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Thursday, November 24, 2016

South Korea Fall Trip - Pre-vacation Preparation and Total Expenditure

Annyeong haseyo!

The most used Korean word during our 8-day trip to South Korea 😆. Teruja jumpa Koreans dan paling teruja looking at their surprised faces bila disapa oleh foreigners in their language 😜. When they responded in Korean, kami pula ternganga tak paham, LOL!

Post ini khas untuk my friends who asked me to share details about my preparation and total expenditure of our trip. All the expenditures that I present here is for 3 adults and 2 children. Saya travel bersama suami, anak sulung (16 years old), 9 years old dotter and 5 years old son. First kita tengok pre-vacation preparation dulu.

Musim-musim di South Korea
Sukacita dimaklumkan (walaupun anda semua dah sedia maklum hehe) South Korea ialah negara 4 musim. Selalunya Malaysians suka melawat Korea pada musim winter, spring dan fall. Jarang Malaysians travel to Korea during summer sebab summer di sana panasnya mengalahkan panas Malaysia. Jadi plan your vacation according to your objectives, kalau aim nak main salji travel during winter, kalau aim nak tengok cherry blossom and tulips, do visit the country during spring and if you want to see the golden fall foliage make sure to be there during fall season. Basically winter season runs from Dec to Feb, Spring from Mac to May, Summer Jun to Ogos, and Fall is from September to November.


We do not need Visa to enter Korea but valid passport only. Make sure your passport still has remaining life of at least 6 months during the travel period. Saja depa nak kasi kita senang pi melancong and pi perabih pitis kat negara depa. The cost for passport renewal (for 5 years) is RM200 for adult and RM100 for  children below 12 years old. Make sure sampai Immigration Department awal-awal pagi, kalau tidak jenuh la nak tunggu passport siap. Kami renew passport di Jabatan Imigresen Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor. Alhamdulillah we were among the earliest that day so we did not wait long. At 10am our passports were ready to be picked.


Flight tickets
Yang ni kena rajin check Skyscnanner. Better yet, register dengan Skyscanner, masukkan tempat yang nak dituju dan tarikh and it will update us on reduced flight tickets from time to time via emails.
As for us, we flew with Air Asia X - of course! Now everyone can fly 😝

The flight was booked in January 2016 when the Air Asia had their promotion and we travelled in November. Owh yes, we waited 10 long months and 10 days for our trip. Lama sungguh! But it’s worth it! Because last minute booking can cause huge difference! Kalau last minute booking tu better choose other airlines such as MAS, Vietnam Airlines or Korean Air. Masa kami beli tiket tu Air Asia was having their promotion. The the one-way flight ticket from KL-Seoul was RM299 and from Seoul-KL was RM350. Make sure ambik checked in luggage especially if you plan to bring food sebab food tak dibenarkan masuk cabin luggage. We bought 20kg checked in luggage from KL-Seoul (RM89) and 25kg checked in luggage from Seoul-KL (RM99). Of course balik kena lebih! And yet, 25kg was not enough! Bila timbang total weight for 2 bags was 27kg..jenuh kami buka beg and took out a few stuff to ensure the weight does not exceed 25kg! Fuh!

Also, purchase your meal online as they offer meals at lower price for online booking. The KL-Seoul journey takes about 6 hours and 20 minutes. Make sure beli makanan otherwise laporrr tahap gaban. Air Asia buat 2 kali jualan makanan sepanjang trip iaitu 2 jam after take off and 2 hours before landing. Saya cuma beli satu kali meal (one meal for each of us) sahaja untuk five of us. Total flight and in-flight meal for 5 of us was RM3631.40.

Since Malaysia does not experience the seasons except durian season and banjir season (LOL!) the trip excite the kids very much. They had been counting days for the trip since January and it was very tiring at times to answer Umar’s question “when will November be mama?” “Is today November already?” LOL!

Travel insurance
We purchased travel insurance with Etiqa. Owhhh yes! We need this for emergency cases especially when travel with small kids. Besides, winter temperature could cause health problems such as flue, asthma, fever etc for we are not used to cold weather. Ye lah kan the last time I remember experiencing winter was in 1997 when I was pursuing my bachelor degree in the States! Lama sungguh!

During our stay in Seoul the temperature ranged from -2’C to 8’C. Alhamdulillah no one got hurt or sick during our 8 day vacation. Batuk sikit tu adalah. Biasalah tu kan bila bertukar cuaca. We bought Platinum Family plan with Etiqa for 8-day travel period. For those with smaller budget, Etiqa also offers Family Silver plan for as low as RM50 per family (Yes! It is per family not per individual) (for 6- to 10-day travel period). This is free ad for Etiqa. Yes, you’re most welcome Etiqa! 😜

Tip! Purchase your insurance online or via phone call by directly contacting Etiqa to be entitled for a 10% discount on the contribution. Normal contribution plus RM10 duty stamp is RM148.50 (Platinum Family plan). Boleh tengok kat SINI.

Yang ni book awal-awal dari Malaysia ya. Bila saya baca blog Seoul trip, ramai yang suggest to stay in Iteawon area. This area is like Bayswater area in London where halal food are easily available. Walau bagaimanapun, setelah dibandingkan bilik yang sama pada masa yang sama (ewahhh macam Trivago lak 😝), we chose to stay at Namdaemun Guesthouse (boleh guna credit card, some GHs do not have payment via cc facility, so make sure to ask the host in advance if you wish to use cc for room payment).
Namdaemun Guesthouse.  
Host: Boyoung : +82-10-5690-4020

The decision to stay at this GH was based on good reviews from previous Malaysian travelers. Boleh add the host Boyoung Chae at FB for easy communication and information.

We chose GH over hotels because of convenience reason as it allows guests to cook, do the laundry and also for its competitive room rates. As Muslim food is available only in certain areas such as Itaewon, preparing our own healthy (healthy la sangat haha) halal food has become our number one terms and conditions when choosing a place to stay in Seoul. Plus, the host offered 10% discount for a stay exceeding 6 nights. Initially we chose to stay in a room with 2 bunk beds at a rate of KRW80,000 per night for 7 nights. However, in October we were contacted by the host telling that the room we booked was going to be renovated and he asked if it was okay to transfer us to 2 rooms (1 double room and 1 triple room) without any extra charges. What a great offer! Two bigger rooms for the same price? Should we linger on our decision? I don’t think so! Nope! Unhesitantly, we just replied “Yes!” Alhamdulillahhhh..rezeki 😇

We checked in at the GH on Nov 15 and it was my birthday (horray!). Masa nak checked in tu the host cuma charge KRW432,000 sahaja (23% discount)  (Initially KRW80,000 x 7 nights minus 10% discount = KRW504,000). Rezeki! Alhamdulillah ya Allah. The total room cost for 2 double rooms for 7 nights was RM1630.80 (RM117 per room pernight). Mana nak cari weiiii harga ni. 

It was a very nice stay. Boleh masak, pinggan for muslims are provided. Juice, milk, bread, cereals, coffee and tea are provided for free all day long...all day long okay bukan masa breakfast sahaja! Free laundry, siap sediakan sabun cuci from 10am to 10pm everyday. Ada balcony for BBQ. Private bathroom, LCD TV...pendek kata puas hati! Highly recommonded to stay here if you plan to visit Seoul for you next vacation. The GH is only 1 subway stop (Line 4) from Seoul station but we were lucky that day as the host, Boyoung, generously offered free pick up from the Seoul station. Thank you Mr Boyoung! To get to this GH - Hoehyeon station Exit 1 or 3. Warning, reaching this GH from subway station takes around 5 minutes walking along the hilly road. Do wear appropriate shoes dan stamina kena kuat! But we like it! Seoul walk is good for weight management indeed haha! Balik Malaysia our body weight reduced 1 kg despite lots of eating to keep us warm in accomodating the cold Seoul weather.


T Money and Coupon Booklet 
Our transportation mode in Seoul mainly Subway. Subway depa very very convenient. Tak risau jika terlepas train sebab setiap 5 minit train baru sampai 😘. Untuk guna subway boleh beli tiket di vending machine atau guna T-money. However, reduced price is offered when using T-money.
T-money is a rechargeable card just like Touch-and-Go card in Malaysia. Can be used to pay for our purchases in convenience stores and also for subways, buses and taxis. A must-have card for each family member for super convenient journey. The price for each T-money is KRW2500 (the card price is not refundable but the amount reloaded in the card is). Make sure to reload the card before using. Can be reloaded at the vending machine. The balance in the card can be refunded depending on the balance. If the balance is KRW20,000 or less, the refunds can be made at T-money affiliated convenience store such as GS25, CU or 7E. If more than KRW20,000, the refund must be made at T-money headquarters which is located just outside Seoul Station Exit #8, Seoul Subway Lines 1 and 4.

Tip: How to get free T-money with KRW2000 reload amount?
Rajin-rajin lah visit to check on their latest offer. The T-money is given for free by participating in their survey. Each traveller must answer the survey questionnaire and submit all the particulars needed to get free T-money. We saved KRW12,500/RM48 on our T-money cost here plus a total of KRW10,000/RM38 on our top-ups! They also provided travellers (independent sahaja, group guided travellers are not applicable) with a coupon booklets. Dapatlah discount coupon for reduced Arex fare from Incheon to Seoul, theme park entrance fee, dining at selected restaurants and many more!

When you reach Incheon International Airport, do not forget to collect subway map at Tourist Information counter, located at Public Area, 1st floor, near exit 5 and Public Area, 1st floor near exit 10. Boleh juga install Seoul subway map and T-money balance checker kat phone masing-masing.

Currency exchange
During our trip, the currency exchange rate was RM3.775 for KRW1000. It was quite high (sad face). Most places accept credit cards too so make sure to have a huge amount available in the card for shopping and accommodation (hoyehhh). Do call your bank to activate your credit card for oversea usage. Do activate your ATM card for oversea withdrawal too! Manalah tau tak cukup bawa duit won dan rambang mata shopping 😂

I changed our RM at Midvalley Megamall. So far they offer the cheapest rate. So I have heard! We also brought our pounds and euros (balance from our trip to London and Italy in March) to Seoul for emergency cases (prepare untuk shopping tah hengat dunia la tu!) .

Saya sentiasa sediakan ubatan bila travel overseas. Penting ni especially when travel with kids as their health condition is unpredictable. They are fine one day, but suddenly they fall sick the next day. Kebanyakan negara kat luar sana bukan boleh beli ubat sebarangan kat Farmasi. Usually they require medication prescription from doctors. Leceh la kan nak kena jumpa doktor bagai. Antara ubatan yang saya bawa ialah Panadol, Ranitidine, ubat cirit birit, ubat batuk, ubat selsema, ubat tahan muntah, tiger balm, dan minyak Yuyi. Visit your panel doctor, tell them you are traveling overseas, list the medicines that you need and they are happy to provide you with those items. 

Egg Wifi (Pocket wifi)
Lupa nak ambik gambor egg wifi dia. Well, this not compulsory as Seoul is pretty much a wonderland of free wifi in almost everywhere, at subway stations, coffee shops, guesthouses, hotels, randomly on the street, restaurants. The only thing you need is to ask for the wifi password. However, since we traveled with kids and Umar needs to be entertained with his favourite cartoons (Upin Ipin of cozzzz) and games to keep him distracted (kalau tidak penat kami kena layan dia), we decided to rent a pocket wifi (known as Egg wifi). Besides, there are always occasions when we got lost in the middle of the city and desperately need to use the Google map so the Egg wifi really saved our day!

We rented the Egg pocket wifi with SK Telecom roaming.

Tip: Do the booking online before departing for Seoul as we could waive the KRW3000 device rental but only to pay the wifi rate at KRW5000 per day for unlimited data usage. The wifi can be connected to 3 devices simultaneously. Collect and return station is at the Incheon International Airport. Please take note that a deposit of KRW200,000 is required upon collecting of the Egg of which must be paid by credit card. They do not take cash for the deposit. The deposit is refundable upon returning the Egg in good conditions. So take a good care of the Egg, do not break it, do not lose it or else some amount will be deducted from the deposit.

Food from Malaysia
As budget travelers that we are, we brought lots of canned and packed food from Malaysia i.e. canned sardines, canned salmon spread, rice, biscuits, 3-in-1 drinks, sambal bilis, raw bilis (boleh buat cucur bilis), cooking oil botol kecil 350ml, onions, santan Kara (for nasi lemak), ginger, chilli sauce in small packets, spaghetti, prego spaghetti sauce, and etc. While we were in Seoul, we prepared our own breakfast and dinner at the GH, lunch sahaja we had in restaurants sebab nak continue jejalan kan...takkan nak return to GH just for lunch. Buang masa pula, besides, day time is short during winter (5.20 pm dah maghrib). Make sure semua food yang dibawa dari Malaysia di masukkan dalam satu beg dan dichecked in. Preapre a list of food to be handed to customs oficer in case they ask upon our arrival. Alhamdulillah kami baik-baik sahaja. Depa tak check apa pun beg kami.

Bring your own pens, senang nak isi information on arrival card dan traveler declaration form. Have all the information such as passport number, flight number and the address of your accommodation ready with you.

Total expenditure (3 adults and 2 children)
I listed the total expenditure for 5 of us for our 8D7N stay in Seoul. I did not list expenditure on shopping and miscellaneous spending (i.e. I forgot my lip balm, hubby forgot his hair gel, suddenly my dotter wanted to have new hair clips as a few Korean Ahjuma kept on misidentified her as a boy, LOL!) I only listed necessary expenditure sahaja ya. Untuk shopping on souvenir and also for self-rewards , well, it depends on your budget. Bawa la extra dalam RM5000 to RM10,000 😅.

If travelling without kids, perhaps you can save a lot on snacks and street food and also on egg wifi rental. The egg wifi renatl is not compulsory as lots of places in Seoul offer free wifi. Note that the calculation is based on the exchange rate (at time of our trip) of KRW1000 = RM3.775.

Day 1
Return flight ticket + 2 times meals + 2 checked in luggage (20kg and 25 kg) = RM3631.40
Accomodation (1 triple room + 1 double room for 7 nights) = KRW432,000
Food- lunch (Muree Restaurant, Iteawon) = KRW39,000
Food (Snacks and street food) = KRW 21,700
T-money top up (5 cards) = KRW70,000
Egg wifi rental (KRW5,000 perday + tax) = KRW44,000 

Day 2
Food - lunch (Halal friendly restaurant, Myeongdong) = KRW25,500
Food (Snacks and street food) = KRW21,320
T-money top -up (1 card) = KRW10,000

Day 3
Bus to Nami Island and Nami Island entrance visa for 5 (3 adults @KRW23,000 and   2 children @KRW17,000) = KRW103,000
Food - lunch (Asean Cuisine Restaurant) = KRW52,000
Food (Snacks and street food) = KRW16,400     
Day 4
Entrance ticket toGyeongbokgung Palace (3 adults @KRW3,000 and 2 children @KRW1,500) = KRW9,000
Food - lunch (Yoogane restaurant) = KRW22,000
Food (Snacks and street food) = KRW18,800

Day 5
Bus to Everland and Everland entrance fee (3 adults @KRW47,000 and 2 children @KRW39,000) = KRW219,000
Food - lunch (American burger cafe) = KRW30,200
Food (Snacks and street food) = KRW33,800

Day 6
Food - lunch (Dongdaemun grilled fish) = KRW31,000
Food (Snacks and street food) = KRW24,400
Return cable car fare to Seoul Tower (3 adults @KRW8,500 and 2 children @5,500) = KRW36,500
T-money top up = KRW10,000

Day 7
Food - lunch (Gosame grilled fish, Sinchon) = KRW28,500
Food (Snacks and street food) = KRW21,300

Day 8
Food - lunch (In-flight late lunch) = 0
Food (Snacks and street food) KRW10,600 
T-money top up = KRW4,000

Flight + food + checked luggage = RM3631.40
Accomodation (8D7N, 2 rooms) = KRW432,000 = RM1630.80
Food (lunch at restaurants) = KRW228,200 = RM861.46
Food (snacks and street food) = KRW168,320 = RM635.40
Entrance fee Nami, Everland, Gyeongbokgung palace, Seoul Tower =KRW367,500 = RM1387.31
T-money (top ups - refund on the last day) = KRW74,000 = RM279.35
Egg wifi = KRW4,000 = RM166.10

GRAND TOTAL (3 adults and 2 children, *** not including shopping and miscellaneous expenditure) = RM8425.75

Full itinerary and  directions to places we visited will be updated in next tungguuuuuuu 😍

NOW...let's menabung for next international vacation 😍😍💪💪💪

Read also:
Seoul Trip ***Fall 2016 - Day 1
Seoul Trip ***Fall 2016 - Day 2
Seoul Trip ***Fall 2016 - Day 3


Nur Azemah Aminludin said...

Very detail traveling trail...tqvm kak as... Memang boleh guna terus budget n follow schedule kak as...tqvm for sharing

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