My Tips in Applying for a Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines

January 21, 2018


My Tips in Applying for a Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines

1. Apply for a visa not more than 3 months from the intended date of stay in South Korea.


The consul is limited to issuing an expiry date 3 months from the date of visa issuance to applicants, even if you stated in the application form that your intended date of arrival is more than 3 months from the date of application. For example, if you plan to stay in Korea until June 1, do not apply for a visa earlier than March 1.


2. Find out if the embassy is open on the date you want to apply.

You don't need to get an appointment to apply for a visa to South Korea. You just walk-in. They do not inform you online whether or not the embassy is closed on a Philippine or Korean holiday. Below is the list of holidays they observe, both Philippine and Korean holidays. The list pertains to 2017 holidays. Adjust the dates accordingly for the subsequent years.

NOTE: They only observe national holidays. They do not observe municipal holidays like Taguig day, even if the embassy is located in Taguig.




3. Find out if you are eligible for a multiple entry 3-5 year visa.

If you have a BDO and BPI credit card, you may be eligible to apply for a multiple entry 3-5 year visa. 

Check out the BDO website for details:

Check out the BPI website for details:

4. If you have a visa for any of the OECD countries, you qualify for the express lane at Window 3. 

This means, you can get your passport (hopefully with visa) after three working days from submission of application. If you submitted your application on January 22 (a Monday), you can get your passport on January 25 (a Thursday).

You can present the visa of any OECD country for this purpose, even if EXPIRED, provided you used the visa at least once within the past 5 years. 

Below is a list of OECD countries:



5. Submit only photocopies of important documents. The embassy DOES NOT RETURN any document except your passport.




6. Arrange your documents in the following order for fast processing. 



7. Make sure to check that the embassy personnel assigned to verify your documents and issue the queue number assigned you in the right window.

I have seen the embassy personnel assign an applicant to window 1 when she qualified for window 3. Fortunately, the woman noticed the mistake and corrected him. Window 3 is the fast lane. The embassy returns your passport within 3 working days. Windows 1 and 2 are the regular lane. They return your passport within 5 working days.



8. Where to park 


Parking is across the Korean embassy
It is a roadside parking on the left side of the McKinley Hill sign.

This roadside parking is made an exclusive parking area of the Korean Embassy.

The red line is the location of the parking area.
For details, click: 
this link


REQUIREMENTS




FOR MORE INFORMATION, CHECK OUT THE KOREAN EMBASSY WEBSITE:  
http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/brd/m_3275/list.do




LTO-NCR Driver's License Backlog Printing: What You Need to Know

January 20, 2018


LTO-NCR Driver's License Backlog Printing:
 What You Need to Know


LTO opened 7 satellite offices to speed up the processing and issuance of around 3.6 million driver's license cards of applicants who were issued driver's licenses but failed to get the ID card. As shown in the photo below, these offices are purely for printing and releasing of 5 year driver's license cards. No student permit or renewal transactions are entertained.




WHERE TO FIND THE TEMPORARY OFFSITE PRINTING OFFICE

TOPO LOCATIONS:

SM MALLS: SM Marikina, Sm Manila, SM North Edsa
ROBINSONS MALL: Las Pinas
ALI MALL
FAIRVIEW CENTER MALL
LTO OFFICE: NCR Regional Office, Manila East District Office

OFFICE HOURS

10:00 AM - 6:00 PM


WHAT TO BRING:

Latest LTO official receipt

You must know your blood type


WHAT TO DO:

1. Approach the LTO personnel in front of the computer. He will give you a form to fill up and a queue number.



2. Fill up the form. The form asks for the same information as the driver's license application form. They are doing this because they will encode the same information all over again before they issue the driver's license card. They will also take your photo and signature again and in addition, your fingerprints.

3. The printing processing flow: 
a. Verification after you present your driver's license receipt.
b. Encoding of your personal information
c. Photo, Signature, Fingerprints
d. Printing of your driver's license card 

Average processing time is 10 minutes

This is the SM Marikina satellite office.


MY TIP: Don't arrive before 4:30 PM. They will not give you a queue number even if they close 6:00 PM. By that time all slots for the day were given out already. Arrive 10:00 AM to get a sure slot. 


7 DAYS IN TOKYO: My Travel Guide and Itinerary

January 12, 2018

7 DAYS IN TOKYO: My Travel Guide and Itinerary

Updated after my actual trip in May 2018!!!

I posted my planned itinerary in January 2018 prior my trip and edited it later to show what actually happened when I made the trip. Below is my actual itinerary:

WHAT YOU WILL VISIT IN THIS ITINERARY


A UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mount Fuji

Ghibli Museum: If you are a fan of anime, or movies by made by Studio Ghibli, this is a must visit site. You will see the process of making animated films as well as original drawings used in Ghibli films.

Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum: We briefly visited this place to complement our trip to Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki was inspired by specific structures in this museum when he created the world in the movie "Spirited Away".

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: Tokyo's most popular cherry blossom viewing venue. This is the best place to see 3 kinds of gardens: the Japanese traditional garden, the English garden, and the French formal garden.

Harajuku: Tokyo's pop culture and fashion district.

Shibuya Crossing: the busiest intersection in Japan and an iconic place Tokyo is known for.

Hachiko Memorial Statue: commemorating the most famous Akita dog, Hachiko, whose story of loyalty to his owner became a legend.

Ishikawa sake brewery: We joined a tour of the Ishikawa sake brewery, built in the 1800s. They continue to brew the famous Tamajiman sake at the site. The tour is FREE and there's free sake tasting afterwards.

Imperial Palace East Garden: We joined the Tokyo free walking tour of the East Garden of the Imperial Palace.

Kabukiza Theatre: To watch one act of a Kabuki play

Shopping at Daiso and Don Quijote: These are famous discount stores worth visiting for all kinds of Japanese souvenirs.




WHAT TO BOOK OR BUY IN ADVANCE

1. Mount Fuji Tour

I purchased the Mount Fuji Tour at viator.com instead of JTB Sunrise Tours or Japanican because viator.com offers it at 10% discount if it's the first time you purchase a tour at viator.com. Viator, JTB Sunrise Tours and Japanican have the same rate, but viator usually offers discounts during certain promo periods.

Check this out for details:


Why choose this tour:
You get 3 opportunities to see Mount Fuji: at the Mount Fuji 5th station, at Mount Komagatake, and at Lake Ashi.

I chose the bullet train ride on the return trip to Tokyo from Mount Fuji instead of the bus ride, even though the bus ride is cheaper, so we can experience a bullet train ride. The Shinkansen or bullet train is very expensive. At least we get to experience riding the bullet train without spending a lot.

My tip:
If you plan on doing the Ghibli Museum Tour, do the Mount Fuji tour on a Tuesday. Ghibli Museum is closed on Tuesdays.



2. Ghibli Museum Tickets

You can buy Ghibli Museum tickets online on the 10th of the month at 10:00 AM Japan time of the month before the date you want to visit the museum. This means if you want to buy tickets for March 2018, you can only buy it on February 10, at 10:00 AM Japan time.

CHECK OUT MY POST:


3. Flytpack Pocket Wifi

It is essential to bring a pocket wifi in Japan so it will be possible to navigate the subways and private railways. Lines change depending on time. If you have a pocket wifi, when you arrive at the station, you can start searching for your destination at google maps and google maps will tell you the next train you can ride to go to your destination. Others use hyperdia.com to navigate the trains but I find it easier to use google maps. Japan trains arrive exactly on time. So it's essential that you do an online google map search again once you arrive at the station to make sure you'll ride the correct train at the correct time.

PRICE: 280 per day x 7 days = 1960 pesos rental fee. Plus 2800 pesos deposit, which they return after you return the unit.


4. Klook sim card

I purchased a Japan sim card at Klook for when we need to go separately from our group.


5. Ishikawa sake brewery tour

The sake brewery tour is free with sake tasting. However, advance reservation is needed. You can email them at liveinfo@tamajiman.co.jp. to request for an appointment

You can check out more details at http://tamajiman.co.jp/en/tour/



MY TOKYO ITINERARY


DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN TOKYO, DINNER AT SUSHI ZANMAI HIGASHI SHINJUKU, DON QUIJOTE (MONDAY)


2:00 AM
Leave house. Go to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3

3:00 AM
Park at NAIA Terminal 3 parking

3:30 AM - 5:30 AM

Check-in
NOTE: Check in counter at Jetstar opens 3 hours before the flight contrary to the email information that it only opens 2 hours before the flight. 
Immigration

Breakfast at Skyview Lounge

CHECK OUT MY POST:
Manila International Airport Lounge: The Sky View Lounge at NAIA Terminal 3


5:30 AM
Boarding Leave the lounge. Walk to the gate. It takes at least 10-15 minutes to walk to the gate.

5:45 AM
Boarding

6:15 AM - 11:35 AM
Manila to Osaka flight via Cebu Pacific 5J5054




NOTE: Japan is 1 hour ahead of the Philippines so from this point of the itinerary, I'm using Japan time.

11:35 AM-1:00 PM

Arrival at  Narita Airport Terminal 2. Claim baggage. Go through immigration.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Lunch at Yoshinoya at Narita Airport arrival hall after baggage claim.





CHECK OUT MY POST: 

Cheap Places to Eat in Japan. The article includes my lunch at Yoshinoya at Narita airport, with menu included.

MY TIP: We decided to have lunch at the airport already since travel time to the city takes at least 2 hours.


2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Things to do before leaving the airport:

1. Claim the prepaid sim purchased at Klook.com. 

2. Buy limousine bus tickets if you're taking the limousine bus to Central Tokyo.

Location of ticket counter

Where to buy the limousine bus tickets at the airport:
Check out this link: https://www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/

MY TIP: Make sure to buy the multi voucher discount tickets available to tourist. You will save a lot. Instead of paying 3100 yen per way. With the multi voucher discount tickets, you get to pay only 2000-2250 yen per way, depending on the number of people in your group. 

What the multi voucher tickets look like

Instructions on the use of the tickets


Check out this link:

Watch the video below on how to go to Shinjuku by airport limousine bus. Credits to Tokyo Omenatashi Channel. 



3. Buy the PASMO Card for use in the Japanese subway.

Note: Some of us with just 1 handcarry luggage took the subway. The total cost is half of what you will spend if you took the limousine bus. However, there will be a lot of transfers and walking up and down the stairs. So we don't recommend it if you have a lot of luggage or a heavy luggage. We went to the basement of Narita airport to purchase the PASMO card. 

The PASMO card is a reloadable smart card that you can use on several networks like the JR train, subways, private railways and buses. This is the best smart card to use because:
a. It's reloadable. 
This means you load only the amount you need.
b. You don't need to buy train tickets using cash. You can go straight to the gate each time you enter the rail station. 
c. You don't need to buy separate tickets when you change lines from the subway to the private railway. You only need to tap the card at the turnstile when you change lines. 
d. You can use the card to make purchases in stores like 711.
Where to buy the PASMO card at the airport:


3:00 PM-4:00 PM
Our hotel is Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku in Shinjuku. The nearest stop to our hotel is Keio Plaza hotel so we rode the limousine bus to Keio Plaza hotel. The limousine bus stops at the entrance of the hotel.

4:00 PM-4:30 PM

There are taxis waiting at the entrance of Keio Plaza hotel. So when the limousine bus stops at the entrance, you can immediately transfer to a taxi.

Ride the taxi from Keio Plaza hotel to  Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku. Actual taxi cost is 1750 yen. The taxi can accommodate up to 4 passengers excluding the driver. 

MY TIP: When you arrive at Keio Plaza hotel, book in advance the limousine bus for your return trip to make sure you have a seat on the way back to the airport.


4:30 PM

Check in at Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Rest

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Dinner at Sushi Zanmai Higashi Shinjuku

This restaurant is open 24 hours. It's very near our hotel. You don't need to eat at Tsukiji market since this restaurant gets the same supply as their branch in Tsukiji market.






I highly recommend this restaurant.



CHECK OUT MY POST:
My Review of Sushi Zanmai Higashi Shinjuku

8:30 PM - 10:00 PM

We visited the 24 hour discount store, Don Quijote.

We bought breakfast for the next day at the 711 convenience store.

CHECK OUT MY POST:

Cheap Places to Eat in JapanThis article also includes what's available at 711.


DAY 2. MOUNT FUJI, MOUNT KOMAGATAKE ROPEWAY, LAKE ASHI AND BULLET TRAIN DAY TRIP FROM TOKYO TOUR (TUESDAY)



7:30 AM-8:00 AM:

Leave the Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku. Take the subway to Keio Plaza hotel.

8:25 AM:

Meet up with the tour group at JTB sunrise tours check in counter at the 3rd floor of Keio Plaza Hotel (the nearest meet-up place from our hotel). You won't get lost once you arrive at the hotel because there are several marshals directing you to the 3rd floor.


The office of JTB Sunrise tours at the 3rd floor of Keio Plaza hotel

Once checked in, you will be instructed on what group to join. You will also be given seat assignments at the bus so your group can seat together. We were 9 in our group and we were all seated together.




MY TIP: While waiting, book in advance the limousine bus for your return trip to make sure you have a seat.


8:30 AM-10:30 AM:
Travel to Mount Fuji via the Chuo Expressway


10:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Mount Fuji 5th station


For that brief moment that clouds parted,
we were able to capture a photo of Mount Fuji.

There are 10 stations in Mount Fuji. The 5th station is in the middle

When we visited in May, the temperature is 7 degrees centigrade. Make sure to bring a thick jacket because it's very cold.

We were all directed first to the souvenir shop while we all waited for the clouds to clear so we can see Mount Fuji.

MY TIP: While in the souvenir shop, look occasionally outside. Your clue that the cloud is clearing is when people simultaneously gather and look at Mount Fuji then scramble to take a photo before clouds cover Mount Fuji again.


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Travel time from Mount Fuji Station to Oshino Ninja Village, where we had our lunch.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Buffet lunch at Oshino Ninja Village







1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Travel from Oshino Ninja Village to Lake Ashi

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Mount Komagatake Ropeway for views of Mount Fuji




3:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Lake Ashi cruise for views of Mount Fuji






5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Bullet train ride from Odawara Station to Tokyo Station


The brief bullet train ride from Odawara Station in Hakone to Tokyo Station is worth experiencing. You marvel at the wonder of technology. Standing at the platform and seeing and feeling the vibration as a bullet train passes is almost like witnessing a space ship take off. The bullet train ride takes 30 minutes, while traveling by bus takes 1 1/2 hours.  





6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
We were dropped off at Tokyo station by the tour operator. We traveled on our own from Tokyo Station to the hotel.

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Dinner at Matsuya


CHECK OUT MY POST:
Cheap Places to Eat in Japan.
This article also includes what's available at Matsuya.


DAY 3. GHIBLI MUSEUM TOUR (WEDNESDAY) and EDO TOKYO OPEN AIR MUSEUM or Shopping at Daiso or Don Quijote for those who do not want to join the tour


9:00 AM-10:00 AM
Leave the hotel. Take the train to the Higashi Koganei Station. 


From Higashi Koganei station, we took a very long walk to get to the museum. We could have taken the bus but we had difficulty finding the bus stop and was afraid of getting lost so we decided it's safer to walk to the museum.

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum



Since this day is all about soaking in the wonder of Ghibli films, we complemented our tour of the Ghibli Museum with a very brief stop at the small area in the Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum where we can see where Miyazaki got his inspiration for the world he created in his famous film "Spirited Away." You can find a lot of familiar scenes in Spirited Away in this site.


This looks like the same path to the bath house at Spirited Away

The bath house

Inside the bath house


12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

We took the bus from the Museum to Musashi Koganei Station, then rode the train to Mitaka Station.

1:00 PM-2:00 PM

After exiting the Mitaka station building, turn left and go down to the ground level. You will see the bus stop of the Mitaka loop bus that goes to the Ghibli Museum. Fare is 310 yen roundtrip. 

The bus arrives every 10 minutes. I wasn't sure if the Pasmo card we were using for the train is accepted by the bus so we bought a ticket at the vending machine at the bus stop. 

We bought lunch at Lawson convenience store across the entrance of Ghiblli Museum. We sat and ate our lunch at the benches at the park beside the Ghibli Museum. 

2:00 PM-5:00 PM
Ghibli Museum tour


CHECK OUT MY POST:
Inside Ghibli Museum

You will have an idea what you can expect to find inside the museum.


My Tip: Make sure to be on time. They let you enter only on the time slot indicated in your ticket.




The entrance of Ghibli Museum.
After this entrance, you can't take photos anymore.



5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Return to the hotel

7:00 PM
Dinner at Matsuya

CHECK OUT MY POST:
Cheap Places to Eat in Japan.
This article also includes what's available at Matsuya.




DAY 4. SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN, HARAJUKU, SHIBUYA CROSSING, HACHIKU MEMORIAL STATUE, LUNCH AT ICHIRAN RAMEN HOUSE, DESSERT AT TEA AND SPOON NANAYA AOYAMA GELATO, TOWER RECORDS, MEGA DONKI AT SHIBUYA (THURSDAY)

9:00 AM-10:00 AM
Take the train from Higashi-shinjuku Station to Kokuritso-Kyogijo Station, which is the nearest station to the Sendagaya gate of the park.



We chose to enter through the Sendaya gate
because it's nearest to the 3 gardens we wanted to visit.


MY TIP: Make sure to enter the right gate. 
The place is so large. You will walk very far if you enter the wrong gate.

10:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park


Why visit this park: It's an opportunity to see 3 kinds of gardens in 1 place: the Japanese traditional garden, the English garden and the French formal garden. Plus, if you arrive in Japan when cherry blossoms are blooming, it's the best venue to view the cherry blossoms. 



Japanese traditional garden

English garden

French formal garden


11:00 PM-1:00 PM
Travel by train from Sendagaya station to Harajuku station. 


Harajuku: This is where you can find Japanese pop culture. The young ones will love this place.









1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Travel by train from Harajuku station to Shibuya Station

As we exited the Shibuya Station, we decided to see the famous Hachiko Memorial Statue, which is just outside the station. 








Afterwards, we joined the famous mad scramble at Shibuya Crossing.







2:00 PM-3:00 PM
Lunch at Ichiran Ramen


We waited for an hour to be seated because the Shibuya branch of Ichiran Ramen is small. You can try bigger branches so waiting time will not be too long. 

Why Ichiran? Ichiran has been our family's favorite ever since we tasted it in Osaka. My kids have been asking me when we can have it in Tokyo again. After seeing there's a nearby Ichiran at Shibuya Crossing, I decided to take them there. 

It's also known for being one of the best ramen places in Japan. So it's an opportunity for our companions who haven't tasted it yet to try it.





3:00 PM-4:00 PM
After lunch, some of us went to Mega Donki for some shopping. The rest went to visit 
Tea and Spoon Nanaya Aoyoma Gelato for the famous 7 level matcha ice cream.

CHECK OUT MY POST:
Where to Find the Best Match Gelato
 where I describe our experience at Tea and Spoon Nanaya Aoyoma Gelato.



This is level 7 matcha ice cream.



4:00 PM-6:00 PM
We passed by and made a stop at Tower Records before meeting our other companions at Mega Donki.

6:00 PM-7:00 PM
Return to the hotel by train.

7:00 PM
Dinner at Matsuya

CHECK OUT MY POST:

Cheap Places to Eat in Japan
This article also includes what's available at Matsuya.

DAY 5. ISHIKAWA BREWERY TOUR (FRIDAY)

9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Travel by train from Higashi-shinjuku station to Fussa station  Then ride the bus outside Fussa station that stops near Ishikawa Brewery.


MY TIP: Make sure to leave central Tokyo 2 hours before your scheduled appointment. It takes 2 hours to get to Ishikawa brewery, with all the transfers and walking. 


This is the view of Fussa, Tokyo
taken from Fussa station. 


11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Ishikawa Brewery tour




Entrance of the brewery


Inside the grounds where the brewery is located.
The brewery is the white structure on the right.

Where sake is brewed.

Our guide

Free tasting of 3 kinds of sake.

From left to right: Unpasteurized sake, Umeshu, Pasteurized sake



12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Lunch at Fussa No Birugoya, an Italian restaurant inside Ishikawa Brewery. They say Italian food pairs well with sake. So we tried their italian restaurant.








We tried their seasonal sake


Homemade fettuccine, shrimp, sea urchin
and tomato cream sauce

Peperoncino of shrimp and zuchini


1:00 PM- 3:00 PM
Travel from Ishikawa Brewery to Shinjuku

7:00 PM
Sushi dinner with sake bought from Ishikawa brewery



We bought sushi for takeout at Sushi Zanmai.



DAY 6. IMPERIAL PALACE EAST GARDEN TOUR, KABUKI PLAY AT KABUKIZA THEATER, GINZA (SATURDAY)


12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Leave hotel

Ride the train to Tokyo Station: 200 yen

1:00 PM-3:30 PM
Free walking tour of the Imperial Palace East Garden conducted by Tokyo Free Walking Tour

NOTE: THIS TOUR IS ONLY USUALLY AVAILABLE EVERY SATURDAY. MAKE SURE TO CHECKOUT THEIR CALENDAR OF THE MONTH IN CASE THEY ADDED TOURS. 



You just appear before 1 pm
to meet the guides at the entrance of Tokyo station.

Our guide








For details: https://tfwt.jp/top/east-gardens-of-the-imperial-palace/

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM
The walking tour ends near Takebashi station. We took the train from Takebashi station to Kabukiza theater so we can experience watching a 
Kabuki play. We bought tickets for 1 act of the Kabuki play.


At the entrance of the Kabukiza theater.

The cast of the Kabuki play


4:15 PM - 5:00 PM
We watched only a single act of the Kabuki play.



It's standing room only at the topmost area of the theater.
One act of a Kabuki play lasts 45 minutes.
No photos are allowed once the play starts.

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Explored Ginza on the way back to the hotel.







7:00 PM

Since our hotel is near Korea town, we decided to try the famous Korean restaurant called, Shijan Dakgalbi. Long lines can usually be found outside this restaurant.




This is the famous cheese dakgalbi.
You wait for the cheese to melt and
dip the spicy chicken and other ingredients in it before eating.
The 2 kinds of cheese in this dish is parmesan and mozarella.






9:00 PM
Souvenir shopping at Don Quijote


CHECK OUT MY POST:
My List of Best Matcha Souvenirs to Bring Home



DAY 7. RETURN TO MANILA (SUNDAY)

6:30 AM
Check out of Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku

6:30 AM - 7:00 AM
Ride the taxi to Keio Plaza hotel

Cost of taxi is 1900 yen, with reservation. Reserve the taxi the day before. There's an added cost for reservation.

7:30 AM - 9:30 AM
Ride the limousine bus to Narita Airport

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Check in at the Cebu pacific 5J5055

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Lunch at Yoshinoya near gate 84

12:30 PM
Boarding

1:00 PM (Tokyo time) - 5:20 PM (Manila time)
Departure from Osaka via Cebu Pacifice 5J5055

5:20 PM
Arrival in Manila