Saturday 10 October 2015

What to Do In Jeju Island in Two Days

What to Do in Jeju Island

I took a domestic flight going to Jeju Island via Jeju Air which departed from Gimpo International Airport. I purchased my ticket eight months before my intended travel date when I found a great deal online. From Seoul Station, I took the all stop train and alighted at Gimpo International Airport Station. The travel time from Seoul Station to Gimpo International Airport Station was about 25 minutes. The trains going to the airport were spacious so I didn't find it hard to travel with my luggage.

Before I left Singapore, I made a lot of research about South Korea, particularly Jeju Island. I’ve read a lot of beautiful stories about the island and I wanted to make sure I’d have the best time there. After an hour, I arrived at Jeju International Airport full of expectations and delight. Upon arrival, I took a taxi going to my hostel which was just ten minutes drive away from the airport. I slept early that night so I'd have enough energy for the next day's adventure.

Day 1
1.        Seongsan Ilchubong (Sunrise Peak) (Open an hour before sunrise until sunset). How to get to Seongsan Ilchubong : From Jeju City Bus Terminal (which was just fifteen minutes walk away from the hostel), I took bus number 701 at platform number 4. That day, I woke up really early to catch the first bus which left at 5:40 am. The interval of buses going to Seogwi is 20 minutes. After almost two hours, I arrived at my destination and was welcomed by a cold weather. If you are travelling solo like what I did, make sure that you have a copy of Jeju Intercity Bus Routes Map. I knew that I’d have a problem communicating with the locals so when I boarded the bus, I just showed the map to the driver and pointed out where I wanted to get off. It worked well for me! Seongsan Ilchubong is located on the eastern end of the island. It rose from under the sea due to a volcanic eruption which occurred over 100,000 years ago. It took me half an hour to get to the top. Climbing the stairs going to the top of Seongsan Ilchubong was manageable, although the pain of the previous hike was still there. It is indeed one of the island’s most impressive sights! 

2.        Seopjikoji (Open all year round). How to get to Seopjikoji : From Seongsan Ilchubong, I took a taxi going to Seopjikoji. Most of the tourists around the island were on a group tour perhaps because it was more convenient. I preferred to travel by myself though even if it was a struggle. The weather started to get bad when I arrived at Seopjikoji. When I was about to climb the rain started to pour. I was not prepared so I sheltered myself in a souvenir store nearby and waited for the rain to stop. I was hopeless when the rain didn’t stop after waiting for an hour. There was no clear sign either that it will ever stop so I decided to buy a raincoat which the woman from the souvenir store offered and continued with my journey. I didn't attempt to climb near the lighthouse but instead just took a photo of it from a distance. 

I reckoned that the rain will not stop. I checked the weather forecast and it showed that the weather will not get any better until the end of the day so I just went back to the hostel, had some tea, read my book, and mingled with the other guests at the community area. I secretly prayed for the rain to stop too.

Day 2
1.        Hallasan National Park (Open all year round, entrance prohibited during bad weather). How to get to Hallasan National Park : I woke up early the following day eager to know how the weather was. I was ecstatic! From Jeju City Bus Terminal, I took bus number 740 and got off at Eorimok. I loved the view! I didn’t realise that the road was uphill though so I was devastated because as we approached the top, I couldn’t see anything anymore! It was foggy and raining at the same time and I was certain that I won’t be able to hike too. I really wanted to climb the Eoseungsaengak trail which would only take an hour to finish. Unfortunately because of the weather, I was left with no choice but to leave.

2.        Cheonjeyeon Falls (8 am to 6 pm). How to get to Cheonjeyeon Falls : I took bus number 740 from Eorimok and got off at Jungmun which was also the last stop of the bus. From Jungmun, I took a taxi going to Cheonjeyeon Falls. It was just a few minutes drive away from the bus stop. It is named “the Pond of God” and is consists of three sections. The Seonimgyo Bridge can also be found which connects Cheonjeyeon and the Jungmun Tourist Complex.

3.       Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff (8 am to 7 pm). I crossed Seonimgyo Bridge and it led me to the exit (which was also the entrance of Yeomiji Botanical Garden). There were a lot of taxis waiting on the road so I took one and asked the driver to take me to Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff. Jungmun Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff was formed when the lava from Hallasan Mountain erupted into Jungmun Sea. The breathtaking view of the waves that crashed into the side of the cliff is something anyone who visits Jeju Island should see!

4.       Jeongbang Falls (8 am to 6 pm). From Jungmun Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff, I took a taxi again going to Jeongbang Falls. Jeongbang Falls is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. It was a great place to unwind for when you got tired of wandering around the island. You could walk on the huge stones while enjoying the view or dip your feet in the water. I spent an hour sitting on a stone under a tree while watching the tourists come and go. The view of the waves hitting the rocks was relaxing too!

5.       Cheonjiyeon Waterfall (7 am to 11 pm). Again, I took a taxi from Jeongbang Falls to Cheonjiyeon Falls. Cheonjiyeon Waterfall means “God’s Pond”. According to my book, its name was derived from the legend that seven fairies came down to the pond and bathed in its water. Apparently, there were a lot of different magical stories behind the waterfalls in Jeju Island.

6.       Seongeup Folk Village (Open 24 hours). From Chinjiyeon Waterfall, I looked for the nearest bus stop (which was a struggle), took bus number 701 and got off at Pyoseon-ri samuso. I walked straight towards the intersection, crossed the street, turned left and then crossed the street again. I walked straight to the bus stop which was just a few steps away from the intersection. I waited for bus number 720 which took me to Seongeup Folk Village. Seongeup Folk Village shows the culture of Jeju Island. I saw a black-haired pig which is said to be very nutritious. I loved the houses too, they looked so unusual! The village is indeed a must visit place in Jeju Island.

7.       YongDuam Rock (24 hours). I wanted to see Sangumburi Crater too but I didn’t have enough time for that so I decided to go to the last stop for the day, which was the Yongduam Rock. From Seongeup Folk Village, I took bus number 720 going to Jeju City Bus Terminal. It was getting late so I opted to take a taxi from the terminal to Yongduam Rock. Yongduam Rock is situated at the northern part of the island. It was formed by winds and waves over thousands of years. I have mentioned about magical stories about the waterfalls so I was not surprised when I heard another one about Yongduam Rock. According to legend, a dragon, which was believed to be stealing jade from Mt. Halla was shot by an arrow and fell down on Yongduam. The body then sank into the ocean and his head froze looking at the sky.

I was observant when I was on a cab going to Yongduam Rock. I wanted to take a bus going back to the city so I made sure I remembered every city buses that passed by. I checked the map and walked on the street leading to the bus stop. 

How to Get Around Jeju (Intercity Buses)

Jeju’s Intercity Bus is well-organised. Anyone could actually access the tour spots by public bus routes. There are plenty of buses which run all over Jeju Island; however you have to be familiar with the bus timings because intervals are normally between 20 to 40 minutes. Missing the bus would mean waiting for the next one and that would also mean wasted time. T-money cards are also accepted all over Jeju Island. Do take note that when you use the card on intercity buses, you have to tell the driver where you want to go, he would enter the fare and then you have to tap your card on the card reader. You don't need to tap again when you have to get off the bus. When using the card on city buses, you should tap the card on the reader once you board the bus without telling the driver where you want to go and then tap it again when you are about to get off. It was pretty simple! By the way, Intercity Buses have televisions which show and inform the passengers about the current location and next stop so there’s no need to worry about getting lost. I think that’s pretty cool! However, if you want convenience and if you are scared of getting lost, you can join a group tour or rent a taxi for the entire day (which I thought was really expensive because I was travelling solo). There are a lot of other places where I could have gone to but because my time in the island was limited, I decided to visit only those places which captured my interest. 

Where to Stay in Jeju Island

The hostel where I stayed at in Jeju was my favourite. It looked so classy and elegant! The hostel is called Hostel Lyndon. Its location was pretty good especially for those who are leaving the island early in the morning. It was just a ten-minute taxi ride from the airport and fifteen-minute walk away from Jeju City Bus Terminal too. Dining options and karaoke pubs were just a few minutes walk away as well. The hostel offers free wifi and is also secured with its own password protected security lock. I loved everything about the hostel – the ambiance, the decors, the friendly and accommodating receptionists! I loved how they set up a community area where guests could actually spend time to get to know each other. I loved how they have this what they-so-called “Happy Hour” from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm, where every guest is entitled to a free drink (a coke or a bottle of beer)! There was also free breakfast where guests are in charge of their own mess (washing the stuff they used and the like) and I think that was a brilliant idea. The walls were filled with photos and notes written by the guests who stayed at the hostel. There was a world map where guests can pin the country where they are from and a corner where they can also pin their local currencies. There was a small area where guests can use computers and there were books they can borrow and read too! And if ever the guests have any items or belongings they don’t need anymore by the time they have to leave, they can donate them on a flea market located right next to the community area. The proceeds will be donated to a charity and that was just awesome! There were a lot of information and tips all over the reception area so you have to make sure you read all of them! They were really helpful!

The links below helped a lot during my itinerary preparation. These were life savers!

To know more information about the places you want to visit (such as opening days and hours, fees and a lot of really helpful tips, check this site.

To book accommodation, check this site.

To book cheap airfares going to Jeju Island, check this site.

Happy travels!

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