As vaccination rates around the world increase day by day, we’re seeing a new travel trend emerge. Countries around the world are carefully opening up designated Vaccinated Travel Lanes (or VTLs for short) for vaccinated travellers. As each VTL comes with individual guidelines and rules, it’s no surprise that many travellers are left equally excited and confused after each announcement.
As we want to make sure that each trip and experience is joyful and seamless for all our customers, we sent one Klooker on a quest to unravel all the travel questions from our customers. Enter Brandon Loo, a Social & Content Executive sitting in our Singapore office. As part of his job (yes lucky him), he got to hop on the first VTL flight from Singapore to Seoul on November 15.
Now back from his wonderful adventure, we sat down with him to find out all about his experience. And oh yes, admired some beautiful photos he took to make us miss Korea more and more…
Hey Brandon, welcome back! How long was your trip to Korea, and what was it for?
The trip I just went on was a 6-day FAM trip (Familiarization trip) organized by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) to experience the entire VTL journey from end to end. We visited key sights & attractions and also got to enjoy the current climate in South Korea!
You were one of the first people to visit Korea with the opening of the Singapore-South Korea VTL. How different was the process of your departure and arrival than before the pandemic?
Honestly speaking, it’s been so long since I last travelled that the whole process just seemed so surreal to me and I kind of forgot how to do it too. I even packed my power banks and batteries into my check-in luggage and got into trouble because of it at the airport!
As expected, the first day of VTL was a little bumpy, but moving forward, things will definitely get smoother.
But back to the actual process, in this new normal of traveling, you can definitely expect more document checks and a longer transit time because of the PCR tests too. This means no more last-minute trips to the airport!
Of course, being the first to experience this Korea VTL, the implemented procedures were still new and untested.
But seeing how things went, I’m sure it will definitely get smoother moving forward as everyone gets used to the new normal. Together with small changes made to the process to make things more efficient.
I’ve actually written up a blog article on my experience with the entire VTL process that also includes some tips and hacks to make things go smoother and to help you fully maximize your trip.
How did you feel finally exploring South Korea again after all this time? How's it like during this time of year?
Brandon and the group visited Jemulpo Club in Incheon, one of the filming locations of popular K-drama Goblin.
Generally, any chance to travel now would give anyone butterflies in their stomachs, am I right?! But knowing that I could escape the Singaporean heat and have some truly authentic Korean cuisine for a week really got me in the mood too.
Korea was just so beautiful. Personally, I love autumn and all the colours that come with it. And as a photographer and content creator, there’s nothing more than I could ask for from this gift that mother nature’s provided us with.
The World Cup Park in Seoul is one of the best places to see beautiful autumn scenery.
What were some cool places you visited in South Korea?
We explored various places like Incheon, Gangwon-do and Seoul! And as a more outdoors person myself, I felt really at home when we were in the countryside amongst the lush greenery and towering mountains.
Back in Seoul, it’s evident that locals are slowly but surely returning to a sense of normalcy as you can see most restaurants and bars packed out. But with popular tourist spots, things are a little slower as they have been the past 2 years.
Hopefully, with this new VTL up, these places can slowly return to their former glory.
Iconic facade of Chroma at the Paradise City, Incheon
After experiencing the VTL, are you confident this initiative will make people interested in cross-border travel again?
After being cooped up in your own country for close to 2 years, I think anyone would jump at the opportunity to travel at this moment.
But with my recent VTL experience in South Korea, I can safely say that people need not worry about traveling there as the locals are really diligent on their Covid-19 measures! And with their strict safety measures and multiple tests you’d need to go through just to travel, you can put your mind at ease and fully enjoy your travel experience.
In the cities, you'll see a sense of normalcy with restaurants and bars packed up.
As people start travelling again, they’ll start bringing back stories, experiences and physical souvenirs to share with their family and friends. I’m sure that this would set off a chain reaction to another surge in tourism again.
The need to explore is innate in all human beings and in this globalized world, it’s really great if you could experience and understand as many different cultures as possible. With the continued additions of more VTLs and the success of current ones, travel will definitely be back, not like how it once was but in the form of a new normal.
Okay, last question before I let you work again: Did you meet Gong Yoo and play ddakji while in Korea?
I’m actually more of a Kim Go Eun stan myself but unfortunately I didn’t get to bump into these two stars while I was there. But, I did visit Jemulpo Club in Incheon, one of the filming locations of Goblin!
As for ddakji, we actually had a Squid Game themed experience in the Korean Folk Village in Seoul, but being one of the rare people who’ve not watched the show, I was totally clueless about the games! Safe to say I got trashed pretty badly at ddakji.
Wearing traditional clothes and playing ddakji in the Korean Folk Village - unfortunately, Brandon did pretty badly on it!
Interested to join Klook team in Singapore?
Posted by Klook Careers