VTL – Singapore to South Korea (Seoul)

Autumn in Seoul – though winter seems more appropriate now cos it’s so cold!

Ever since I posted my first instastory that I have arrived in Seoul on 17 November, I have been bombarded with many messages on VTL (Vaccinated Travel Lanes) and PCR tests – even though some of my friends are not visiting Seoul but other countries? LOL i’m not ICA!

Here’s a short list of what we had to do before we visited Seoul

  1. Book tickets on the Singapore Airlines website – make sure it’s a VTL flight
  2. Take a PCR test within 72 hours of taking the flight – we did a quick check, the cheapest in Singapore is about $128, and we took it at Minmed. After that, they sent us a document and when I called to check, it has been automatically notarised.
  3. Apply for K-ETA https://www.k-eta.go.kr/portal/apply/index.do For us, we applied this a few days before our flight because the info wasn’t updated. Process was pretty fast online.
  4. Buy travel insurance, and COVID-19 insurance cover. There’s also a minimum coverage of 30 million won https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/sg-en/brd/m_2435/view.do?seq=761362 – I bought FWD and added on COVID-19 cover (not a sponsored post lol)
  5. Print out all these things – Vaccination cert (notarised copy), K ETA, Travel insurance, PCR test results
  6. You can also apply for the PCR test first that will be taken at the Incheon airport https://safe2gopass.com/
  7. Download the Quarantine app – will need to do daily health declaration, seems to be only activated after immigration

On the plane

There was no social distancing and I was seated in the middle in a super packed plane. Feels weird in a COVID-19 world but at least everyone already took PCR!

At the Incheon Airport

I need to rant a bit about this because we waited for 3.5 hours for the whole immigration thing to be completed. First they checked my vaccination and PCR (i think), then next counter my kETA and passed me a form? and lastly, then out of the immigration checkpoint before I could collect my baggage.

At the exit, we were greeted by the Tourism Agency there with some freebies, thank you!

Then we were ushered and waited for a group before they brought us to the clinic/hospital area for PCR which was across the roads (very near). Had to take a queue number and read a brochure before we could move to the main ‘hospital’ clinic for registration again. If you have registered on https://safe2gopass.com/ it’s easier because your records are inside. We chose ‘west’ but to be honest, both stations were quite near each other so no difference in my opinion.

This was taken when we were queueing to take the test to depart

At the clinic for PCR test

https://safe2gopass.com/price

When you register on safe2go, you can see the prices here.

Once you registered at the clinic itself again (even if you have done that online because you will need to verify your details), you will take a queue number for payment. After payment, you are brought to a quick 30 second doctor station, and then to another room to take the PCR test. They are behind a glass wall so don’t be alarmed like I was (they put in their hands through gloves and for me i had to bend a little so that they can reach my nose? lol)

After this PCR test, we took the car (booked one who waited for us for a few hours omg) to our hotel https://all.accor.com/hotel/B696/index.en.shtml Mercure Ambassador Seoul Hongdae (I highly recommend this for the price and location) and had to wait for 3.5 hours for our results.

By the way, we found out (by emailing the embassy) that the day of arrival is day 0. So we stayed for 7 days and did not need to do the additional PCR test.

Getting Around

We had to fill up a declaration form instead of scanning the QR code on the Quarantine app because it doesn’t work for us. We used data roaming so didn’t have a korea number as well. Just need to fill up the physical form with time, place we are staying (hongdae) and telephone number. Probably also consent as well.

It’s quite fun identifying some SG numbers on the list. LOL.

Going back

We found out we could do a ART test so we went to the airport early. The clinic opened at 7am so there was a short queue – same process as above, you can also book an appointement on safe2go. We paid 90,000 won for ART though and it was quite painful (same as PCR?). Results were out in one hour and we got it by email.

Before coming back to Singapore, remember to also fill this in https://eservices.ica.gov.sg/sgarrivalcard/ – the SG arrival card.

IMPORTANT THING TO NOTE: The ART/PCR results need to be printed – handphone screenshots are not allowed and people were made to go to the back to the queue to check in. Counter K has free printing, or you can take your results from the clinic before you check in your flight. There’s also some printing service at the newspaper stand but is currently out of order (as of 24 Nov 2021). Remember to bring your vaccination cert too!

Back in Singapore

I think the officers are not very familiar with VTL yet so we were almost made to go to another immigration checkpoint area. You can book your PCR test here first: https://safetravel.changiairport.com/#/ (interestingly when i booked it was $160, the price dropped and I was given a partial refund. Now it’s at $125)

You need to prepare your passport and QR code (to the booked test) before going in to register and take the PCR test.

For this PCR test, swab throat and two nostrils. The throat part was uncomfortable because – GAG REFLEX!

Anyway, got the tests results in about 4-5 hours time by email. Thought someone would call us at home but no one did.

For more updated information, please check: https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/vtl/requirements-and-process

Have fun and safe travels!

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