Sunday, December 04, 2016

#kolokoytravels - Seoul - Arrival

As promised, this is an effort to create a chronicle of my day by day experiences in Seoul last September 13 -18, 2016. If one could remember my post, my day 1 is scheduled as below:

7:00 AM - Departure MNL
12:00 PM - Arrival ICN
Allot at least an hour or two to go through immigration, change currency, buy T-Money, pick up a WIFI device, and purchase a train ticket to Seoul
1:00 PM - Travel to Hotel
AREX EXPRESS/NON-STOP TRAIN take about 43 mins travel time
2:00 PM - Hotel
3:00 PM - Seoul Animation Center
4:00 PM - Namsam Cable Car / N Seoul Tower
8:00 PM - Myeongdong Dinner
11:00 PM - Back to Hotel

Both of my flights to Seoul back in November 2015 and September 2016 were via Air Asia, and I could not complain much. Travel time is four hours. I know airport food is bad, (at least for economy flights) but tried it anyway. Hate to admit it, but I did enjoyed Air Asia's Nasi Lemak, a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. I've read that a traditional one consists of sambal, anchovies, peanuts and boiled egg. It is Malaysia's national food and would love to try the authentic version sometime in the future.

Expectation VS Reality. Haha!


Both flights were on time and I didn't experience any hassle during immigration. One should know by now that:

1. Although it is common practice to book an early arrival flight to your destination and a late departure going back, consider that most hotels, hostels and guesthouses have a standard check-in time of 2:00 PM and checkout time of 12:00 PM. It is best to check with your accommodation's terms on check-in and check-out times.
2. Be at the airport at least 4 hours before an international flight, especially if your flight is in the afternoon or during the rush hour. Everyone know what it's like in EDSA. You don't want to miss your flight, do you?
3, Check in online. In my experience, there are always a separate line for those who have already undergone the process of web check-in,
4. Have your travel documents ready. Make sure that your passport is more than 6 months before its expiration date, and have at least 2-4 blank pages.
5. DO NOT get over-baggage. It hurts. It will really hurt your pocket. I had my own little story but would blog about it sometime in the future. :)
6. Always pray for a safe flight. Enough said.




Arrival

Once you are in Incheon International Airport, allot at least an hour or two to go through immigration, change currency, buy T-Money, pick up a WIFI device, and purchase a train ticket to Seoul. In  that order.  Why? My friend and I happened to claim our AREX ticket to Seoul first and got caught up doing selfies on the train since we were one of the first ones there. 10 minutes before it departs, I suddenly remember that we still have not gotten our pre-booked WIFI devices. LOL. It slipped from our minds since we are enjoying the free WIFI of the airport and the train itself. It was really lucky for us to be allowed and were able to get off, exit the station and claim our WIFI devices and being allowed in again for the next train free of charge. Although we lost an hour of travel time, it is better than arriving in Seoul Station and then go back to ICN all over again.


Tips:

1. If you own a credit card, check with your issuer if there's an ongoing promotion. We scored a free AREX ticket to Seoul by just presenting our JCB Lucky Cat card. A discounted fare for adults is 8,000 won.  Lucky indeed. We would have gotten a free ticket back to Incheon if only we remembered using JCB on our expenses.
2. Buy Korean won while still in the Philippines. Never exchange all of your money at airports since they have the worst exchange rates and are always lower than local money changers in that country. Make sure to exchange just a small amount of your cash and then exchange the rest of your money once you find a local money changer. Czarina's and Sanry's are two of the most popular money exchange in Manila. I believe some banks also offer one but you need to have it reserved weeks before your intended flight.
3. Pre-book your WIFI devices. Even though many are available upon arrival, it would be less of a hassle filling in forms and conversing in English when you can just present a voucher and claim your device in minutes. I booked mine with WiFi Korea the first time I was in Seoul while my second one and almost all of my international activities with Klook.

To be continued.

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