When we booked our trip to South Korea, we were unable to leave Jeju Island behind our itinerary. We have heard many wonderful stories about this island. The romantic island that is so peaceful yet the landscape speaks loud and clear about how they are one of the most visited island for tourist visiting South Korea.
We have seen many mountains and beaches throughout our travels but this was something else.
We knew that this journey will provide new experience for us, culturally as well as from the scenery point of view. This romantic island is a perfect getaway and famous amongst the newly wed all over South Korea. It’s easy to see why, with many spectacular views along the coast and easy access to all main attractions as well as the peaceful environment, there’s no reason why you should miss this gorgeous island.
We were very excited when our plane touched down the Jeju International Airport. As Australian, we’re used to rules and signs all over the public place especially at the Airport. The South Korean are right on this. If you are worry about getting lost coming to an Asian country, well, you won’t in South Korea. There are clear signs on every corner. Its hard to get lost.
There are public transports right outside the airport. There is a regular bus that takes you to Jeju city and Seogwipo city and back. It comes every 20 minutes, we took bus no 600. As we weren’t planning to use the bus regularly, we paid the bus driver in cash. The trip took 1 and half hour. The bus is very comfortable and clean.
There’s also taxi and car hire place for more transport options.
With our short stay on Jeju island, we had to cut to the chase. We’re here to get as close as we can to the famous Seongsan Ilchubong – volcanic mountain that is part of UNESCO World Heritage site. Seogwipo is the second largest city. It’s located strategically close to this landmark. It isn’t a small town considering that is built on a small island. It has everything. There are plenty of shops to look into if you are a shopper or cafes and restaurants for food adventurer. For the adventurous, hikers type, there are plenty of big brands adventure stores. The South Korean has a standard that matches the best of European made gear. Make your shopping list!
Don’t forget to take a walk to famous Olle Market for some fresh fruits and vegs. Pick up your lunch here and taste some amazing fresh seafood.
Seogwipo and Inside Olle Market
We stayed close to Seogwipo Arang Jeoul Food Street. We stayed on a budget accommodation at Feliz Telcon Hotel that is within walking distance bus stop. It’s clean and roomy. The reviews are great and the people are friendly. From here we could walk to the gorgeous Seogwipo Harbour. It’s a relaxing 20 – 30 minutes walk.
The walk from Seogwipo to Seogwipo Harbour view includes Saeyeongyo Bridge and the entrance to Cheonjiyeon falls. Take a look at the charming Seogwipo coastal town whilst crossing the bridge. Take your time on the board platforms and take plenty of photos.
At the end of the harbour is the Saeyeongyo bridge. It’s connected to Saeseom or Birds Island. If you like to extend your walk, take the short 1.2km circuit around the island. Breath in the salty air and listen to the birds. On our travels, there aren’t always too many opportunity to be in a place where it’s just so quiet and so serene. This one gave plenty of that.
CHEONJIYEON FALLS & JEONGBANG FALLS
A couple of a must to visit local attractions close by are Cheonjiyeon Falls & Jeongbang Falls.
Although Jeongbang Falls isn’t within walking distance, you can reach this location by taking a short taxi ride or hire a scooter if you are a couple traveller like us. By scooter, it took us less than 40 minutes.
There is a 2,000 won entrance fee for Cheonjiyeon and Jeongbang falls. It’s less than $2.50AU per individual. This place is full of tourist even under heavy rain (just like the day we arrived) but there are plenty to see and lots of photo opportunity.
The surround is quiet lush. We saw many couple enjoying each other’s company. The atmosphere is just like I’ve seen from Korean TV drama series. Why not take a romantic walk along the river and breath in the fresh air.
Enjoy the waterfalls and it’s blue pool, no swimming allowed though.
When you’re looking for another attractions, Jeongbang Falls will come up as one of top 10 to visit. From top walking down the boardwalk and stairs, the falls are already within sights.
The water falls to the ocean, some people might say not straight away to the ocean, rather it fall onto a pool first then to the ocean, both close enough I’d say.
On windy day, protect your camera from the waterfalls. The water pours quiet heavily and the rocks are slippery. Pay extra attention to unstable rocks.
SEONGSAN ILCHULBONG – The Volcanic Crater
We planned our trip to Seongsan Ilchulbong on our 2nd day on Jeju island. After some long heavy rain the day before, we couldn’t be happier with how the weather turned out. We were greeted with some blue sky and nice warm sunshine.
We hired a scooter as our preferred transport. It’s cheaper if you are a budget traveller. But taxi or car hire are also available. The trip took us around 45 minutes.
Most people get on top of this crater for sunrise. For those early birds, leave your hotel from 4AM is recommended, make sure that you wear comfortable shoes for this hike.
There’s 2,000 won entry fee or $2.50 per person. The walk to the top is easy and the path is well signed and safe. Some stair ways to be tackled, if you are fit person you can easily get on top in 20 minutes without resting. There are plenty of spot to stop to take your best photos yet.
This site is so precious and such a gem for the South Korean. It’s one of their main tourist attractions, please take care of their property by not leaving any rubbish behind. Keep peace with other tourist by not making a racket.
You might have heard about their famous female sea divers or Haenyo. They are famously known to be able to dive up to 10 meters deep minus oxygen tank. Everyday, they’d dive for fresh seafood such as octopus, abalones, seaweed and sea urchins. All sold as live seafood at the Seongsan village. The village is on the cove between the cliff and the crater.
You can buy the seafood per plate or however many you like, the price is negotiable. They are fluent in mandarin for Chinese tourist.
Take the opportunity to get down there and say hello to the ladies. Please make space for them as they are working hard to sell their catches. If you are keen to stand close to take pictures, make sure you do it in less intrusive manner and that they are ok with you taking their pictures. Be quick and be polite.
I imagine that during the famous time slot for sunrise, this area would be packed with tourist. Most will arrive as a group arranged by their tour guide. Don’t get put off by this amount of people though as there are plenty of space for all. Although it might get quiet packed on top platform. If you like to avoid the mass of tourist like us, go there after lunch hour for sunset instead.
The view is breathtaking from all angles. It’s a worthy site to visit once in a lifetime.
It get’s cold on top and because it’s right on the sea, it can get pretty windy (I’ve lost a hat here). So don’t forget to bring spare warm clothing.
The view of the crater from far is beautiful.
There’s so much reason to hang around as long as you can around this area. The town is gorgeous and so peaceful.
After a day adventure, Soju drink for refreshment & hot pot for dinner
Another site we were keen to explore was Yongmeori Coast. It took us around an hour and half to get here. The road is wide and well signed. It’s quiet straight forward from Seogwipo city. The view along the way as we get closer is very scenic. It’s hard to miss the gorgeous Mount Sanbangsan as you are entering Yongmeori.
From where we parked our scooter we were blown away by the impressive view of the coast in front of us and the mount behind. Here you can take some amazing coastal hike. We’ve heard about it’s dramatic cliff edge. Unfortunately for us tho, the sea was rough and too windy to access. The path were closed that day.
We spent our time walking around the beach and viewing Hamel Castaway Memorial instead. The free memorial is in a form of a boat which you can climb into. Conveniently placed right on the beach.
So much great landscape to be absorbed. The combination of the lava mount and the coast is just spectacular. Do not miss this location when you are planning to visit Jeju island.
Our snack stop on Yongmeori Coast
Mt Sanbangsan is 395m high above sea level. Although it’s not the highest mount we’ve seen, but it’s standing quiet magnificently on it’s own. We love the rock face and it’s green contrast. There is a temple on the foot of the mount. From here you can climb to see a cave temple.
To see the cave it’s an uphill walk of 150m high. There are lots of stairs. We couldn’t see much of the coast from up here due to overgrown trees but the cave itself is quiet charming. The caretakers is friendly and will encourage you to walk further up to see the monument up close and personal.
Our lunch stop on Yongmeori beach
SOINGOOK MINIATURE THEME PARK – around the world in an hour
With so many museums and variety of manmade attractions on Jeju island. It was hard to pick on which one to visit. Since I have never been into any miniature park, I chose Soingook Theme Park. We visited this park on the way to Yongmeori Coast (after a quick stopped for a go-kart ride). It’s not a long detour and spending an hour here is an ample of time.
The park has an entrance fee of 9,000 won per person or $10.50AU. It’s not a lot considering how well maintained this park is. The miniatures are built in a quiet attractive large park. The buildings are cute and colourful. Also, there’s a mini train ride. For first timer like me, I thought it was quiet impressive.
It’s great for all ages especially for children who is keen to learn about world famous landmarks. The park is spacious and neat. At the end of the loop, there’s some cute cartoon statues to take photos with.
For us Aussie, our famous Opera House have made it here!
Inside the park, we discovered a weird and wonderful world of man made town. Not quiet sure why it’s part of the park, but we enjoyed exploring the mini town. The wax human inside the town looks so real but don’t get freaked out. It’s quiet a unique built.
We love the decor, the design and the cosy lifelike town setting inside.
STREET ARTS AROUND SEOGWIPO
As we’re driving around the lovely town of Seogwipo, we noticed many street arts painting. Me personally are always into painting and wall art. I love seeing and touching the gorgeous murals. Some are scale to the real size. Here are some of the examples:
WHAT ELSE TO BE EXPLORED
For our next visit we would absolutely be climbing the 1950m high of Mount Hallasan. Visiting the famous Teddy Bear museum and Yeomiji Botanic Garden for a relaxing day trip. We would also be back for Jusangjeolli cliff for seashore cliff walk. Take a look at the map below, the possibility to find more amazing site is endless.