Singapore-Korea VTL opens 15 November 2021 — here’s all you need to know if you plan to visit!
Many Singaporeans (including us) got really excited when we heard South Korea and Singapore were opening a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL)!
There’s a lot of information you’ll need to know, so we’ve collated all the important info to help make your planning process a lot smoother 👍🏻
1) There are 4 airlines offering VTL flights between Singapore and South Korea
Photo credit: Skift
Only designated VTL flights back to Singapore are mandatory. However, quarantine-free travel to Korea will begin 15 November 2021, so you can take any non-stop flight there.
The four airlines currently providing VTL flights are Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Scoot.
Here’s a list of non-stop flights to Korea and VTL flights to Singapore:
|AIRLINES||SIN → ICN||ICN → SIN||FREQUENCY|
|Tue – Sun (for returning flights)|
KE644 (only Sun)
|SIN → ICN: Tue, Fri, Sun|
ICN → SIN: Mon, Thu, Sat
|Every Tue, Wed, Fri|
Sun incl. from 1 Dec 2021
*All flights to South Korea with Singapore Airlines are non-stop flights.
2) You’ll be taking up to 5 PCR tests in total
Just so we’re aware of the incoming brain tickles that come with this Singapore-Korea VTL 🤪
Photo credit: Mufid Majnun
PCR Test #1: Pre-departure — taken within 72 hours before your flight
There are a lot of clinics islandwide that administer the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. It’s best to schedule your test at least 2 days before your flight as the results might take some time.
If you’re overwhelmed by the number of clinics, a more straightforward option is booking via Klook. They have three listings of PCR tests with three different medical groups — Healthway Medical Group, Doctor Anywhere and AcuMed Medical Group. All the clinics in each listing are MOH-approved and found island-wide, so you’ll easily find one close to you.
You need to present your negative results when you arrive in Seoul.
PCR Test #2: On-arrival test in South Korea
Before departing Singapore, book your on-arrival PCR test at Incheon International Airport’s Testing Centre via Safe2GoPass. If you’re travelling with others, you can also book slots on behalf of your travel companions.
There are testing centres at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Those flying with Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines or Scoot should select testing centres in Terminal 1. While Korea Air passengers should select Terminal 2.
After your test, head straight to your accommodation to self-isolate until your results are out. Be sure to check with your accommodation whether they require a negative test result before you check-in!
You can take public transport from the airport to your accommodation, but a taxi or private hire is recommended. Domestic flights aren’t allowed until you receive your (negative) PCR results. A safe and fuss-free way is to book an airport transfer service in advance👌🏼
Your PCR test results will be sent to you via email. If you take your test between 7AM to 3PM, you can expect to receive your results within three to five hours. Tests done 3PM onwards will receive results by 8AM the following day.
You’ll also need to update your health status daily via the quarantine self-check mobile app for the duration of your trip.
PCR Test #3: Day 6/7 PCR test if you’re in South Korea for more than a week
This mid-trip PCR test is mandatory for those staying more than eight days. Thankfully, you don’t need to self-isolate after your test!
Go to any MOH-approved clinic in South Korea on your 6th/7th day (day 0 is the day you arrive). Prices can vary from ₩110,000 to ₩180,000.
We went to National Medical Centre in Dongdaemun (take the 4 line to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, exit 13). Their PCR test centre is located to the left of the hospital and is completely outdoors — make sure to layer up as it gets pretty cold!
They take walk-ins only and it costs ₩141,930 (~S$162.79). Be sure to stay in the city the following day as you’ll need to physically pick up your hard copy results from the main building (closes at 5PM). You’ll receive a text on when to pick it up, and don’t worry the certificate is printed in English!
The entire process took about an hour and a half, and we recommend early to avoid long queues! The reception opens from 8:30AM to 3PM daily, except on Sundays. Avoid going between 12PM to 1PM as they’ll be on lunch break.
If you’re looking for a more convenient option, Seegene Medical Foundation emails you your PCR results, but you’ll need to call to book a test with them. Another place is Kangbuk Samsung Hospital (~₩110,000), which sends you your results via SMS.
PCR Test #4: Pre-departure test within 48 hours before your flight from South Korea
If you’re sick of the brain tickles, you’re allowed to take a professionally administered antigen rapid test (ART) this time around! Similar to the Day 6/7 test, head to any MOH-approved clinic within South Korea to take your test and get a copy of your results in English.
From what we know, only H Plus Yangji Hospital professionally administer ART tests. And you’ll need to call them to book a slot when you’re in Korea.
Another option is booking via Safe2GoPass again. However, that means you’ll need to head back to Incheon International Airport’s Testing Centre two days before your flight.
PCR Test #5: On-arrival test at Changi Airport
Before your flight back to Singapore, book your final PCR test with Changi Airport. You can even schedule this before leaving Singapore.
After your test, head straight home to self-isolate — take private hires or taxis only!
Thankfully, the maximum number of mandatory PCR tests is five. For those staying in Korea for more than two weeks, you’ll just need to update your health status daily for 14 days via the quarantine self-check mobile app.
3) Travel insurance is a must!
Short-term visitors must purchase travel insurance for the entire duration of their stay. Most importantly, you’ll need a minimum coverage of 30 million won (~S$34,000) for COVID-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs.
Basic travel insurance with COVID cover are listed below:
|TRAVEL INSURANCE (COVID)||COVERAGE|
AIG Travel Guard
If you’re planning to cover more adventurous activities like us, here are two policies that cover both COVID and high-risk activities!
|TRAVEL INSURANCE (COVID + ADVENTUROUS ACTIVITIES)||COVERAGE|
AXA Smart Traveller
Great Eastern TravelSmart Premier
Once you’ve bought travel insurance, print it out — you need to present a physical copy of it when you arrive in Seoul.
4) Download your digital vaccination certificate before going to the airport
Photo credit: Notarise
When you arrive in Seoul, you’ll need to present your vaccination cert. Not only does this prove your vaccination but also shows that your second dose happened at least 14 days before your arrival. You can request for a digital copy from Notarise and get it straight to your email!
For iPhone users, it’s better to download the certificate on your desktop first as the link in the email isn’t optimised for mobile. However, Android users can download the digital cert from the email straight into their Google Pay app for easy access.
5) You need a K-ETA
Due to Korea’s COVID entry restrictions, all Singaporean citizens need to apply for the South Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) before entering the country.
K-ETA allows you to stay in South Korea for up to three months, and is valid for two years! With the K-ETA, you don’t need to write or submit arrival cards — that means getting through immigration quicker 🎉
You’ll need to apply for K-ETA online at least 24 hours before your flight. It’ll only be approved within 24 hours, so it’s better to apply earlier to give yourself more buffer time.
How to apply for K-ETA:
1) Go to their website or download their app (K-ETA) at least 24 hours before departure
2) Select ‘APPLY’ and fill in your personal details (you’ll need your passport)
3) Make payment and you’re done!
Application results will be sent to your email. You can apply for more than one person — up to 30 people.
6) You need a Korean number
This was one thing we weren’t prepared for. During pre-COVID times, getting a data SIM was more than enough. However, now with contact tracing and PCR testings, we’re required to have a Korean number for easier contact.
Depending on the establishment, you’ll either need to call a number provided at the entrance for contact tracing or write down your particulars on a sheet. And during the PCR test registration process, you’ll need to produce a Korean number in order to proceed.
We managed to get a SIM card with unlimited data and 100 minutes of call time from Self-made. This is the only store we found that sells temporary SIM cards with a Korean number — prices from ₩30,000 (~S$34.42).
It’s located in Myeongdong on the third floor of Hanyang Building (right opposite Myeongdong Tourist Information Centre).
*Important note: All Korean numbers begin with 010.
7) Masks are mandatory
Photo credit: @ori_foto via Unsplash
Just like Singapore, you’ve got to wear a mask everywhere, except when eating or drinking. We’re not complaining though — our faces kept warm in the cold!
8) You can dine in groups of up to 12 people
For folks travelling in groups, great news — there’s no need to split tables 😂 Groups can dine-in at up to 10 per table in the Seoul metropolitan areas and up to 12 in non-metropolitan areas!
9) There are some curfews
Photo credit: @icidius via Unsplash
Operation hour curfews for restaurants, cafes and movie theatres are fully lifted now. However, night entertainment facilities like bars and nightclubs that involve dancing have to close by midnight. And when you visit, you’ll need to show your vaccination cert or negative test result before entering.
Although, if the situation improves, this curfew is rumoured to lift around mid-December!
10) There will still be places open 24 hours
Even though nightlife facilities are only allowed to operate until midnight, there are other fun things for the night owls. If you’re up for singing the night away, karaoke rooms are open 24 hours!
A more relaxing option is Jimjilbangs (bathhouses), which will also operate round the clock. All you need to do is show your vaccination cert.
For now, eating in the Jimjilbang is not allowed. Thankfully, there are cafes and restaurants that will open past 10PM — some even 24 hours ☺️
11) There is no restriction of capacity at theme parks
Lotte World and Everland are definitely a must-visit, especially if it’s your first time in Seoul!
Those who joined our IG LIVE (@thetravelintern) from Lotte World will remember how crowded the park was in the background. That’s because theme parks here operate at full capacity.
So unless you’re lucky enough to find an empty park on a weekday, be prepared to queue at least half an hour for your rides! Alternatively, get Lotte World’s Magic Pass and skip the queue of up to five rides. It costs a bit more but it’ll give you more time to explore more of the park 🙌🏼
For COVID regulations in the park, you’ll need to call to check-in before entering, wear your mask and keep a two-metre distance from others at all times.
12) Your favourite shopping streets don’t look quite the same
Photo credit: @markuswinkler via Unsplash
Now for the question that’s been on everyone’s mind: Is Meyongdong still alive?
We checked out Myeongdong on our first day and expected to see vacant space all around. To our surprise, there are still quite a number of retail and beauty shops, although one-third of this shopping district is empty.
It definitely isn’t as bustling as it used to be, but the underground shopping area is still going strong!
Hongdae, however, is still as vibrant as it used to be ✨
13) Travelling out of Seoul is 100% possible
Once you’ve got your on-arrival PCR test results, you’re free to go about your plans! This means you could head to Busan, or escape the city entirely and take the next flight out to Jeju.
Just be sure to take your mid-trip PCR test (day 6/7) at approved clinics in your area!
Travelling via the Singapore-Korea VTL
As the world slowly moves into an endemic-COVID life and travel becomes part of the norm again, it’s important to stay vigilant and exercise some caution.
Don’t be afraid of what others might think or what is the social norm in a country. If you feel unsafe, stay away from the crowded areas and events, and wear a mask as you please. You can still have a good time while being safe!
If you need some ideas on your upcoming Singapore-Korea VTL trip, check out these 13 Iconic K-drama filming locations or keep a lookout for our seven-day itinerary that’s on the way✨
Watch this space for day to day updates of the local situation!
Any questions about the Singapore-Korea VTL? Let us know in the comments below!