Currently, there are over a hundred thousand confirmed cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world, and the numbers are increasing by the day as the virus continues to sweep the globe at an alarming rate.
South Korea, a popular tourist destination—thanks to the rise of Korean pop culture—is among the affected countries, and has confirmed more than 7,000 cases as of writing, prompting other nations to restrict trips or avoid non-essential travel to the Republic.
While the travel ban on South Korea has recently been lifted in the Philippines, a lot of Filipinos have already canceled their much-anticipated trips. If you’re one of them, don’t be too bummed out. You’ll get to visit the land of kimchi, K-Pop, and K-Dramas someday, but in the meantime, you might want to explore or rediscover places in the country that can pass as the perfect alternatives to famous South Korean attractions.
Here are our top recommendations:
Visit: Colors of StoBoSa
Instead of: Busan Gamcheon Cultural Village
Step into a world of color reminiscent of Busan’s famed Gamcheon Cultural Village in La Trinidad! More commonly known as the Colors of StoBoSa, the StoBoSa Hillside Homes Artwork was once a plain-looking complex of residences that was turned into a massive work of art by the Tam-Awan Village Group with the help of over 500 volunteers. Since its unveiling in 2016, the postcard-perfect neighborhood has emerged as one of the most-visited attractions in the capital city of Benguet. It’s a side trip worth-taking if you’re in Baguio for a quick vacay.
Address: Baguio – La Trinidad – Bontoc Road, La Trinidad, 2601 Benguet
Visit: La Trinidad Strawberry Farm
Instead of: Yangsu Strawberry Farm
Fill a basket (or two!) with fresh strawberries you personally picked at La Trinidad Strawberry Farm. About a 30-minute jeepney ride away from Baguio, this strawberry farm welcomes visitors and allows them to pick the tart red fruit to take home just like in Gyeonggi-do’s Yangsu Strawberry Farm. A kilo is priced at around 450 PHP, and the best time to visit to get your fill is between November and May. Strawberry picking is an activity you should definitely include in your itinerary when touring the City of Pines.
Address: La Trinidad, Benguet
Visit: Manila Ocean Park
Instead of: COEX Aquarium
If Seoul’s massive COEX Convention & Exhibit Center boasts an aquarium, Manila takes pride in Ocean Park, a marine park in the Philippine capital that opened in 2008. Its biggest draw is the oceanarium, which is home to 14,000 sea creatures from 277 species indigenous in Southeast Asia. It also hosts several exhibits, including Trails to Antarctica, the first penguin facility in the country; The Jellies Exhibit, an attraction showcasing various types of jellyfishes; and The World of Creepy Crawlies, which houses frogs insects, and worms. Families visiting might want to have a staycation at Hotel H2O.
Address: Behind Quirino Grandstand, 666 Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila
Visit: Dampa Seaside
Instead of: Noryangjin Fish Market
Enjoy a feast of fresh seafood fat Dampa! Just like in Noryangjin Fish Market, you can purchase a variety of fish, clams, crabs, and more directly from sellers, and then have them sliced up for sashimi or cooked into your preferred dish (sinigang na hipon, anybody?), to be served at a restaurant. While there are no midnight fish auctions happening here, witnessing your choice of seafood from the market to your table is still quite an experience—a delicious one, too!
Address: Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay, Metro Manila
Visit: Mercato Centrale
Instead of: Seoul’s Night Markets
Seoul is well-known for its bustling night markets and mouthwatering street food. Well, the metro has its own night food market, too, that will satisfy (or induce) your cravings. Mercato Centrale is inspired by foreign outdoor markets, and adopts a pop-up concept, opening only on certain days of the week. Let your senses be swept away by yummy local favorites and international fare! No wonder K-Pop star Ailee had a high time visiting Mercato Bonifacio Global City last year, sampling Filipino dishes like Cebu Lechon.
Bonifacio Global City
25th Street corner 7th Avenue
Wednesdays to Saturdays, 6 PM to 3 AM
Dolphin Park – Glorietta 4
(In front of Ascott Hotel Makati)
Thursdays to Fridays, 4 PM to 2 AM
Traveling at the height of a virus outbreak? Read KKday’s safety tips here!
*Featured image by Z. Jacobs on Shutterstock