Jeju in 9 Days
9 Days in Jeju (from 2nd week of April 2016)
Jeju (airport CJU) – largest island south of Korea mainland with about 0.6M people and some 100 museums!. The island is not big (1,848 km², about 73 km by 31 km) and you can drive north to south in less than an hour and east to west in about 2 hr. 100 Won= HK$6.8 = US$0.87. Electricity socket is 2 pin Type C typically used in Europe.
9 days with small rental car (Kia Morning- small car is good here as there are many narrow roads), drove some 400km, 80k Won on petrol. The key places we went are starred on the map below. Weather mostly fine/excellent (10 to 18 deg C）, cool and sunny feeling quite warm during the day in the sun, and just a bit chilly in the morning and dusk. This island is a nature lover’s paradise especially if you like trekking as there are about a dozen well maintained and marked trails manly along the lovely seashore with magnificent scenery. Food was great – both Korean and others, we had delicious and fresh/live seafood (well known for jeonbok (abalone)), and very tasty Italian, most local agricultural produce (famous for oranges) are home grown and very fresh and tasty. Toilets here are plenty in every tourist spots, clean and well maintained – 3 to 4 star hotel standard. People here are mostly kind and helpful despite the language barrier. While we’re not into duty-free shopping, we’re told that the prices there are better than in HK! As in my other travel bogs, I’m using a lot of links to Tripadvisor which I also contribute to with reviews of some of the attractions or restaurants I visited, hence my reviews there would also provide additional information.
Day 1 – Had a traditional Korean noodle breakfast. Then drove around looking for cherry blossoms, and the best was in the road next to the Jeju University where both sides were trees in full bloom. For lunch, we found a very popular (with locals and youngsters) food truck selling freshly made burgers – Sam Burger. We joined the long queue and eventually have to wait for 1 hr 15 min for our burger – but most delicious and fresh (22 k W). Hence, plenty of time for strolling along the road and taking photos with the romantic heart signage along the road, then drove off to Dragon Head Rock (Yongdu-am) – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297885-d550713-Reviews-Dragon_Head_Rock_Yongdu_am-Jeju_Jeju_do.html where there’re lots of tourists.
Then went to and had a relaxing stroll at Hamdeok Beach, Hamdeok-ri, Jocheon-eup, Jeju – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297885-d550694-Reviews-Hamdeok_Beach-Jeju_Jeju_do.html . Clear aquamarine water, super fine sand, mountain in the background, Excellent View! Just stroll along the beach and took photos with the wide sea as background, there’s a nice fancy coffeeshop – Cafe Delmondo that is perfectly located, directly overlooking the sea. View sunset and took lots of pics.
Spent the evening in Dongmum traditional market- https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297885-d2238839-Reviews-Dongmun_Market-Jeju_Jeju_do.html , rubbed shoulders with locals buying fresh seafood, some had instantly prepared sashimi there too. For dinner, we had BBQ black pork (famous in Jeju).
Day 2 – Seongsan Ilchulbong 城山日出峰 – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d1582693-Reviews-Seongsan_Ilchulbong-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html -104 Seongsan-ri, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo, T:826471066556. For this No. 1 Jeju attraction, we woke up 445AM and drove 30 min there to see the sunrise. View along and from the top was amazing and definitely worth the climb of about 200 m (altitude). We went for the sunrise (around 6:10AM), and thought that we’ve ample time when arriving the base carpark at 5:30AM. But alas, I forgot about the climb to the top which was about 200 m high and actually took us 30 min of rather strenuous brisk walking, the nice views of the city and sea on the way and at the top were all worthwhile and we found it rewarding. Also Before/after this, visited the Genius Loci interesting architecture : this place was at the west of Illchulbong.
We then spent a most relaxing and lovely day at Udo Island- https://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Attraction_Review-g297885-d1776326-Reviews-Udo-Jeju_Jeju_do.html, the pier was just 5 min from Seongsan Mt. and we drove our car (32k W) onto the ferry. Udo Island – https://www.tripadvisor.com.sg/Attraction_Review-g297885-d1776326-Reviews-Udo-Jeju_Jeju_do.html. What a nice and relaxing place with lots of photo opportunities, just go there and spend at least half a day for a slow drive and enjoy the slow lifestyle. Be sure to climb the trail to the light house where we enjoyed fantastic views of the whole island. Coming back to the nearby shops, we tried the peanut ice-cream from Jimmy’s Natural Ice cream. Just kept driving around the island and stopped frequently to take photos or just sit on the sandy beaches or piers to savour in the serene sceneries and enjoy the sea breeze. We had a fantastic light lunch of pork burgers/hotdog at the Haha Hoho Cafe- so delicious with freshest ingredients and prepared with passion. Just be prepared to wait for 40 min or so, but no problem, we just strolled off and day dreamt in the nearby deserted pier and people watch girls taking selfies with their veils flying above their heads set in the the background of the ocean! Ah, I forgot to mention that we also had the freshest sea urchins, again plucked there and then from shell opening to our table – simply nature’s freshness and best! We spent from 9 to 5 there today and then we went to Dongmun local market to buy oranges and souvenirs, had a good chicken meal on a large hot pan.
Day 3 – Today we decided to explore the many geological features of Jeju and visited the Manjanggul – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297885-d1643536-Reviews-Manjanggul_Cave-Jeju_Jeju_do.html, a lava tube which was formed when volcanic lava flowed through leaving many interesting features. The publicly-opened section of the tube was about 1 km long and very level, hence very easy to walk (except for an initial flight of steps), the space in this large tube is amazing with height (headroom) reaching to 23 m and width 18 m. After the comfortable stroll (temp inside is colder than outside and hence you’d get a scarf or coat, a cap would be useful too for the occasional dripping water).
After lunch, we went to the Folk Village and then went to find the Canola fields. We’re lucky to find large long patches hidden behind the road while driving slowly through the country-side- lots of photos of course! Then we went to the Bijarim Forest for a nice sunset walk amongst the fresh scent of the Nutmeg forest and fresh air . The nearby road was flanked on both sides with giant Nutmeg trees which was said to be the scene of several Korean romantic drama
Day 4 -More outdoor activities today starting with visiting the Soeslkkak Estuary – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d4223907-Reviews-Soesokkak_Estuary-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.htmlAddress: 140, Soesokkang-ro,Seogwipo, Jeju-do, South Korea. Phone Number: 0647321562
where we rented a biking boat – interesting how two people have to cycle in sync or coordinate to steer it in the right direction. Lunch was a simple one at Dunkin Donnut (they do have non-sweet items to offer) while waiting for our turn (about 1 hr wait, but canoe would have a 3 hrs wait, so be early). After this, we went to visit a couple of water falls : including Jeongbang Waterfall – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d550716-Reviews-Jeongbang_Waterfall-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html and stroll along parts of the Olle trail along the shore enjoying the beautiful natural sceneries. Also visited the Seobok Park with Xu Fu Exhibition Hall to learn about the story of Xu Fu and his special envoy by order of the first emperor of China Qin with 500 (or 3000) boys and girls said to have visited and landed at this point of Jeju leaving some inscriptions on the cliff – interesting, and the park was quite nice to spend an hour or so- https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d3444592-Reviews-Seobok_Park-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html
Day 5 – In the morning, we went to Oedolgae- https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d1759602-Reviews-Oedolgae-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html , which is a solitary rock pillar in the sea. Quite spectacular nature wonder and the trail along the shore around it proved to be a most enjoyable walk. It’s the filming location for famous Korean drama-Dae Jang Geum 大長今. Jeju is indeed hikers’ paradise, it has about a dozen of hiking trails – Olle trails and we have walked little parts of many – all very easy and rather level hiking tracks, some like wooden broadwalks and all clearly marked with blue/orange ribbons tied on the tree branches (at least at every turn or where the trail forks), some with the pony mascot mark. Our next attraction was Cheonjiyeon Falls- https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d550714-Reviews-Cheonjiyeon_Falls-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html, which was nice too with a huge carpark and many eateries there including again the usual suspects – Paris Baguette, Dunkin Donuts, ….
The biggest temple in Jeju – Yakchunsa Temple- https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d1675959-Reviews-Yakchunsa_Temple-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html was our next attraction, the main temple hall has a very high headroom and grand, also impressive and colorful drum and bell towers.
Jungmun-Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff (T: 064-738-1532)- https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d1888847-Reviews-Jungmun_Daepo_Jusangjeolli_Cliff-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html was ranked high as one of the top attractions, we entered the area via The Seaes Resort (+82 64-735-3000; 2563-1 Jungmun-dong, Seogwipo-si) which has a nice landscaped garden.For dinner, we went to nice cold noodles and pork restaurant near the SW corner of Jeju -Sanbang Sikdang – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Restaurant_Review-g297892-d4031931-Reviews-Sanbang_Sikdang-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html. Servings are big and 2 sharing one noodle was enough for us 2. I’d suggest 2 sharing 1 bowl of noodles and 100g of pork.
Day 6 – morning was spent leisurely at the LeeJoongSeop Art Museum – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d2337345-Reviews-LeeJoongSeop_Art_Museum-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html He’s a very talented artist but with an unfortunate and short life (died at age 40) and often living from hand to mouth. The museum was built right next to a traditional Korean hut which he was offered refuge for 1 year during the Korean war. His works were ahead of the time then and it’s said that he often drown his guilt towards his family in heavy drinking. The arts and craft shops nearby were a joy to visit too. I like the cartoon character created after the famous Jeju diving girls. We had a very nice meal in this nearby restaurant – Ankeori Pakeori – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Restaurant_Review-g297892-d5021749-Reviews-Ankeori_Pakeori-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html , which offered sets for only 14k Won, exceptional value!
In the afternoon, we went to the south-western coast of Jeju and enjoyed again lovely coastal sceneries and took a leisure walk in the Songaksan Mountain – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d4223908-Reviews-Songaksan_Mountain-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html. and then to the Greek Mythology and Trick Eye Museum, I think they’re only worthwhile for those interested in Greek mythology and if you really like 3D museums, there’s a mini-maze there too (combined tickets at 12k W).
Day 7 – Took the challenge today to climb Hallasan – the highest mountain in S. Korea (1950m) – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297885-d550726-Reviews-Hallasan_National_Park-Jeju_Jeju_do.html. Read many comments and decided to go up the Eroimok Trail (about 750m climb in 6.5km) and down the Yeongsil Trail (about 420m drop in 5.8km). Preparation was long as I wanted to get the exact location of the Eroimok base and my GPS didn’t like the name nor tel. Luckily, searching online gave me the answer here (http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=2050) where Steve Oberhauser showed excellent detailed information re his numerous trekking here and gave exact coordinates for locations (just make sure you enter them in the same format into your GPS). Once getting near to the mountain, there were clear signages, just get onto Road 1139 (for Eorimok or Yeongsil). It took us about 4 hrs climbing up, and we had lunch at the top where there’re facilities including hot cup noodles and the prices were incredibly cheap (5k W). After an hour or so rest, we started off downwards along the Yeongsil Trail which took us about 1hr 45 min. Both trails have their easy and difficult stretches, but overall, we liked our choice as climbing up Eroimok gave more varying sights and much shade in the steep difficult part. Though not many different colors at the time of our visit (best would be in Autumn), the hike was nevertheless very enjoyable. From Yeongsil carpark, we took a taxi back to Eroimok where our car was parked (20k W). We also spent some time at the Eroimok Visitor Centre where there are 2 floors of Hallasan displays. The hike was not too difficult but we’re tired after the almost 7 hour adventure. Our trekking poles were rather useful today!.
Day 8 – The local market –Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Attraction_Review-g297892-d3231673-Reviews-Seogwipo_Maeil_Olle_Market-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html was interesting and a good place to see and feel the local lifestyle, we found that the Jeju markets to be very clean and tidy and in this one, there’s a little artificial stream with fish and sculptures there where there’re seats for people to rest. We bought a box of local oranges (said to be a must sourvenirs for Jeju visitors). For lunch we went to a nearby local bimbap place and had a most fresh and delicous bimbap made right in front of us with the freshly prepared ingredients – Oneun Jeong Gimbap, https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Restaurant_Review-g297892-d9356328-Reviews-Oneun_Jeong_Gimbap-Seogwipo_Jeju_do.html. This place was very popular with locals too. Then we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art which was located in a village with many other studios for artists – a project established during the economic crisis to help the artists. Hypeoje Beach is a popular beach amongst locals , it is that western most part of Jeju and we went there to watch the sunset. For dinner, we’re lucky to find this place where we had a top and delicious Italian meal – Donato’s – https://en.tripadvisor.com.hk/Restaurant_Review-g297885-d6941986-Reviews-Donato_s-Jeju_Jeju_do.html, this restaurant was just a couple minutes walk from the Beach and is ranked TA No. 4. Don’t miss this one!
Day 9/10- weather turned bad (first time out of our 18 days in this trip, a few others were just drizzles mainly for parts of the day) with consistent heavy rain and strong gusts which sometimes shook our car, hence we have to turn to activities indoor. Went to eMart and spent 2 hours shopping local produce and souvenirs including crispy seaweeds, almonds, ginseng extract, oranges and apples! Then we visited the underground shopping streets near Dongmun- lots of shops selling mainly Korean made or name goods- many Korean brand cosmetics and clothes. Returning the car to SixT (service good and efficent) we went to the airport for early checkin for our flight scheduled ETD 2105. Airport was jam packed with people and we found out all of the domestic flights were cancelled and eventually all of the international flights too! We lazed in the lounge hoping that our Dragonair flight would arrive later but at around 8:45PM, it’s annonuced cancelled as it’s redirected to Fukuoka (and later to Incheon- poor Jeju-bound passengers!). Luckily, Dragonair made reasonable arrangements, notwithstanding that the process was long and clumsy, the MP members (12 of us) were given preferential treatment to leave first and stay in a 5 star hotel (Lotte City) near the airport after they retrieved our luggages. Eventually the flight was delayed repeatedly and now I’m on the plane some 22 hours after the original scheduled departure!
One thing I noticed during the delay was the spending power of tourists from Mainland China – out of the 11 international flights on the monitor, 9 were to China cities; and in the Lotte Duty Shop at our hotel, all sales spoke Putonghua and everyone we met there were from China!
Prologue – Immigrant from HK! During our flight delay, we met a lady who migrated to Jeju from HK. She’s absolutely sold on lifestyle here only after staying here for 3 months. She bought a 4,500 sf villa on a 10k sf plot (now selling around HK$3.5M) in an area where there are many international schools where she said she can easily live by speaking English as all residents there can speak English (many ‘migrates’ here from Seoul). She also said that there’s no crime or stealing there and her daughter hasn’t locked her car (even with handbags, valuables inside) for 6 months! I can easily see why after our trip as she loves gardening, the open spaces and beautiful nature here. She decided to call here as her home- said has long weaned from the yearn to return to HK. Apparently, there are many overseas schools opening international schools here where there’s a huge market for children learning English and furthering education overseas. HK has again lost its edge in this as the idea of having an international schools village was first proposed in HK.
Well, I love Jeju too for what I said above plus I can park anywhere near where I go without needing pay and more importantly the anxiety of getting a fine ticket! I think you’d love this place too, do go and enjoy the slow relaxing lifestyle there!