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 at 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 really good with the cold.
P.S. We are 15 people in the group consisting of three families. Imagine the challenge of DIY-ing this trip. 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 kdrama/kpop/kbeauty fever epidemic. It’s also the largest metropolis of South Korea that you’ll be needing more than 5 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 love beauty in all aspect 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 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 5 seats so we settled on that since travel date also is just 4 months away.
Cebu Pacific though has only one flight schedule from Manila- departure of 5PM in Manila and 12:45 midnight in Incheon. One day will be wasted due to transit.
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 visa will be processed only through the 35 accredited travel agencies.
We went to Reli Travel and Tours Agency in SM Megamall for our visa processing a month before our travel date. This is not recommended! Due to the number of application, they advised to apply 2 month before with prepared documents. Regular visa handling is P700 but we got ours only at P450 at the travel expo. All you have to know regarding visa application is here.
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 in the airport because we are 15 in the group and the airport express is already close. The van is 160,000 KRW (7,300 PHP) for 14 people. It’s almost the same price of the airport limousine bus that’s available during 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 stayed in Hongdae because of the university vibe around it. We booked this airbnb with 3 bedrooms, 1 room per family, for P44,340 for 4 nights. If you’re still not in airbnb, you can use my referral link so we’ll have both discount 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 stores are already close at 1 AM, well most on our area. So we settled on instant noodles on the convenience stores around.
9:00 AM – Travel to Everland
Ride the subway to Gangnam Station that will approximately costs 1350 KRW (~65PHP) or less if you’re nearer. Then from Gangnam Station Exit 10, ride a bus 5002 that will drop you exactly at Everland (2600 KRW / ~120PHP). It’s a 90 min ride so better start early.
It is actually 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 really for all kinds of age. There’s a zoo, garden and extreme rides. Adult ticket costs P1444 in Klook, a lot cheaper than walk-in price of P2,500.
- It is situated in Yongin. The province is mountainous so it is a little colder here 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 and it is jam packed that all queue are 3 hours long.
- Most of Zootopia attractions are closed on winter and T-Express (the most famous ride) has the highest possibility to be 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 for the experience. The simple Shackburger costs 6,900KRW (~300PHP) that for me, is 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 the sightseeing tours (P2669).
7:00 AM – Meeting time with Klook
Do not be late. They are quite strict with time. They can wait for 10 minutes only. There are 3 pick up place – Hongdae, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun.
09:00 AM – Nami Island
Nami Island is beautiful at 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 more gorgeous if it still have. 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 got 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. This is already included in the package so you don’t have to pay anything.
1:00PM – Vivaldi Ski Resort
In Vivaldi Ski Resort, we were divided on 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 too!) 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 availed the unlimited ski lift ride (+1000 PHP) to reach the top of the slope and have the full experience of skiing. I was struggling on going down the first time but was able to get it after some hours. My body hurts after but no regrets on trying this activity.
P.S. Bring some efficascent oil if you’ll try skiing/snowboarding.
4:30 PM – Travel back to Seoul
They are very strict with time. Everyone must be on the waiting area at 4:30 PM.
7:00 PM – Samgyupsal in Hongdae
Since we didn’t had any rice meal the whole day, we decided to try the unlimited samgyupsal near our airbnb. It’s only 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 9AM.
11 AM – Early Lunch at Woori Garden, Myeongdong
We didn’t eat breakfast so we eat an early lunch in a restaurant we just saw. The restaurant is legit korean-looking and the food is amazing. I fell in love with their bibimbap. 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.
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 the city through walking.
4 PM – Common Ground
After all the endless walking and train ride, my blogger heart is happy when I saw this very Instagrammable shopping containers shops. Foods are a little expensive but we settle for some milktea and rest our feet here for almost an hour.
Common Ground is 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). The library is jampacked at 6 PM but it is still gorgeous. Most of the books are in korean and also, there’s 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 in regular prices. The street foods are not cheap either, the cheapest are 1000 KRW (50 PHP). I allotted 10,000 KRW (450PHP) budget for my food 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 is tired from 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 realized that there are only a few and all of the large ones are already taken. I was able to squeeze my carry on luggage in a medium one (4,000 KRW = 200 PHP). The large luggages were no choice but 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 ther luggage dilemma, we went to eat lunch at the food court in Seoul Station.
2 PM – Pink Kimono Rental
I was able to influenced my whole family to dress in hanbok. We rented in Pink hanbok rental near Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 4. The hanbok (plus hair arrangement) is 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 will be waived when you are wearing a hanbok. This is the biggest palace in Seoul and also, for me, is the most gorgeous one. The two hours rental time is honestly not enough for photos and exploring.
4:30 PM – Return the hanboks
5:00 PM – Walk by Insadong
Insadong is just a few meter away from Gyeongbokgung Palace. And my cousin wanted to walked 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.
7PM – 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 Seoul Station Exit 4 and it was quite a long ride but we enjoyed the view though. We brought our own 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 kdramas 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. Last train ride from Seoul Station is at 10:50 PM.
2:00 AM – Flight back to Manila
Cebu Pacific Seoul-Manila schedule kinda 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 DIY itinerary but most of the expense is from the airfare and ski tour. You can try to get a cheaper fare and not avail the ski tour if you are in 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.