Singapore-Korea VTL is still on — 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 4 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 48 hours before your flight
There are a lot of clinics in Singapore that administer the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. It’s best to schedule your test at least two days before your flight as the results will 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
Book your PCR test: 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 their behalf.
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.
Self-isolate: 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’re allowed to 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👌🏼
Getting your result: 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 (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 this time of the year!
They take walk-ins only so we recommend going early to avoid long queues. The entire process took about an hour and a half for us.
Results have to be physically collected the next day from the main building (before 5PM) so don’t be too quick to leave the city. The certificate is printed in English and you’ll receive a text on when to pick it up. Bring your passport when you go for your test and when collecting the results!
National Medical Centre
Cost: ₩141,930 (~S$163)
Testing hours: 8:30AM to 3PM (closed on Sundays). Avoid going between 12PM to 1PM as they’ll be on lunch break
How to get there: Take Line 4 to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, exit 13
– Seegene Medical Foundation (~₩110,000): Results will be emailed to you, but you’ll need to call to book a test with them.
– Kangbuk Samsung Hospital (~₩110,000): Results will be sent via SMS.
PCR/ART 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 (~₩50,000) and issues your results in English. You’ll need to book a slot with them for the test.
Similar to National Medical Centre, you need to head down to pick up the results once they contact you via SMS. And don’t forget to bring your passport with you on both days!
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.
ART Test #5: Post-arrival test within 24 hours
From 21 Feb 2022, travellers entering Singapore via the VTL can take a supervised self-swab ART test instead of a PCR test. This can be done at any Quick Test Centre (QTC) or Combined Test Centre (CTC) within 24 hours after arrival.
Thankfully, the maximum number of mandatory PCR tests is four. 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
All Singapore residents have to apply for the South Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) before entering the country.
The K-ETA allows you to stay in South Korea for up to three months and is valid for two years. The good news is, with the K-ETA, you no longer have to fill up arrival cards.
Application results will be sent to your email but takes up to 24 hours for approval so do apply at least a day or two before your flight to allow for more buffer time. You can apply for up to 30 people.
Application: Via the K-ETA website or the K-ETA app
6) You need a Korean number
On our previous trips to South Korea, getting a Data-only SIM card 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 be required 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 might 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.
*Update: According to travellers currently in Korea, restaurants no longer allow you to write down your name and contact number for contact tracing. However, you can still call in to the number provided. Since tourists are not able to access the local app for check-in, you can also convert your Singaporean vaccination certificate to a Korean vaccination certificate at Public Health Centres in Korea.
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 — the masks kept our faces 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.
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?
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!
PCR Test #3: Day 6/7 PCR test if you’re in South Korea for more than a week
If you’ll only be in Korea for seven days or less, you can skip this PCR test. However, for those staying longer, a mid-trip PCR test is mandatory.
Go to any MOH-approved clinic in South Korea on your 6th/7th day (day 0 is the day you arrive). You don’t need to self-isolate after your test, but ensure the clinic you go to is able to print your test results in English!
—FALSE. Day 6/7 PCR test has nothing to do with MOH’s requirements. Follow the list provided by the Korean embassy.
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.
—OUTDATED. ART is acceptable.
5) You need a South Korean Visa
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.
–Misleading. K-ETA and visas are completely different things.
Hi kindly advise total cost for all pcr test required.
Hi! We booked our Pre-departure PCR test with Klook for S$133 each. Our on-arrival PCR test with Safe2GoPass was KRW174,000 each (~S$199.38). For our day 6/7 test and pre-departure test in Korea, we factored in between KRW130,000 to KRW180,000 (from ~S$148.97 to ~S$206.26). And our final test when we land in Changi Airport is S$160 each.
In total each person pays approximately S$893 in total for PCR tests (: Hope this answers your question!
Hi! Thank you for this, super helpful. Would you let us know if airport shopping is allowed when we arrive at Incheon?
Hi! After we went through immigration and were escorted to get our PCR tests, we were specifically told to head straight to our accommodations after to wait for the results. So, we don’t advise shopping after arriving at Incheon! On the bright side, our results were sent to us by 4:30PM the same day (we took the test at 10:45AM)!
Hi Shairel, I’m going to Seoul in Feb. May I check which hotel you stayed in while waiting for your PCR test result?
Hi! We stayed at an Airbnb instead of a hotel and served our self-isolation period there. Before deciding on which hotel to stay at, we recommend checking with them first if they’ll allow you to enter without a test result as some hotels can be quite strict!
Hi! For the K-ETA, my understanding is that this is not required for those that have an APEC travel card that show KOR as an approved destination. Is this correct?
Hi Vincent, you’re right! You do not need to apply for a K-ETA if you already have an APEC travel card for South Korea. Thanks!
Hi, for the day 6/7 PCR result, we need to revisit the test centre to get hard copy? The test centre will not send to us via email?
Hi! Unfortunately, for the few clinics in Korea we called up, you’ll need to pick up your hard copy results from them the next day. We went to National Medical Centre near Dongdaemun and the results collection took only 10 mins (:
Hi! I have booked a flight on 20th December to Incheon. I tried to log into safe2GO pass to book an arrival PCR test but it shows that all appointments on 20th December have been booked. Are there other alternatives I could take?
Hi! According to the VTL requirements, you’ll need to book your on-arrival PCR test in Korea before you depart. I suggest calling the Korean Consulate in Singapore to check whether it matters what day you book your on-arrival PCR test, as long as it’s been booked. From our experience, the Incheon Airport Test Centre didn’t check our booking time and we were simply directed to the testing centre on arrival (:
Hi, this is super helpful.. I was trying to register myself into the Korea health track app, it requires me to enter a Korean phone number which I do not have one, do you have any idea to register without Korean number?
Hi Ling, you can try using the accommodation’s number!
Hi! Thanks for sharing, this is super helpful as I am planning a trip there next month. I was planning to drive straight to Sokcho and stay there the first few days after arriving in Seoul. Were you told you couldn’t leave Seoul until after your PCR test results came back?
Hi! Sokcho is a lovely place and we enjoyed our weekend there as well (: However, you’ll need to wait for your PCR results before you can leave to do any activities, which includes leaving Seoul. Fortunately, if you take your PCR test in the morning, you should get your results by the afternoon.
This is super useful!
Can i check which specific hospital did you book the pre-departure ART in Korea?
And how much does it cost to do so?
Hi! For now, we only know two places in Korea that professionally administers the pre-departure ART — H Plus Yangji Hospital and Incheon Airport Testing Centre (Safe2GoPass). The cost of the ART at Incheon Airport is ~S$75. However, we’re unsure how much H Plus’ costs, you can check with them when you call to make your appointment (:
Hi! Can I enquire about the PCR test if you were to stay more than 8 days as i’m a little confused! Let’s say it’s from 7-14, by flight days it’s 8 days but considering arrival day as day 0 it would be 7 days where I would not have to take the third PCR Test. Do I take it as 7 or 8 days?
Hi! I see the confusion. Not to worry, if you are travelling from the 7th to the 14th, that would be considered 7 days (day of arrival is day 0).
Hi there, may I check on why we would require a hard copy of our Day 6/7 PCR test result? Would it be okay to just opt for the text message notification?
For day 6/7 test, email or text notification is fine. From our experience, they don’t check your day 6/7 results at the airport, only your pre-departure.
Can I ask at what point you are required to have a Korean number? Is there a place in the airport to buy the sim? Or can you buy later? How does it work?
Hi! You’ll need a Korean number as some restaurants require you to call a provided number to check-in. During the PCR test registration process, you might also need to produce a Korean number to proceed or receive your results via SMS. There are several Korean mobile service providers at the airport which sell SIM cards but if possible, try not to roam around the airport after you have taken the PCR test. Alternatively, after self-isolation, you can also head to outlets run by Korean mobile service providers such as KT, SKT, LG U+ to get a SIM card. Hope this helps! 🙂
I heard that South Korea just mandated to show vaccination passes via the COOV app for restaurants etc. I also saw that vaccinations done abroad are not recognized. If I had my vaccination done in SG, does this mean I will not be able to dine out?
Hi K! From what we’re aware of, the new mandate does not affect VTL travellers. However, do obtain your vaccine cert via Notαrise in case you’re required to show proof of vaccination in South Korea. Hope this helps, thanks & have a safe trip!
Thanks for the super helpful write-up. Did the hotels have issue discerning if you are a VTL traveller or a traveller who require 10 days quarantine? Ours asked us to bring an exemption necklace to prove that we do need quarantine. Any idea what that is?
Hi! We stayed at an Airbnb and our host didn’t require us to provide proof of being a VTL traveller. As for the exemption necklace, I believe the hotel is referring to the VTL tag. When you check-in before your flight, the airline will provide you with a tag indicating you are a VTL traveller from Singapore. Do keep the tag and show it to the hotel as proof 🙂
Hi! Thanks for the detailed info. Do you know if children below 6yrs old are required to do the PCR test as well?
Hi! Nope, children under the age of 6 are exempted from the pre-departure PCR test. You can check out the official embassy’s website for the latest updates: https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/sg-en/brd/m_2435/view.do?seq=761362
Hope this helps 🙂
Hi! Thank you for the details! Would we need 1 Korean phone number each or would it be possible to use 1 number for all traveling in a group?
Hi! If your group is travelling together, one number should be sufficient! However, if you’re splitting up, we recommend getting individual numbers to facilitate the contact tracing efforts 🙂
Hi there! This deets are indeed useful!
I am planning for a trip next month!! So excited!
Can I check if there’s any govt website stating that we can leave seoul and visit other areas like jeju and busan?
Just want to make sure it is a green light from the authority before we make plans 😀
Hi! You can refer to this: https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/sg-en/brd/m_2435/view.do?seq=761362
It has all the latest updates on the requirements 🙂
Domestic travel is allowed but you’ll need to wait until you receive the negative result for the on-arrival PCR test first. Hope this helps!
Hello! If travel date is 3 to 11, will we require a mid trip test? Can we do a test on 10th and use that as a pre departure test? Thank you. 🙂
Can i book my predeparture PCR test at Incheon using SafetoGo website when I am flying back to Singapore?
Hi, can I check what was the main payment method you encountered during your trip – do most shops accept cash or is there a inclination to cashless payments? Thanks a lot!
Hi! Most street stalls accept cash. For other costs such as car rental and petrol, we used credit cards as we didn’t bring along that much cash either. Hope this helps!
Thanks all for sharing information to all road warriors Good Luck