By Gaya Traveller on December 13, 2019

 

There is something about the autumn season that makes us want to go for a road-tripping adventure. Promises of golden hues from fall foliage and crisp air are enough to get us frantically searching for a good and affordable destination.

We decided on Jeju Island in South Korea for our quick island getaway. Air Asia X has been offering direct flights four times weekly to Jeju Island since December 2017. The flight between Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) and Jeju Island takes about six hours one way.

Nicknamed the Hawaii of South Korea, Jeju is popular among honeymooners and hikers. We’ve never been to Hawaii, therefore cannot vouch whether the nickname describes the island accurately. We can, however, tell you that Jeju is A LOT like Ireland!  Jeju is georgeous; it is filled with interesting natural landscapes and formations that usually comes with volcanic island.

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Sadly, we came just a tad too early for the foliage to turn amber. We recommend that travellers should instead visit Jeju in the first week of November because the leaves were still green when we were there in mid-October. How unfortunate!

Also read: Jeju Shinhwa World: The New Beacon from the Land of Morning Calm

If you are keen to do road-tripping in Jeju, do read on. We are going to share with you the essence of Jeju. Do stay for at least six days on the island. We stayed for four, which we felt was a bit rushed.

Although Jeju is relatively small (it is only 73km long and 31km wide), do not let this fact fool you – it is actually a bustling island. We were expecting Jeju to be along the lines of Langkawi, but instead, it is more like a complex version of Penang!

What To Do Before Your Flight to Jeju

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  1. Apply for an International Driving Permit at JPJ (Road and Transport Department) or Urban Transformation Centre (UTC), which is mandatory for all foreign visitors.
  2. Go online at visitkorea.com.my and get yourself registered as a Kaki Korea Club member. Members may redeem “Discover Korea Your Way 2018” guide and discount vouchers booklet.
  3. Make a list of all telephone numbers of the places you wish to visit (hotels included). GPS uses telephone numbers to detect your destinations.
  4. Book your portable Wi-Fi device at Roaming Man Malaysia. Pick up is available at KLIA2 and KLIA, and they are open 24 hours a day.
  5. Install Google Translate App on your smartphones. Use them to translate the mysterious Hangul (Korean alphabets). Unfortunately, English is not widely used in Jeju.
  6. Currency exchange is more favourable in Malaysia, so convert your cash before flying off. As rule of thumb, a main meal is around KRW15,000 (MYR55) to KRW20,000 (MYR73) each at a restaurant. A cup of latte is about KRW6,000 (MYR22).
RoamingMan Pocket Wifi

RoamingMan Pocket Wifi

Driving Tips in Jeju

  1. South Korea is a left-hand drive country, so please be vigilant.
  2. Driving speed limit varies, and it is relatively low compared to what we are used to in Malaysia. It is generally between 70 and 90 kilometres per hour on highway; 50 kilometres per hour in the city and 30 kilometres per hour if you were to pass by areas close to schools.
  3. Speed cameras are aplenty, and so are speed bumps. Listen to your GPS warnings.
  4. Roundabouts are tricky. Cars already in the roundabout must give way to oncoming cars.
  5. Designate a good co-driver to be your extra pair of eyes. There are many signboards and lines on the roads, so we are glad that the speed limits are low!

Jeju Icons

Haenyeo (female free­divers)

The role of these hardy ladies (some well in their 80s) in harvesting oysters, abalone, clams, seaweed and other marine life without the aid of breathing apparatus or professional equipment has been around since the 17th century. You can catch these brave ladies demonstrating their vocation at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily (Tel: +82 64 7831135) or visit Haenyeo Museum (Tel: +82 64 7829898).

Dol Hareubang (“Old Grandfather”)

These are actually large rock statues carved from porous volcanic rock considered to be deities that offer protection and fertility. These carve statues are placed outside the gates, believed to be protectors and guardians to cast away demonic entities. Newly wedded couples who would like to conceive male heirs are encouraged to touch these statues when they are in Jeju.

Must Visit!

There are too many attractions available in Jeju, ranging from natural attractions to man-made ones. Don’t forget to obtain the Map of Jeju for Islamic Tourists from Korea House in Kuala Lumpur so you can choose wisely. We find this guide helpful, as there is a comprehensively marked map of Jeju. The following are some of the attractions that appealed to us.

Seongsan Ilchulbong (also known as Sunrise Peak)

Seongsan Ilchulbong

Seongsan Ilchulbong

This is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site featuring a hydro volcano towering 180 metres above sea level.

Tel: +82 64 7830959 / +82 64 7107923

Hallasan National Park

Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano, is the highest peak of South Korea, standing at 1,950 metres above sea level.

Tel: +82 64 7139950

Jusangjeolli (Columnar Joints along Jungmun and Daepo Coasts)

Jusangjeolli

Jusangjeolli

The Jusangjeolli cliffs have amazing columns similar to honeycombs formed from volcanic lava flows that turned into such shapes as they cooled down, similar to the ones we saw at Giant’s Causeway, Ireland and Black Sand Beach, Iceland.

Tel: +82 64 7381521

Osulloc Tea Museum & Plantation

Come learn about Jeju green tea as well as other Korean teas. There is a tea gallery and a café here offering yummy desserts! Don’t forget to take a stroll around the plantation.

Tel: +82 64 7945312

Innisfree Jeju House

Innisfree Jeju House

Innisfree Jeju House

Innisfree is a well-known personal care brand that embodies nature. At Innisfree Jeju House, there are plenty of activities that visitors can partake such as making soap and face pack. There is a lovely café here that serves organic menu using fresh local ingredients. Enjoy your meal here while overlooking a tea plantation.

Tel: +82 64 7945351

Beaches

Hamdeok Beach

Hamdeok Beach

There are plenty of beautiful beaches around Jeju. We managed to go to three: Hamdeok Beach, Hyeopjae Beach and Woljeongri Beach. We love Woljeongri Beach the most because there are wind turbines nearby that make the landscape unique. Also look out for the colourful chairs by the beach.

Tel: +82 64 7283989 (Hamdeok), +82 64 7966001 (Hyeopjae), +82 64 7406000(Woljeongri).

Seogwipo Maeli Olle Market

Seogwipo Maeli Olle Market

Seogwipo Maeli Olle Market

What makes this traditional market unique is the clear water that runs through the market with plenty of goldfishes swimming in it. Highlights include live seafood, huge vegetables (compared to ours), and of course, ready to eat food!

Tel: +82 64 7621949

Dongmun Market Place

This traditional market is open from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., but it also has a night market that starts operating right until midnight. Look out for the various street food peddled at the night market – we spotted a Fish n Chips stall bearing a halal sign that we simply couldn’t resist.

Tel: +82 64 7523001

Jeongbang Waterfall

This is the only waterfall in Asia that flows directly to the sea. Quite a walk down the stairs to reach this waterfall.

Tel: +82 64 7331530

Seongeup Folk Village

Seongeup Folk Village

Seongeup Folk Village

Formed 500 years ago, this village continues its traditional lifestyle and culture to this day. Look out for the black lava rock walls, the straight but curvy alleyways that block the wind, and of course the grandfather (Hareubang) statue. Free tour is available.

Tel: +82 64 7106797

Iho Tewoo Lighthouse Horses

Iho Tewoo Lighthouse Horses

Iho Tewoo Lighthouse Horses

These red and white functional lighthouses that are modelled after Jeju horses add a quirky and fun element to the area, besides being Instagram-worthy.

Tel: +82 64 7406000

What to Eat

Oranges and orange-based snacks

Oranges and orange-based snacks

Oranges and orange-based snacks

Being a volcanic land means Jeju is blessed with fertile soil. Jeju is famous for its oranges and they are delicious. Be sure to eat them in Jeju DO NOT bring them back to Malaysia because oranges belong in the Malaysian Quarantine Inspection Services’ (MAQIS) quarantined list. Instead, purchase orange-based snacks as souvenirs. Some of them are even certified halal!

Obunjagi Ttukbaegi

Obunjagi Ttukbaegi

Obunjagi Ttukbaegi

It would be a crime not to eat fresh seafood when visiting Jeju. This spicy hot pot stew consists of live obunjagi (blue abalone), crab, octopus, prawns, mussels, mushrooms and ramen (noodles) gets more delicious by the minute. We had ours at one of the many seafood restaurants just across the street from Seongsan Ilchulbong’s entrance.

Binggrae’s Banana Milk / Uyu

Binggrae’s Banana Milk

Binggrae’s Banana Milk

This is probably the most popular milk ever produced in South Korea. Friends who have been to South Korea always rave about this particular milk. Besides banana, there are other flavours available too. Do drop by Yellow Café in the Jungmun Resort, which serves desserts concocted from Binggrae’s iconic Banana Uyu. Tel: 064-739-1140.

Our final thoughts

Seongsan Ilchulbong

Seongsan Ilchulbong

We travelled in Jeju as a group of four ladies. Safety-wise, Jeju is safe for lady travellers, as well as solo travellers.

If you do not wish to drive around like we did, the public transportation here is quite extensive. The public bus network covers the whole island. There is also a City Tour Bus that starts the tour from the airport.

English is not widely spoken, especially among the elderly, but the people here are helpful and courteous.

Jeju is indeed a nice place for a vacation. It is lovely, and the food unique and delicious. Café culture is big in South Korea, so Jeju is not spared from this trend. Take time to enjoy unique lattes and cakes at the quaint cafés around the island. We had strawberry, peanut, and even sweet potato lattes during this trip. The coffee is good, too.

Would we repeat visiting Jeju in the future? DEFINITELY, and so should you…

 

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