So, I was denied for a visa on my 1st try (last May 2015), reason ‘You failed to prove the purpose of entry to Korea’. I’m not sure why.. I was really sad and frustrated. But hey, things happen for a reason. It got me thinking.. maybe I should go cross out something off my bucketlist instead, ‘Travel alone to a place you haven’t been to’. And that’s what happened, I went to Bali! 🙂 In case you’re curious, find out what happened.. Solivagant in Bali.
Going back to Korea.. haha! Just check out the visa requirements and process here – Korea Visa Application. Form is also downloadable there. If you’re a BDO or BPI card holder, you can be granted a multiple entry visa and be exempted to submit financial documents. December 2015, I applied again and was granted a 3-year multiple entry visa. I guess that BDO Gold Credit Card helped.
Myeongdong Hello Residence (formerly Myeongdong Stay Residences)
4 nights = Php 6,168 good for 2pax (Php 771 per head/night), booked through Agoda. Includes basic breakfast, free wifi, hairdryer, small towel
Location: very convenient, near subway and airport limousine drop-off, across Myeongdong shopping area.
Twin Room: it was small, can fit two single beds and 2 luggages. CR is small too but okay.
Staff/Owner: Mr. Chris was very accommodating. He gave us his contact details in case we have questions or we get lost. He also allowed us to leave our luggage for free after checking out since our flight was still at night. He even offered an additional night for free but sadly we can’t rebook our flight.
Overall: Our stay there was good, given the accessible location and affordable rate. I also left a review in Agoda, for more details.
Useful Mobile Apps and Sites
Arrived at Incheon Airport, grab tourist maps & booklets
Buy T-Money card at a convenience store
– card costs around Php 100-200 (2,500-4,000 KRW) and I loaded 50,000 KRW. It was more than enough for the 5 days trip.
– use for subways, bus (inc. Airport Limousine), taxi, and other convenience stores
– advisable for travelers with DIY itineraries
Incheon Airport – Myeongdong
– you can take the Airport Limousine Bus for 15,000 KRW. For convenience and if you have a lot of baggage.
– we took the subway (AREX-All stop train). Airport to Seoul Station is 1 hour (4,150 KRW), transfer to Line 4.
– Seoul to Myeongdong is 15 minutes (1,150 KRW).
Total of 5,300 KRW. If you have a heavy luggage this may be inconvenient since you will need to go up/down some stairs.
Check-in and had dinner at a Chicken & Beer resto (9,000 KRW)
– is the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea. Free Entrance. Tourism Information opens 9am.
Short video of the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony.
Everland Theme Park
– got our ticket from Funtastic Korea for 35,000 KRW. Price on the site is 52,000 KRW.
– I was looking forward to ride the T Express but it was under maintenance during that time.. boo!
– weekday would be a better option to visit to avoid long lines on the rides
Myeongdong Street Food & Shopping Area
Day 3 – Nami Island & Petite France
Subway from Myeongdong
– take train Chungmuro bound go down at Dongdaemun Stadium
– transfer to Line 2 (Green), take train bound to Sindang, go down at Wangsimni
– transfer to Jungang Line, take train bound to Cheong-nyangni, go down at Mangu
– transfer to Gyeongchun Line, take train bound to Sinnae, go down at Gapyeong
Total Subway Fare: 2,450 KRW | around 1 hour & 30 minutes travel time
Gapyeong Tour Bus
– a Hop on, Hop off bus that goes around the city. Advisable if you plan to visit 2 or more sites.
– make sure to get a brochure for the schedule of the pick-up and drop off
– Fee is 6,000 KRW (T-money not accepted)
– Upon arrival you will need to present your passport and pay the Visa Fee of 8,000 KRW. This already includes the round-trip ferry fare
– It would be better to rent a bike to get around nami, it’s a very big island 🙂
Other Expenses: 1 hr. bike rental-5,000 KRW | Food (Sausage)-2,500 KRW | Magnets & Postcard – 6,000 KRW
If you’re a fan of ‘The Little Prince’ then you must visit this place. Entrance Fee is 8,000 KRW but we got a discount coupon, so we only paid 6,000 KRW. 🙂
They also have a Stamp Event. Buy the canvas for 500 KRW then if you find and get more than 5 stamps, you get a free post card. It was actually fun! They also have a line-up of activities/show such as Marionette Performance, Street Musician, etc.
Short video of the Marionette Performance.
We took the bus and hopped off at Cheongpyeong Station. From there, you know the drill, reverse the subway guide or better yet.. just use the Subway Korea App.
Breakfast Dessert at Hello Kitty Cafe
Joint Security Area/Panmunjom Tour
– This tour will take you to the border of South and North Korea. Panmunjom is the only place where they can hold talks. It was a different and I may say, a very intense experience.
– This cannot be done as a DIY so you will need to book with an agency. We got DMZ Tour to take us there. The tour costs 85,000 KRW (includes transportation, lunch, tour guide).
Itinerary: Lunch – Freedom Bridge at Imjingak Park – Panmunjom Check Point (guards will check your passports) – Briefing about JSA at Camp Bonifas – JSA Tour (Advanced Camp, Freedom House, Conference Room, Observation post of visitor, Bridge of No Return)
You will need to reserve at least four days in advance. They will request for your Full name, Passport No. and Nationality.
N Seoul Tower
– We took a one-way cable car ride going up to Namsan Tower for 6,000 KRW. You may visit the Love Locks area for free but if you wish to go to the Observatory, entrance fee is 10,000 KRW.
Dinner at some restaurant in Myeongdong
Bukchon Hanok Village
– Korean Traditional Village which is an actual residential village. So, please be mindful when going around, no loud voices or shouting. I was charmed by its cultural heritage.
– accidentally, by walking.. we arrived here. 🙂 Lined with a lot of modern cafes, galleries, artsy stores, restaurants. It was fun exploring the street.
– passed by here on the way to Insadong
– is another street where you can find traditional cafes, galleries, restaurants, and souvenirs.
We still dropped by at a Lotte Mart near Myeongdong to buy some more Korean snacks. After getting our luggage from the hotel, we took the Airport Limousine (15,000 KRW).. Our bags were already heavy so enough of the subway.. lol!
Upon arrival at the airport, we returned the rented pocket wifi and went to the Tax Refund counter. Present the tax refund slips found attached with the receipts, so make sure not to throw them away. After checking, we went to the Tax Refund machine to scan our passport and refund slips. Staff informed us to complete the refund process at a machine near our boarding gate. We checked in at our assigned counter and went to immigration. We headed to another Tax Refund Machine and got our refund.
Last Authentic Korean Meal at the airport! 🙂
Travel Date: June to July, 2016
All-in Expense: Php 23,938.00 (shopping & pasalubong not included 🙂 )
For the next Korea trip: Ihwa Mural Village, Hongdae/Hongik University, Dongdaemun, Namdaemun, Secret Garden, Jeju Island