Petite France + Nami Island + Gangchon Railbike Ride Tour (Part 1)

Our last full day in South Korea was spent outside the city. Thankful that I booked this trip with FunKo! It went well from start to finish!

For KRW 70,000.00 per person (or roughly about Php 3,500.00), this tour is so worth it!

Waited for our ride at Myeongdong Station Exit 5, there in a bulletin board was my name and the group we would be in.

Lucky us because our group only consisted of 15 pax (us 12 / other group 3)! Due to us being a small group, we were assigned a cozy coaster instead of a big and uncomfortable bus!

The ride to our first stop Petite France from Myeongdong was only an hour. I love Little Prince so I am giddy on this tour.

Petite France is a French cultural village set in the Korean countryside. It is also home to Goseong Youth Training Center. There are a lot of things to experience here.

The Little Prince welcomes visitors of Petite France

Puppets and Dolls on display

The Proposal Room

Petite France during winter
Viewdeck to see North Korea from afar

Inside a French Woman’s house

Miniature Eiffel Tower

Aside from the very picturesque small town that is Petite France, we get to enjoy magnificent puppet shows.

Really a sight to behold, these pictures are just a few of so many. A must visit in Gapyeong!

Our tour ended with some ice cream!

Next stop is the famous Nami Island. Took the coaster for a 30 minute ride to reach the ferry station. More on it here!

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Namsanmai – Our Korea Airbnb Story

There are a lot of places for rent when you check Airbnb. It’s almost a matter of luck if you will get a good host and if the place you are booking will be just what the host says.

As for our Korea Trip this year, we had the best of both worlds as our host is very accommodating and helpful. He always answers my query. His place is just what he posted and everything worked out fine the whole time we were there.

Our group consisted of 12 people and the house fits us perfectly.

The house is located in Namsan and super close to Namsan Cable Car Station, more or less a 5 minute walk uphill.

On the other hand, to go to Myeongdong Shopping Area, you walk downhill for a few minutes and you will reach 2 of the exits of Myeongdong Station. When you go underground, there is an underground shopping area and when you cross it and go up the exit, you are already at Myeongdong Street. This is where the happening is at! More on Myeongdong in my next blog.

Back to the house, this is what I saw that caught my attention. This is the house’s floor plan.

So you see, there are 3 rooms. Room number 1 has 3 single beds that can sleep 3 people. Room number 2 has a double deck with pull out bed. So another 3 people could sleep. Room number 3 has 2 double queen beds which could sleep 4 people.

The house also has 3 toilet and baths. And heated water which definitely helped as the weather is so cold in the morning.

To give you a glimpse of the house, take a look.

The gate looked like it was taken straight from a Korean film.

Houses and condos in Korea have digital locks. You won’t be needing a key, the owner of the house (in this case our host) just gave us the password and that is what we used for the whole duration of the trip.

The kitchen / laundry area / dining area.

The living room has a comfortable couch. A big flat screen TV and WIFI!

Room number 1

Room number 2

Room number 3

The host also gave us supply of water and some chips. So nice right?

He also booked us our airport transfers to and fro the airport.

I loved our stay in his house and that I am recommending it to all my friends.

Oh, one important thing! The house is a tough walk uphill especially when you have shopped for a lot of things! So ready your legs! I do have a bright idea though, you could take the bus and alight at the bus station in Namsan Cable Car, which is on top. Then just walk downhill to your house.

Some more pictures of the house. ⬇⬇⬇

Pictures from Namsanmai’s Facebook Account

Also, the host was so nice to let us check in directly from the airport. We arrived in his house around 7am. Check in was supposedly 2pm.

The house has all the things you will need – from the toiletries to the towels to the glasses, cups and cooking pans – it is all there!

We were all really happy with our stay! 🙌👌👍👏

Go and check out Namsanmai at Airbnb!

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How to get a South Korean Visa

I thought getting a Korean Visa would be easy.  Boy!  Was I wrong!

I think the Korean Embassy implemented stricter measures because of the influx of TNTs in their country.

In our case, aside from my family, there were some colleagues of mine that would also be travelling to South Korea, so there were batches for the application of the Visas.  Since I want to get it over and done with, I submitted all documents I thought were complete with the 1st batch!  Lo and behold, ours got returned because I didn’t attach my kids’ Birth Certificates.  I didn’t think that they would be needing it.  The travel agency didn’t include that in the list.  Maybe they thought they just need to list the requirements for employed individuals as it was an outing for our office.

For the 2nd batch till the last batch, it was the same, the Embassy wouldn’t accept our application because my daughter needed to secure a School Certificate that she’s still enrolled with her school!  As if my daughter would be left in Korea without us!  They are that strict!  Everyone already got their visas granted, it’s only my family’s that is left with the agency.  Until hubby got the School Certificate and submitted it, our visas were finally granted.

So here’s what you should submit to get a Korean Visa hassle free!

1) An Application Form properly filled out.  Page 2 is a guideline so you better read it before filling up the form.  But for Nos 30-31, the guideline said put “undecided” if you’re not sure yet where you would be staying, it’s okay if you really don’t know yet.  But if you already booked a hotel or a hostel or a guest house, put everything in your application form.  That way, they know you’re really bent on going to their country!  To be sure also, I attached a copy of the email confirming our booking.

2) 1 pc of Passport Size (Size 3.5cm x 4.5cm)  Photo taken and printed by a real studio.  They don’t accept DIY passport size photo.  So, spend that Php60.00 for a 6Pc Passport Size photo set and wait for an hour.

3) Photocopy of your Passport’s Info Page.  And if you have previously traveled to countries like Japan, USA or Canada, photocopy your Visas from the said countries as well.  Doesn’t matter if expired or not.  This is the first page in your passport.

4)  Bank Certificate – this is really a MUST.  They have to see that you have money to spend on their country and that you are really just going for a tour or a vacation.  And tell your bank that the following details need to be present on the Bank Certificate:

     a) Date Account was Opened (should at least be 6 months already)

     b) Amount should be correct and supported with a Passbook for Savings Account and a Certificate for Placements and other Time Accounts

      c)  Name in the Certification should be the same with name on your Passport.

For applicants who are employees, the following are additional requirements for you:

1)  Certificate of Employment with Income – this is requested through your company’s HR dept.  Mine took a week or so before it was sent to me so better request it early.

2)  Income Tax Return (ITR) – this is where they can see your annual gross income.  One of the very important things they need is for you to prove your financial capacity to travel.

For families who have Young Kids or Students, you need to present your child’s:

1)  Birth Certificate

2) Photocopy of School ID if kid is studying already

 3)  Original School Certificate – to certify that the child is enrolled in the school

For applicants who doesn’t have ITR or the above mentioned financial documents, you can present:

1)  A photocopy of the Certificate of Registration of your car.  Or a Land Title.  As long as it’s under your name!

2)  If you don’t have number 1, ask the person supporting you on this trip to request for a Bank Certificate with the purpose of applying a bank cert to support your visa application.

3)  Senior Citizens need to present their IDs and document number 1 or 2.  But I heard that Senior Citizens are usually granted visas, so it’s easy for them.  It’s not as though they could stay their in Korea as unregistered aliens and work right?

Here’s our Visa, with that out of the picture, I could continue planning now and finalize our itinerary!

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By the way, I paid Php 300.00 to the travel agency for each visa they processed.  That’s already a bargain for me since I am working and I don’t have time to go back and forth the Korean Embassy which is located in McKinley in Taguig City.

For those who doesn’t want to pay and ask a travel agency to process your visa, just go to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea with address McKinley Town Center, 122 Upper McKinley Road, Taguig City.  You have to go there as early as possible as they only accept applications in the morning.  They release documents in the afternoon hence half day acceptance of applications.  Be sure that your documents are complete so you don’t have to go back for resubmission.  It usually takes 7 working days for a visa to be processed.  Good Luck!

So there, I hope I was able to make clear what documents are needed to get a Korean Visa hassle-free!

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South Korea 2015

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A month to go and we are off to our yearly family vacation!

Need to finalize our itinerary so we could maximize our time there!

So far, we’ve got tickets which we got very cheap and our accommodation is already booked. Also, our Korean Visas are out!  A different post on that!

As early as now, I would start my packing! Too early? Nah, if you’re travelling with kids as young as ours, time is always not enough. From clothing to food to medicines and other what nots, I just can’t leave anything to “bahala na!” A mom like me should always be prepared like a girl’s scout!

I’ll keep posting about this trip as I go about it! =)

See you!

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