A month in Seoul

I’ve been busy since our TESOL class started last Friday. We have tons (not really) of reading assignments and homeworks to do. I couldn’t get in front of the computer and my right hand is itching to touch the mouse. Anyway, I got an email from someone asking for tips for a month’s stay in Seoul. I hope he doesn’t mind that I’ll just answer (briefly) through this blog, just in case there are others who might be in the same boat.

Hello..I am (name) from (somewhere in the Philippines) and I plan to make a month stay in Seoul. May I request for travel tips/advise(cellphone,phonecards to use, TFC connection,etc) prior to my arrival and stay in Korea? What’s the possibility for me to meet Filipinos, learn basic Korean language and culture and know must visit tourist places. I thank you in advance,God Bless and hear from you soon !

Cellphone. You can rent a phone at the Incheon Airport. Here’s the link for rental fees. I just think it’s quite expensive at 2,000 won a day (US$2.00) and it might be economical to ask someone you know in Korea to buy you a second-hand prepaid unit if you’re staying for a month.

Phonecards. You can get phonecards from convenience stores (like 7 Eleven, Family Mart, GS 25.) There are two kinds of phonecards available in Korea: international and local. IMO, it’s cheaper to use phonecards when calling internationally.

TFC connection. There are no Filipino channels on Korean cable. Your best bet is ABS-CBN Now.

Meeting Filipinos. Just go to Hyewha-dong on a Sunday. However, be very careful about the people you meet. One Filipina I met who was here for three months had a not-so-pleasant experience with another Filipina she met in Hyewha-dong. She left Korea fuming mad not at Koreans but at that Pinay.

Learn basic Korean language and culture. Try Korea Sparkling! but of course, it’s a government-owned site and it may like you’ll only find the good things about Korea on that site. If you really want to learn about Korea, be open-minded about going out with other Koreans. They may only seem unwelcoming at first, but you’ll be surprised at how hospitable they are.

Must visit tourist places. The palaces: Changdok-gung, Gyeongbok-gung, Changgyeong-gung. If you can only visit one, then Changdok-gung is a must. Don’t go there on a Thursday when it’s most expensive. National Museum on line 4, Ichon station; N Seoul Tower; Nami Island; DMZ tour: Imjingang – cheap and easy; Seodaemun prison; more later 😉

You might want to check the Seoul subway map and Seoul bus routes in advanced. It’s more economical to get a U-pass or a T-card to use for transportation in Seoul.

If you’ve been to Seoul, please feel free to add anything I might’ve forgotten. I’ll update this as soon as I get the (free) time.

13 comments

  1. No wonder you don’t have new posts! And yeah, we’re on the same boat–I’m also taking TESOL certification course (University Saskatchewan)company-sponsored siya kaya nag-go ako. hehe. Kaso nga lang, TAMBAK po talaga ang gawain. Do you plan teaching English there Ms. Betchay? I think you’re really qualified!

    Elliots last blog post..Cake and Kimchi: A Match Made in Heaven

  2. hi betchay! Nami Island, is this the same location where they had Winter Sonata? i’ve been inquiring about airfare to Korea, pero medyo mahal pala, konti na lang same price na rin for US. but still, interesado pa din ako mag-visit. lalo na yung mga locations ng korean dramas, lalo na yung mga palace dyan and of course, yung food. thanks for the helpful info ha. keep up the good work. have a good day! *hugs* 🙂

  3. hi! i’m planning to visit seoul in a few weeks, and your site has been very helpful.
    i just want to ask:
    >where can i get the best USdollar exchange in seoul?
    >or maybe i could exchange Philippine pesos instead for korean won?
    >is it allowed if i bring about 15kg-20kg luggage in the subway or bus?
    >please give me directions to full house in sido island?
    Please help me i don’t know any one in korea, just relying on guide books and internet.
    p.s.
    i also saw how beautiful mt. seorak is. is it really 4 hours away from seoul, if it is i’d probably don’t include it in my itinerary

    thanks for all your help

  4. good tips! been trying to search info such as these since I’d be arriving in Seoul tomorrow (saturday)…stay for 5 or 6 days…mystery trip u may call it..or adventure…but would love to have helpful voluntary tour around seoul during my stay, haha! wish me luck guys!

    bakdrap1@yahoo.com

    in case there are offers 😛

    1. Heard of this many times over but surprisingly, they are not. I met some MBA students and they’re pretty pleasant and very good unni and oppa. In the subway too, they’re very helpful. When I struggled carrying my luggage an ahjussi helped me carry my bag and a lot more… All in all, I had a pretty good experience with Koreans in SK. They made my stay more bearable and even made it harder for me to leave the country so soon.

  5. Hi betchay,

    i just got my tourist visa approved here in manila!!! and im just wondering if you can give me any suggestions on how i can “fruitfully” spend my 5-day trip in S.Korea? I have been doing my own research, and somehow i am left confused on which place/places is a “must go” for 1st time travelers in Korea. BTW, i have booked my hostel @Seoul Backpackers ….

    Hear from you soon 🙂 Salamat!

    1. Hi gorjuzG

      Where did you apply for a tourist visa here in manila? How’s your SK trip? 🙂 How much did you spend all in all for this trip? I’m planning to go maybe next year. If it’s ok, kindly send me your itenerary and the expenses during your stay in SK like food, airfare, etc… Directions as well. Thanks. inthan12@yahoo.com. here’s my email. Thanks. 🙂

  6. Hi Ate Betchay! (Can I call you that? 🙂 )
    Wow, your site is very informative. My friend and I are also thinking of going to Seoul for a week in January and reading your blog is actually VERY helpful! Since we’re both girls, a big thing for us is safety. Meron po ba kayong specific advice besides the usual street smart/common sense? At also since it’s winter, any must-know info about that too? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Dulce! Sure you may call me Ate Betchay ;p

      Seoul is relatively safe even when you go out even at night. There are lots of CCTVs all over the city. The people are generally helpful, particularly to women even if you look Southeast Asian. Friends who’ve visited can attest to that. Just don’t forget to always bring a card from your hotel/hostel.

      January is really cold so bring thermal underwear, boots and of course a thick jacket. Tourist destinations usually close earlier in the winter time. Gyeongbok Palace closes at 5PM in winter and so do the other palaces.

      1. Thanks so much po Ate Betchay! I guess we have to pack more layers~ I prob have more questions when our departure approaches so hope you don’t mind kng makulit po ako ulit. 🙂

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