During our Hong Kong trip, we availed for a tour package to avoid hassle but we missed a lot since we had to follow the travel agency’s itinerary. And well, it was definitely more expensive since of course there were mark-ups. During my trip to Singapore, I learned a thing or two about backpacking from my cousin.
We wanted to enjoy Seoul at our own phase and we wanted to maximize our days on a budget trip. Soon, the planning began.
We mapped out the places we planned to visit and decided to buy T Money instead of T Money M Pass since we enjoy a lot of walking and two days will be spent outside of Seoul. We thought getting on the city bus isn’t worth it since we already know the places we wanted to go to in proper order. It was more convenient for us to hop on and hop off the subway going to our preferred destinations.
(Tip: research and read a lot from the internet) We read different blogs, different articles, read different reviews and sites on where to best stay, we made our own itineraries and compared notes. We did these for about three months, yes we spent a lot on planning the whole shebang to avoid any untoward incidents when we get there. It’s a foreign country, it’s natural to know whatever there is to know.
We read a lot, did I already say that? Well we found out that in Korea, the free coupons are real. So take advantage of those, they will come in handy. Discounts help a lot.
Booking our flight
This was the most tricky part, we have a fix date on this, because we had to adjust on my cousin’s term break from school. We spent a total of Php 11,419.71/each including airport taxes amounting to Php 1,620.00/each (if you’re coming from NAIA there’s no need to pay for terminal fee) for the round trip ticket (tip: you can get a roundtrip ticket as low as 2k-4k to Seoul, that’s a fact. You just have to check regularly on the airline promos. Usually, you have to purchase them at least 6 mos ahead of flight) but because we wanted to secure our visa first, we didn’t book the 5k ticket worth we saw online beforehand. and after getting the visa, we were already running out of time since we had to adjust to the 3-mos visa validity (which was usually given). (Another tip, if you see a promo at reasonable price, you have to grab them because they were on limited seats and there may never be the same again on your preferred dates.)That was the problem there, we’ve already spent so much on the airfare alone. But there was no room for blame and regret anymore, it was our choice, we wanted this so much. It was a risk we took (we already have an inkling something like this might happen) and we learned from it for the benefit of our future trips.
That was the downside of travelling to visa-required countries on a tight budget, it’s always an “either-or” unless you already have an existing visa or you are on a money spree you don’t mind the price for everything. Most of us are not that lucky and privileged. We already have the visa and we have a fix date and we thought this is the best time with the excitement running high. We booked through Cebu Pacific (PAL rarely give promos nowadays but Airasia also give low promos. It was a personal choice to fly via Cebu Pac over Airasia).
31 AUG 16 MNL to ICN – 2,300+
7 SEP 16 ICN to MNL – 6000+ (There was 3k worth for sept 15 but we thought we will throw more money by staying there longer)
We only availed one baggage for the two of us. 20kg (620php) check-in baggage going to Seoul and 30kg (1120php) going back (we assumed we may be buying some souvenirs and other trinkets from the trip) and we already have 7kg handcarry each.It was enough for the two of us. We also paid the 1620php/pax travel tax. We decided not to get meals though . All in all, we paid 22, 839.42php (too expensive for a budget trip, I tell you. but as I said before we were locked in on the travel date and visa so we confirmed the booking with eyes closed.)
P.S. we booked 7 weeks prior to the trip. A week after that, we saw this:
That hurts a lot when you’re on a budget trip. It’s a two-night worth of accommodation. So yeah, I am not yet an expert on this. But, I am learning.
Booking the Accommodation
For this we have a requirement, it must be around Myeongdong since we read it was near a lot of tourist spots. It must be near the subway station for convenience. It must be near a lot of stores so that it would be easier to buy food and it would be safer to walk around when you have the crowd rather than dark alleys especially late at night. The little downside would be the noise, I guess but we’ll take it.
You can get cheaper rooms with shared bathroom or you can book the dorm types but we wanted our own privacy for comfort purposes so it’s more pricey. We even considered Air BnB but decided against it in the end when we realized that it would be more practical to stay in a free breakfast hostel/guesthouse.
We thought we planned early but we learned we should’ve planned earlier.