Travel Guide: Korea in Winter

Getting the Visa (Philippines):

Visa requirements are on the Korean embassy page.

If your parents are retired (they don’t have an ITR), you can use your ITR as a substitute. My brother is in school so I used my ITR since I was sponsoring his trip.

I don’t think you need to be physically present when applying for the Visa. We forgot a requirement (my brother’s school certificate) the first time we got there so we re-applied a few days after. I didn’t come with him but I got my Visa approved anyway.

You have to get there early. The embassy will open at 8:30 am but just assume that there will be a line before then. We went there at around 6:00 am and we were fourth in line. If we came in at 8:00 we would probably be in seventieth (!) place. You can stay in the Shakey’s from across the street, at around 6:30, they were open. There is also a Coffee Bean but it was closed at that time.

Also, I think they stop taking in applicants by about 10am, because they release completed applications in the afternoon.

At 8:30, the guard will call out names on the logbook and you have to be there. By this time you have to accumulate all your requirements in a clipboard or a folder or something. There are two lines–one is the line to the requirements person (Filipino), he will just preliminarily check your requirements and give you a number to the windows where the Korean visa agents are. The second line is to the Korean visa agent, where you wait for your number to be called. I suggest bringing a book to read, we still waited 30 minutes.

There are three lines/windows inside the embassy. The window at the very left is for first time Visa applicants and the window at the very right is for people who have an OECD visa already. So you might get confused why the other lines are moving but yours isn’t.

On requirements: You must have all of them and nothing more. If you think things like other Visas, accommodation receipts, and flight tickets will help you, they won’t. The Korean lady even told us “why so many, I don’t need this.” So don’t bother bringing those things.

They will give you a claim stub for your passports. Try not to lose them.

On Visa releasing: 5 business days after they got the application. For us, this was about 1 week before our flight. I went there alone and I arrived at around 2:00pm. It was sort of the same process as applying, I just gave my claim stub and waited to get called. While waiting I heard someone singing (auditioning?) in the adjacent room. I guess you show your talents to the consul if you’re applying to be an entertainer? Whatever hehe.

When I got our approved Visas, I did a small dance in my head! We didn’t waste money on a ticket that we can’t use! BTW, I didn’t know what a Visa looked like, apparently these things are just a page in the passport. Cool.

By the way the traffic from the embassy was insane. I rode my bike and it still took me 40 minutes to get from BGC to Pasig.

The Flight/Getting to your Hostel

Things to bring: a book, pens for the immigration card.

If you have an option to pay the airport tax while booking your flight, just take it. It took us about 20 minutes to get through that line at the airport.

In addition to the immigration/arrival card, all passengers were asked to fill up a Quarantine card and a Customs card. They take this when leaving the airport but they really didn’t check it that much.

After deplaning, there’s just one way to immigration. Take the train and walk fast so you don’t have to stay in line that long. Immigration took around 3 minutes for the both of us. We got a Simcard via Trazy (you can also use Klook) and we got a T-money card from the convenience store in the airport.

BTW, you can start wearing your costume/winter clothes in the airport. I walked out of the airport doors and within 5 seconds a gust of 3C winter wind slapped me in the face. :(

Getting to your hostel: So we left the airport at around 12:30am, so the trains were closed. We took a bus to Seoul Station (8K KRW each), took around 50 minutes? It’s just like the buses at home. When we got to Seoul Station some taxi drivers wanted to hustle us to our hostel, they were charging 20K KRW to go to Itaewon which was just a few kilometers away. Tried to take a bus but I stupidly rode the opposite direction so we just got a cab. 8K for the cab from somewhere near Seoul station to Itaewon.

Expenses upon landing:

Dealing with Cold Weather

Going Around, Tips:

Cost Savings