No transit visa for Filipinos
Yes, you read that right! As a Filipino, we can enter Korea without a visa – i.e. conditionally.
What are those conditions, well let me share you something I found out last time I was bound for America.
Korea has NOT lifted the visa requirement for Filipinos entering Korea BUT if Filipinos meet some conditions then they can step in the territory without holding a visa.
Holds a visa to the five countries: USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
I would assume that this means a VALID visa that is stamped to the passport.
Traveling from/to the five countries.
The proof you need is a plane ticket or boarding pass. In my case since I was bound to one of the five countries I showed the boarding pass of my next flight. If you came from one of the five countries then you might need to hold on to your previous boarding pass until you get to Korea.
Both conditions must be met to be successful on this. I read somewhere that someone assumed that only the visa condition is enough. As it turned out they were denied entry because they were bound somewhere else. If you’re denied entry then you will have to wait in the airport until your next flight.
So here’s how I did it:
- I landed in Incheon airport around 5AM
- Went to the transit gate (follow signs)
- Went to the Rest & Relaxation area to find a really comfortable lounge chair and sleep some
- Went to the transfer desk so they can stamp my boarding pass. The lady in the information desk told me to get this when I inquired about the transit tour but I have a suspicion that not all passengers who go out the airport have this.
- Went to the transit tour kiosk to inquire but nobody was around for a while so I decided to go on my own
- Went to immigration by passing through the same transit gate but in reverse. Transit gate is one level down.
- Queued for about an hour in immigration. Showed boarding pass. No questions asked.
- Went to the Airport Express station. It takes roughly an hour to get to the city so my suggestion is to take the express train and avoid the boredom.
Incheon Airport has a free transit tour program with varying duration (1-hour, 2-hours, up to 5-hours) and programs. If you don’t want to think about anything else on your layover activities then this is something to look into. Only thing you’ll probably spend on is the lunch.
Why should you do this?
Normally we aim for direct flights. The time spent on air is just so boring and maybe for some, a waste. But if you’re on a long haul, direct flights are rare. So if given a chance to make a stop somewhere, why not do it somewhere interesting, somewhere you have never been, somewhere you have access. And I intentionally chose to fly Asiana via Incheon because of these reasons.