Updated: Jan 21
Jeju-do (제주도) aka Sammu-samda-do ^^ was our last stop before leaving Korea.
Brief history of Jeju
Jeju-do, or Cheju-do, (translated to Jeju Island) was not always a peaceful place. In the late 1940s, an uprising known as the Jeju massacres occurred. This was due to an election that would be held for the only the southern part of Korea, controlled by the UNTCOK. The fear of division caused guerrilla forces to fight back, attacking police. The government was also guilty of killing innocent civilians. Ten percent of the Jeju population were killed, and only in 2006 did the government apologize and promise reparations. However, no reparations have been given. Although the people of Jeju-do have experienced and witnessed such an event, they stood up for what they believed in. Upon visiting the island you can see they hold no grudges, are helpful and very friendly.
Getting to Jeju-do!
To stay within our budget we decided to travel via ferry from Mokpo to Jeju. We booked our tickets online using DirectFerries. The company was slow to respond, as it took about five business days to confirm our reservation via email.
When booking the tickets online, the website will offer different options for cabin, seating and deck space. We were perfectly fine with the cheapest option, the futon in economy class shared cabin seating. Most people used the open economy area for napping. Two economy tickets cost ₩66,000 about $58.00.
The ferry took about 4 hours and 30mins. We departed Mokpo at 9:00 am and arrived at Jeju-do just after 1:30 pm. Be sure to check the ferry schedule, since the ferries run every other day, and no service on Mondays. We were on foot throughout Korea, so we did not have a car to load onto the ferry. However, we would be renting a car at Jeju airport.
The address for the Mokpo port is Port 182, Haean-ro Mokpo-si Jeollanam-do.
We almost missed our ferry if it weren't for a kind person asking if we were heading to Jeju. We got directions to the next building, which was clearly labeled "Mokpo to Jeju ferry port".
We were sure to arrive at least one hour before the ferry departure time. There is a check in counter where the ticket agent will confirm your reservation and print out your boarding pass.
The shared futon room wasn't bad at all. A bunch of people took naps, some had chicken & beer parties even though there were signs saying not to eat in the rooms, haha.
The ferry was pretty awesome. There was a cafe with delicious looking foods, a bar, a 7-11, game room, karaoke room, showers, plenty of bathrooms, gift store (with hallabong chocolates), and a bakery. We watched the ferry depart from the top deck, and the Mokpo shoreline slowly disappeared in the distance. We passed under the famous Mokpo bridge while the seagulls followed us for a little bit. People were drinking and singing on the deck, it was quite the ferry party.
Mokpo will always have a place in our hearts.
The Jeju port address
We arrived a little late, but we didn't mind. Getting off the ferry, we thought about taking a taxi to the airport to pick up our rental car, since maps estimated it would be a long bus ride. Fortunately, a friendly young Korean informed us there's a bus that goes from the bus stop we were at to Jeju airport.
Phew, saved some won (₩) and time!
The airport was a mess of tourists arriving and departing. There's a sign that points to the rental car area. It was the most hectic shuttle depot we had ever seen! There were so many different shuttles and buses driving around a huge parking lot. We waited a bit for the rental-car shuttle to come.
As we were on the looking out for a Sixt shuttle, we were also online looking up the shuttle it was black and orange, but when we saw the shuttle it was navy blue and hot pink.
We informed the driver we had reservations and boarded the shuttle. The Sixt shuttle building is located a about five minutes away from the airport parking lot.
We are not sure if we would rent from that company again. We got a nice new electric car with GPS (that the Sixt employee changed to English for us). However, that employee was rude, and a bit pushy about purchasing their highest coverage car insurance. We felt better getting the basic insurance just in case something happened. Also, the car rental employee informed us incorrectly about the charges for the electric car. He said it would be ₩2000 for every 200km, but it was actually ₩2000 for every 100km! Which we ended up paying since it was in the contract ....
The electric car ended being cheaper than gas so we couldn't complain. Driving and riding in an electric car was nice! But beware driving in Jeju, the drivers are not defensive drivers. Russ is an excellent driver and we drove with no incidences. There are traffic speeding cameras just about everywhere, so driving below the speed limit as a foreigner is a must. As for charging stations, there are many locations around the island.
We stayed for two days in Jeju-do, and decided we would definitely visit again to hike Mt. Hallasan. There are a many natural wonders and beautiful beaches to see in Jeju-do.
Day One, west side of Jeju
Hours: Mon - Sun 09:00am - 12:00pm
Ticket sale hours: Mon - Sun 09:00am - 11:00pm
Admission ₩9000 ($8.10)
Loveland was fun and full of adult humor. The sculptures were great. We definitely recommend visiting this unique art museum, especially for couples.
Osulloc Tea Musuem & Fields
Hours : Mon - Sun 09:00am to 19:00pm, open all year round.
The tea museum is free of charge. The tea fields are also free to view, just beware of snakes! There is a cafe for snacks and beverages. And don't miss the open air observation deck on the top floor. Osulloc also offers free tea tastings at certain times. We got to try the Hallabong tea blend, which is very good but quite pricey.
If you want to try some delicious food, pass on the cafe in the osulloc musuem building. The tea museum cafe mainly has desserts and it was pretty crowded when we were there. Instead, walk to the Innisfree cafe, follow the path outside. The Innisfree cafe sells food as well as their own beauty and soap products. For 15,000₩ ($13.51) you can even make your own soap at the store after purchasing a kit. We passed on the soap making and decorated free postcards instead.
The cafe has so many delicious looking food items, including a Mt. Hallasan cake! We got the haenyo bento basket and the hallabong blender. Get both! Or more! It was so good, it was probably one of the best meals we had in Korea! The food on Jeju is so fresh and the hallabong is a must try.
Having a car is not a must have, we saw people catching the bus and even taxis. But, with a car you can visit more places and definitely save money. Our way of thinking, more money means more good food!
Mt. Sangbangsan (산방산)
Winter Season 08:00am - 05:00pm / Summer Season 08:00am - 06:00pm Subject to change depending on unforeseen conditions. Closing time is flexibly changed, so inquire before visiting.
For a fee of ₩1,000 ($0.90)you can hike up the mountain, but we passed due to the weather. We walked around, looked at all the Buddha statues and photographed the unique shape and beauty of Mt. Sangbangsan.
Next to Mt. Sangbangsan is Yongmeori Coast (용머리해안)
Entrance fee ₩1,000 ($0.90)
Free parking for both Sangbagsan and Yongmeori
The coast rock form is said to resemble a dragon's head going into the water. The coast has rock formations we haven't seen before, we definitely recommend paying the admission fee. There are cafes and stores next to the entrances. There are two entrances, we started on the side without the pirate ship. We recommend starting on that side because there's a steep walkway that would be easier walking downhill. Also you get to see the dragons head right away!
If you want fresh seafood, there are some ajimas selling their catch. Some people stopped to sample the shellfish.
We walked the whole coast until we reached the other entrance. There we met another helpful Korean who showed us how to take pictures using the rocks with holes. His picture was better than ours though, haha. Turns out he works at the attraction and gave us a handy little guide book of all the geological attractions in Jeju. Rock friends!
Heading towards Seogwipo, the next stop was...
Admission ₩2,000 ($1.80)
Hours : sunrise to sunset
If you love seeing unique things, definitely stop by this cliff face. We have never seen anything like it before. The columnar joints are naturally made!
We had time for one more stop before sunset.
Saeseom Island Saeyeongyo Bridge (새섬 새연교)
No admission fee
By the time we got there the sun had already set. We didn't walk to Saeseom island but toured the bridge. The restaurants by the bridge were closed by the time we got there and the mosquitoes were starting to attack so we quickly left. For dinner we drove into Seogwipo to find a restaurant. We found a free parking lot to park in, but there's also plenty of street parking.
When in Jeju, treat yourself, the food is delicious.
We went to a well known restaurant.
Hours of operation Mon - Sunday 11:30am to 10:30pm, chuseok observed.
The menu was a little pricey for our backpacking budget, but spending the extra won for fresh meat was worth it. Normally the bbq meats are frozen, but the meat at Saeseom Galbi was served still on the bone! We had pork and beef with some of the most flavorful banchan ever. We couldn't stop eating the beansprouts, shredded green onions with spicy sauce and kimchee.
Eat where the locals eat! We were walking around the city and this place was bumping. The waitresses were super nice and helped us with everything. Even the table adjacent to us lent a helping hand.
Next, the east side of jejudo!🍍