Contributed by How to Getaway With Ched
To witness the snowfall is everyone’s dream especially to the ones residing in a non-four season country (e.g. me lol). Add to that, the fascination for wearing chunky, stylish winter staples. It has been a dream I could only fulfil through gliding on ice in a skating rink in our town’s shopping mall. It is sort of a “winter feel” albeit not seeing a real snow drop on my head. I couldn’t wait for that rare moment. Thus, I planned out an itinerary, packed my bags, and then flew to Seoul last December 2015.
Join me as I finally witnessed the freezing cold weather in the Land of the Morning Calm. Through this post, I will share with you my exciting 7-day winter season trip to South Korea on a tight budget.
Also read: A Filipino Traveller’s Guide to Visiting Korea for the First Time
Thanks to the birth and proliferation of low-cost carriers, travelling to the K-Pop nation is not anymore an option, it’s a must! I booked 9 months before my flight and luckily opened the web browser with a surprise. Without any hesitation, I reserved my ticket to South Korea via Cebu Pacific.
Cost: ₱6,510.31/$138.34 (inclusive of round-trip meals on-board, 20-kg baggage allowance, seat selection, terminal fee, Fly Me Next privilege)
Quick tip: The technique doesn’t change at all. Scoring a wallet-friendly airline ticket fare entails a simple effort; make it part of your daily or weekly grind. Always check! Or better yet, subscribe to their newsletter!
Also read: 8 Tricks to Successfully Grab Cheap Promo Flights in the Philippines
In my post about Hostel Maru, I mentioned all the inclusions of a ₱441/$9 per night stay. To cite some, an unlimited American breakfast, high-speed Wi-Fi, showers, etc. Book it to stay cheap and stay hip!
Cost: ₱3,085.00/$65.55 for 7 days
Quick tip: I discovered that when reserving your accommodation, booking late is a good thing this time. Which contradicts the hack in booking an airline ticket. Based on my experience, I booked my stay 2 days before the check-in date. It was by accident when I realised that most of the hostels I was browsing through the previous weeks, obviously cheapen their prices to almost 70%-80%! I was then indecisive of which guesthouse to stay at, which brought me to a late but cheaper reservation. Cool right?
With a budget of ₱400/$8.5 per day, surely you can find a decent and delicious meal without getting your wallet run on empty. You can opt for store-brought ramyun, cheap meals in subway stations, restaurants like the Food Cafè, and of course, street food!
Cost: ₱2800/$42 for 7 days
Quick tip: Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, always do a run through the inclusions when booking your hostel/guesthouse. It’s best when there’s free breakfast; it’ll save you up a bunch of money. Plus, you can bring with you whatever breakfast is served, placed in a plastic container. That’s what I did and trust me, it’s the best tip ever.
The fastest way to get you to your favoured tourist attractions is through the subway. Upon arrival at the airport, you can already purchase your T-money card. Convenience stores, all subway stations, and other dealers (with the T-money logo) sell these cards as well.
- T-money card – ₱1,566.10/$33.11 (loaded up with ₩40,000, good for 7 days)
- Bus – ₱236.04/$5.02 (Gapyeong shuttle bus that will take you to Nami Island and Petite France)
- Ferry – P314.73/$6.7 (ferry to Nami Island)
Quick tip: The advantages of the T-money card is overwhelming; it can also be used when riding a bus, some taxi cabs, public telephones, and when making a purchase at convenience stores and vending machines. Works just like your debit card!
Activities and admission fees
Gyeongbokgung | Image credit: Makoto Nakashima
Listed here are the fees to different attractions in my DIY 7-day Itinerary.
- Gyeongbokgung Palace – ₱118.02/$2.5
- Deoksugung Palace – ₱39.34/$0.83
- Namsan Seoul Tower (one-way cable car) – ₱236.06/$5.02
- Trickeye Museum – ₱590.15/$12.56
- Petite France – ₱314.70/$6.7
Quick tip: Don’t consider going to Nami Island and Petite France on a Sunday, these two places are a bit touristy. Another thing, the four major palaces in Seoul (Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace) have an Integrated Palace Ticket for ₩10,000/₱392.87/$8.35 valid for 1 month of unlimited use.
Know more about the palaces here.
Also read: 12 Things You Must Try for Your First Seoul Winter
Fortunately, the Philippines is given a lenient process in terms of visa application. On top of that, a 59-day tourist visa can be availed for free!
Quick tip: It’s better to include your round-trip itinerary receipt (if you’ve booked already) for a higher chance of getting your visa application approved; although that’s not listed as one of the requirements. It will serve as a strong supporting document. The price of visa processing through a travel agency ranges from ₱800-₱1,000.
Also read: My South Korea Tourist Visa Approved: 5 Easy Steps for Filipinos
To sum it all up, here’s the breakdown of expenses:
- Airfare – ₱6,510.31
- Accommodation – ₱3,085
- Food – ₱2,800
- Transportation– ₱2,124.47
- Activities and additional fees – ₱1,298.27
- Visa processing – Free of Charge
- TOTAL – ₱15,818.05 / $335
Share this to your friends and you might just see yourselves touring around Seoul in the next yuletide season… without being broke!
*Full details of the itinerary to be posted soon!