After booking our trip to Seoul, I was so ecstatic, I prolly killed my keyboard (and Google) by typing in so many questions. Where to go? What to do? How to get there? Coupons? Please tell me they’ve got coupons!
And that was months prior to my trip… Then I just forgot all about it. Typical me. (Well I didn’t want to die of excitement then, okay? I had life goals: like getting puppies! JK.)
Post trip. The 2 weeks I had breathing in Korean air will probably be the best half-month of my 2016. (Especially now that all I’m left with this year is to study, study, study. Eww.)
And the fulfilling thing was planning everything out 3 days prior to departure. Yup! It’s possible! I just got so busy. I was so excited, but I wasn’t really able to plan out that much prior to those 3 days. (Except there’s me voicing out on all SNS platforms how excited I was! HAHA.) Then day/night before departure, I just bombarded Google again with a gazillion questions, blog hopping in the web-o-sphere, reading everything I can about anything Korean. (And watching dramas in between!) Cramming/Multitasking skills paying off! Wew.
If anyone’s going to Korea soon, here’s some apps, tips, and a sample 5-day itinerary at the end just to help you off your tracks! Because really, I owe it mostly to blogs too when I’m jotting down my travel notes. (Special mention to Chili Sarang ♥️ Kamsahamnida, Miseol!)
1 Korea Subway
This will be your best friend! (Well, if you’re travelling alone like me, awtsuuu. Char.) But for real, it will save your legs, your brain, your ass–prolly everything! I downloaded a lot of Subway apps but this was what I kept in my phone during my stay. Interface is so good!
It’s applicable to Seoul, Busan, and even Jeju-do! Keep your GPS on and it can detect the nearest station to your location, then just click in your destination/stop and ta-daaa! Their transportation system’s foolproof and you’ll love it! (Hi Philippine MRT/LRT, magpakatino ka naman. Up your game, bro.)
I love reading! (As long as it’s not my damn reviewer books, heh) But travel books cost a lot. Like whyyy? Why do they have to cost more than Twilight?
This will take up a lot of space on your phone once you download the e-book from the app, but it’s a great read! There’s a themed-travel part: Anyone up for Hallyu day? Food-trip weekend? Or you could go with the practical by the region/location thing. Plus it’s got a few things you almost always forget to Google: like mall hours! What days are they close? What are all the bus lines and schedules?
Not to mention, the layout and photos are so good! (here’s me again with my obsession with book and magazine layouts!)
3 Learn Korean
Not a lot speak English in Korea. For real! You might read that 20s or college students can respond to you, and yes, some can, but it’ll still be very difficult to communicate nonetheless. It’s good to know basic Korean especially if you’re staying for a while! And this one has the most words/lines for a free app! There’s some that are more visually pleasing but I really liked the content in this one.
I kind of understand basic Korean and can speak little–which was so helpful! I kind of watch too many shows from them too (sometimes without subtitles) so… But the best part is that it brightens me up whenever I can respond or talk to the people in their language and they understand me! Big grinsss. There’s even an ahjumma that smiled so much when I talked (and haggled) in Korean and she said my pronunciation or something like that was good. I think I amused her since I was talking to her in Korean, but kept talking to my brother in both English and Tagalog because ang kulit ng kapatid ko when we were in markets. We wanted too many food! Hah! But that ahjumma really made like my 2 days! I wanted to hug her! HAHA.
All those years of me talking to myself in Google translate paid off! (LOL YES I DO THAT, IT’S MY HOBBY, 4 REAL. I AM NOT ASHAMED.)
Try to learn atleast phrases like “Where is the __?”, “How much?”, and ordering food! OMG, people in restos won’t really get you! Haha.
Who knows. Maybe even learn something off the “dating” tab. Charot. Ang landi.
OMG KOREA IS LTE HEAVEN! The 100Mbps is reaaaal! You can download off a whole drama (18 eps and all) in minutes. Once again, I love you, Korea!
And oh, how long before I finally ended my WiFi Egg vs Internet Sim Card dilemma prior to our trip! There were very few internet sim cards available unlike Tourist Sim Cards in other Southeast Asian countries. Phones and numbers are registered in a person’s name in Korea so you can’t really just go off and buy one. Think postpaid as a required thing when getting a phone. (Which is actually good! Less phone stealing schemes. Ugh, hate that. I’ve lost so many phones before.) Thus, you’ll see more WiFi device options.
But I’ve finally decided to give YASSGO a go (hehe, YASSGO a go!) and best decision ever! Despite them still on beta mode.
Disclaimer: I will sound like this is sponsored but it’s not. I paid for more than a week of YASSGO use on my own, and I just really think it’s the best thing for it’s price.
First thing is, I wasn’t really down with paying US$50-$100/device security deposit for a WiFi device. YASSGO’s security deposit is just $8.99 so that’s a YASS! That was my main reason. Didn’t want the hassle of talking to my card’s bank if ever problem arises during deposit refund. Second, pick up and return is easy–airport dude/dudette waving YASSGO flag in front of airport Starbucks! Yas! And they’re on time! (And ang gwapo ng staff na naghatid ng sim ko. HALA SIYA! HAHAHAHA) Third, UNLIMITED DATA! The connection was stable for my whole stay–and LTE speeds are legit! Fourth, it’s cheaper at $2.99 per day (compared to $5+/day for WiFi devices; +some taxes or small addt’l top-ons for both), but I understand a lot more can connect with WiFi eggs so you can share the data and all. But what happens when you’re not together? (Because most of the time, I like going out on my own and meeting halfway) How to contact them, right? Local calls and texts (Like YASSGO to YASSGO sims) are unlimited too! Which was great considering I rented more than one sim for other fam members. You could also just turn on tethering on your phone to share the data with YASSGO!
Last, the app is so easy to use. You do all transactions there and just sign up/in and it’ll recognize the YASSGO sim once it’s in your phone!
Plus plus!! YASSGO sim’s available now for just $0.99/day compared to it’s usual $2.99/day! Sobrang steal! Check out their main site at www.yassgo.com!
I got mine for the $2.99 and I wished there was a promo then, but still, I loved it all the same. I swear it’s a bang for your buck! 😉
Note though all must be prebooked 3 days before, whether you’re going with YassGo or with any other options. A lot of things are prebooked and prepaid in Korea. Paypal is lyf!
YASSGO is available in Google Play.
(I do hope they release for iPhone users too soon.)
5 Visit Korea
It’s an app from the Korea Tourism Organization. You could check out their site here. And you can check out the basics from this app: weather, exchange rates, tourist spots. There’s also coupons for foreigners, and you can plan out your own travel course with it. It’s a filtered TripAdvisor app just for Korea! And I love TripAdvisor!
I did this off while we were on the road to the airport (because Manila traffic, and too excited I cannot sleep in the car) + in the airport waiting for our flight. Kind of OC, yes. Well, more than kind of. It’s color coded, lol me. Haha.
I’ve placed what stations to go off to for the places on the list, and which station exits are nearest to each place. (Check the L_, E_ for each location–corresponding to train LINE and station EXIT number. Subway exits are far from each other! So near the walking dead if you keep going out of a different one!)
For the first 6 days of my trip, I was staying with my fam. After which, they left me off alone in the land of my dreams. (and future husband! Char!) So atleast for 5 days, I planned things out so the fam can get the most out of our trip. And also so my parents would stop asking too much questions like where are we going later? Tomorrow? (Hears mom’s voice: “Saan/Kailan ako magshshopping?”) It’s even on wallpaper form so my dad can just check his phone screen when his mind’s at lost. Haha.
It was my foolproof way of getting everyone on the same page–and I wanted them to enjoy the trip as much as I know I would, despite them going home earlier. I knew my dongsaeng would do the same if we were headed for Japan. He’s Japanese in his 2nd world, and I’m Korean in my 2nd world–along with all the other worlds we live in in our heads.
Mind you though, this wasn’t followed spot on or on like every detail. There’s a few things we mixed up, and my parents mostly just stayed in the hotel past-6pm, while I keep going ’round with my brother as long as the subway’s still running. Honestly, this itinerary is for the ambitious ones who can just keep going all day, everyday. 😅
Day 1 was just arrival. Decided to explore near us–where’s the nearest convenience store kind of day. Our flight’s late, so we arrived at night, and then just ate Chimaek (Chicken & Beer). Oh! And I watched Doctors on Korean TV! One bucketlist item down! (Watch Kdrama on Korean television) LOL. Day 2 was theme park day and it took up the whole day. Didn’t get to go to Seoul Tower on the same night, but went around Dongdaemun instead. Night markets and food trippin! Day 3 is all about palaces and traditional villages! Mostly walking from one place to another for those clustered in groups, and better wear very very comfy clothes. Day 4 was for Nami; then at night, my brother and I finally went to Namsan and other areas. Day 5 and 6 were free, do-whatever-you-want, go-wherever days for everyone. Mom went shopping-Dongdaemun and Myeongdong-and dragged my dad along. *cue to my dad having lotsa “I hate shopping” remarks after heh*, and it was my explore universities and art places days!
The next week, I was alone, and I mostly revisited places–Dongdaemun and the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (a lot!) because huhu I love that! Had a lot of city strolls, + got to meet some people. (Which is like whoa for my introvert self) And went cafe hopping, did some illustrations, worked on some art, and basically ate a lot and walked it all off.
I loved writing this, thus the long post, sorry; and I want to go back to Korea badly. (Hopefully very soon too! Crossing fingers.) I just love planning out itineraries, and can I just not take the engineering boards and just make my own travel agency? Or an art studio? LOL. My dreams are too scattered right now. (And maybe forever! 😂)
Planning is always half the adventure–even if it’s just mere hours of adrenaline Googling! It’s almost my favorite part of any trip. And here’s me hoping I get to be a little part of another’s trip to my fave Asian country through this guide too!