On my birthday last year, I felt the need to get away from Cebu even for just a few days. Don’t get me wrong – nothing beats fun conversations over dinner with family and friends but everyone needs a breather sometimes. I decided to go to South Korea because aside from the getting-away-part, I already knew friends there plus it’s autumn! Later on, I found out some of my blogger friends were also travelling there. Lucky! Before I left, I took the time to read my editor’s guide to South Korea. I wanted to do everything on the list but due to my inability to take a long leave from work, I only got to stay for 3 days (72 hours!) which was obviously too short but more than enough time to enjoy.
As we all know, Filipinos need visa to visit SoKor (South Korea). Since this was a last minute trip, I thought it was best to apply for a visa right before buying my ticket. For scheduled vacations, always follow the general rule of booking your tickets way ahead.
How to get a visa to Korea?
Fortunately, South Korea has a consulate in Cebu. It is located at the 12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Center, Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5, Cebu Business Park, Mabolo, Cebu City. You can visit their website for the list of requirements. After completing and submitting the necessary files, it takes 5 business days for your visa to be processed.
It’s actually very easy as long as you have all the means to obtain the requirements. Double check your files especially your COE (employees) and ITR. Make sure you have enough money in your bank account to sustain your travel expenditures. In my case, they called my workplace to verify all the information on my COE but aside from that, everything went smoothly.
Where to stay?
My friends and I found a great place near Seoul station through Airbnb. It was just a 2 minute walk from the station. We found ourselves in a very cute and comfortable house. It fit the five us snugly.
Seoul and Shopping areas
I made sure I wouldn’t miss the shopping areas. I first visited Myeong dong. There, I was able to go around a bit, had dinner at a Korean restaurant and tried the best Chocolate drink at one of their most popular coffee shops, Angel in us coffee.
Although I wasn’t there for a long time, I was able to stroll with my friends in Hongdae. Both Myeong dong and Hongdae are busy areas. You’ll find everything you want and need from cafes to boutiques.
Seoul is a very romantic city so it would have been glorious to go around with someone special, but going with a bunch of crazy friends is always a good idea too. As mentioned, you can never go wrong with autumn so I suggest that you visit around October to November.
Have you seen the famous Korean drama series Winter Sonata? If you have, then you should be familiar with the breathtaking views of Nami Island. For me, this was the highlight of the trip because it was just all about nature and culture. It was refreshing and made me feel detached from my busy city life. We couldn’t help but take a bunch of photos because everything was too beautiful for words.
How to get to Nami Island?
You can go to Nami Island through the bus, ITX or train. We chose to take the last option. From Seoul station, we took the train going to Cheongnyangni station then took another train to Gapyeong station (nearest station to Nami Island). From there, we took a short taxi ride to catch the ferry going to the island. If you are a bit more adventurous, you can actually zipline to the island! Make sure you also bring your passport with you as it will be checked before you enter the island.
Incheon International Airport
My last day was spent cafe hopping and going around the city alone since my friends went to the mountains. In order to avoid the rush hour, I went to the airport super early. I don’t usually do this because I easily get bored but it allowed more time to see what their airport offered. It did not disappoint! I was still able to grab more coffee and dessert, went for a quick massage (free!), learned more about Korea’s culture and did a bit of shopping.
Dubbed as the 2nd best airport for 2015, it’s definitely worth exploring!
I saw this post from Business Insider after my trip (too bad!) but this is a good tip for those who might find themselves stuck in the Incheon International Airport.
My short trip was eventful and allowed me to see and experience many incredible things. It was a great jumpstart to being 26!
I’m definitely coming back Seoul!