Taking our mandatory PCR test during South Korea vacation: Where to go & what to do

A walkthrough.

Karen Lui | November 28, 2021, 12:37 PM

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On Nov. 15, we took the first Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flight out to South Korea and documented the immigration process from Changi Airport to Incheon Airport.

If your trip in South Korea exceeds eight days (your arrival date is considered day 0), you will need to take a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test on Day 6 or 7 at a facility in South Korea.

Here's how it went for us.

Getting there

We visited the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul at around 9am.

Travellers who are not fluent in Korean need not worry about language barriers, as the staff can speak and understand basic English.

The closest subway station is Seodaemun station, but you can also take a bus there.

From Exit 4 of Seodaemun station, walk in the direction of Paris Baguette and continue walking straight until you see a green pharmacy:

Photo by Karen Lui.

Make a left turn after the pharmacy and you will see a pair of lifts.

Photo by Karen Lui.

Take any of the lifts up to B1, where the Kangbuk Samsung Hospital’s Covid-19 Screening Clinic is located.

A simple floor directory with English translations next to the lifts to help travellers who are unfamiliar with Korean. Photo by Karen Lui.

There's also a flight of stairs next to the lifts as an alternate way up to the clinic.

Upon arriving at B1, this is what you will see:

Photo by Karen Lui.


Close-up of the posters at the entrance. Photo by Karen Lui.

A staff member in personal protective equipment (PPE) stationed next to the queue number machine handed us our queue number.

Next, we sat down at a desk to fill in the Covid-19 questionnaire sheet that is available in three languages — English, Chinese, and Korean.

Photo by Karen Lui.

Photo by Karen Lui.

The contact number you put down needs to be a Korean phone number, so that they can reach you for your PCR test results.

Queue number ticket and Covid-19 questionnaire. Photo by Karen Lui.

You can check if it is possible to use your hotel number or a local friend’s number if you do not have a Korean number.

You can also purchase a SIM card before your trip from Changi Recommends or when you arrive in Korea.

As we were taking our Day 6 or 7 test, we did not fill in the table at the bottom.

The stations are organised such that movement from one station to another adheres to a clockwise direction, starting from the questionnaire desk.

Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, join the queue at the registration counter on the left.

Queue at either the lane in the middle or the right. If this is not your pre-departure PCR test and the registration staff reminds you to fill in that section, you can just let them know. Photo by Karen Lui.

In addition to the Covid-19 questionnaire, we also gave the staff our queue number ticket and passport.

The staff then asked if we have contracted Covid-19 in the past before taking our temperature with an ear thermometer.

At this point, they only returned our queue number ticket, and we were told that our passport will be given back to us at the payment station.

Payment and swab

After registration, we were ushered to the seating area in the green zone.

Photo by Karen Lui.

When your queue number appears on the electronic board, make your way to the payment counter on the left.

Photo by Karen Lui.

The wait for your turn to pay can be quite long, but once your number is called, there was minimal waiting in between the subsequent stations.

When our number was called, this is what we saw when we turned left at the corner:

Photo by Karen Lui.

We then followed the green line to the first window.

Queue at the window on the left before proceeding to the right. Photo by Karen Lui.

Besides handing over our queue number ticket, we were asked to verify our full name and passport as well.

The staff at this window will also ask you to check your Korean contact number and remind you that they will notify you of your results via that number.

We were also asked to make payment.

A PCR test at this clinic costs KR₩109,089 (S$125.14) and can be paid by cash or credit/debit card.

Depending on your travel needs, you may require a hard copy of your PCR test result. If you do, inform the staff at this payment counter.

An additional charge of KR₩20,000 (S$23) applies for the hardcopy certification, which you will need to come back and pick up 24 hours later.

After payment, they will issue you a receipt:

A4-sized receipt of our Day 6 or 7 PCR test, which we did not require any hard copy certification for. Photo by Karen Lui.

At the second window, the staff asked us to check our full name again before passing us our test kit and an information sheet about quarantine guidelines.

Photo by Karen Lui.

Upon receiving the test kit, we followed the red line to the testing area where we passed our kit to the staff performing the test.

They confirmed our full name before conducting the mouth and nose swab.

The mouth swab did not hurt at all.

The PCR swab was only inserted into one nostril and it went in deep, but it also seemed less painful than the on-arrival PCR test at Incheon Airport. Perhaps we had already braced ourselves for the sharp jab.

Once the swabs were completed, they reminded us to sanitise our hands before leaving.

We were done with our tests by 10:30am, and the entire process took around 1.5 hours.

The bulk of the waiting time, specifically one hour, was spent at the waiting area for payment.

On our way out, we noticed there's a waiting area for those who are collecting their Covid-19 test result certificate.

Photo by Karen Lui.

As we were not exhibiting any symptoms linked to Covid-19, we did not have to return to our place of accommodation to isolate.

Receiving the test result

The PCR test results should have been relayed to our Korean number via a text message at around 6pm the same day.

However, we did not realise the phone network was not switched on until the following morning, hence we only received our results then.

Your full name and test result will be stated in English.

If you are travelling as a group and do not have individual Korean phone numbers, all of you can put down the same number as we have done.


1. It's best to show up early for the test. The clinic operates on a walk-in basis only. When we arrived at 9am, there was only a queue for payment. At 10am, a snaking queue had started to form for registration, in addition to the pre-existing queue for payment.

2. The carpark area is sheltered, which protects you from the wind. However, it did not seem like there was any heating, and the temperature in the testing clinic feels similar to the outdoors. Hence, it’s best to dress appropriately, especially if it’s cold, as the wait can stretch beyond an hour.

3. Stand closer to the staff who is performing the PCR test for you, lest the swab does not go in deep enough the first time around and they have to probe your nose more than once.

4. The Kangbuk Samsung Hospital does not open on Sunday. Here are a list of other recognised facilities that you can perform your Day 6 or 7 or pre-departure PCR test at:

Note that other facilities/hospitals may have different set-ups/stations and their familiarity with foreigners may vary, depending on the location.

However, you need not take a PCR test as a Pre-Departure Test (PDT) on your return flight back to Singapore if you prefer an Antigen Rapid Test (ART).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has started accepting a negative, professionally administered ART taken within two days prior to departure as a valid PDT for selected travellers entering Singapore, including those arriving via the VTL since 11:59pm on Nov. 11.

7. If you have more queries, you can also call the Korea travel hotline at 1330 for for assistance.

Regulations are subject to prevailing measures by the authorities of Singapore and South Korea. Click here to access the latest updates.

Covid-19 Screening Clinic at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital

Photo by Karen Lui.

Address: B1 Carpark, 29 Saemunan-ro, Gyonam-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Opening hours:

  • Monday to Friday, 9am to 11:30am; 1:00pm to 5:30pm
  • Saturday, 8:30am to 11:30am
  • Closed on Sundays

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Top images by Karen Lui.