2018 Plans: What’s In Store For The Readers

2018 is here. Another year has begun. It’s the perfect time to start again & to make new plans for the future.

In 2017, I had the intention to regularly share contents & thoughts on this platform. The first half of the year went well. I posted 3 to 5 blogs per month. Site traffic was consistent & reader interactions were at peak. Everything slowed down towards the second half. Work, personal trips & engagements took majority of my time. I was left with little to no time in updating this blog.

Now that it’s already 2018, I plan to post 3 to 4 blogs per month until the end of the year. Yes, until the end of the year. Here are some of the things you will see on this site for the rest of the year

Promo Fare Alerts

My ultimate goal is for everyone to fly as cheaply as possible. The first step in achieving this goal is to book or secure cheap airfare tickets. Airlines regularly offer promotional fares to domestic & international destinations. I’ve updated you guys with current & upcoming seat sales in the past year. This year, I plan to increase the promo fare alerts in my Facebook page. I hope to cover as many airline promotions as possible. Make sure to like The Wknd Travel Facebook Page to stay updated.

Trip Summaries & Itineraries

I’ve shared summaries & itineraries of my past trips to Japan, Bali, Coron, Port Barton & a whole lot more. Fear not, I still have a backlog of contents to share from my recent trips to Komodo, Indonesia, Kawaguciko & Takayama in Japan. I also have upcoming trips to Sapporo, Japan (next month), Hong Kong (in March), Palawan (again in June – undecided where to go) & some new places (which I can’t disclose as of yet) in August & November. I’m going to places which I haven’t been to in the past. That also means new experiences to share to everyone.

More Travel Tips ~ More Fun

Backpackers & travelers rely on each other’s tips. I’ve given you my secrets on preparing for trips like how to score super cheap airline tickets (with part 2), how to apply for a Japan tourist visa & how to book your trip accommodations. I’ve also helped some of you answer some of their pre-trip questions.

For someone who has been taking short (& sometimes long) trips for 5 years now, I’ve experienced a lot & I’ve noticed some patterns when it comes to planning my trips. Expect for more tips in the coming weeks & months.

Throwback Thursday Treats Continue

I’ve been doing trips for years before I started this blog. I don’t want to put my previous trips to waste that’s why I thought of having the Throwback Thursday Treat feature. For the past months, I brought you to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Taipei, Taiwan, Bangkok, Thailand & a few more. I still have a long list of past trips to share (I hope I can still remember all the details) so make sure to watch out for those.

Travel News & Random Travel Thoughts

In 2017, we’ve read some good news for all Filipino travelers. Philippine passport validity has been extended to 10 years, Taiwan started a visa-free trial scheme last November (until July 31, 2018 only) & December 8 has recently been declared as a special non-working holiday. I plan to continue sharing good news to everyone this year. Let us hope for more.

Sometimes, It comes to a point where you think of random things about travelling. I’ve shared some of these insights in the past year – how do I manage to travel a lot while working full time & the ups & downs of staying in hostels. I hope to encounter these random thoughts in the coming weeks. I will try my best to share them here.

Thank you everyone for the support & website visits last year. Again, happy new year! Let us all hope for a content-filled 2018. 🎆

Do you have any suggestions on what to feature in this website or do you have anything to ask? Feel free to comment below. You can also send an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Tuesday Tip: 8 GO-TO PLACES in SEOUL during AUTUMN

South Korea 🇰🇷 is one of the best countries to experience autumn here in Asia. From crimson leaves falling from park trees to yellow leaves found in ordinary streets, autumn transforms South Korea into a colorful & jaw-dropping tourist destination.

A random street in Seoul 😍

It’s been years since Korean drama & pop music introduced the beauty of South Korea to the Filipinos. Since then, the country, particularly Seoul, became one of the favorite travel / vacation destinations of Filipinos. According to the Korean Tourism Organization website, in 2016 alone, there were 556,745 Filipinos who flew to South Korea. That was a 37.9% increase from arrivals recorded in 2015 (403,622 arrivals). Filipinos take up 3.2% of the visitors who entered South Korea last year.

Came across this place on our way to Namsan Park 😃

I may not be one of the 556,745 Filipinos who visited South Korea last year, I can say I was one of the 403,622 Filipinos who visited South Korea in 2015. In 2014 & 2015, I went to Seoul, South Korea for my annual November trip. Yes, I visited Seoul for 2 consecutive years. I fell in love with autumn & Seoul’s autumn spots the first time I went there up to the point I flew back the following year. (Separate 2014 & 2015 Seoul blogs to follow)

Lovely autumn colors in Insa-dong 🍂

I know for a fact that some of you have plans of visiting Seoul in the coming weeks & months. Let me share to you 8 must-visit places in Seoul during autumn.

Hangang Park

Hangang Park is a long & wide park built beside the Hangang River. Running through 12 districts, the Citizen’s Park is the go-to place of locals & visitors for various sports & relaxation activities. This park is characterized by walking & biking trails, seating areas, exercise facilities every few meters & shops where you can grab a snack / drink whilst there. Many people visit this park everyday. Admission to the park is free. It is also open 24/7.

Banpo Hangang Park’s walking trail & biking lane 🚴

We went there to see the famous Banpo bridge (one of the famous parts of the park because of the fountain show); we went biking around the park & also tried the free exercise facilities. Unfortunately there was no scheduled rainbow fountain show during our visit. I also went to Yeouido Hangang Park (another part of Hangang Park) to relax & watch the sunset, also to cure my hangover. *wink*

Subway Access: Banpo Hangang Park – Express Bus Terminal Station – Exit 8-1 / 8-2 then follow the directions to the park | Yeouido Hangang Park – Yeouinaru Station – Exit 2 or 3

North Korea & South Korea Border (DMZ Tour)

Autumn plus some frost in Imjingak 🌨️

The visit to North Korea & South Korea border was one of the reasons why I went to Seoul in 2014. Visitors are required to take an organized tour if you want to visit this area of South Korea. There are  3 tours offered – the half day Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Tour, the half day Joint Security Area (JSA) Tour & the whole day Demilitarized Zone & Joint Security Area (DMZ / JSA) Tour.

A glimpse of the Kaesong, North Korea 🇰🇵

My friend & I took the DMZ Tour with Cosmojin. The tour company picked us up from our guesthouse & brought us to the bus meet-up place. It took us around an hour to the DMZ area. We went to Imginjak Resort, the Third Infiltration Tunnel (a long tiring walk down to the tunnel), Dora Observatory (you’ll see a glimpse of the nearby North Korean city from here) & Dorasan Station.

To Pyeongyang, anyone? 🚉

If you want to see Panmunjeom (Joint Security Area), the place where officials from both countries had peace talks in the past, & the Bridge of No Return, you need to further take the JSA tour.

Tip: Make sure to book with a credible tour agency (I highly recommend Cosmojin – head over to their website for rates) at least a week before the tour. Please don’t forget to bring your passport during the tour – the military checks everyone’s passport upon entry to DMZ.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Outside the main Gyeongbokgung Palace Hall

Built during the last dynasty of Korea in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty. It served as the home of the officials as well as the seat of government that time. It is also the biggest among the 5 palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. The other 4 palaces are Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace & Deoksugung Palace. (Thank God I still have the palace flyer / information sheet! 😂)

During the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony 💂🏻

Admission Fee: 3,000 won per person

Tip: Don’t miss the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony happening every 9:30 am & 1:30 pm. The palace is closed every Tuesday.

Subway Access: Gyeongbokgung Station – Exit 5 or Anguk Station – Exit 1

Bukchon Hanok Village

A random house near Gyeongbokgung Palace 🍂

Located between the palaces, the Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional Korean village composed of hundreds of wooden & brick houses located in different alleys. This village shows the ‘old urban’ vibe during the Joseon Dynasty. These structures used to house high-ranking government officials & prominent people during that time. Locals converted these houses to cultural centers, restaurants & tea houses to give visitors a taste & glimpse of traditional Korean culture.

Subway Access: Anguk Station – Exit 1 or Exit 2


Insadong-gil – Insa-dong’s main street 🍂

Insa-dong is a neighborhood in Jongno-gu district famous for modern galleries, traditional shops & restaurants, tea houses & cafes. The area’s main street, Insadong-gil, connects to smaller streets & alleys that showcases various establishments.

Tip: You can visit Insa-dong, Bukchon Hanok Village & Gyeongbokgung Palace in one day. They are located a few meters walk from each other.

Subway Access: Anguk Station – Exit 3

Namsan Park & N Seoul Tower

Namsan Park

Namsam Park is a famous park located on top of Namsam Mountain. This park is famous for its autumn sightings & walking trails. You can also find Palgakjeong (octagon hall), Namsan Library, restaurants, shops & the N Seoul Tower on top of the mountain. Entrance to the park is free.

A cloudy morning in N Seoul Tower grounds

N Seoul Tower is Seoul’s iconic observatory located in Namsan Mountain. The observatory offers a 360-degree view of Seoul. Make sure to go there in the morning or afternoon to avoid the crowd; it gets really busy at night. Entrance fee to the observatory is 10,000 won per person.

View from N Seoul Tower Observatory; Manila is 2,625.7 kms away

Subway Access: Myeong-dong Station – Exit 2 & 3, then walk up to the park. Alternatively, you can walk to the Namsan Cable Car Station & ride up to the park. A round-trip ticket costs 8,500 won.

Myeong-dong Shopping Street (+street food)

Myeong-dong Shopping Street is one of my favorite places in Seoul. It may not be the cheapest place to buy all sorts of stuff, but the place offers a wide variety of shops & brands to choose from. If you are a fan of skin care products, this is the place to be. Name the Korean cosmetic brand you’re looking for it’s here. There are also shops for clothing, shoes & souvenirs. The area also boasts hundreds of restaurants & cafes. The Myeong-dong Cathedral & Nanta Theater (which houses the famous Nanta Cooking Show) is also located in this part of the city.

The very busy Myeong-dong Shopping Street 🛍️

Aside from shopping, Myeong-dong Shopping Street is also a good place to have Korean street food. You can find pop-up food stalls in the main street at night. If you’re going there in the morning or early afternoon, make sure to head to the left-most street facing the main street & look for the stalls that sell Korean food.

The kinds of Korean street food you’ll find in Myeong-dong

My favorite street food is the Korean egg bread, locally known as gyeran-bbang. It’s basically made of batter & egg (cracked on top of the batter while being cooked). Make sure to try this when you go to Seoul & let me know what you think.

My favorite gyeran-bbang!!! 😋

Tip 1: The best time to go shopping is early afternoon to early evening. The shopping street gets super duper busy during dinnertime. If you are looking for cheaper buys, you can go to the nearby Nandaemun Market. It’s a short walk (or 1 train station away) from Myeong-dong area.

Tip 2: If you are into artsy & hippie stuff, head over to Hongdae (Hongik University Street – Hongik University Station – Exit 8 or Exit 9). This area is known for the young ones – those in college & early days of adulthood. It’s also the place to see street performances (only happens during night time) & local festivals. It’s also the best place to drink & party. *wink*

Subway Access: Myeong-dong Station – Exit 2 or Exit 8

Nami Island

Nami Island is probably the most beautiful place to experience autumn in Seoul. This island became famous because it was where parts of the hit Korean drama ‘Winter Sonata’ were shot. The island is near Chunchoen City, the capital of Gang-won Province about 1-1.5 hour away from Seoul.

Somewhere in Nami Island 😍

The island has the best autumn view one can image. You can see crimson leaves to yellow autumn leaves all in one place. The place hosts various activities & festivals from time to time. The best way to explore the island is by foot. Make sure to go around the island because you might just miss a stunning view.

Entrance fee to the island is 10,000 won per person. It includes a round-trip ferry transfer (10 minute per trip) from the mainland.

That’s me posing for a photo in Nami 😍

Tip 1: Prepare your autumn / winter outfit when visiting Nami Island. It’s a good place to have a ‘mini-photoshoot’ with friends. Also, if it’s already cold in Seoul, it’s colder in Nami. Prepare your winter jackets & coats.

Tip 2: You can go to Petit France & Garden of Morning Calm after visiting Nami Island. These 2 places are just a bus ride away from Nami. I visited Petit France in 2015 & I personally believe it was just okay – perhaps another place to take good photos. I missed out going to the Garden of Morning Calm due to time constraints.

Subway Access: Gapyeong Station – You can either go there from Sangbong Station (Jungang Line) or Yongsan Station (ITX-Chuncheon Train). From Gapyeong Station, you can either take the Gapyeong Tour Bus (& get off at Nami Island bus stop) or take a taxi (around 2,000 won) per way.

Nami Island is at its best during autum 😍 Definitely a must-visit! 🍂

There you go! I hope I gave you an idea on the best places to visit in Seoul during autumn season. Do you have any questions regarding these destinations? Is there a beautiful autumn place I missed? Let me know by posting a comment below. You can also send an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Gamsahabnida, joh-eun halu doeseyo! 감사합니다, 좋은 하루 되세요. 🇰🇷

PS. All photos above were shot using my HTC One M8.

Tuesday Tip: The PATTERN In Getting The Best Travel Accommodation Deals

Looking for the best accommodation normally comes after booking your plane ticket. There are a number of factors to consider (price, location, facilities, etc.) in booking these accommodations. These factors make it hard for you to choose which property to book. Well-reviewed & affordable accommodations usually sell up fast in every destination; so either you book super early or you look for an alternative.

In the my 5 years of travelling from one city / country to the other & from one weekend trip to another, I’ve noticed a pattern in booking my accommodations. I am happy to share that I haven’t been disappointed by the hotels, hostels & guesthouses I’ve stayed with so far. I just hope the trend continues for my upcoming trips.

In the past Tuesday Tip posts, I gave tips on how to book your next affordable plane ticket (with part 2), how to apply for your Japan tourist visa & how to easily pass through PH immigration. Today, I will share with you 7 pointers to check before you book your next travel accommodation. It’s easy, you just need to know the PATTERN.

P – Price & Location

The first & probably the most important factor in booking accommodations is the price. Rates vary from one property to the other so make sure to compare prices. It helps to have a budget solely for accommodation. You will know how to work things around & to choose wisely based on the amount you set & availability. Do not spend too much on accommodation. You’ll be perfectly fine as long as the beds are comfortable & the room is cozy. Take note that you will be out exploring most of the day so you won’t be able to maximize the facilities.

The second important factor to consider is location. Make sure to choose accommodations that are near in some (if not all) means of transportation. It has to be a few meters walk from the nearest train / subway station or bus stop / terminal. It is also helpful to choose a property with a nearby convenience store or supermarket – saves you a lot of time if you immediately need food or drinks in the middle of the night.

A – Advice

There will always be one person who has been to the place you’re going to visit. If that person is your friend, go ask him / her for possible accommodation suggestions. This person has first hand experience in some accommodation choices so he / she can give you more information about the property.

One of the Facebook groups where you can ask for advice. Make sure to head over to the group page & join!

Another way to ask for advice is to join Facebook groups like Philippines Backpacker / Traveler, Couchsurfers & Backpackers Philippines, Southeast Asia Backpacking, South East Asia Backpacking, Backpacking Southeast Asia Alone, Backpacking North & East Asia & the list goes on. These members of these groups have traveled, are currently traveling & will travel different places around the Philippines, Southeast & East Asia. A simple post asking for recommendations can give you numerous suggestions where to stay in a certain place.

T – Theme

It is also important to know the theme of the accommodation you are going to book. If you are into partying & meeting people, then you should book a party hostel. If you are on a shoestring budget & doesn’t mind sharing the room with other people but is not into partying, then you must get a bed in a normal hostel. If you think you need to relax in a luxurious way, then you should stay in a 4-star or 5-star hotel. If you are into relaxation but in a very low budget, then affordable hotels would do. Do you prefer to stay in a place where you have access to your own kitchen & dining area? An apartment / serviced apartment suits you. If you are on a budget but still want access to kitchen & dining facilities, I believe guesthouses are perfect for you. Knowing what to expect in your accommodation helps set the mood of the trip.

T – Travel Accommodation Booking Websites

Agoda’s website

Famous booking websites such as Agoda, Booking.com, Airbnb & Hostelworld help a lot in looking for the best accommodation choice in a certain place. These platforms provide the kind of room to expect, what facilities do the property have & reviews of guests who have previously stayed in the property. These booking portals are user friendly – you can sort the available properties based on review scores (made by people who traveled solo, as couples, with friends or families who previously stayed in the property), price (from most affordable to most expensive), number of stars (for hotels) & distance from city center.

Screenshot of Booking.com while I was searching for accommodation suggestions for my Indonesia trip 2 months from now – I arranged the available properties according to review scores.

Make sure to compare the prices of properties in these different platforms because they tend to vary from one to the other. You might find a hostel which is already affordable in Hostelworld but is ₱200 cheaper in Booking.com.

E – Emails & Facebook Pages

After comparing the prices of a certain property in the above-mentioned travel portals, head over to the property’s website or Facebook page & send an inquiry about your planned stay. Why? It’s because the property might have current promotions or offers which will make the nightly rate cheaper. There will also be times where it will be cheaper if you book directly with the property.

R – Reviews, blogs & vlogs

I mentioned above that booking websites provide reviews made by people who stayed in the specific properties. While those reviews can already help you decide, I believe it’s best to also check & read additional reviews from Tripadvisor. Reviews posted in this website include stays of people who booked directly to the property or through another different booking platform. You can also head to the property’s Facebook page to check on some reviews.

Tripadvisor page of Seahorse Guesthouse Coron – it’s the #1 specialty lodging in Coron based on the users’ reviews | Stayed in this property last May 2017

You can also look for blog reviews & Youtube vlogs made by travel enthusiasts. This will widen your perception of a certain property; you will also get more good & not-so-good information & experiences about these accommodations. It will help you decide where to & not to stay & also have an idea what place to avoid.

Another #1 hostel I’ve stayed with in the past – this time in Krabi, Thailand | Slumber Party Hostel is the best party hostel I’ve been to! Check out the rates!

N – Newsletters & mailing lists

Make sure to subscribe to newsletters & mailing lists of your favorite hotel chain or booking platform. These websites send out regular or weekly emails containing promotions & offers of certain properties in chosen cities or places. You can also check with your respective banks & credit card providers for possible promotions or discount codes. Who’s going to say no to discounted accommodation costs anyway?

Subscribed to Hostelworld’s mailing list so I get e-mails like this weekly.

Booking trip accommodations is not easy as easy as counting 1, 2 & 3. It’s a long, confusing & a mind-boggling process with a number of factors to consider. If you are travelling with friends, make sure to ask for their preferences, comments & suggestions to prevent unwanted rifts & misunderstandings (had one incident in the past 😂😂😂).

If you are not keen on spending on accommodation, you can try Couchsurfing. It is a hospitality & networking website where locals host travelers & visitors in their house & apartments. I haven’t personally tried it, but I have friends who said they had really good experiences with their hosts. I will definitely try this one day; I’ll let you guys know.

That’s it for today. I hope the tips mentioned above will help you decide where you’ll stay for your next trip. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment below. You can also reach me via email by sending it to contact@thewkndtravel.com. You can also send me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Thank you for reading. Sa uulitin! 😊