✈ South Korea 2022 to 2023 — Travel Essentials

Now, we're onto the deets of this precious trip!

I actually thought to blog there after every day to make it even more special, like hey, posting straight from SK and fresh from the experiences!, but I usually arrive home late and by then, I don't have the energy to do stuff 🤷‍♀️

Okay, here we are, and before I divulge more on my 1st day, let me walk you through Incheon Airport!

First ever selca in South Korea!

As you can see, I officially step into the Land of the Morning Calm at 7:28 in the morning. PLS, the first breeze when I deplaned got me shookt! I instantly thought, "How am I gonna survive winter?" 

Before your flight, make sure to get your Q-code. With this, you don't have to fill their health declaration form and just scan your way towards the train to immigration.

But before conquering immigration, let's take some snaps to officially show we've arrived— in Incheon, at least! I'm actually glad I met another Kpop fan on the same flight, an EXO-L, because I got to have photos here. (My trusty tripod was still inside check-in luggage)

And immigration was smooth, unlike my immigration experience in the Philippines, though both had really long lines. My backpack was killing me!

Rookie BLACKPINK welcoming everyone~ OMG, I srsly felt I was in Kpop land already with all the celebrity stuff I saw from airport alone. And well, what I came for, let's be real!

This brings us to the things you will need in your South Korea trip...



As I've mentioned, you should get this for smoother airport process.

I think I only registered at the PH airport itself. Of course, you input the usual personal information, along with flight and vaccination details. You will also be asked to enter your accommodation address and contact number. For contact number, I asked my AirBnb for theirs since I don't have a Korean SIM yet. Which brings us to...

 Phone SIM with Data and Calls 

I always avail SIM just so I have a local number. While I know (and experienced!) their fast WiFi everywhere, I still prefer having my own data as well, so that I'm connected to the Internet anytime I need to use the map and/or go on social media.

Someone asked me if I prefer SIM or portable router, and my constant answer is, obviously, SIM. You can already set your phone as a hotspot, and you won't have to bring and charge another device.

 T-Money Card 

This is SK's transportation card, equivalent to Hong Kong's Octopus card and Singapore's EZ Link card. You can swipe it for rides in the subway train and buses, and you can even use it in your convenience store runs! Load and reload is easy in subway stations and convenience stores (over-the-counter).

Now, I got these 2 via Kkday! There's this Korea 4G/LTE SIM Card with T-Money Card (+ Calls) bundle that I bought on the spot via the Kkday app. Convenient, right? Tricky though; don't look for a Kkday stall, but the SIM brand stall instead, when you pick it up. In my case, it was LG U+. Attendants speak English, if you're worried about that!

No, but I thought they'll give me another card for the T-Money, but it's literally the SIM card without the nano part 😅 It does look cute but just, my expectations were different. I've heard you can customize your T-Money card design, but I didn't explore that route. Maybe on my next trip 😉

 Naver Map 

🔹 Apple, Android

When I tell you this app was my best friend, I MEAN IT WITH ALL MY HEART.

Look at that, these are just in Seoul! You can color-code your accommodation, or like, color-code by days. Gaaaahd, I love it so much. Apparently, Google Maps doesn't work there? But I tried and debunked that. Then again, still use Naver Map since it's the country's map app, meaning it's more accurate and updated. Not just routes but even departure/arrival times and fare rates.

Above is an example when you navigate with Naver Map. While Hangul/Korean language is preferred, you can still use English to search. So again, you don't have to fret about that.

There are sort options for the route: Best route, Least time, Fewest transfers and Least walking. Sometimes, best routes offer like, 15mins of walking and when I'm just NOT in the mood for that, I sort it to 'least walking'. During my first few days, I was anxious about riding the bus, so I always chose subway options but going to, transferring, exiting the subway? The walking becomes CRAZY. So when I finally tried the bus, it's actually SOOOO much better, and I prefer it now. This is big news from a subway junkie!

If you do need to be somewhere fast, the subway wins though. If you miss a train, another one will come in 1-2 minutes maybe, while when you miss a bus, expect to wait at least 5 minutes. My hostel was nearer a bus station so I opted to ride this one time, but I missed the bus. I had to wait 14 minutes! Sure, I could've just walked to the subway station instead, but also, let's stand by our decision and wait in the cold 🤡😂

Other information you can get on Naver Map: opening and closing times, restaurant menus and actual photos of food and places

 Kakao Taxi 

🔹 Apple, Android

Look, I'm not a taxi-riding girl even back home, but when you got luggage that you just don't wanna carry to the subway or on the bus, you gotta allow yourself the convenience of a taxi.

As you can see, there are many options, and the best pick the Taxi (General) one, supposing there's only 1-2 people. Note that this is also the only option that accepts cash. I asked a driver once, if he preferred cash or card, and he definitely went for cash 😄 Another one asked for my card directly, so be prepared for that too.

Cashless is a big thing in South Korea; the only things you really need to prepare cash for is for reloading your T-Money card in subway vending machines as well as buying from street markets, especially traditional ones like Namdaemun.

Some establishments totally don't accept cash too! Overall, I used my debit and Gcash cards more. The currency exchange rate will matter, but I honestly didn't stress over it, as long as I could pay what needed to be paid 😆 But I heard Gcash has good rates.

Do bring more than one card when you go out though. A card will randomly not work, so it's nice to have a backup. Real scenario: I went to the 1st floor 7/11 in my guesthouse building, and I just brought my Gcash Mastercard. Upon payment, it didn't work 😱 Thankfully, the ahjussi and I were already happy-chatting and when that happened, I just told him I stay upstairs and I'll just get another card. Up I went back to the 7th floor, hassling myself with removing my shoes and wearing them again then back down to finish my transaction. If only I just brought my 2 cards in the first place!

Fortunately, I have never experienced the 2 cards not working. WHEW.


🔹 Apple

This is basically to check the balance in your T-Money card. I usually had to check this the night before a new travel day, just so I can pick my route. Like, with my balance, can I still avail a ride to my first destination or not. It was also helpful when I didn't have cash on me, to help me decide to exchange more money or withdraw from an ATM for my reloading needs.

Well, back to my arrival..

After getting my essentials, I went to the airport convenience store, CU, to load my card. I started with ₩10,000. Sounds rich! But that's ₱400-450 for us.

I only withdrew money on my last few days, and from the Facebook group I'm part of, most suggested Woori Bank. Withdrawal fee is around ₩3,000 or ₱150. Not bad 👌 Maximize it by withdrawing a big amount once; I mean, I did withdraw but it was a safe amount, which I totally spent, so I had to withdraw again. I should've gotten the money altogether.

Off we go to find the Airport Railroad Train or AREX. You will have 2 options: the Express Train and the All Stop Train. They both end up at Seoul Station, but Express goes directly there, while the All Stop one, as its name suggests, has subways stops before arriving to the final stop.

Fare— Source

🔹 Express Train: Adults ₩9,500 / Children ₩7,500
🔹 All Stop Train: Terminal 1 Station ₩4,150 / Terminal 2 Station ₩4,750

Single journey tickets are available too, but since I already have my T-Money, I'm set. I chose All-Stop Train, by the way, since I was not really in a rush with my check-in time still at 1-2 PM 🙂

I'll stop here and gush about my first ever day there in the next post!


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