Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 3 (28 Oct 19) – Hiking Hallasan, The Tallest Mountain in South Korea

On Day 3 of our trip to South Korea, we had another first experience – hiking up Hallasan, the tallest mountain in South Korea. The drive around Jeju would be relatively shorter compared to yesterday, as a bulk of today is spent trekking up Hallasan.


Our journey today focuses on the central and southwestern part of Jeju-do

The not-so Mysterious Road

The first destination today is to stop by at the Mysterious Road, whilst driving towards Hallasan. The road got its name for the fact that visitors can see water flowing upslope. I was here 10 years ago and witness how the water flows up to the slope and was excited to show my friends this phenomenon. Before heading out from our Airbnb accommodation, we prepared a bottle of water for that purpose. The drive to Mysterious Road from our accommodation took a mere 15 mins. After parking our car, we spotted a sign that says “Start of Mysterious Road”. We quickly whipped out our water bottle and start pouring a small amount of water. We observed. The water did not flow upslope, instead, it flowed downslope. Thinking maybe we might have the wrong section of the road and walked up further. We tried again, the water still flows downslope. Again we walked further up and tried. Same results. Eventually, we reached another road sign that says “End of Mysterious Road”, this is the point where we gave up and thought the Mysterious Road is no longer mysterious. We ended up the 7-Eleven next to the road and got ourselves some coffee and Onigiri for our hike up Hallsan and left for Yeongsil Trial on Hallasan.

Hallasan – Hiking on the Back of The Sleeping Giant

When I was planning for this trip to South Korea, standing at 1,950m tall, Hallasan is an extinct volcano and the tallest mountain in South Korea. It towers over Jeju Island like a guardian angel watching over Jejuans and its visitors. It would be a pity not to scale it since we are already in Jeju. There are seven hiking trails in Hallasan with some taking hikers to the peak of the mountain, ranging from as short as 1.5km (about 30 mins hike) to as long as 9.6km (about 5 hours one way). I wanted to hike a trail that does not take too much time and yet allowing us to get scenic views of the mountain. Yeongsil Trail fits the bill perfectly. The estimated hike up Yeongsil Trail takes around 4 hours in total, which will leave us with some time to explore the other parts of Jeju.


The hiking trails on Hallasan

It takes us around 1hour to drive up to Yeongsil Trail entrance from Mysterious Road. As we were driving up to Yeongsil Trail, the winding road took us past rows and rows of forest trees that were starting to show their autumn foliage, some decked in red and other in yellow, the drive was both soothing and therapeutic. Soon we reached the first car park at Yeongsil Trail. There are two car parks at Yeongsil Trail, the first car park has more parking lots, but requires one to walk another 2.5km to reach the entrance of the trail. There is a second car park right in front of Yeongsil Trail entrance. There was already a queue forming up for the second car park at the time we arrived at the first car park. We were stuck in the queue for around 30 mins. My friends and I were discussing our options while we wait for our turn to drive to the second car park. There are limited parking lots at the second car park and traffic to the second car park is controlled. Soon we were moving as some cars ahead of us left the queue. With no signs of any vehicles coming out, and just when we were about to give up waiting and leave the queue to park our car in the first car park, the staff opens up the boom gate and let us in. The drive to the second car park took another 5 mins through some windy mountain roads. Entrance to Hallasan is free, but parking is chargeable at KRW1,800 per car.

The First Leg – Hiking Through the Forest

Yeongsil Trail entrance starts at 1200m above sea level. There are some eateries and souvenir shops next to the car park at Yeongsil Trail entrance. There is a booth at the start of the trail apprising hikers of the route and the time required. Here is where they distribute maps in various languages for hikers. The entrance of Yeongsil Trail took us into a forest. his part of the trail is an easy walk, with roads well marked out. The fresh and crisp morning forest air coupled with birds chirping to the morning air, and absence of flying insects make hiking here a pleasant experience. TAs we were walking on the trail, we spotted some leaves on the trees starting to don on their autumn clothing. A good portion of the trees have turned yellow and some even in red. We hear water flowing from a distance, seemingly playing the symphony of mother nature, but can’t seem to point out where the stream flows along. We can even seem part of Hallasan peeking out at us through the canopy of the forest the further we walked in Yeongsil Trail. At this point, we were totally clueless on exactly which part of the trail we are at and how long more to go. We kept on hiking along the trail, following the general flow of human traffic. Occasionally we spot a map telling us where we are, but that does not give us a good enough indication of our exact location. About 30 mins into Yeongsil Trail from the entrance, we came to a steep staircase made out of the rocks. This is where we know we arrived at the second leg of the trail.


Taking a wefie before our hike up South Korea’s tallest mountain – Hallasan


More views of the forested area along Yeongsil Trail


We see Hallasan peeking out from the forest canopy occasionally

The Second Leg – Dramatic View of the Land Below

After the climb over the steep staircase, the forest canopy starts to thin out and eventually gave way to reveal the clear blue sky and the majestic Hallasan. From here, it is a series of stairs climbing to our final destination on Hallasan. It is here that we started to realise the hike up to Hallasan seems long and daunting. Along the way, we kept wondering where would our final destination is on the mountain. We half suspect we were only at the beginning of the hike. The higher we climb up Hallasan, the thinner the vegetation is, and the more we can see over the land below us. Yeongsil Trail is at the southern part of Hallasan, we got a good view of southern Jeju Island. The view was magnificent and makes one feels so small in this world. There are several viewing platforms along the Yeongsil Trail for hikers to rest or to take pictures of the vast land below. We stopped occasionally both on these platforms as well as along the stairs to take photos and admire the vastness of the land. Looking down below from this leg of Yeongsil Trail makes one forget all the troubles. The other highlight of this leg is the views of the Byeongpung Bawi Rocks or the Folding Screen Rocks, which got its name as the appearance of this part Hallasan resembles folding screens. Our hike was slightly delayed as we stopped numerous times to take pictures, we couldn’t get enough of the views offered on this leg of the trail. Some parts of this trail were so close to the edge of the cliff that it felt like one can fall off anytime. However, hiking on this trail is absolutely safe as the trail is well paved with handle ropes to aid visitors when climbing up Hallasan. The parts that are close to the edge of the mountain are erected with high fences to ensure hikers have a safe journey up and down Hallasan.


Panoramic view of Hallasan


Hallasan on Yeongsil Trail


At this point, we are able to see the vast lands below


My friend on the platform looking out into the vast lands below


Byeongpung Bawi Rock on Hallasan

The Final Leg – The Alpine Flatland and End Point Witseoreum Shelter

After 1½ hours of climbing from the steep staircase, the elevation of the slope became gentle once more. From here it is an easy walk to the end of Yeongsil Trail. The vegetation started to get thicker along the trail and soon we found ourselves walking on flat land. At this point, we were still wondering if we were near the end of the trail. We walked for another 20 mins and saw the path folks off to a huge platform. We decided to stop for a rest and had our mini picnic here with the onigiri and the coffee we bought from the 7-Eleven at Mysterious Road earlier on. Due to the flat alpine land, we can easily forget that we are actually at 1750m above sea level and we are actually on an extinct volcano. It is definitely an interesting experience picnicking on Hallasan, we wish we had bought more food to have a proper picnic. While we were resting, we saw a flight of staircase that seems to lead to an elevated peak of Hallasan. We thought that could be our endpoint and headed over. There is another viewing platform at the end of this staircase. We could see the western part of Jeju Island from this platform, and the view is exceptional. It is here that we realise we were very high up the mountain as we saw clouds below us. I highly recommend hikers on Yeongsil Trail to make a short stop here as the view is stunning. Just when we started to pat ourselves on our back for reaching the endpoint of Yeongsil Trail, I half suspected that this platform might not be the endpoint after all. We checked with a local hiker and was told our endpoint is another 10 mins walk away. My friends and I thought since we made it this far, what are another 10 mins walk.


Stopping for a mini picnic on Hallasan


With the Peak of Hallasan in the background


This could be the peak of Hallasan


Panoramic shot from the elevated platform


We are above the clouds on Hallasan


We can see part of the land below from here

We headed down from the platform and followed the crowd on the boardwalk. Some 10 mins later the trail led us to a huge wooden platform with several wooden houses. This seems to be a place where all the hikers from the other trails on Hallasan converge. At this point, we can confirm that we had reached our destination on Hallasan, Witseoreum Shelter which is situated at 1700m above sea level. As we were walking around, we saw several elderly Koreans picnicking here. It took us about 3 hours to reach our endpoint on Hallasan. At Witseoreum Shelter, there are paths that lead to other trails on Hallasan. There is even a trail that leads to the peak of Hallasan. After some pictures with a stone that states the elevation, we started to hike back down from where we came from to our car.

The Return Leg – Same Scenery but a Different Feel

We headed back the same way we came up from. Although it is the same path, the scenery appears different. Maybe it is because we were back facing the vast lands below when we climbed up (that did not allow us to fully appreciate the scenery) or maybe our focus is on where is the endpoint on our way up that distracted us from appreciating the scenery that is before us. On our second time on the trail, we got to see more of Hallasan that we did not notice on the way up. Nonetheless, my friends and I can never get tired of the scenery that was before our eyes.  We stopped occasionally to take pictures of the surroundings. The hike down Yeongsil Trail took us 1½ hours to reach the car park. We were surprised that the hike down took significantly lesser time compared to the way up. After a short toilet break, we felt hungry and drove to nearby our next destination for lunch.


Taking a wefie on our way down


One last look of Jeju from Hallasan


The Byeongpung Bawi Rock on Hallasan


Posing for a shot on the stairs we climbed

Jusangjeolli Cliff – Nature’s Wonder Hexagonal Coast

We settled our lunch at a Mcdonald’s near our next destination. After lunch, it is a 15 mins drive to the Jusangjeolli Cliff. Entrance to Jusangjeolli Cliff costs KRW2,000 per person and car parking is chargeable at KRW1,000 per car. It took us a mere 5 mins walk from the car park to the viewing platform at Jusangjeolli Cliff. Jusangjeolli Cliff is characterised by its unique pillar hexagonal coastal rocks are formed when the volcanic lava from Hallasan erupted and cooled by the sea 250,000 years ago. There is only a small stretch of the viewing platform that allows visitors to get a good view of Jusangjeolli Cliff. It is a little crowded at the time of our visit as everyone congregates on this platform to marvel at this masterpiece of Mother Nature. Despite the crowded, my friends and I were still able to get a good view of Jusangjeolli Cliff. What makes this place worth visiting is the view of the southern sea which seems to stretch forever. The view is especially tranquil and we felt we could stay here for a few more moments. The hexagon coast of Jusangjeolli Cliff is just a small part of this area. We only stayed here for around 5 mins and left for our next destination.


The hexagon pillar Jusangjeolli Cliff


Sun is almost setting at Jusangjeolli Cliff


One last wefie before we leave Jusangjeolli Cliff

Innisfree Jeju House

We originally planned to visit Cheonjeyeon Waterfall, we decided to give this a miss partly due to the disappointing Cheonjiyeon Waterfall we visited yesterday, and partly due to our tiredness after the hike on Hallasan. Instead, we decided to head west and visit the Innisfree Jeju House. Initially, we thought we can do some shopping at Innisfree Jeju House, we were soon disappointed upon arriving. The merchandise on sale is very limited, as though selling their products is not the main purpose here. The main attractions in Innisfree Jeju House are the tea plantation and the cafe. We left after staying 5 mins here and bought a green tea lava cake as well as some coffee. Innisfree Jeju House is not worth visiting unless one has ample time on their hands in Jeju or wanted to try their green tea lava cake, which is quite delicious.

Back to Jeju-si

Although the sun has set, however, it is still relatively early. We took the 1hr drive to Dongmun market area in Jeju-si for dinner and to buy breakfast for tomorrow as we would have to wake up early to catch our flight to Busan the next day. After parking our car, we strolled along the underground shopping street and the shopping street on the surface. Jeju-si is deserted today. There are hardly anyone on the streets. After strolling for around 30 mins (with nothing to buy), we packed some food and brought back to our Airbnb accommodation. We rested early tonight for an early flight out of Jeju tomorrow. In the short span of 3 days, we managed to cover most of the attractions in Jeju. We thought 3 days is just nice for a road trip in Jeju.

Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 2 (27 Oct 19) – Exploring Southern Jeju on Wheels, From Seongsan Ilchulbong to Seogwipo Olle Market

We were determined to make up for the time we lost yesterday and tried to cover some of the places that we did not manage to visit yesterday. The major sites in Jeju are situated to the East and South of the island, with the centre occupied by Hallasan. From my research during the planning of this trip, it seems that there is nothing much of the West part of Jeju, while Northern Jeju is where Jeju-si and Jeju Airport is located. There are some sites on the northern part of the island, however, this trip is mainly focusing on the major sites in the Eastern and Southern part of Jeju. Today is the first day of my driving left-hand drive car in Jeju, initially, I was a little concern. After my initial experience driving during peak hours, these concerns whittle away. I do find driving in Jeju quite relaxing.


Our journey around Jeju-do today

Seongsan Ilchulbong – The Sunrise Peak

We woke up pretty early today and got out on the roads of Jeju Island by 7am. The morning traffic is light, making driving in Jeju very relaxing. The journey from our Airbnb accommodation to our first stop, Seongsan Ilchulbong takes around 1 hour. We were treated to some nice scenery along the way, passing by some tranquil farmlands as though they are waking up to the next autumn Jeju morning. As we were near Seongsan Ilchulbong, we spotted a Starbucks and stopped for breakfast and coffee. I think this Starbucks offers the best view in South Korea and it overlooks Seongsan Ilchulbong. We had a relaxing time sipping our coffee and having a leisure breakfast, with the sunrise peak in front of us.


The Starbucks with a great view of Seongsan Ilchulbong

After breakfast, we resumed our journey to Seongsan Ilchulbong. It only took us 10 mins to drive from Starbucks to Seongsan Ilchulbong. After parking our car and paying  KRW5,000 per adult, we are at the grounds of Seongsan Ilchulbong. Seongsan Ilchulbong is also known as the sunrise peak as it sits on the eastern edge of Jeju Island, a perfect spot to watch the sunrise over the sea. The path to Seongsan Ilchulbong spits into two about 50m from the ticket booth, one path leads to the coast and another leads to the peak of the extinct volcano. The paths at Seongsan Ilchulbong is very well laid, making visiting the Sun Rise Peak a leisure walk in the morning. The one-way path to the 182m peak consists of a series of stairs, ensuring a good flow of human traffic especially during busier times. We were mesmerised by the scenery that the blue ocean and the green mountain ranges unfold during our ascent to the peak. My friends and I constantly turn around to take in the breathtaking coastal scenery. From Seongsan Ilchulbong, it feels as though one is on an island off the coast of Jeju Island. The tombolo that links the volcano to Jeju constantly reminded us that we are still on Jeju Island. The higher we ascend to the peak, the more of Eastern Jeju we saw. We were able to even spot Hallasan sitting far in the centre of Jeju Island as though guarding over Jeju Island.


View of Eastern Jeju from Seongsan Ilchulbong


The higher we climb, the better the scenery

We reached the peak of the 182m Seongsan Ilchulbong after 20 mins of climbing up the stairs. From this peak, we were able to better appreciate the vastness of Jeju Island and the seas surrounding Seongsan Ilchulbong. We took more pictures with the scenery outside the crater than with the crater. At the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong, a sunken piece of land which was the crater overgrown with plants is the only reminder of the Sunrise Peak was a volcano. The crater is cordoned off to visitors and we were only able to take pictures from the viewing platform that was built. Looking beyond the crater from the viewing platform we spotted the Eastern Sea off Jeju, stretching far into the horizon making us wonder what is at the other end of this sea. After 15 mins of enjoying the crisp fresh air and taking some pictures, we started our descent from the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong. One can never get tired of the scenery at Seongsan Ilchulbong. Despite being the same scene, we were still being mesmerised by the seas, the mountains and the vast land of Jeju. The descent took another 15 mins or so. While I went for a smoke break, my friends took the opportunity to buy some local snacks from one of the few stalls next to the car park. We continued our journey to the next destination on our list today.


View of Jeju from the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong


Took us 20 mins to reach the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong


The crater at Seongsan Ilchulbong is overgrown with life


The view during the descent is equally amazing


One last look of the tombolo from Seongsan Ilchulbong

Seopjikoji – The Lighthouse Overlooking Seongsan Ilchulbong

Our next stop, Seopjikoji, is very near to Seongsan Ilchulbong. The scenic coastal drive only took us 15 mins from the Sunrise Peak. From my research, I read that we only need to cater 30 mins tops at Seopjikoji, but we spent a little over 1 hr here. Seopjikoji is landmarked by a lone lighthouse that seemingly guarding Seongsan Ilchulbong. Entrance to Seopjikoji is free, but parking is chargeable at KRW1,000 for the car we drove. We were already fascinated by the beach next to the car park at Seopjikoji. Instead of the usual brown sand, the beach at Seopjikoji is black, dotted with volcano rocks. We spent some time taking pictures by the beach before walking towards the lighthouse. Along the way, we were treated with a unique volcanic beach. The sea seems to stretch endlessly with the sun as its only companion. On the landward side of the path towards the lighthouse, wild plants are growing over all the crater, but in an orderly manner making this place very picturesque. There is no lack of photo opportunities at Seopjikoji, every corner seems to be Instagram worthy. As we were walking towards the lighthouse, we came across a deserted building that resembles a gingerbread house, which served as a set for several Korean dramas.


The dramatic coastline at Seopjikoji


It is a pleasant and easy walk to Seopjikoji Lighthouse


Wonder what is at the other end of the ocean

The lighthouse is perched on top of a small hill accessible to visitors via a flight of stairs. The walk up to the lighthouse is very easy, which took us less than 3 mins to reach. Visitors can walk around the lighthouse to get an unobstructed view of the sea. The tranquillity at the lighthouse makes paying a visit to Seopjikoji well worth it. From the lighthouse, we can also get a great view of Seongsan Ilchulbong. We did not stay at the lighthouse for too long, as we spent most of our 1 hr here taking pictures along the coast towards the lighthouse. It is time for us to leave Seopjikoji and head to our next destination.


Our destination is the lighthouse at Seopjikoji


Climbing the stairs to the lighthouse at Seopjikoji

Jeju Folk Village – A Glimpse of the life of  Jejuans

We wanted to visit Jeju Folk Village, which is located on the Southeastern part of Jeju, on the next day. Looking at the location, we thought it make sense for us to plan a visit to Jeju Folk Village after Seopjikoji as it is along the southern coastal road in Jeju. We drove around 40 mins from Seopjikoji to reach Jeju Folk Village. Parking here is free, however, entrance to Jeju Folk Village costs KRW11,000 per adult. Jeju Folk Village is a huge outdoor museum depicting the life of Jejuans (people living in Jeju island) from ancient time. The village is very quiet at the time of our visit and it seems that we were the only foreign visitors when we visited. Passing through the main entrance, we headed along the road which loops around the village and spotted a path on a small hill that leads us to the Yeongwoljeong pavilion on top. Thinking that we might be able to get a good view of the entire village from Yeongwoljeong pavilion as it is the highest structure in the village. Instead of getting a view, we did not manage to see anything. Nonetheless, it is very tranquil sitting in the pavilion enjoying the cool autumn breeze in Jeju. We did not stay at the pavilion for long, we headed back to the main road and started our walk around the village.


Yeongwoljeong pavilion is perched on top of a small hill in Jeju Folk Village

Jeju Folk Village is dotted with numerous stone houses thatched with straw roofs that were once actual residences of Jejuans since the 1890s. Most of these houses either retained the original stones facade or were painted in yellow. I was telling my friends the Jejuans used horse manure to hold these stones together that form the walls of their houses. One common feature of Jeju house is the low outer fence, with three logs as the gate. Jeju has been traditionally a very safe place, where the Jejuans do not lock their doors. The placement of the three logs relay information to visitors the whereabouts of the owners of the houses. When all three logs were in place, it meant no one is at home, two logs means the owner is going our for a long period and if only one log is in place, it meant the owner will be back shortly. We were in time to catch one of the three scheduled performance in the village, as we walked along the road heading to the performance hall, along the way, we spotted a poultry farm and an orange orchard with fake oranges pasted onto the tree. We entered one of the buildings opposite the poultry farm exhibiting livelihood of the Jejuans as farmers and the tools they used. A building next to the agriculture exhibit is the set location of one of the Korean dramas. At this point, we felt a little boring as the buildings all look the same. We headed straight to the performance hall and watched a performance. After watching the performance (literally just singing of some Korean songs and spinning off some plates on a stick), we started to get bored by this place and made our way out of the village to head to our next destination. I do find Jeju Folk Village a tad boring, visit if one really has the time.


A poultry farm in Jeju Folk Village


My friend inside a shed in the fake orange plantation


Structure of a typical Jeju house


My friends playing a traditional Korean board game in Jeju Folk Village

Jeongbang Waterfall – Where the Stream meets the Sea

Leaving Jeju Folk Village, we continue our drive on the southern part of Jeju-do towards Jeongbang Waterfall. The drive from Jeju Folk Village to Jeongbang Waterfall took around 20 mins. There is ample parking space at Jeongbang Waterfall and parking is free. Entrance to the waterfall costs us  KRW2,000 per person. The walk from the car park to the waterfall took us only 5 mins, once pass the entrance, down a flight of well-paved stairs and a short stroll, the majestic Jeongbang Waterfall is just in front of us. Jeongbang Waterfall is one of the top three waterfalls in Jeju. The 23m waterfall is the only waterfall in South Korea where the stream falls directly into the ocean. At the end of the pathway, we came to some boulders where one would need to tread carefully to get nearer to the waterfall. There were quite a lot of people trying to get a shot with the waterfall at the time of our visit, however, few were willing to venture nearer to the waterfall where the most spectacular photos can be taken. In order for us to take pictures without people in it, we had to make clever use of angles to “edit” others out of the pictures. My friends and I stayed at the waterfall for around 30 mins to marvel this wonder of mother nature (and to take more pictures without people in it) and left for our next destination as it was about to get dark soon.


Jeongbang Waterfall from the entrance


The sea where the stream from Jeongbang Waterfall flows into


Taking a wefie at Jeongbang Waterfall


The majestic Jeongbang Waterfall

Oedolgae Rock – The Lone Rock

Our next destination today is the Oedolgae Rock, which took us around 5 mins drive from Jeongbang Waterfall. I visited this lone rock some 10 years ago during my first trip to South Korea, however back then the battery in my camera had died off and I was not able to take pictures of Oedolgae Rock (back then cameras in mobile phones still suck). Admission to Oedolgae Rock is free, however, we paid KRW1,000 for parking our car at the car park. Leaving the car park, we walked around 5 mins through a well-paved section of the coastal forest to reach the Oedolgae Rock viewing platform. There she is, the 20m lone rock emerging from the sea, there are some trees growing on top of the rock. Oedolgae Rock is a lava rock formed by a volcanic eruption 150,000 years ago. Through the ages and the forces of mother nature, wave erosion on this lava rock separated it from the main coastline.  We couldn’t have picked a better timing to arrive at Oedolgae Rock, we were treated with a spectacular view of the Oedolgae Rock draped with the orange sky, the crowd is also very thin at this time, giving us the enjoyment of a tranquil view of the sea where the rock sits. As we were taking photos, we spotted a trail that seems to lead to the cliff across from the viewing platform. The walk along the coast took us around 10 mins, it is here where we were treated with more stunning views of the Oedolgae Rock. My friends and I did not stay here for too long as we wanted to make it to our final destination for today before it closes.


Oedolgae Rock near sunset


Wefie at the Oedolgae Rock viewing platform


A different angle of Oedolgae Rock


This is the part of the coast that I did not get to visit the last time I was here


The sun setting over the sea at Oedolgae Rock


Taking wefie at Oedolgae Rock

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall – The Waterfall in the Park

The drive to Cheonjiyeon Waterfall took around 5 mins. There is a huge car park in front of the entrance to the waterfall. Parking is free and the admission to the waterfall costs KRW2,000 per person. It was about to get dark at the time of our arrival, we did a quick check and found that the waterfall is still open. Rather than calling it a waterfall where one would walk a short path to the waterfall, Cheonjiyeon felt more like a park with the waterfall at the end of the park. At the end of the 7 mins walk from the entrance, the 12m wide, 22m tall Cheonjiyeon Waterfall lies at the end of the footpath waiting for visitors to catch a glimpse. We were a tad disappointed with Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, as it does not look as majestic compared to Jeongbang Waterfall. Maybe it is due to the fact that visitors can only view the waterfall from a distance and perhaps due to the fact that it is already dark at the time we were there. Either way, we felt Jeongbang Waterfall is a better choice compared to Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. We did not stay for too long and left after taking some pictures.


Cheonjiyeon Waterfall


Taking wefie at Cheonjiyeon Waterfall


The garden where Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is located

Dinner at Seogwipo

We left Cheonjiyeon Waterfall and search for dining options around in Seogwipo. As I wanted to have bibimbap for dinner, did a quick search on google and found a restaurant nearby that seem to serve bibimbap. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were told that they only serve vegetarian bibimbap. The very friendly staff understood what we wanted and gave us some directions for more dining options nearby. Following the directions given by the restaurant staff, we found ourselves to Seogwipo Olle Market. We almost strike this place out from our list of places to visit in Jeju due to time constraint, but fate brought us here incidentally. Seogwipo Olle Market is bustling with life at this time of the day (or night). It seems like people from Seogwipo is all gathered here for the night market. There are numerous stalls in Seogwipo Olle Market selling seafood, with some selling fruits and vegetable. We walked in the market in search of dining options to find ourselves ended up having Korean BBQ for dinner. As we had a long day today, we walked around Seogwipo Olle Market a little after dinner and head back to our Airbnb accommodation to rest for the night and prepare for the next highlight of this trip, trekking up Hallasan.


We ended up having Korean BBQ for dinner at Seogwipo Olle Market

Jeju/Busan/Seoul Day 1 (26 Oct 19) – Start of Our Adventure in the Land of Kimchi

My last trip to South Korea was three years ago. That time my friend and I restricted ourselves to Seoul and some of the provinces nearby Seoul. Incidentally, as I was browsing through my blog, I realised that the first time I visited South Korea was in 2009, some 10 years ago. At the end of my blog, I wrote that one of these days I would return to South Korea and explore other parts of the country on a free and easy trip. Here we are, some 10 years later, I actually returned to South Korea and planned to visit other parts of the country. As I was telling my friends, the theme of this trip is Experience. We will be experiencing things that we have not done before. Our journey will bring us to three major stops in South Korea, Jeju, Busan and Seoul. The best way to visit Jeju is to drive around. This is my first experience – driving on the left-hand drive in a country that I hardly know their language. This trip is going to be interesting.


My friends and I getting ready to board our overnight flight that bound for Incheon, South Korea


Getting comfortable on our flight to Incheon

Arrival At Incheon Airport  –  Gateway to South Korea

After an overnight flight from Singapore, our flight landed slightly ahead of time. Just when we thought we had more time for our connecting flight to Jeju, we met with a snaking queue at the immigration which resulted in only 30 mins ahead of our planned timing. Our flight from Gimpo Airport, where domestic flights in South Korea departs, to Jeju was brought forward by 15 mins, I was a little concern that we might not make it in time for the onward flight.

After clearing custom and collecting our luggage, we originally wanted to get SIM cards for our travels in South Korea, the KAL limousine bus to Gimpo Airport leaves in 10 mins. We changed our plan and rush for the bus instead of getting the SIM cards, thinking that we will be able to get some at Gimpo Airport. Travellers can take either the train or the limousine bus to Gimpo Airport. The train option is half the price of that of the bus option and takes only 45 mins vis-a-vis 1 hour by bus. We opted for the bus as it meant resting on the bus all the way to Gimpo Airport. Several buses are operating between the two airports, we went for the service operated by Korean Air, which departs from entrance number 4. The bus departs at 10.55am, with mere minutes to spare, my friends and I quickly bought our tickets and made our way to Gimpo Airport.

Our First Destination in South Korea – The Volcanic Province of Jeju

The bus pulled into Gimpo Airport at 11.40am, which was 15 mins ahead of time. We proceeded to Level 2 where the check-in counters are located. We had no problems looking for Korean Air counters and got ourselves checked in for our flight to Jeju. Having some time left, we inquired at the information counter to see if we can buy some SIM cards. However, to our dismay, we were informed that we will not be able to get SIM cards in Gimpo Airport and only do so in Jeju. Before our flight, we headed to a food court on level 3 of the airport terminal for brunch. There were a lot of food options at the food court, ranging from Japanese to Western and Korean cuisines. It took us 10 mins to decide what to eat. The food was inexpensive and tasted great. After having our food, we noticed we only have 30 mins before our flight departs and made our way to the boarding gate. Soon we found ourselves on the flight bound for Jeju. We managed to get some rest on the 80 mins flight.

Our flight touched down at 2.40pm. After collecting our luggage, we hunted in the terminal building for SIM cards and were able to get some. We then headed to the car rental counters to collect our rented car but was told that our car collection is at another location, 15 mins bus ride from Jeju Airport. We were given instructions on where the complimentary shuttle is and made our way to the bus. We planned to visit some of the sites in Southern Jeju today, however, we were delayed when we collected our car. Apparently, the car that we were initially assigned seems to be problematic during our walkthrough with the staffs. It took them 35 mins to bring us another car. It is already 4pm when we headed to our Airbnb accommodation. We were further delayed on our way to our accommodation as we keyed in the wrong address. I had to drive carefully in Jeju as this is the first time I am driving left-hand drive car. We reached our accommodation at 5pm, which is too late for us to visit any sites in Jeju. After settling down and freshening up, we make do with the rest of our time in Jeju today and checked out Dongmun Night Market, which I have visited 10 years ago.


A wefie in Jeju Airport after collecting our luggage

Downtown Jeju – Black Pork Street and Dongmun Night Market

The drive to Jeju-si from our accommodation took around 30 mins. We spent a considerable amount of time looking for a carpark lot as it was a weekend and all the carparks seem full. After waiting for another 20 mins at the entrance of the carpark, we finally parked our car. Our first stop is the Black Pork Street for dinner. This place came highly recommended by our Airbnb host who was thoughtful enough to send me a picture of the area. Black Pork Street is 5 mins walk from the entrance of Dongmun Market across the road. One will not miss this street as it is very well marked with an arch. The Black Pork Street is where a small number of Korea BBQ restaurants selling Jeju black pork congregates. There are not a lot of restaurants here and every one of them seem to sell about the same thing, the price did not differ much. My friends and I picked one and headed inside for our dinner. We ordered black pork set for three pax. Korean cuisines always come with numerous side dishes known as Banchan, this restaurant is no exception. We always determine if the food in the restaurant is nice by tasting their kimchi. The kimchi served in this restaurant is no exception, it is tasty and well marinated. The black pork is tender and delicious, our BBQ dishes are done by the staff who helped us cook the meat over the heated metal plate.


Arch marking the Black Pork Street in Jeju-si


One of those “we have been here” photo with the arch of Black Pork Street


Sumptuous BBQ Black Pork for dinner


Taking a wefie with our dinner

After dinner, we headed back to Dongmun Night Market where we briefly past through while making our way to Black Pork Street. The Night Market is full of life and seems like the whole of Jeju is here for the weekend night market. Dongmun Night Market is not only a market that attracts tourists, but locals also seem to gather here for the food and the atmosphere. There are two parts to the sizable Dongmun Night Market, the larger market part sells local produce from Jeju orange (which was in season at the time of our visit) to live seafood freshly caught off the coast of Jeju Island to souvenirs catering to tourists. This part of the market is dotted with vibrant colours from these produces but is less crowded. We spotted some people, mainly tourists, shopping in the fresh produce part of Dongmun Night Market.


We are about to explore this Dongmun Night Market, which I have been to 10 years ago

The other smaller part of the night market is the street food part, where most people gather. There is no lack of option of street food here with stalls selling black pork ribs, BBQ abalones, tteokbokki, stir fry beef and freshly squeezed orange juice. One can get pretty much settle their dinner from these street food options alone, lucky we did not have too full a dinner to enjoy some of this inexpensive street food. We did not stay here too long as this part of the market is rather small plus we had a long day travelling from Singapore to Jeju, we headed back to our accommodation to readjust our plan for tomorrow to make up for the lost time today and to rest early as we have to wake up early the next day.

[Accommodation Review] – Theme Park Hotel (Kings Room), Genting Highlands, Malaysia (30 Nov – 1 Dec 19)


Theme Park Hotel is one of the seven hotels managed by Resorts World Genting and is located on the top of Genting Highlands together with other major hotels. Compared to the other hotels in Genting Highland, Theme Park Hotel feels a tad isolated being located in one corner of the resort, opposite the Arena of Stars theatre. The hotel is about 5 mins walk to the central area in Genting Highlands where food and entertainment are located. There was a concert over the weekend when my friends and I visited Genting Highlands, walking towards the central area in Genting Highlands from Theme Park Hotel was a challenge having to squeeze through hordes of concert-goers.


Entrance to Theme Park Hotel

The Room

There are two wings to Theme Park Hotel, we were assigned rooms in the Valley Wing which is a 3 mins walk from the main building via a link bridge. My friend and I checked into a very clean 21m² Kings Room. The room feels small but the clever use of space does not make one feel claustrophobic. As we were only staying for one night, I thought space is good enough for sleeping at night.

Sleeping Area

The room has a simple set up, a sleeping area and a bathroom. The Sleeping Area occupies most of the real estate space in the Kings Room. The king bed is essentially a mattress laid on a raised platform. The sleep quality on the bed is decent, but the pillows are too soft for my liking. There is only one bedside lamp and power points one side of the king bed, which is rather inconvenient for the two guests staying in the room. The hotel is very good at utilising the small space in the room by using the space below the platform for guests to stow away items such as their luggage. The in-room safe is also found below the platform.


King Bed in the Kings Room at Theme Park Hotel


The bedside lamp and power sockets are only found on one side of the king bed


An in-room safe is tucked below the platform

A small desk is mounted on the wall facing the window in the King Room at Theme Park Hotel. The size of the desk is too small for any work to be done, coupled with the hotel furnishes this part of the room with a stool, which is uncomfortable to sit on, rather than an office chair. It seems to suggest that this desk is not meant for guests to do work on, but to place small items, after all, who would want to bring their work all the way up to Genting Highlands. There are some complimentary coffee and tea placed on the desk for guests to consume. The in-room phone is also found on the desk. An empty mini-fridge with two bottles of water in the room is placed below the work desk.


A small desk in the King Room


Mini fridge below the work desk with two bottles of water

A 32″ LCD TV is mounted on the wall opposite the king bed. There are numerous local and international channels available on the TV, however, most of the international channels seem to be blocked past midnight. A luggage rack is placed next to the TV mounting. There is no wardrobe in the King Room at Theme Park Hotel. Guests will have to make do with the four large hooks mounted on the wall next to the main entrance to the room to hang out their clothing. We only used these hooks to hang our jacket and placed the rest of the clothing on the platform where the king bed is.


The TV is mounted on the wall opposite the king bed


Luggage rack


There are no wardrobes in the room only some hooks on the wall by the entrance


View from the Kings Room at Theme Park Hotel


The bathroom is located next to the entrance to the Kings Room. The bathroom has a semi open-concept. One will not find the main door enclosing the entire bathroom. The bathroom has a simple but functional setup. Facing the open entrance to the bathroom are two frosted glass cubicles. The left cubicle is the walk-in shower that is only equipped with a regular shower head, which serves its function of enabling us to shower. There is a ledge in the shower cubicle where the hotel placed one set of shower amenities. The right cubicle is the toilet. The sink area is tucked in one end of the bathroom. There isn’t much space for guests to place their own toiletries at the sink area, we had to shift the bathroom amenities provided by the hotel at the sink area to make space for our toiletries. The hotel provides two sets of good quality amenities, including toothbrushes. There is an opening below the sink where we were supposed to hang the hand towels. There are some hooks on the wall of the bathroom beside the sink for guests to hang clothing or towels. Due to the open concept, one has to be very comfortable with their roommate when staying in the Kings Room.


Our interaction with the staff at Theme Park Hotel is very limited. We only interacted with the staffs at Theme Park Hotel during check-in. The service rendered at the reception was a mix of hits and misses. As we arrived at Genting Highlands at 6am, we proceeded to the hotel to see if there are available rooms for early check-in (early check-in is chargeable). We were assisted by a friendly and efficient staff whom after checking regrettably informing us no rooms were available. Seeing that some of us have brought luggage, the staff proposed that we leave our luggage with the concierge so we will not have to lug our luggage while walking around Genting Highlands.

We returned some 10 hours later, after the official check-in time, to check ourselves into our rooms. There are staffs standing by the self-check-in kiosks at the lobby of the hotel, however, none of them approached our party of six to render any assistance or to encourage us to use the self check-in kiosks.

We proceeded to the reception for our check-in and was served by a staff who did not seem to bother to greet or provide any smile on her face. The first thing she asked was why did we not use the self check-in kiosks. She only proceeded to help us check-in after we mentioned that we have three rooms to check-in and coming to the counter seem to be the most efficient way of getting our rooms. The staff then proceeded to process our check-in which took her almost 30 mins to complete the check-in. We are not too sure if she did that on purpose or the system at Resorts World Genting is generally slow.


Theme Park Hotel Lobby. The hot air balloon looking structure is the reception area where check-ins are being processed


The location of Theme Park Hotel is good but not great, especially when one is assigned to a room at the Valley Wing, walking to the facilities and restaurants at Genting Highlands means a 10 to 12 mins affair. The King Room at the Theme Park Hotel is small, but the clever use of space in the King Room does not feel small. The room is of a decent comfort and seems to only serve the pragmatic function of providing a bed for guests to sleep. For a one night stay, I thought the King Room in the Theme Park Hotel is alright, but I would not say the same if I am staying for more than one night. The service is a mix and not impressionable at the hotel, the only staffs that we interacted during our stay in the hotel are during check-in. Overall, the King Room in the Theme Park Hotel is good for a one night stay.