There are countries that you visit with a specific set of people. You go to the United States, for example, with your family, because you usually stay longer periods and you stay with relatives you rarely see. (And only a true tita can handle so many designer outlets.) Hong Kong is ideal for new couples because strict parents won’t notice that you’ve been gone all day — it’s a two-and-a-half-hour flight! Going from one point of EDSA to the other takes longer.
But South Korea is that rare part of the world that works with any traveling group. You can be with friends, family, or all by yourself, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time. In the last few years, the country has become a preferred tourist destination; in 2017, over 13 million tourists visited Korea, and more than 200,000 of those visitors came from the Philippines. In fact, Korea has become so popular among Filipinos that the Korean Embassy now requires visa applications to be coursed through accredited travel agencies. You can even apply for multiple entry visas to Korea, if you are a user of certain types of credit cards. (So if you’re planning a visit soon, better check these rules out.)
Korea is so unpretentious about its charms — its cities and provinces are clean and orderly, but they feel very lived-in too.
So what is it about Korea that makes it so enticing to see? In the two times I’ve visited, I can honestly say that I come back home with a renewed sense of purpose. Korea is so unpretentious about its charms — its cities and provinces are clean and orderly, but they feel very lived-in too. It is simply a part of their lives to have working train systems, wide roads, and decent public service on the regular. (You can imagine how mind-blowing this is.) The people, especially the women, are all stylish in some way. They might not dress the same, but I often catch myself checking out gals walking on the street to see how they do their makeup or style their outfits. It is a travesty that we, the Filipino nation, do not look this collectively cute.
Korea is that rare place that’s got something for everyone.
And this is perhaps Korea’s greatest gift to the world: the gift of beauty, of a new kind of Asian cuteness. K-beauty is a phenomenon that has spread like wildfire, and the Philippines was not spared. Korean beauty brands can be found all over the country, and come in varying price points and products. K-pop and K-dramas have certainly helped, with so many of us looking up to our idols, wanting to look just a little bit like them. Because of this, the Korea Tourism Organization (the government arm that promotes the country’s tourism industry) put together a brilliant itinerary for anyone who’d like to experience the best of Korean fashion and beauty. And if you happen to be in a bigger group — where you just know that everyone would like to do a million different things — there are also a couple of things to do beyond luxury spas and life-changing makeovers. Like I said, Korea is that rare place that’s got something for everyone.