At our annual New Year gathering last year, a few of my schoolmates and spouses concocted a plan to celebrate our sixtieth year of existence by going on a trip. Since I’m familiar with Jeju I was tasked to organise a trip there for the ten of us.
I allocated 9 days to cover attractions in the South and East including a climb up Hallasan and a day on Udo Island. The plan was for an active holiday with time to chill and bond.
Instead of renting 2 MPVs we decided it’d be better to be together so we hired a mini-bus with driver. Korealimos.com gave us a reasonable price for a 15-seater bus. Fortunately they upgraded the bus to 20-seater at the last minute otherwise it’d be a squeezy problem for all of us plus luggage.
Here’s our 9-day itinerary:
- Arrived in Jeju at 12.30pm via Shanghai on China Eastern Airlines MU544/MU5059.
- Met on arrival by our driver Ms Cha. Had delicious pork bone soup for lunch near Lotte Mart. Wanted to do some shopping at Lotte but it was closed.
- Drove along Mysterious Road to see the strange phenomenon of the vehicle rolling forward in a back-sloping incline. Visual illusion we surmised.
- Arrived at Days Hotel Jeju, our first pit stop for the next four nights.
- Had an early breakfast at Paris Baguette near the hotel then to Yongmeori Coast before the high tide comes in at 1 pm.
- Scaled the steep steps up 180m to the grotto at Mt. Sanbangsan.
- After lunch we paid a quick visit to the new Jeju Shinwa World which was supposed to be Resorts World but sold their stake to Shinwa. Then visited OSULLOC Tea Museum and Museum of Sex & Health on the way back to hotel.
A day of waterfalls and coastal scenery.
- Jeongbang falls
- Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff
- Cheonjeyeon waterfall
- Oedolgae rock
Day of reckoning – the Seongpanak hike. A 1950m trek up the highest mountain in S.Korea – Mt Halla, or Hallasan as it is popularly known. Seven of us left the hotel at 5.45am in two cabs to Seongpanak. Started the climb at 6.30am for the 19.2km round trip. By the time all of us arrived back at trailhead it was 6pm.
- Checked out from the comfortable Days Hotel.
- Visited Cheonjiyeon falls in the morning. Had nice samgaetang (Korean ginseng chicken soup) nearby recommended by the tourist information staff at Cheonjiyeon falls.
- After lunch headed for Seopjikoji Cape, an hour’s drive eastwards. It was drizzling but we continued with our plan to visit Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise peak) but skipped the climb up the steep steps to the tuff cone as our legs said no after Hallasan yesterday.
- Checked in for two nights at the Golden Tulip Seongsan Hotel, another nice hotel in Seongsan-ri, our 2nd pit-stop to visit Udo Island and Seongsan Ilchulbong.
Spent the day on Udo Island. Took ferry from Seongsan Harbor to Haumokdong port. Traveled around on the electric public bus.
- Three of us woke up at 5.30am dragging our tired legs up Seongsan Ilchulbong (aka Sunrise Peak) to view the famous sunrise. Although it was a more manageable 180m in height the climb up was steep. The 30-minute climb was well worth the awe inspiring sight of the sun breaking over the horizon.
- Visited Bijarim Forest after breakfast followed by Manjanggul cave after lunch.
- Had a memorable lunch at Myeongjin Jeonbok Abalone Restaurant (Tel: 64-782-9944). A must try if you’re in the area. Go early, be prepared to wait. Free coffee and tea are provided in a cosy waiting room. So thoughtful of them.
- Before checking in to Jeju Beach Hamdeok Hotel for the next 2 nights we stopped by the famed Café Delmoondo for coffee and snacks. A great place to relax amidst emerald-blue water and cool breeze from East China Sea.
- Started the day at the break of dawn with a morning walk to Seowoobong Peak overlooking Hamdeok. A relaxing 1.5 hour trek accompanied by cool morning breeze.
- The rest of the day was spent doing last minute shopping at Lotte Mart and having coffee at Café Delmoondo in the afternoon.
- Dinner was a black pork affair with free flow beer courtesy of Jeju Beach Hamdeok hotel. What a great way to end our trip.
Departed on the 1.40pm China Eastern flight MU5060/MU545 to Singapore.
Other than a slight drizzle on Day 5 weather was nice throughout. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this gathering of friends in a distant land. Travelling together for the first time we had lots of laughter, black pork, seafood, beer and bingsus. Walking a few hundred thousand steps together with a common purpose of kinship made it a truly unforgettable 9 days. As the saying goes, all good things come to an end.
Hotels we stayed in during the trip:
- Days Hotel Jeju (4 nights) – We really enjoyed our stay there. Facilities are new, clean and modern. There’s even a stowable handphone tray next to the toilet seat!
- Golden Tulip Seongsan (2 nights) – Another new hotel with modern facilities. Rain shower with good pressure.
- Jeju Beach Hotel Hamdeok (2 nights) – A bit rundown compared to the previous two hotels. Bathroom poorly designed.
Photo credits: Niam CL