong
We didn’t eat breakfast before church, so we eat an early lunch in a restaurant we just saw around. The restaurant was legit Korean, and the food was fantastic. I fell in love with their bibimbap. It is worth a try if you want some authentic Korean food experience with the family.
12:30 PM – Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Dongdaemun Design Plaza is famous for its modern and futuristic landmark. There’s nothing much you can do here but admire its architecture and take photos.
2 PM – Cheonggyecheon Stream
From Dongdaemun Design Plaza, we walked towards Dongdaemun Station to see the Seoul City Wall, Heunginjimun Gate & walk along Cheonggyecheon Stream. Like what other tourists say, you can see the city on walking along its streets.
4 PM – Common Ground
After all the endless walking and train ride, my blogger’s heart was happy when I saw this very Instagrammable shopping containers shops. Foods were a little expensive, but we settle for some milk tea and rest our feet here for almost an hour.
Common Ground was a 500m walk from Konkuk University Station (Green Line).
6 PM – Starfield Library
From Konkuk University Station (Green Line), we went down to Samseong Station (also Green Line). At 6 PM, the jamp-packed library was still gorgeous despite the crowd. Most of the books were in Korean, and there was a cafe inside where I saw the cutest cake.
8 PM – Myeongdong Shopping Street
For the last stop of our jam-packed Seoul City DIY Tour, we capped the night off at Myeongdong Shopping Street to have street foods for dinner and shop for pasalubongs. The sale season just ended when we got there, so most of their products are at regular prices. Street foods were not cheap, either. The cheapest was at 1000 KRW (50 PHP). I allotted 10,000 KRW (450PHP) budget for my dinner here, and I got muffin with egg, dumplings, half order kimbap, ice cream, and some strawberries.
DAY 3 EXPENSE: 1,810 PHP
Transportation: 360 PHP (60 PHP/train ride)
Bibimbap Lunch: 350 PHP
Snacks: 150 PHP
Myeongdong Street Food budget: 450 PHP
Pasalubong for office: 500 PHP
Skincare & Make-up: 2,000 PHP (optional)
11:00 AM – Check-out in Airbnb
We overslept since everyone was tired of our city tour yesterday. We bought some noodles and bread in the convenience store near our Airbnb and checked-out at 11 AM
12 NN – Seoul Station
We were supposed to use the subway lockers, but we didn’t foresee that compared to Tokyo, there were fewer lockers here. I was able to squeeze my carry on luggage in a medium one (4,000 KRW = 200 PHP). The large luggage was stored in the luggage storage service ranging from 7,000 – 9,000 KRW. If you’re 15 people in a group and your flight is at midnight, it will be a lot cheaper to book another night at your Airbnb.
After the luggage dilemma, we went to eat lunch at the food court in Seoul Station.
2 PM – Pink Kimono Rental
I was able to influence my whole family to dress in hanbok. We rented in Pink hanbok rental near Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 4. The hanbok (plus hair arrangement) was originally 13,000 KRW (~600 PHP) for 2 hours, but we were able to negotiate it for only 10,000 KRW (~450PHP) since we were 15.
2:30 PM – Gyeongbokgung Palace
The 3,000 KRW (~150 PHP) entrance fee to Gyeongbokgung Palace was waived because we were wearing hanboks. It was the largest palace in Seoul, and also, for me, it is the most gorgeous one. The two-hours rental time was honestly not enough for photos and exploring.
4:30 PM – Return the hanboks
5:00 PM – Walk by Insadong
Insadong is just a few meters away from Gyeongbokgung Palace. And my cousin wanted to walk by Insadong since it is famous for the traditional Korean experience it offers. We walked by the main street, Insadong-Gil, lined up with art galleries, tea houses, arts and crafts stores, and cafes. The whole street and alleyways are in brick stones and felt like the old Seoul.
7 PM – Lovelocks @ Namsam Tower
My family decided to ditch Namsam Tower, but Paul and I pushed through since we wanted to do the cliche love locks. We rode Bus #05 (1,100 KRW = 50PHP) on Myeongdong Station Exit 3, and it was quite a long ride, but we enjoyed the view, though. We brought our padlock that we purchase here in Manila because the locks there are expensive (400PHP onwards)! Then we tried the photo booth just like in the K-dramas we watched. The city lights are gorgeous up there too, but it was extra cold (since its a mountain), so we went down after an hour.
10:30 PM – AREX to Incheon International Airport
We availed the express train to Incheon International Airport on Klook for only P238. It is cheaper in Klook than to buy it walk-in. The last train ride from Seoul Station is at 10:50 PM.
2:00 AM – Flight back to Manila
Cebu Pacific Seoul-Manila schedule kind of sucks. 🙂
DAY 4 EXPENSE: 2438 PHP
Breakfast – 150 PHP
Luggage Locker – 200 PHP
Lunch – 400 PHP
Hanbok Rental – 450 PHP
Snack in Insadong – 100 PHP
Namsam Tower Photobooth – 200 PHP
Train/Bus Rides – 300 PHP (60 PHP/ride)
Mcdonalds Dinner – 400 PHP
AREX – 238 PHP
TOTAL EXPENSE: 25,689 PHP
Airfare – 8500 PHP
Visa – 450 PHP
Travel tax – 1620 PHP
Day 0 (Hotel + Transfer) – 3477 PHP
Day 1 (Everland) – 2500 PHP
Day 2 (Nami + Ski) – 4894 PHP
Day 3 (Seoul City Tour) – 1810 PHP
Day 4 (City Tour P2) – 2438 PHP
I know this is not a cheap Seoul DIY itinerary, but most of the expenses were from the airfare and ski tour. You can try to get a cheaper fare and not avail of the ski tour if you are in the budget. BUT if you wanted a full Korean winter experience, then prepare a budget of 25,000 PHP. If you’re going to Seoul soon, we can talk in the comment section below.
Some of the famous Seoul activities you can avail via Klook.