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

Insa-dong

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.

TAIWAN is now VISA-FREE for FILIPINOS!

Last April 2017, the Taiwan 🇹🇼 (ROC) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced that they will relax the visa rules for visitors from Philippines under the country’s ‘New Southbound Policy.’ MOFA said they will introduce a 1 year visa exemption trial program for Philippine passport holders. There was no exact date mentioned but rumors say it can start as early as 1 June 2017.

A month after, MOFA advised that they had to delay the visa-free trial program implementation to September 2017 due to internal matters. There was no exact date mentioned when the visa-free entry will start.

You no longer need a visa to see the iconic Taipei 101 in person! 🇹🇼

The long wait is over! Earlier today, the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in the Philippines announced that Philippine passport holders can enter Taiwan visa-free starting 1 November 2017. Filipino nationals can stay in Taiwan up to 14 days.

According to the TECO website, Filipinos can enter the country visa free provided they meet the following requirements:

⦁ An ordinary / regular passport with validity of at least 6 months from date of entry

⦁ Return ticket to the Philippines or an onward ticket to a next destination (plus visa if required)

⦁ No criminal record in Taiwan

⦁ Proof of accommodation (hotel or hostel booking) / sponsor’s contact information / tour arrangements

Those who intend to stay in Taiwan for more than 14 days need to undergo the usual visa application process. TECO has also advised that the “Travel Authorization Certificate” for qualified visa-free travellers & the payable e-visa system will temporarily be suspended from 1 November 2017. Taiwan’s visa-free entry trial program for Filipino passport holders ends on 31 July 2018.

Jiufen is now just a passport stamp away! 😍

So what are you waiting for? Book your next trip to Taiwan! I’m 100% sure you’ll love it there. In case you missed it, I’ve been to Taipei, Taiwan twice – first in May 2015 & June this year. Make sure to check out those two posts.

What a great news to start the week! I’m happy that the Taiwan government 🇹🇼 has finally announced the details of this visa-free trial program. Taiwan is a beautiful country! I’d love to go back to there soon; hopefully I can squeeze a weekend trip in the coming months. ✌️

PS. Most of the photos were taken using my HTC Re & HTC U11.

Last-Minute SIQUIJOR Weekend (For Less Than ₱7,000 Including Airfare)

3 months ago, my friends & I went on a last-minute weekend trip to Siquijor. I consider it a last-minute trip because we booked the tickets a month before (which I normally don’t do) & we made the itinerary few days before our flight.

Siquijor is a small province island located southeast of Negros Island & south of Cebu. People normally refer to the island as the island of sorcery & witchcraft. They say (but I haven’t seen any proof) many locals practice sorcery & folk medicine in the island. I know for a fact the most provinces here in the Philippines have people who practice this, so I don’t see any reason why Siquijor be labeled as such.

Siquijor’s famous Cambugahay Falls 

One of the purposes of this post is to debunk that myth & to show to my readers that there’s more in Siquijor than witchcraft & sorcery. Siquijor is starting to gain attention from foreign & local tourists because of its beautiful landscapes & very accommodating people. I’ve heard amazing stories from my friends who’ve been there so I was happy I was able to experience what they experienced.

Siquijor squad : (L-R) JE, Geof & myself 😎

Another purpose of this trip was to reconnect with our friend JE who is now based in Dumaguete for work. It’s been years since we last saw him so we took advantage of this trip to visit him & spend the weekend in the chill island of Siquijor.

I will layout to you in this post how we went to Siquijor, where we stayed & what places we visited & how much I spent for this trip.

Ticket

Screenshot of my ticket to Dumaguete ✈️

30 days before the trip, Geof & I booked a round-trip air ticket to Dumaguete for only ₱2,013. That airfare is already cheap considering our trip falls on a weekend (Saturday morning to Monday afternoon) & the trip is 30 days away. We’ve planning to go to Dumaguete for quite sometime, so it was nice to finally push through with the plan.

How We Went To Siquijor

There are a few ways to go to Siquijor from Manila – you can fly to either Dumaguete, Cebu or Tagbilaran then take a ferry / fast craft ride to the island. Given we only had the weekend, we took the easiest option. We flew to Dumaguete in the morning, went straight to Dumaguete Port & took the earliest available ferry to Siquijor.

We initially planned to take OceanJet‘s fast craft service but the units used in the Dumaguete-Siquijor route were under maintenance that weekend. We had no choice but to take the 9:30 am Montenegro Ferry to the island. Upon arrival in the island, we took a motorcycle ride to the Larena Port (the other port) to meet our friend JE, who came from a work trip in Tagbilaran.

Our ride from Siquijor Port to Larena Port; Geof tried to vlog while on the road 😂

The Bruce Resort

Our plan was to spend the 3 days & 2 nights in Siquijor but JE had to go back to go Dumaguete on Sunday night for following day work commitments. We agreed to just stay there for 2 days & 1 night. My friend JE recommended that we stay in Bruce Resort in San Juan.

Our triple room in Bruce Resort

We got ourselves a triple fan room for ₱1,200 per night (without breakfast). The room is a few meters from the beach. It comes with 1 double & 1 single bed with private toilet (with towels & toiletries). Guests can also refill their water bottles for free. This resort is strategically located in San Juan, it’s in the middle of all the major tourist spots. The resort also had a swimming pool which we were not able to use.

Bruce Resort’s beach 😍

Accommodation choices in Siquijor vary; you can find luxury & budget resorts, hostels & homestays in the island. Make sure to choose the type of accommodation that suits you. If you are looking for a budget & nice place to stay, I’ll recommend The Bruce Resort in San Juan, Siquijor.

Siquijor Coastal Tour

Siquijor is only a small island. If you are coming from Dumaguete or South of Cebu, you can actually go there in the morning, explore for the day & go back in the afternoon. The island’s most popular tour is the coastal tour. The most convenient way for small groups to take this tour is to rent a tricycle for a day for ₱1,000. The rate is directed by the local tourism office, so expect that all tricycles will offer the same price. We arrived late on our first day so we decided to split up the coastal tour into 2 days, also to have more time in each place. We went to the following places:

St. Francis of Assisi Church

The St. Francis of Assisi Church, commonly known as the Siquijor Church, is the very first landmark you’ll see upon stepping out of the Siquijor Port. The parish was established in February 1, 1973. Just like any other church made during the Spanish colonial era, this was also made of stone.

Larena Triad Coffee Shop & Restaurant

View from the restaurant 😍

This coffee shop & restaurant was the place we had lunch after meeting up with JE. Situated on the top of a hill, this place offers a panoramic view of the coasts & the sea. From the view deck, you can see the islands of Cebu, Negros & of course, Siqujor. Food was unexpectedly good & was reasonably priced.

Guiwahon Mangrove Park

This mangrove park has a man-made wooden track / bridge between mangroves. They also have cottages for rent if tourists decide to stay for a few hours. I forgot to ask for the cottage rental rates (sorry). Guests are required to register & pay ₱10 entrance fee.

Enchanted Balete Tree

The enchanted balete tree is a 400-year old tree located along the national road in Lazi. A visit to the tree premises is free; but the place also offers a fish spa for only ₱10 per person.

San Isidro Labrador Church

The San Isidro Labrador Church or Lazi Church is the largest & oldest Church in Siquijor. It was built in 1884 using stone & wood.

Inside Lazi Church ⛪

San Isidro Labrador Convent

The San Isidro Labrador Convent is situated in front of the Lazi Church. This is a museum of historical artifacts & antiques. Unfortunately, the museum was closed when we were there.

Cambugahay Falls

Cambugahay Falls is a three-tiered cascading falls with clear water coming from natural springs & rainwater. The falls is 100+ steps down from the main road. The highlight of visiting this place is trying their Tarzan swings – hanging in the man-made vine & jumping into the water. There are 3 swings (with different heights); each swing costs ₱40 but you get unlimited tries. We stayed for more than 2 hours in this place & had more jumps than we expected – definitely our favorite in this trip.

Tip: Best to hire a guide that will take you around the falls. The guide will also serve as your photographer when you jump into the falls. They don’t have a prescribed rate; but I think it’s best to give them ₱100-₱200.

Salagdoong Beach

Salagdoong Beach is located in the small town of Maria, Siquijor. Located a few downhill minutes from the main road, this place is famous for its cliff diving spot, rock formations & a nice white sand beach. The resort has a restaurant where you can have your lunch. They also have cottages for rent & rooms for overnight accommodation. Entrance fee to the resort is ₱25 per person. Make sure to conquer your fear & try cliff diving. I tried it twice & it was hell of fun!

View from the cliff diving spot 😍

Tip: Do not go here on a weekend, especially on a Sunday. Locals usually go here for Sunday family excursions. We were there on a Sunday & the place was crowded.

Two other tourist spots we missed out (due to time constraints) in the coastal tour are Calipay Spring Park, a public natural spring made by the local government for the locals & visitors, & Paliton Beach, one of the nice beaches in the island.

Cebu Detour

After enjoying a nice late lunch & afternoon in Salagdoong Beach, we went back to Siquijor Port to buy tickets for the last ferry trip to Dumaguete. Upon arrival in the port, we found out that Ocean Jet still doesn’t have trips & all the other trips were fully booked. It was a blessing in disguise we were with JE – he knew another way of going back to Dumaguete, via Liloan in Cebu.

View from the ferry en route to Liloan, Cebu

We immediately went to the other port in Larena & got tickets for the 5:00 pm ferry trip to Liloan, Cebu. The slow ferry ride took us about 2 hours. Upon arrival in Liloan Port, we took the tricycle to the fast craft terminal to Sibulan. Thank God we made it to the last trip for the day at 7:30 pm. The trip to Sibulan Port (located in the town beside Dumaguete City) took us 30-40 minutes. We were back in Dumaguete before 9:00 pm.

Dumaguete City Side Trip

We only had 1 night & 1 morning in Dumaguete so we weren’t able to go to the nearby attractions like Manjuyod Sand Bar, Casaroro Falls & Apo Island. We only stayed in the city in our short stay. Upon arrival in the city, we headed to the Sans Rival Bistro to have dinner.

Dinner with the boys at Sans Rival Bistro

After dinner, JE took us around the city. He showed us the church, the boulevard (like Manila’s Baywalk), the city church & bell tower, the city & provincial halls, the malls (haha) & other notable establishments. Then, we went to Golden Gate Suites to check in, leave our stuff & freshen up. We went out for coffee at midnight before we finally dozed off.

Our room in Golden Gate Suites, Dumaguete City

The following morning, we went out for breakfast at Cafe Mamia & dropped by Sans Rival Bistro to buy some treats for families & friends back home. We went back to the hotel & spent the rest of the morning there before heading to the airport for our flight to Manila.

A trip to Dumaguete will never be complete w/o buying the famous silvanas! 😋

Summary of Expenses

Everything might last-minute for this trip, but let’s have a look at how much I spent for the entire trip.

Spending ₱6,836 for a Siquijor weekend getaway (airfare included) is not bad. The airfare was definitely a bargain, considering it was booked 30 days before the trip. We obviously spent more on food but it was all good. We didn’t have enough time to explore more of Dumaguete but I look forward to visiting the city again soon.

Until our next trip! 😊

My friend Geof made vlogs about this weekend trip! Make sure to check  his Day 1 vlog & Day 2 vlog. Don’t forget to subscribe to his channel for more travels & adventures.

Have you been to Siquijor? How was your visit to the beautiful island? Are you planning to go there soon? I think you should! Feel free to post your questions in the comments section below. You can also send me an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

PS. Photos were taken using my HTC Re & HTC U11.