“No regrets, only lessons.”
That was probably my mantra for the whole duration I was in South Korea and Japan.
I splurged some money on booze, expensive food, and train tickets as this trip was my graduation gift to myself. However, a lot of my friends are shocked every time I tell them that I only spent PHP 50,000.00 for two weeks in Korea and Japan, as those countries are well-known for being too expensive.
To be honest, I am not going to sugarcoat anything, YES, it’s expensive to travel around Korea and Japan. So how was I able to manage to spend PHP 50,000 for everything from airplane tickets up to souvenirs and gifts to my family and friends?
Everything was unexpected. Since there was a seat sale from Air Asia, my friends and I were planning to book a ticket to Bali, Indonesia. Unfortunately, tickets to Bali that time was high, so I’ve decided to book a ticket to Seoul, South Korea.
Then and there I’ve realized, might as well fly to Japan since it will be a lot cheaper. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone! I did a quick research and viola!, there are lots of budget airlines that cater to Korea and Japan routes.
Airline Ticket Prices, rounded-off:
Manila to Incheon via Air Asia = PHP 2,000.00
Incheon to Tokyo via Peach Aviation = PHP 3,000.00
Osaka to Manila via Cebu Pacific Air = PHP 1,500.00
TOTAL: PHP 6,500.00 / USD 128.00
PURPLE STAMPS TIPS:
- Subscribe online to airlines to have a 24-hour priority access over their seat sale fares.
- Download applications of different airlines on your mobiles phones to have more chances of booking a plane ticket since their websites usually crash due to internet traffic. Airlines also offer mobile (app) discounts from time to time.
Obtaining Korean & Japanese tourist visas nowadays are just easy.
Korea (single entry) = PHP 0.00 (GRATIS)
Japan (single entry) = PHP 900.00
TOTAL: PHP 900.00 / USD 18.00
Hostel is the key to save a lot! Not only that, but you will be able to meet a lot of travelers from around the world. Some of the friends that I’ve met from hostels are still my friends despite the distance.
Seoul, S. Korea: Zzzip Guesthouse in Hongdae (4 nights) = PHP 2,652.00
The One Hostel Hostel Hongdae (1 night) = PHP 487.00
Busan, S. Korea: AirBnb (1 night) = PHP 527.20
K-GUESTHOUSE Premium Nampo (1 night) = PHP 707.5
Tokyo, Japan: Khaosan Tokyo Original (4 nights – 1 night) = PHP 2,936.25
Kyoto, Japan: JAM Hostel Kyoto Gion (2 nights) = PHP 1,557
Osaka, Japan: AirBnb (2 nights) = PHP 2,342.00
TOTAL: PHP 11,208.95 / USD 220.00
This is the part where I’ve literally spent a lot!
In Korea, I’ve bought the T Money card since it’s very convenient as you can use it in public buses, subway, some taxis, as well as convenience stores. Just take note that it can only be used in different metropolitan cities (Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, and Gyeonggi-do). However, in Japan, I didn’t avail the tourist pass and the Japan Rail Pass as I won’t be able to maximize it during my stay.
Estimated Transportation Expenses:
Korea: T-Money card = PHP 115.00
T-Money reload = PHP 3,000.00
Korail Pass from Seoul to Busan (3 days unlimited) = PHP 4,000.00
Japan: Subway reload = PHP 5,000.00
Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto (one way) = PHP 6,000.00
JR Kyoto Line from Kyoto to Osaka (one way) = PHP 270.00
TOTAL: PHP 18,385.00 / USD 361
PURPLE STAMPS TIPS:
- Avail the tourist pass for subways in Korea & Japan as it will be cheaper if you have a lot of destinations to visit in just a span of few days!
- You can also consider availing the Japan Rail Pass (7-day pass) if you have plans to explore Japan at a rapid speed, in a tight timeframe.
As someone who is traveling on a budget, I always make sure that I usually go to sites, temples, parks, that are free of charge. Not only I can save money, but I can also see places that are non-touristy. However, sometimes I still can’t help but visit some sites that are quite pricey (e.g. theme parks). Although I would like to thank my Mom for sponsoring my Universal Studios Japan ticket as her birthday gift to me. Thanks again, Mom!
As this trip was my third time in S. Korea, I didn’t visit any museums, island parks (e.g. Nara Park), theme parks (e.g. Everland and Lotte World) again except for N Seoul Tower. I just went around the city to enjoy the cool breeze of winter air. So yes, you have to take note that admission tickets to those are quite expensive.
But thanks to Klook.com, you can have discounted admission tickets!
Tourist Attractions Expenses:
Korea: N Seoul Tower via Klook.com = PHP 490.00
Japan: Universal Studios Japan* via Klook.com = PHP 3,000.00
National Museum of Modern Art = PHP 200.00
Miraikan (The National Museum of Emerging Science) = PHP 280.00
TOTAL: Php970.00 / USD19.00
FOOD & SHOPPING
I have this pattern on buying my food to cut down my expenses.
I usually bought my breakfast and dinner at convenience stores like Family Mart or I go around the street to look for some street food (Busan definitely tops my street food galore for this trip!). Then, during lunch time, I eat at restaurants that offers authentic Korean or Japanese food. Not to mention, I was even able to experience fine dining in Japan when I accidentally went inside the restaurant at the National Museum of Modern Art! It was definitely expensive but really worth it!
In terms of shopping and buying gifts for family and friends, I just bought some snacks, iPhone cases, and few shirts (I was able to buy a PHP200 shirt at H&M in Osaka, Japan! Crazy, right?). I have also hoarded some cute stuff as pasalubong at Daiso since it’s very cheap there.
Estimated Food & Shopping Expenses:
Food: PHP 10,000.00
Shopping: PHP 2,000.00
TOTAL: PHP 12,000 / USD 236
Airline Tickets: PHP 6,500 / USD 128
Visa (for Philippine passport holders): PHP 900 / USD 18
Accommodation: PHP 11, 208.95 / USD 220
Transportation: PHP 18, 385 / USD 270
Tourist Attractions: PHP 970 / USD 19
Food & Shopping: PHP 12,000 / USD 236
TOTAL: Php49,963.95 / USD981.23
Traveling to South Korea and Japan is not just a dream anymore! You can possibly pave your way to visit your favorite Koreanovela location spots, fangirl at your favorite K-Pop band around Seoul city, walk through Akihabara in Tokyo and be amaze at the newest technology and anime, and of course, you can just chill and experience the real Korean and Japanese culture. What are you waiting for? Go, grab that seat sale ticket! Korea and Japan are waiting for you!