Have you ever wanted to visit South Korea but bounded by some limitations or should I say.. HESITATIONS? This is a blog series about traveling to South Korea in Spring. I have known many people who eagerly want to explore this country for many reasons but they couldn’t due to limited knowledge on how to make it happen. Thus, I am inspired to share how I made it to my CHERRY BLOSSOM FULL BLOOM EXPERIENCE in Korea (April 2015) as a budget traveler. Who knows, you might be the next! Finally, I want to dedicate this to other ESL/EFL teachers who in many years have been teaching English to Koreans but couldn’t even pay a visit to South Korea. I have 2 words for you, “You can!” 🙂
It has been a childhood dream to visit places where I can enjoy SPRING, autumn, and winter for the reason that these beautiful seasons are not present in tropical regions such as the Philippines. For many years, I have eagerness to travel abroad however people would discourage me by saying, “Either for leisure or work, it would require a generous amount of money and excruciating visa-application process.” I finally decided to overcome it and I just want to share my experience to someone who might benefit from it.
When I checked the embassy’s website, the Visa Requirements for Filipinos (shown below) made me have second thoughts on whether I should go for it or not. But my motivation? VISA IS FREE!!! So why not try it anyway? You just have to provide some documents and off you go.
I was nervous at first due to the following reasons:
☑ No ITR Form 2316 or 1701. What I only have was a Form 2307 (Self-employed);
☑ 6-month old bank account with very small money in savings (<P30,000);
☑ Low credit card limit (P15,000);
☑ Expiring passport (Travel Month: April 2015; Passport Expiry: November 2015);
☑ COE from a no employer-employee relationship company;
☑ Traveled to other non-visa Asian countries (at least once)
After organizing my documents based on the embassy’s requirements (see below) , I uttered a prayer and courageously handed in my application.
Quick Tip: Provide only what is required. No more, no less.
To my surprise (and relief), the application process for a South Korea tourist visa was so organized that I must have spent no more than 20 minutes at the embassy in total. Seriously, it took me much longer just to travel to the embassy and back!
After I got my claiming stub, I waited for five days and went back to the embassy. This welcomed me, “Congratulations, Ms. ____, you are granted a visa to South Korea. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY, 🙂 ” the woman said. My heart ❤ leaped with joy. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could finally realize my Vision Goal to travel to Korea in Spring!! So I just said, “Kamsahamnida!” and left the embassy. Yahoo. VISA GRANTED! 🙂
Single-entry tourists visa are good for 3 months from their date of issue, so I suggest applying 1-2 months before your trip. In my case, my travel was in April so I applied for visa in February.
Tourist Visa Requirements for Filipino Employees
1. Application Form
2. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable, and Korean Visas will not be counted)
6. Original Certificate of Employment (new!)
(must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address)
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate
(must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
8. Bank Statement (new!)
(original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
10. Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316
* If personally invited by Korean
. Invitation Letter
. Photocopy of invitor’s Passport or Identification Card
(authentication not required)
* If invited by Company in Korea
. Invitation Letter
. Photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit
(authentication not required)
* Frequent travelers who have traveled as tourist to OECD member countries within 5 years are exempted from submitting ITR.
■ Processing Time
: 3 working days (for those who have been to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourist)
5 working days (for those who have not been to OECD member countries within 5 years)
■ Visa Fee: 59 days (or less) stay in Korea — GRATIS
60 to 90 days stay in Korea — PHP1,800.00
Republic of Korea Embassy in the Philippines
122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634
Tel: +632 856-9210
Fax: +632 856-9008
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30AM-5:30PM
Filing: Mon-Fri, 9-11AM
Releasing: Mon-Fri, 2-4PM
HOW TO GET THERE:
Going southbound on C5, veer right soon as you pass SM Aura. You’ll see a Petron/Jollibee shortly after. The exit to Upper Mckinley Rd will come immediately after this, with the embassy almost at the start of the exit.
My Experience: I never traveled to Manila alone in the past. I did not want to trust strangers completely so I kept my phone with me and got in touch with friends for directions. To ease confidence, I also downloaded Google Map 🙂 I rode a bus to Manila from the province; rode MRT from Quezon Ave. to Guadalupe Station. From Guadalupe, I walked to the Jeepney stop and hailed a jeepney going to C5. I asked the driver to drop me off at the embassy at Mc Kinley.
My VISA APPLICATION EXPENSES:
Bus Fare (Region III to Manila) P230.00
Bus Fare (Manila to Region III) P230.00
Jeepney to and from C5 P20.00
City Bus P20.00
For the next series, Follow Me! 🙂
👣 HistoryMaker/The Official Traveler
Disclaimer: The example above is more accurate for Tourist Visa application. Like you, I’m just a traveler. I’ll try to help as much as I can but please understand that my knowledge is finite and limited to my personal experience and purely research only.