Summer in South Korea is severely underrated. Most people who plan on traveling there usually aim for the seasons of autumn, winter and spring to experience the best of the Land of the Morning Calm—all with perfectly good reasons, of course. But South Korea is equally beautiful in the light of the summer, and having a clear day for a backdrop often results in gorgeous Instragram-worthy snapshots.
Satisfy your wandering Seoul with Zee Lifestyle’s guide to South Korea.
South Korea is a country located in East Asia. Its capital and largest city is Seoul. It is approximately a five-hour flight from the Philippines, and is also one hour ahead in terms of timezone (UTC+9). Their currency is the South Korean won, with a currency exchange of roughly PHP 1 = KRW 23 (as of press time). They have four seasons, with summer running from May to September, autumn from September to November, winter from November to March, and spring from March to May.
Going to South Korea requires a visa for Philippine passport holders, which is easily obtainable from the Korean embassy, located on the 12th floor of the Chinabank Corporate Center in Cebu Business Park. Processing time is five days, and fees are gratis for a stay of 59 days or less.
Philippines AirAsia flies direct to Incheon, South Korea from Mactan, Cebu every day. They also have flights to Incheon from Manila and Kalibo, as well as to Busan from Kalibo. For bookings, visit airasia.com.
THE TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN KOREA DURING SUMMER
1. Explore Incheon International Airport
Okay, so we’d actually rather save this for the last day of the trip while you wait to board your flight, but Incheon International Airport is a destination in itself when you’re in South Korea. It’s one of the world’s best airports for good reason: There’s an abundance of amenities, from duty-free shopping and top-notch dining establishments, to sleeping and shower areas and cultural shows. You’d find you wouldn’t really mind long layovers or delayed flights.
INCHEON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
272 Gonghang-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
2. Don a hanbok and stroll through Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village
South Korea is a highly urbanized and modern city, yet you can still get glimpses of history and culture here and there. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of Korea’s Five Palaces and was home to the Royal Family back in the Joseon Dynasty, while the Bukchon Hanok Village is a quaint neighborhood of traditional Korean homes known as hanok. Rent a colorful hanbok (traditional costume) to get the most likes on your social media posts. Plus: Entrance to the Palaces is free when you’re in costume.
161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
BUKCHON HANOK VILLAGE
Gye-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
3. Dip your toes into the cool waters of the Cheonggyecheon Stream
The Cheonggyecheon Stream, which runs throughout downtown Seoul, is the perfect example of urbanization coordinating with nature. This waterway was neglected for years, until the government pursued efforts to restore it in the early 2000s. Today, it’s one of the most popular public parks where people can sit by the river and even dip their toes into the cool waters pumped from the Han River.
Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
4. Have samgyetang in Nam Chon Ok
Samgyetang is chicken ginseng soup that’s quite popular during summer. This specialty is basically a whole young chicken stuffed with rice, and is also surrounded with noodles. Pro tip: Make sure you’re REALLY hungry so you can finish off this dish.
NAM CHON OK
20 Gwang-hi-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
5. Get a lot of skincare and makeup freebies at Myeongdong
Even though you haven’t been bitten by the K-pop craze, even you’d have to admit that Korean skincare is amazing. Myeongdong is a street where you can find popular beauty brands one stall after another, from Etude House to Tony Moly, Innisfree, Missha and Nature Republic. Not only do these stores sell their products at great deals, but they’d throw in a lot (and we mean a lot) of goodies on your way out—or heck, even if you just browse through their selections.
Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
6. Admire the neofuturistic architecture at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Largely contributing to Korea’s honorific as the World’s Design Capital is the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a massive and sprawling structure with almost-impossible curves and striking lines designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid in collaboration with Korean studio Samoo. We challenge you to find the perfect angles for your Instagram shots.
DONGDAEMUN DESIGN PLAZA
281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
7. Get a good night’s rest at the T-Mark Grand Hotel
Of course, you can’t just zoom past all the sights without having decent sleep. But just because you’re off to dreamland doesn’t mean you should stop experiencing the best of what Korea has to offer. The T-Mark Grand Hotel, one of the city’s newest hotels, is highly recommended. Besides offering all the amenities you would ever need, it’s also right across the Nandaemun Market and just a short walking distance to Myeongdong.
T-MARK GRAND HOTEL MYEONGDONG
52 Toegye-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea | website
8. Indulge in banana milk in one of Korea’s many convenience stores
If banana milk isn’t Korea’s national drink, then we don’t know what is. The drink, which comes in cute plastic bottles, makes for the perfect refreshment in between all the sightseeing. It’s also filling enough to stave off hunger pangs when necessary. Should you wish to bring some home, we recommend buying them at the airport after checking in.
9. Seal your love at N-Seoul Tower
Following Paris’ lead, several countries now have their own versions of lovelocks, in which couples proclaim your love with a special padlock to signal everlasting togetherness. In South Korea, you can seal your love at the N-Seoul Tower, which also has love benches bent into a curve right in the middle, designed to bring two people together.
105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
10. Shop ‘til you drop at Insadong Antique Alley and Namdaemun Market
No trip anywhere is complete without shopping. If you haven’t had your fill from Myeongdong, Insadong Antique Alley has a lot of interesting and unique trinkets to bring back for your loved ones. For even greater sales, especially on bags and shoes, Namdaemun Market is where it’s at.
INSADONG ANTIQUE ALLEY
29 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
text and photos by Patty Taboada
This is How the M.I.C.E. Alliance Initiative will Lift Boracay to New Heights
Leveling up Boracay in more ways than one
by Ryan Daniel R. Dablo
Saying the name “Boracay” instantly casts a spell, taking the listener to a daydream of immaculate, pale beaches, swaying palm trees, the music of breaking waves, and the vacation of a lifetime. The tropical island Eden is storied and renowned – a difficult enchantment to lift from any wayward tourist’s mind. But what if we were to tell you that Boracay is so much more? Can you build upon perfection? Yes, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is how.
After the difficulties of the past few years, the stage is finally set for a massive Boracay reboot. The creative gears turn once more, and this time they will catapult our favorite beach capital to new heights. The cornerstone of this renaissance is the M.I.C.E. Alliance initiative, short for meetings, incentives, conferences and conventions, and events and exhibitions. The establishment of the Boracay M.I.C.E. Alliance will allow focused efforts in creating sustainable and eco-sensitive tourism development projects while synergizing with stakeholders to create long-term solutions and opportunities for all partners. The alliance is set to drive awareness, readiness, and expansion of product offerings that will be crucial in making the island competitive with other M.I.C.E. destinations. Working closely with the Department of Tourism Region VI and the Tourism Promotions Board, the alliance is primed to provide support to the areas that are involved in this major undertaking.
No one is more emphatic than M.I.C.E. Alliance chairperson Cleofe Albiso in describing how the different sectors of Boracay are pivoting from tourism to tourism plus. In brief, Boracay is challenging its own boundaries to become not just the pre-eminent tourist destination but also a corporate and business mecca. Turns out, if a venue is grand enough to host a wedding, wouldn’t it be just as grand to host a white-collar conference? Sky’s the limit for possibilities like this. At this moment, the island is abuzz with networking and making connections, training and empowering the hospitality services, polishing the infrastructure, revving up the transportation facilities, and all-around gearing up to go toe-to-toe with other M.I.C.E. hubs and be worthy of the tagline, “the best place for M.I.C.E. in a tropical paradise.” All hands are on deck and – after the extended global hiatus thanks to the pandemic – everyone is ready, nay, eager to meet and greet the guests. And, of course, we would be remiss not to point out that Boracay is more than halfway through completing such a tall order. The island is as well-oiled a machine as it could be, boasting 294 DOT-accredited hotels and resort, a staggering 4,500 seating capacity for meetings and conventions, and 12,400 room keys available in the island. Talk about volume! Plus, Boracay is already postcard-perfect, the very stuff that vacation dreams are made of. Why not turn the dial up to eleven and let it become a compass point for more than a summer getaway? This is the logical next step in realizing its vision of being not just a place to be, but the place to be.
So, yes, by all means think of the idyllic strolls on the beach, the luxurious caress of the ocean as you free-dive, the sheer delight of sand and surf while island-hopping, the adrenaline rush of aquasports, parasailing, cycling, or driving an ATV up Boracay’s foothills, the psychedelic glow of fire-dancing and party lights at night, the breathtaking sunsets, the larger-than-life adventures, or the hundred other ways it can lavish or reinvigorate your soul. Think of all of that, and then some. Because Boracay has its eyes on something greater: it is poised to become the premier starting point and last stop for tourism, entertainment, corporate gatherings, exhibits, and any other event the imagination can dream of.
Think of your company meeting. Now, think of your company meeting and the fun that’ll ensue right after. Picture that in the most scenic of vacation spots. Tempted already? Who wouldn’t be? You’re already in paradise. With business here and leisure literally just a stone’s throw away – heaven on earth, wouldn’t you say?
For Our Next Travel Destination, We Dream About Koh Samui in Thailand
Mayenne Carmona discovers the Four Seasons Resort in Koh Samui is a quiet oasis to recharge and rejuvenate…
What does one expect from a Four Seasons Resort? Everything! Firstly, it will definitely be ranked no less than a five-star hotel or resort. Most importantly, it would not fall short of all your expectations: excellent cuisine, topnotch comfort at your fingertips in a well-appointed villa, courteous staff who offer impeccable service, and every other detail you could possibly need—down to the last cotton bud. After all, a Four Seasons Resort is always designed by a top-rated architectural team and interior designers.
The moment I stepped into the Four Seasons Resort at Koh Samui, I felt all my cares washed away by the soft waves of the bluest sea. The fresh air cleared my sinuses in no time, and the gentle breeze was a much needed caress to a tired mind and body. It was truly paradise regained for me and my friends. We were a motley group of career-oriented people who needed a much-awaited break from work, and this was the perfect choice for us.
Each Villa has a butler to cater to the guests’ every whim. The afternoon we arrived, we requested a sunset dinner by the beach, and much like a genie, our butler whipped up a romantically set candlelit dinner for six. A five-course delicious Thai dinner was prepared by their well-trained chef.
Our days were spent languishing by the beach, having daily massages, attending yoga classes, doing water sports and enjoying every bite of Thai cuisine. Golf carts transported us wherever we wanted to go within the resort. This vacation brought all my senses to another realm, and restored a weary soul to perfection.
Four Seasons Koh Samui, I look forward to seeing you again!
Koh Samui is the third largest island of Thailand in the scenic Gulf of Siam. It is a 45 minute flight from Bangkok. Sandy beaches, coral reefs, coconut trees and abundant tourist resources make it a popular holiday destination.
For more information on Four Seasons Resort, visit their website at https://www.fourseasons.com/kohsamui/
(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s March 2016 Travel Issue, “Silent Sanctuaries” written by our columnist Mayenne Carmona for La Vie En Rose on pages 32-33.)
Get Lost in this Not-so-distant Island Safari Paradise
LOST IN PARADISE
Tao Philippines Crusoe-style deserted island camp paradise is perfect for those who understand the luxury of simplicity and disconnection.
by Melo E. Esguerra photography by Scott Sporleder
Just when you think Palawan is fast becoming a second Boracay, where congestion of concrete buildings and human bodies have begun to define the island experience more than the pristine beaches of white powdery sand, the Lostboys of Tao Philippines came up with a new island project that guarantees an escape to paradise. They call the island Camp Ngey Ngey.
The Lostboys have taken over the abandoned resort of Manguengey in Busuanga, a remote island in Palawan. They have kept the ruins from the typhoon and built their signature bamboo Tuka huts around the main beach of the island, which serves as the camp area. Just a short walk away you’ll find jungle trails that lead to three other wild beaches, preserved reefs and windswept cliffs encompassed by crystal blue waters. And on certain days, when the winds are strong, one side of the island becomes a good site for surfing.
Eddie Brock, one of the founders of Tao Philippines, explains how this concept of an island safari came about. “When we took over Manguengey Resort, we were stuck with the idea of how to run it. We do not know how to cater to resort guests, the individual choices and needs, and menus,” he admits. “Tao’s expertise is to show travelers something new, something more raw and adventurous. We decided that we will not worry about things we don’t understand, and stick to what we do best. One of the best aspects of a Tao trip is creating an atmosphere of connecting with other travelers, disconnected from digital clot—without the worry of planning, wallets and keeping a status. Five days out in the remoteness with the islanders in control leads to a positive attitude: guards down, inhibition is off and open to meet new friends.”
The camp is accessible through the three day/two night boat safari from Coron, with beach and reef stops en route the camp and back. Guests will be joining other travelers, staying in individual Tuka huts dotted along the beach. There are lounges, a dining and kitchen area, and open hang-out places. Currently, the big mansion from the old resort is being restored into a villa that can accommodate a family or group of friends.
The island can be reserved for big events like weddings, parties and other meaningful gatherings.
In the island, there is no room service, no menus, no WiFi. You will arrive as strangers, you will eat together, swim together, laugh together, drink together, and get to know each other offline. Become part of the magic of Tao, and see what happens!
For more information on how the trip to Camp Ngey Ngey works, log on to www.taophilippines.com
(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s June 2017 Men’s Issue, “Lost in Paradise” on pages 110-113.)
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