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[Virtual Travel + VTL Guide] Autumn in Seoul + Gapyeong, Nami Island

With the many VTLs opening up for Singapore, it seems that overseas travel is FINALLY made possible again. However, it will never be as easy as how it used to be with the ongoing pandemic. Korea has been a yearly trip for me after I graduated in 2015, till the pandemic came and broke the chain. I really hope I will be able to visit Korea later this year, but honestly, I’m still feeling kind of insecure about it… With the much research done, it seems a little complicated to me, so many bookings and procedures to go through! Thankfully, for writers like mothership and ladyironchef, who has made a rather detailed VTL guide from their first-hand experience! BUT, you have to bear in mind that such procedures might change from time to time depending on the current pandemic situation.


  • Book a direct flight operated by Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines or Scoot.

  • You can book any direct flight for SIN-ICN, but you have to book a VTL flight for ICN-SIN.

  • Apply K-ETA > at least 24hrs before departure, costs around ₩10k. Results will usually be received within 24hrs of application. Valid for 2yrs.

  • In order to qualify for the VTL, you have to have spent the past 14 days in Singapore and/or South Korea only.

  • Hardcopy of Notarised vaccination cert > download from Notarise portal, comes with QR code.

  • Download KDCA’s COOV app. Most places will just check the hardcopy vaccine cert, but stricter ones will want you to use the app to scan the vaccine cert’s QR code.

  • As of 14th Jan 2022, 2nd dose of vaccine is only valid for 180 days (6mths) for fully vaxxed status.

  • Travel insurance with minimum coverage of ₩30M for covid-19 related medical expenses.

  • Hardcopy of travel insurance policy.

  • (SIN-ICN) PCR taken within 48hrs from departing Changi Airport at listed clinics. There are many clinics that provide home service.

  • (SIN-ICN) PCR or ART upon arriving at Incheon Airport > to pre-book on Safe2GoPass.

  • Hardcopy of email confirmation for the swab test booking.

  • Proceed to your accommodation via taxi, private hire or designated bus or train to isolate and wait for results. General public transport is not allowed.

  • Swab test results will be received via email (excludes hotmail and yahoo) and/or Korea phone number via SMS.

  • Self-administered ART to be done on day 3 and 5. Take a photo of a negative result with the passport's biodata page > remember to bring along some ART kits!

  • If you are staying for more than 8 days, PCR is required on day 6 or 7 at listed clinics. Isolation is not required after the swab test.

  • If you are planning to visit other parts of Korea via domestic flights, additional swab test(s) is/are required.

  • Complete SG e-arrival card 3 days before arriving in Singapore.

  • (ICN-SIN) PCR or ART taken within 48hrs from departing Incheon Airport at listed clinics. You can also do the test on departure day at Incheon Airport > to pre-book on Safe2GoPass.

  • Hardcopy of the email confirmation for the swab test booking.

  • (ICN-SIN) PCR upon arriving at Changi Airport > pre-booking required. Cost is $125.

  • Hardcopy of swab test booking and receipt.

  • Self-administered ART to be done from day 2 to 7, if you are leaving your home.

  • Rule of thumb: Print out all relevant documents and bring them along with your passport everywhere you go!

Phew! That is quite a loooong checklist, isn’t it?

For accommodation, I chose Airbnb in the Hongdae area. For some reason, I always prefer Airbnb over hotels, probably because Airbnb always comes with a kitchenette and washing machine. But, if Airbnb happens to not work out for the VTL arrangement, I’ve found two hotel options at Hongdae, either Amanti Hotel Seoul or 9Brick Hotel.

I have tried staying at Dongdaemun, Yongsan and Hongdae previously, and Hongdae has been my favourite so far. Here’s some reasons why I love Hongdae:

1: It is directly connected to the airport train line (AREX), though you can’t really utilise it now due to VTL requirements - public transport is not allowed from the airport to your accommodation.

2: You can find almost everything you need here - fashion shops, cosmetics, amazing eateries, pretty cafes, 24hrs dining options, and so on.

3: It is where Korean young adults hang out. There used to be weekly street performances before covid, not too sure about now.

4: Things at Hongdae are much more affordable since it is targeted towards the young adult crowd.

5: It is located next to Yeonnam-dong which is starting to gain popularity in recent years, filled with chill and artsy vibes. It is also near Mangwon-dong, where you can find cute little shops and cafes.

Alright, so here is the itinerary:

Arrive at Incheon Airport > PCR or ART test at Airport > check-in to accommodation at Hongdae > isolate and wait for swab test results

Lunch at Donko Bossam > Cafe: Nak-Won > Cafe: Seoul Coffee > walk around Ikseondong Hanok Village > Cafe: Dongbaek Bakery > Hongdae Street Shopping > Dinner at Baek Nyeon Baekse Ginseng Chicken Soup

Breakfast at Bonjuk > Cafe: Molto Italian Espresso Bar > walk around Myeongdong Cathedral > Lunch at Myeongdong Kyoja > walk around Myeongdong > Cafe: Luft Coffee > Deoksugung Stonewall Road > Mariwhale Macaron > Seoullo 7017 > Lotte Mart + dinner takeout

Self-administered ART > Breakfast at Mother in Law Bagels > Ewha Woman’s University > Ewha Woman’s University Museum > walk around Sinchon > Cafe Layered > Cafe: Stamp Coffee > walk around Yeonnam-dong > Hongdae Youth Workshop > Cafe: Sway Coffee Station > Cafe: Dinga Cake House > Dinner at BHC Chicken > Hongdae Street Shopping > dessert break at Sulbing

Breakfast at Cafe Etoile > Haneul Park (silver-grass / pampas grass field) > Lunch at Obok Sikdang > walk around Mangwon-dong > Cafe: Shinleedoga > Hongdae Street Shopping > Manmancocoro (“Itaewon Class” filming location) > Cafe: Rooftop Urban Beach > Dinner at The Famous Burger

Self-administered ART > Subway to Yongsan Station > ITX train to Gapyeong Station > Nami Island + brunch > Interactive Art Museum > Petite France + afternoon snack > Garden of Morning Calm > Cheongpyeong Station > ITX train to Yongsan Station > Subway to Hongdae Station > Dinner at Tong Tong (Korean BBQ)

Seoul Wave Art Center > Breakfast at Cafe: Yeonlib Coffee > Cafe: Milestone Coffee > walk around Sinsa-dong > Lunch at Poke All Day > walk around Apgujeong-dong > Cafe: Felt Coffee x Juun.J > Cafe: Garuharu > Lotte World Tower + sunset > Dinner at Joahae Dakbal

PCR test at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital > Breakfast at Cafe Onion > Gyeongbokgung > National Folk Museum of Korea > Lunch at Tongin Market (ancient coin bento) > walk around Samcheong-dong > hike up to Seoul Fortress Wall > Cafe: Blue Bottle Coffee > walk around Changdeokgung > Cafe: Cheongsudang > Dinner at Mukshidonna

Breakfast at Oasis Cafe > walk around Itaewon > Danbam (“Itaewon Class” filming location) > Cafe: Day Row > Lunch at Sigol Bapsang > Nine One Hannam > Cafe Oriente > Noksapyeong Bridge (“Itaewon Class” filming location) > Cafe: Butter Book > Yonsei University > Sinchon Graffiti Tunnel > Hongdae Street Shopping > Dinner at Hongik Gejang

PCR test at Hangyang University Hospital > Small breakfast at Cafe: Seoul Angmusae > small breakfast at Cafe: Teddy's Oven > Cafe: Cheonsang Gaok > Starfield COEX Mall > Starfield Library > Lunch at Brooklyn the Burger Joint > COEX Aquarium > Cafe: Peach Gray > Dinner at No Brand Burger

Check-out of hotel > Store luggage at Hongdae Station > light breakfast at Orbit Cafe & Guesthouse > Cafe Jass > Lunch at Idaejoppyeodakwi > Collect luggage at Hongdae Station > Depart to Incheon Airport


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