Travel Guide South Korea: The English language is still not widely used in Korea. The first thing you should do once you step out of the immigration is to go to the tourism office and get English maps. You also need to ask the staff there about which buses or train to ride to go to your hotel or destination even if you already have a list and directions you got from other blogs online, because there are times the gate numbers might change, or certain bus routes may only be operational during certain hours. Related Article: Looking for cheap hostels in Korea? Here’s the list for Best Hostels in South Korea.
As a budget traveler, we always bring one suitcase full of cup noodles, crackers, 3-in-1 coffee and other easy to eat goodies. This saves us a lot of money due to all the walking that we have to do everyday, you will definitely be tempted to eat a lot. At the end of our trip, the empty suitcase can now be used for all the souvenirs that we bought.
It is also important to always bring bottles of water around and refill them for free at restaurants or your hotel’s pantry area. We always start the day with a backpack full of bottled water and snacks. Sometimes we even get extra food from the breakfast buffet for taking away.
When in Jeju Island, I would certainly suggest to rent a car. You will need to have an International Driver’s License because you will drive the car yourself so be sure to secure one before going to Jeju Island. All cars are equipped with GPS navigation and locating a place will require just the phone number of the venue to be keyed into the GPS so it is handy to get the contact numbers of the places you want to visit. Buses are scarce and by schedule.
If you want to join the JSA (Joint Security Area of North and South Korea) tour, you should book in advance for at least 2-3 weeks because the Korean Gov’t will have to make a background check on you before they will accept you in the tour. You will be able to go very close to the North Korean Border and if lucky enough you will get to see North Korean Soldiers up in the building pointing their sniper guns on you! Scary! Once you are out on the border, you are not allowed to make any sudden movements or even point your finger to the other side or you’ll literally get shot for real.
You will be instructed to line up facing the border and your hands must be in clear sight. You can only take your cameras out once they tell you to do so. You will also have the chance to enter the “blue house” where you will be stepping on NORTH KOREAN SOIL! You can really feel the tension between the two countries once you are there.
If you only want to join the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) tour where you can go to the tunnels, you can just book once you are already in Korea, but still, it is advisable to book in advance because these tours sell out fast.
Related Article: Looking for cheap hostels in Korea? Here’s the list for Best Hostels in South Korea.
South Korea Trip Highlights
Check the daily schedule for the changing of the guards ahead of time
Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in South Korea.
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) / Panmunjom – Joint Security Area (JSA) tour
SOKCHO – Hiking at Mt. Seoroaksan
Jeju Island – Mount Hallasan National Park
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Naganeupsong Folk Village
President “Blue” House, Changdeokgung Palace, Samcheongdong Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Insadong (souvenirs, street foods), Han River Cruise, Everland, Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park Wetlands and Reed fields
Based on my personal experience, since I am self – employed here are the requirements:
Tourist Visa Requirements for Filipino Businessmen
1. Application Form
2. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6months)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable, and Korean Visas will not be counted)
6. Photocopy of Business Registration from SEC or DTI
7. Photocopy of Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit
8. Original Personal Bank Certificate
(must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
9. Bank Statement
(original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
10. Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316
Related Article for Visa Guides.
Use the search box below to find the best day trips in South Korea
DAY 1: Davao-Cebu-Incheon. Upon arrival in Incheon, We took an hour ride to Seoul due to moderate traffic. Hostel Check-in: a HI-5 hostel. Related Article: Looking for cheap hostels in Korea? Here’s the list for Best Hostels in South Korea.
- Take Airport Limousine Bus 6002 at the Incheon airport bus stations 5B or 12A, and get off at the JONGNO-2GA station.
- Go down into the Jonggak Underground Shopping Center entrance 10 and come out through exit 7.
- You will then see Skin Food (cosmetics shop) and Mr. Pizza, walk into the alley right next to it for about 50m, you will see HI-5 hostel (in blue and white).
DAY 2: Our morning itinerary which is walking distance from the hostel, we visited:
- the Admiral yi stone statue
- Gyeongbokgung Palace (watch changing of guards 15mins. Duration)
- President blue house
- National folk museum
- Second performing arts n center
- Changdeokgung palace
In the afternoon, we went to Samcheongdong and Bukchon hanok village
At night, Insadong for souvenirs, street foods and free wine, etc
Note: everything is close to each other but it is pretty big places to cover so wear comfortable shoes.
DAY 3: Namsan Tower/ N Seoul tower and Cheongyecheon stream
DAY 4: Everland – theme park
(For the Everland bus, they have a pick up/drop off point near the hostel but u need to book in advance for seat reservation.)
When buying tickets choose Everland (outdoor, farther) or lotteworld (indoor, closer to city center)
DAY 5: Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) / Panmunjom – Joint Security Area (JSA) tour
Time: 07:20 am (Pick up from Hi 5 Hostel ) ~ 16:30 pm (Drop off at Lotte Hotel)
Itinerary: Hotel Pick up – Imjingak Park – The Bridge of Freedom – The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel – DMZ Theater & Exhibition Hall – Dora Observatory – Dorasan Station – Pass by Unification Village – Lunch – ID Check Point – Camp Bonifas (Slides Show and Briefing) – JSA (Freedom House, Conference Room, Bridge of no Return) – Arrive at Lotte Hotel.
Price: 130,000krw per person (minimum 1 person).
Inclusion: English speaking tour guide, transportation, lunch and entrance fees.
Note: Please make sure to bring your passport for ID check. Certain dress code applies: Normal blue jeans are OK to wear but no sleeveless shirts, t-shirts without the collar, short pants & skirts, sandals, military looking clothes and T-Shirts with flag or name of the nationality on it. Payment can be arranged on the tour day by cash or credit card. 100% cancellation charge if you cancel the tour two days before ~ on the tour day.
DAY 6: Nami island — Via train (Jongno 3 station, line 1,3,5… Exit 1 then walk 5mins toward jonggak station) Take taxi or bus to Gapyeong wharf, but the queue was very long for both, so we walked for 20mins,), or alternatively, you can reach Nami Island by ferry or Zipwire.
DAY 7: Seoul — Morning: Walk around places near hotel
Afternoon travel to Sokcho – go to Gangnam Express Bus Terminal. (be careful because there are a lot of different bus terminals going to different places) then towards Gyeongbu Line bus Terminal (bus leaves every 30mins) Drop off at Sokcho Express bus terminal
Check-in: Rocustel hotel (right behind the bus terminal) Communication is very hard because the staff on duty was also the cleaner of the whole hotel and cannot talk or understand Basic English. Maybe it’s not the case all the time, but when we reached the hotel is was a bit deserted. But room was big by Korean standard and clean.
DAY 8: Take a bus to Mt. Seoraksan entrance, then start to hike. There are many trails to choose so pick which one you like the most because you will probably be very tired to take the 2nd trail depending on your stamina.
DAY 9: Back to Seoul – Gimpo airport – fly to Jeju Island
Hotel checks in. In Seogwipo, we visited
– the Teddybear Museum
– Botanical garden
– Mysterious road (close to Loveland)
DAY 10: Mount Hallasan National Park — see the cooking nanta show at night.
DAY 11: Fly from Jeju – Busan , we arrived at 8am
Hotel check – in, then off we go to do the Busan City Tour Bus
Haeundae Tour (AM)
Busan Station → Busandaegyo Bridge (pass) → Busanhang Port Bridge (pass) → Busan UN Sculpture Park → Busan Museum → Gwangalli Beach → Nurimaru APEC House → Haeundae Beach (Busan Aquarium) → Haeundae Station → Shinsegae Department Store (Busan Centum City branch) and Lotte Department Store (Centum City branch) → Busan Museum of Art (BEXCO)) → Gwangandaegyo Bridge (pass) → Busan Station
Taejongdae Tour (PM)
Busan Station → Yeongdodaegyo Bridge (pass) → 75 Square → Taejongdae Resort Park → National Maritime Museum (International Cruise Terminal) → Namhangdaegyo Bridge (pass) → Songdo Beach → BIFF Square (formerly PIFF Square) and Jagalchi Market → Busan Station
DAY 12: Take a Bus ride from Busan to Suncheon
Naganeupsong Folk Village – visit the remaining castle from Joseon Dynasty.
Check-in: Suncheon nobless hotel ( I booked this hotel because it was the only one available via booking.com. This hotel is quite far from the bus stop so I would not recommend it. It is also very hard to locate we took the wrong bus (right bus number but opposite side of the road!) and have to ask a group of old Korean guys for help at the end of the route.
We visited Suncheonman Bay Ecological Park Wetlands and Reed fields and Suncheon Botanical Garden
Then head back to Busan via bus.
DAY 14: We visited the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in the morning, then catch our flight from Busan to Cebu.
Budget – NAMU Guesthouse
Mid Range – Dormy Inn Premium Seoul Garosugil
Luxury – JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul
About the Writer
Yoi Lacson is a registered Medical Technologist by profession, A graduate of San Pedro College. full time wife, mom and businesswoman. Frequent shoestring traveler on a budget. Nature and Travels are my outlet and my life’s restart button.
Name of the Country: South Korea
Date/s of Travel: October 31, 2014 – Nov. 13, 2014
City / Places Visited and Number of Days:
#1 Incheon (airport) Arrival Oct 31 9:15pm
#2 Seoul Oct 31 11pm – Nov.5
#3 Sokcho Nov.6 – 7
#4 Seoul Nov 8
#5 Jeju Nov 8 –Nov 10
#6 Busan Nov 10
#7 Suncheon Nov 11-12
#8 Busan Nov.12 (evening)- Nov 13
#9 Cebu Nov 13
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