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7 Things You Need To Know Before Heading To South Korea (Updated!)

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Siti Ayeeshah Zaki •  Jul 25, 2022

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When I was asked if I wanted to head to Korea for HHWT, there was no question about it. I dropped everything and left for my next adventure. However, the breeze that was once check-ins were now a pile of documents in hand, passport in the other. Catching up with all I needed to travel had been anxiety-inducing, but getting through customs was nerve-wracking. Did I have everything I needed? What would happen if I didn't? Nonetheless, it was worth it. I explored new places, met amazing new people, and enjoyed exciting new experiences. It was so refreshing that now I want you to experience that, too. So here's what you'll need to know to get to Korea! Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://bit.ly/3LnFN1F

What You Need To Know About Getting To Korea

Now here's the real head-scratcher. Getting to another country used to be as easy as grabbing your passport and heading for the causeway or airport. I remember packing my clothes, grabbing my passport and just leaving the house. Now, it's a little bit different. In order to ensure everyone's safety, the South Korean and Singaporean Governments require you to have a few things prepared before you travel. P.S. Here are accommodations near South Korea's top attractions!

1. K-ETA

To enter Korea, you'll need to have filled up this form in advance. The K-ETA is an electronic travel authorisation that allows visa-free tourists to enter Korea. Remember to apply for the K-ETA at least 1 week prior to your departure, because now that South Korea has dropped the restrictions of international flights, it's expected that more visitors will travel to South Korea, and the Embassy will take a longer time in checking your application. You can add the contact number of the accommodation you'll be staying in when you arrive in South Korea if you're prompted to add a Korean number. Click here to apply for your K-ETA! P.S. Here Are Quarantine-Free Countries That Are Open To Travellers Vaccinated With Sinovac!

2. Vaccination Certificate

To travel to South Korea, you'll need to be fully vaccinated with any World Health Organisation emergency-use list vaccine. So make sure you have this ready! I had been vaccinated, so there was no worry there. I did, however, have to get my vaccination certificate from Notarise. Getting my vaccination certificate here means that I was getting it from a safe and reliable source! Recognised by both governments, make sure to print a hard copy of the QR Code and certificate provided. I had to show it to the appropriate authorities as I made my way through the airport check-ins in both countries. You can also get your vaccination certificate notarised via Health Hub. Just sign in using your Singpass and follow the instructions accordingly.

3. Pre-Departure Covid-19 Test

You're also going to need a negative PCR test result before flying off! There are two types of Covid-19 test you can take: a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or Antigen Rapid Test (ART) at a hospital or clinic (self-administered tests are NOT allowed) within 1 day of your departure (i.e. if your flight is on 03 June at 2300hrs, you can take the RAT/ART on 02 June from 0000hrs onwards) OR a PCR test taken within 2 days (48 hours) of your departure (i.e if your flight is on 03 June at 2300hrs, you can take the PCR test on 01 June from 0000hrs onwards). Don't take any of your pre-departure Covid-19 tests outside of the time frame; you'll be prevented from boarding your flight! In Singapore, the tests cost about $120- $170 each depending on the clinic. Remember to book your pre-departure PCR-test at an MOH-approved provider so that your test is valid. If you're looking for PCR tests that gives you results within 3 to 6 hours, you do have to fork out a little more; the price ranges between $250-$300. Oh and if you're travelling with kids, not to worry! Infants and children under the age of 6 don't need to take the PCR tests. At the time I went to South Korea (May 2022), I had to provide a notarised PCR test result. The clinic I went to in Singapore, already did it for me, which saves time!

4.Q-Code for quarantine-free travel across South Korea

All travellers, including children below the age of 6 are required to register for Q-Code prior to departure. You can apply this once you have your negative PCR test result sent to you. A QR code will be issued to the traveller's email after registration. Q-Code is valid for one-time entry. Therefore, you need to register for Q-Code before every entry. You can add the contact number of the accommodation you'll be staying in when you arrive in South Korea if you're prompted to add a Korean number.

5. One Booking For PCR Test In Korea 

Recently, the South Korean government has changed the rules for the PCR test; you are now required to take it within 1 day of your arrival at Incheon Airport! 😄 I booked my Korean PCR test with Safe2Go Pass - it was super easy, especially since the website is in English. For more updates, you can check out this link for more information. I've checked with Korea Tourism Organization and I was told that some clinics do accept cash payments, however, cashless payments are preferred. If you're not sure if the clinic you've booked accepts cash, do give the clinic a call or email them to check. You can also ask at the counter if they accept cash; there's a chance they do, but it's better to have a credit card prepared.
PCR tests in Korea costs about 80,000 won (SGD87~). From experience, they checked my vaccination status and the latest PCR test documents during check-in at both airports. So make sure you always have them ready!

6. Travel Insurance 

To keep you safe, you'll have to buy an insurance plan before you make the trip. It needs to have a minimum coverage of 30 million won for COVID-19 medical/treatment expenses and hospitalisation costs. That way, if you happen to be Covid positive in Korea, your hospitalisation expenses will be covered (depending on your plan)! The travel agency helped me with this as well, but you can check out AIG for their insurance plans to Korea!

7. Once You're In Korea

Once you're in Korea, there'll be a few immigration stops. They'll ensure you have the right documents to tour and explore the country!

First stop: Immigration

Immigration for me was quite fast! However, more visitors are expected to visit South Korea so do be prepared for long immigration lines. But after clearing immigration, things were pretty smooth. At this stage, you'll need these documents for them to check:
  • Travel declaration form (either provided whilst you're on the plane, or any of the booths along immigration and baggage claim area)
  • Passport
  • Notarised pre-departure PCR test result
  • Notarised vaccination certificate
  • Q-code
  • K-ETA
  • Flight itinerary (you can use your phone, but if you need to download it and it takes too much time at the immigration, it's better to have it printed)
HHWTTip: Have multiple copies of the relevant documents! While the immigration did not keep any documents for record, it's always better to be safe than sorry. I put one in my hand-carry, and another in my luggage bag for emergencies.

Second stop: Incheon Airport's On-Arrival PCR Test

Getting around the airport was no problem! There are clear signs all around the airport for me to get to the PCR test venue. The signs are in English too, so you definitely won't get lost! As of 25 July 2022, travellers arriving in South Korea are required to take a PCR test within 1-Day of arrival. You can pre-book to take the test at Incheon Airport or at a medical facility nearby your accommodation on the same dayy! We'd recommend you take it at the airport to avoid all the hassle. 😉P.S. Check out this Muslim-friendly Everland guide!
And then you're done! As of writing now, you don't have to quarantine, however, as I shared earlier, you do have to take the mandatory on-arrival PCR test and are required to submit your test results here! It's getting easier to travel to South Korea as rules are getting less restricted in lieu of their improved situation. I'm definitely much more confident about travelling now than I once was. Share this with your travel buddy to plan your next trip to South Korea! For more information, you can check out the respective Korean embassies in your country on their website.