here’s the second part of my trip to south korea! this time we’re on jeju island!
this was one of the most spiritually cleansing trips i’ve ever taken and i’ll definitely be going back to explore some more of the island’s hidden spots.
our first day was spent exploring the east of the island.
we were staying at blue island guesthouse in Seogwipo and i honestly couldn’t recommend them enough. they were super accommodating and we actually hired their house car as a private taxi service to take us around the island! mr choi’s english was also really good so we essentially had a walking talking guidebook coming along with us to every destination.
we started off at Seongeup Folk Village which is surprisingly still partially inhabited! as you walk through the village, you’ll see an intriguing mix of display houses and family homes which gives you an interesting peek into the history of Jeju-do.
our next stop was manjanggul cave which is a unesco world heritage sight. the cave actually spans over 13km but only 1km of it is accessible for visitors. Even so, the inside of the lava tunnel is an incredible sight containing various stalagmites, stalactites, and the main attraction, the stone turtle!
we then went to gimnyeong maze park which i’ll admit i only visited because it was featured on got7’s hard carry but it was actually so much fun! the objective is to reach the centre bridge and ring the bell (which i managed to do in around 5 minutes so yes, you’re looking at an absolute maze master) and you’re also greeted by a bunch of cute cats who live in the park along the way! it’s probably geared more towards small children but seeing as i went there to fuel my kpop obsession, i still had a great time!
we spent our afternoon on udo which people say is like a miniature jeju island. to get there, you take the ferry from Seongsan port and the journey takes around 15 minutes. we then travelled around the island itself by bus which allowed us to see everything within about 3 hours. there are gorgeous white sand beaches, imposing black lava cliffs, and a lighthouse which looks out over the scenic ocean views.
there’s also a small island (biyang-do) attached to the rest of udo via a road that supposedly grants long life to all those who walk over it.
of course, a trip to udo isn’t complete without some peanut ice cream so we went to dalcomajae where they serve beautiful artisanal ice cream packed full of flavour. highly highly recommend!!
we’d then planned on hiking Seongsan ilchulbong but the weather conditions weren’t great and a heavy mist was starting to set in so we thought it wouldn’t be worth the climb.
instead, to finish off our day, mr choi took us to honinji, a traditional marriage village. we were in the midst of hydrangea season so the whole site was blooming and unbelievably pretty. the bar is now set ridiculously high for my future wedding tbh.
for dinner, we went to a local restaurant in Pyoseon, 옛 고을 흑돼지 구이 집 (old town black pork roasting house), and had black pork samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly)! i’ve never had black pork before and it was mouthwateringly delicious oh my god. 100% one of the best bbq experiences of my life.
our second day was primarily spent in the south.
mr choi had initially wanted to start our day with a walk along the Yongmeori coast but unfortunately, it was high tide so that plan was scrapped. We instead spent a bit of time taking pictures by sanbangsan and looking around sanbanggul-sa.
we then headed off to jusangjeollidae where you can see views of the gorgeous coastline framed by rock columns created by cooling lava. it felt like something straight out of a studio ghibli animation with waves crashing against the cliffs in swirls of blue and white and the ocean glittering from the sunlight.
our next stop was yakcheon-sa which houses the largest vairocana buddha in korea! the temple is splendid, standing at three-storeys tall and housing 18,000 smaller buddas as well as the spirit tablets of past royalty.
we then walked part of olle trail #7 which took us past some truly stunning views. the path hugs the coastline so as you walk, you can see imposing cliffs, black volcanic beaches, and oedolgae (the lonely rock) which is undoubtedly the highlight of this trail.
we then drove to seogwipo–si where we stopped by the seogwipo maeil olle market and tried to visit the lee jung seob art gallery but we were unlucky as it happened to be closed.
we went to see the nearby cheonjiyeon waterfall which was beautiful. the walk from the car park was fairly short but still peaceful and relaxing and there weren’t all that many tourists about.
we went to seogwipo harbour and crossed Saeyeongyo bridge which takes you across to saeseom island. we didn’t have much time to linger since it was starting to get late and we still had a couple more stops to go.
we then went to our second waterfall of the day, jeongbang waterfall. it’s probably the most impressive of all the waterfalls on jeju-do and it’s considered one of jeju’s top ten scenic wonders. legend has it that a holy dragon lived underneath the waterfall and now its spirit is contained in the water so if you have any ailments that need to be cured, you’re supposed to take a dip in that magical dragon water!
we then bought some delicious jeju oranges (an absolute must for the full jeju experience) and had a little wander along the saryeoni forest path. there’s something weirdly spiritual about this forest as all the cedar trees tower above you and you end up feeling completely enveloped by nature.
for dinner, we walked to 옛 고을 흑돼지 구이 집 again, catching a gorgeous sunset on the way. this time, we had some amazing gamjatang (pork bone soup). honestly, nothing beats a good family-run restaurant.
for our third day, we stayed inland!
we’d planned on hiking hallasan but we realised that all the trails would take too long considering we had to be at our next hostel by evening. as a result, we switched up our itinerary and gave mr choi free rein to show us his favourite sights.
we began our day at Soesokkak Estuary which is where the hyodoncheon stream flows into the ocean. you can essentially see a cross-section view of jeju-do as you’re faced with lava cliffs and overhanging pine trees on the opposite riverbank. we walked down to hahyo soesokkak beach before moving on.
we stopped by gwaneum-sa which marks the beginning of one of the hallasan trails before heading to jeju jeolmul natural forest resort.
on our way, we passed by mysterious road and we spent a good half hour there watching our water bottle roll up the road and “defy gravity”. to be honest, i could have spent the rest of my day there but i’m not sure what that says about me as a person lmao.
mr choi said that jeolmul is one of the favoured spots of locals so it was no surprise that it was packed with people. some of the main features of the park are the carved wooden sculptures dotted around as well as a pond with majestic-looking koi fish. there’s also drinkable spring water that supposedly has healing properties? either way, the water tasted delicious – so clean and so refreshing! as we were leaving, i decided to walk on the acupressure stone path and let me tell you, i’ve never felt pain like that before. all in the name of good health, right? (i may post a video of this on instagram at some point)
our next stop was the jeju 4.3 peace park which is a memorial for all the victims of the jeju uprising. around 30,000 islanders were killed and thousands more injured and displaced and it wasn’t until 2006, over 50 years after the brutality, that the south korean government acknowledged its wrongdoing. the museum is admittedly heavy and emotionally taxing but at the same time it’s so important as it sheds light on a subject not usually touched upon in world history. it’s a call for reconciliation and peace in a world that’s still too divided.
our last stop with mr choi was jeju stone park. the park was massive so we skipped over part of the route but everything we did see was really interesting. there are little rooms where you can see stone tools and household objects on display and there are carved deities and mythical figures placed along the walking path too. my mum and i, however, were enamoured with all the naturally formed stones and we spent most of our time deciding what everything resembled. it’s like when you try to find shapes in the clouds but we were doing it with giant boulders instead!
we then left seogwipo to go to our accommodation in jeju-si. we grabbed dinner at dongmun night market where my mum had some amazing seafood (she finally got her hands on some abalone) and i had some gorgeous korean-style scotch eggs(?) with a sweet potato filling.
for our last day in jeju, we headed out west!
this meant that we’d pretty much covered the whole island over our 4-day trip!
we started off out at Geumneung eutteumwon beach and made our way back towards jeju city.
geumneung eutteumwon beach was truly one of the dreamiest beaches i’ve ever been to. the ocean was crystal clear and the white sand beaches were almost empty of people – i finally understood why people call jeju-do the hawaii of korea. it truly was an island paradise.
we walked towards hyeopjae beach but we didn’t spend long there as it was crowded with tourists.
we then took the bus to gwakji gwamul beach and had a lovely little stroll down the handam coastal trail. the views were, as expected, stunning.
when we arrived back in jeju-si, we wanted to see the mokgwana but it turned out we had to buy tickets to enter and since we didn’t have long before our flight, we decided it wouldn’t be worth it.
we ended up in café hyoju for a lil afternoon rest and recharge. we got a matcha smoothie, a watermelon juice, and some kaya toast (which i saw in a kpop vid so obviously i couldn’t resist). seriously though, the watermelon on jeju-do is second to none so if you’re out there, have your fill of it!!
we stopped by a bakery before heading towards the airport and then we were on our way to our final destination, seoul!
p.s. mr choi wrote a blog post about our time at his guesthouse! (check out the rest of his blog too if you have the time/ know korean lmao)