Finally, we reached the last post for my Autumn in Korea trip! Like my Hong Kong trip, I would be sharing with you my South Korea Itinerary. I’ll show you how to do it in 4D3N and how it can be managed under PHP15,000. Yes, that’s right – under PHP15000. This would be a mid-level travel guide – private rooms, private bathrooms, paid attractions, and all that. I would try to be as detailed as I could, and at the bottom of this post, you could get my detailed 5D4N Seoul, South Korea itinerary FOR FREE.
When to Go
South Korea has four seasons:
- Winter – December to February
- Spring – March to May
- Summer – June to August
- Autumn – September to November
It’s been said that the weather in Korea are in the extremes. So when they say summer, it’s really hot and when it’s winter, it’s freezing cold. It would really depend on your taste which season to go. Spring and autumn are safe bets and I personally wouldn’t want to spend summer there.
I went to Korea last October 13-17, 2016. Autumn was just starting so the leaves are just starting to go red. If you like the cold weather, I’d recommend visiting from November to February.
How Long To Stay There
This would depend if you’re only circling Seoul. If you are, I think 4-5 days is enough to cover the main attractions though it might be a little jam-packed and fast-paced. If you’re used to a slower pace of travelling, a whole week would be great.
Where To Book Flights
There are several budget airlines flying from Manila to Seoul (Incheon Airport) and vice versa. I usually book flights with Cebu Pacific and Air Asia. There are also sites that search the cheapest flights for you like Skyscanner and Farecompare. Some tips to score the cheaper flights:
- Subscribe to the airlines’ newsletter to be up-to-date with promos and discounts.
- Follow the airlines’ social media accounts.
- Seriously stay up until midnight to be one of the firsts to try their luck trying to book fares – especially piso fares.
I was the one who booked our flights for this trip. I ended up paying more or less PHP4500 for a round-trip flight with a 15kg baggage allowance. Last year, I was able to book round trip tickets for PHP3500 per person.
Where to Stay
There are many hotels and hostels available for your picking. I’m personally a fan of booking accommodations through Agoda.com, Booking.com, and AirBNB.com. (Psst. You get $40 off your first airbnb trip if you sign up with my link!) Below are the following neighborhoods that I think is a good place to stay at when in Seoul:
- Myeongdong – This is Seoul’s most popular shopping district with a lot of options for food. A good starting point, especially for first timers. The streets can be pretty crowded during night and weekends. If you love shopping, this is a good place to stay.
- Hongdae – I think this is familiar to Myeongdong but caters to a younger crowd since it’s near universities. Restaurants and cafe can be open all day. And this is also the party scene. If you love food, this is a good place to stay.
- Jongno – This is a quieter neighborhood compared to Myeongdong and Hongdae. The palaces, shrines, and temples are around this place. This is where Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong is located, as well. If you love culture, this is a good place to stay.
How Much Money to Bring
According to LonelyPlanet, if you travel midrange, you would need about PHP5000 per day if you travel midrange. However, I’ll show at the end of the post how you can only spend less than PHP15,000 for a 4D3N trip!
Where to Exchange Currency
The easiest answer to this is: not at the airport – which was mistake #1 of our trip. The rates are the airport will reap you off and you will literally be better off anywhere else. Where did I change my money?
- Currency Exchange in the PH – The rates were competitive and were pretty much the same rate as there is in Korea. I don’t need to find a good deal in Korea as I changed all my pesos back in Manila.
- Myeongdong – My friend changed some of her pesos here. Do check different currency exchange stores first as some have rip-off rates compared to others.
Do you need a VISA?
YES. Filipino nationals need to acquire a visa before heading to Korea. I made a previous post about how Filipino employees can apply for a Korean tourist visa.
How To Stay Connected
Free Wi-Fi is located all over Seoul – in major tourist attractions, shopping malls, parks, museums, and even train stations. But if you want to be connected 24/7, you can use either of the two options below:
- Sim Card – Usual pick-up point is at the airport if you buy them online. You can just choose which plan will cater to you. Or you can just buy them in telco stores if your flight is at off-hours.
- 3G/4G Pocket Wi-Fi – You can book these online for unlimited data during your stay. Usual pick-up and drop-off points are at the airport or big shopping places so it won’t be a hassle.
I recommend booking these things online to save you time. You can check out Klook for deals. Make sure you check the time though as some stalls close before midnight and doesn’t open until 8-10AM the next day.
Here are the apps I used to make travelling Seoul easier:
- Subway Korea – Shows you the complete map of the train routes. It’s really helpful especially since it shows you what time the next train is and how much time, money, and transfers it’ll take from Point A to Point B.
- Google Translate – This will totally save you if you get lost. Not a lot of locals know how to speak English so this will save you time from trying to find one that does.
- Klook – I’m a sucker for discounts so be sure to check out Klook. Follow them on Facebook as they do flash sales like PHP1 for Disneyland or Buy-1-Take-1 deals.
(The links redirect you to the Apple Store, but I’m sure they have a corresponding Android app for those.)
How To Reach The City
There are three main ways to reach the city from the airport. I recommend the first one since you save a lot of moolah but I’ll let you decide on that.
- Airport Railroad Express (AREX) – They have two trains – the express train that goes straight to Seoul Station and the all-stop train that goes through 13 stops. Express train costs KRW9000 (PHP440) while the all-stop train only costs KRW4150 (PHP200). I would recommend riding the all-stop train as it’s the cheapest option and only takes a few minutes longer than the express train.
- Airport Bus– Airport buses have different stops all over Seoul. A trip from the airport to Myeongdong is around KRW10000. Expensive but better if you have many things with you. See the airport bus guide here.
- Taxis – This is the most expensive option, as always. Base fare will start at KRW3000.
How To Get Around
Using the train system is the easiest and cheapest way to travel Seoul. Do note that it’s closed from midnight to 5:30 AM. You can see the subway lines here.
Seoul has two transportation cards: T-Money and Cashbee. I recommend just getting the T-Money card as it’s the most popular one. It’s basically like Hong Kong’s Octopus Card and Singapore’s Ezlink card. T-Money costs KRW2500 and you can buy it at convenience stores like 7-Eleven, GS25, Mini-stop, etc. You can use it at subways, buses, and even taxis. All your fares will also be less than KRW100 compared to when using cash so this is definitely a must!
Money Saving Tips
Here are a few tips to save you some moolah on your trip:
- Buy food from convenience stores.
- We unintentionally end up eating most dinners from the bento sets being sold on convenience stores because of our packed trip. They go from KRW3000-KRW4000 (PHP150-200) for a whole bento meal – rice, meat, and some side dishes.
- You can also buy a lot of snacks under KRW1000.
- Use a T-Money card.
- You get KRW100 off per ride.
- If you’re gonna rent a hanbok, rent it before you visit palaces.
- Some palace offer free entrance if you’re dressed up in hanboks.
- Walk, if you can.
- We saved as we walked from Bukchon Hanok Village to Gyeongbukgong Palace to Changdeokgung Palace.
What to Visit in Seoul
I won’t be listing everything but here I’ll be highlighting my top 5 favorite place to visit in Seoul. You can check out my South Korea tag to check the other places not listed here. 🙂
Myeongdong is Seoul’s shopping district. It is filled with options of where to shop and where to eat. Street food is available in every corner and it’s a skin care haven. Stores will be giving you skin care samples even when you don’t buy anything. This is on the top 3 places I loved in Seoul.
Bukchon Hanok Village
If you want to have a glimpse of Korea’s traditional houses aka hanoks, this is the place to go. You can even rent a hanbok while roaming the place so you’ll feel like you’re being transported to the past. Fun fact: you can even rent a hanok for your accommodation.
Gyeongbukgong Palace is the largest of Seoul’s five palaces. It’s also said to be the most beautiful. It also includes two museums inside its gates. The National Palace Museum of Korea is located south of Heungnyemun Gate, and the National Folk Museum is located on the eastern side within Hyangwonjeong.
If you like amusement parks, this is the place to go. Fun fact is that there’s also a mini-zoo inside the park. It’s huge and you can spend a whole day in here and still have not seen everything. And another fun fact: one of the park’s famous rides, T-Express, is the world’s fourth steepest wooden roller coaster!
Nami Island is nature. It’s so different from buzzling Seoul. Here, you can just take long scenic walks and never be bored because of the island’s beauty. Autumn in Nami Island is just beyond beautiful. No wonder a lot of K-Dramas were filmed here.
This is not my actual itinerary from my previous trip but it’ll be the one I’m recommending. I’ll also probably just end up using this for my planned Seoul trip this September! My flight time is that I’ll be arriving early morning and leaving after midnight.
Day 1 –
- 09:30 AM – Insadong
- 12:00 PM – Lunch around Insadong
- 01:30 PM – Ewha Women’s University
- 03:30 PM – Train to Gangnam
- 04:30 PM – Gangnam Tour
- 08:00 PM – Go back to Seoul Station to have dinner.
- 09:00 PM – Shopping at Lotte Mart for pasalubong.
- Lotte Mart is open until midnight.
- 10:00 PM – End day
Day 2 –
- 06:30 AM – Head to Bukchon Hanok Village
- 07:00 AM – Bukchon Hanok Village
- The tourist center opens at 9AM so make sure to print/download a map beforehand.
- Breakfast from cafes/small restaurants around.
- 09:30 AM – Rent a hanok.
- Hanok rentals can be good for a whole day.
- 10:00 AM – Gyeongbokgung Palace
- Free entrance if you’re wearing a hanok.
- Largest and most popular palace in Seoul.
- Optional: You can visit National Folk Museum of Korea inside the palace for free.
- 12:00 PM – Lunch at Tosochokon Samgyetang Restaurant
- Said to have the best samgyetang in Seoul. Expect lines.
- 02:00 PM – Changdeokgung Palace
- Optional: You can also visit the Secret Garden inside with a fee.
- 05:30 PM – Dongdaemun Design Plaza
- Free entrance inside.
- You can see the LED Rose Garden by DDP for free. Lighting hours depend on the season.
- 08:00 PM – Dongdaemun Market
- 10:00 PM – End of day
Day 3 –
- 06:00 AM – Early ITX ride towards Gapyeong Station.
- You could book your tickets a month in advance here.
- 07:45 AM – Nami Island
- Getting to Nami Island this early means there are significantly less people around. Crowd started forming when we were about to leave.
- 10:30 AM – Early lunch near the ferry for Nami Island
- There are food options in Nami Island but there are also restaurants and convenience store around the ferry place.
- 11:15 AM – Hop-on/hop-off bus to to Petite France
- 11:40 PM – Petite France
- You could honestly just spend an hour here… I would just skip this in my next visit, tbh.
- 01:40 PM – Hop-on/hop-off bus to Garden of the Morning Calm
- 02:30 PM – Garden of Morning Calm
- 04:00 PM – Hop-on/hop-off bus to Cheongpyeong Station
- 04:25 PM – Off to Myeongdong
- 07:00 PM – Namsam Tower
- Opening hours is until 11 PM.
- 08:30 PM – Dinner at Myeongdong
- 09:30 PM – Shopping at Myeongdong/street food foodtrip
- Make sure to try all the street foods. They are so good!
- Bonus tip: Just enter all the shops. They give freebies even if you don’t buy anything.
- 11:00 PM – End day
Day 4 –
- 08:00 AM – Head off to Everland.
- Make sure to already pack up. Leave bags at the Airbnb/hostel if possible. If not, store baggage at train stations, i.e. Seoul Station.
- 10:00 AM – Everland
- 08:00 PM –Hongdae
- Last minute shopping/foodtrip.
- 11:00 PM – Head to the airport
- Claim bags from hostel/Airbnb/lockers.
- End trip.
|Description||in KRW||in PHP|
|Roundtrip Plane Tickets||3500|
|T-Money Card and Load||40000||1960|
|Changdeokgung Palace Entrance||3000||146|
|Tour Bus in Gapyeong||6000||293|
|Garden of Morning Calm||8000||390|
|N Seoul Tower (discounted from Klook)||303|
I overestimated the transpo and food expense so you can have some wiggle room but here it is! You can definitely do a mid-level Korea trip for under PHP15,000! This doesn’t include some money for the pasalubong since that’s based on what ya want. Some of the things I bought home from Korea are: cute socks (KRW1000/PHP48), cookies from Lotte Mart (KRW2000/PHP96), a horde of Korean face masks (about PHP20 each), and some skincare products. 🙂
If you finished the post all the way here, then that must mean you’ll be visiting Korea soon or already have plans to do so. I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to come back here later this year myself. Fingers crossed that it’ll push through! And as promised, you can download my itinerary. Just give me a like/share to unlock the file below.
Click here for the actual itinerary I used during my trip.
PS. If you need more help to make your itinerary, I offer to make personalized travel itinerary at an affordable price. You can go through my shop. 🙂