Sunday, June 30, 2019

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Jeju's UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Walking Above- and Below- Ground

I checked off Seongsan Ilchulbong and Halla Mountain from my "UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Visit" list when I visited Jeju for the first time in the spring of 2018. Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Cave would have to be accomplished on the next visit. Luckily, that opportunity came the following year.


Directions by bus: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 211 or 221 to 거문오름입구 Geomun Oreum bus stop (40 minutes).

Jeju Island has 160 lava tube systems, one of which is Geomun Oreum. What's so special about Geomun Oreum? Geomun Oreum has the largest lava tube system in the island.

Geomun Oreum is open to the public for hiking on the oreum, not in the lava tubes (except a section of Manjanggul Lava Tube, which I will get into more detail later). But you can't hike on Geomun Oreum any time, any day, because hikes are scheduled and the number of hikers per day is limited to 450. In short, advance reservation is required.

Geomun Oreum Hiking
Wednesday to Monday 9AM to 1PM
Admission fee: 2,000 won

There are three trails around Geomun Oreum to choose from:

  • Summit Course — 1.8 km / 1 hour 
  • Crater Course — 5.5 km / 2.5 hours
  • Full Course — 10 km / 3.5 hours

I signed my friend and I up for the crater course. No wonder we were the only foreign guests—the guided tour was in Korean! We made many stops, some historical (such as WWII Japanese military tunnels, and old charcoal kiln sites used from the 1900s to the 1970s), some natural (like a lava collapse trench, and a vertical lava tube). I had no clue what the guide was on about at most of them, but I am sure it was something significant. A few areas we stopped at, thankfully, had signboards with an English translation.

It was a very easy 2.5-kilometer hike: there were no steep climbs and the hiking trail was mostly on a boardwalk. I would probably have appreciated the hike more if they had an English-speaking guide or at least, an English audio guide, or even a brochure.

The highest point (456m) on Geomun Oreum

The ceiling of a lava tube collapsed and formed this "lava collapse trench" or "lava gorge"

The hiking trail was mostly on a boardwalk

Charcoal kiln site (if not for the signboard, I wouldn't have know it was what it was)

Pretty gnarly trees

9AM to 6PM
Admission fee: 3,000 won

The meeting point for the Geomun Oreum hike is at the Geomun Oreum Information Desk, which is just across the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center. For those who don't want to hike around Geomun Oreum, the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center offers an indoor museum, with an exhibit hall and a 4D theater, where one can learn about Jeju Island and its Natural Heritage sites.

While waiting for our Geomun Oreum hike, my friend and I explored Jeju World Natural Heritage Center. The museum staff enthusiastically took us (almost dragged us in his enthusiasm!) to the 4D theater since we were just in time for a show, and though the 20-minute story was entirely in Korean, we did enjoy it!

The Heritage Center is a good place to visit if you want to get a glimpse of Jeju's natural heritage sites but have no time to see (or hike, like Mount Halla or Seongsan Ilchulbong) the real thing. 

Door on the left is for the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center,
door on the right is for the Geomun Oreum Information Desk

Displays of Jeju wildlife, and projected on the background is Mount Halla's crater

A replica of what you can find in Manjanggul Lava Tube

A diorama of the inside of a lava tube

Manjanggul Lava Tube
9AM to 6PM (Closed 1st Wednesday of every month)
Admission fee: 2,000 won

Directions by bus: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 201 to 김녕리 Gimnyeong-ri bus stop (55 minutes) then transfer to bus 711-1 or 711-2 to 만장굴입구 Manjanggul bus stop (10 minutes).

Geomun Oreum has a lava tube system stretching 36 kilometers and includes one of the largest lava tubes in the world: Manjanggul Lava Tube. Manjanggul Lava Tube is about 7.4 kilometers long but only 1 kilometer is open to the public.

Manjanggul Lava Tube has three entrances; the second entrance is the only one that's open to the public. The walk through the lava tube is damp, with puddles here and there (be sure to wear waterproof shoes!). The area is lit and one can see interesting formations caused by lava flow from thousands of years ago, such as lava flowlines, lava stalactites, lava stalagmites, etc. The farther you venture into the tube, the colder it gets. And the reward as you reach the end of the 1-kilometer walk is a large lava column!

The entrance to Manjanggul Lava Tube that's open to the public

Lava column

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Jeju's UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Walking Above- and Below-Ground (you're here!)

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa

What's there to do in Jeju City when the sun goes down?

Iho Tewoo Beach
20 Dori-ro, Jeju City

Head on to Iho Tewoo Beach for a night swim. Just kidding. I don't even know if that's allowed. And even if it was, it was too cold to do in spring. But we went to Iho Tewoo anyway to see the sun go down behind two horse-shaped lighthouses.

Family time at Iho Tewoo Beach

Horse-shaped lighthouses

A tip: If you're coming from Jeju City center, catch the bus to Iho Tewoo an hour and a half to two hours before sundown...because the beach is a 30-minute bus ride from Jeju City. This will also give you enough time to explore the beach (which we weren't able to do because by the time we arrived, the sun was fast approaching the horizon, and the lighthouses were still about 300 meters from the beach).

115-1 Seongyo-ro, Jocheon-eup , Jeju City
9AM to 11PM
Admission fee 12,000 won

Jeju Light Art Festa, Jeju LAF for short, is a cultural space with a cafe and restaurant, shop, foot spa, zipline, and art installations. The art installations are best appreciated at night, for most of these installations are made of lights (thus the name Light Art Festa). It was precisely the art installations that lured us in this dark corner of Jeju City.

There were 14 art installations spread throughout Jeju LAF's grounds, most of them in open-air. The first one we saw reminded me of DNA, except this art installation was purple and was slowly twirling, as if attempting to hypnotize whoever was looking. This, entitled Radiosome, was by Jason Krugman. He had a couple more art installations scattered in LAF.

In a cave-like area, where there was a restaurant, were Jason Krugman's Coral (which, to me, looked like mini trees) and Urchins (like half-buried, colorful, cute sea urchins), Jean Pigozzi's Limo Land (cute creatures lurking everywhere), and, hanging from the ceiling, Lee Byung Chan's Urban Creature (which looked like jellyfish slowly moving gracefully with the water current). All these art installations (except for Limo Land) made me feel like I was in an underwater cave.

Limo Land by Jean Pigozzi

Left: Limo Land by Jean Pigozzi
Right: Coral by Jason Krugman

On the ground are creatures from Limo Land by Jean Pigozzi
and hanging above is Urban Creature by Lee Byung Chan.

Out in the open area were beautiful works by Bruce Munro called Water Towers and Field of LightThe Hut by Tom Fruin (which looked like a colorful glass house floating in a pond); The Pool by Jen Lewin (this was a fun interactive one...the color changes on the area you step on); and three of Jason Krugman's works: Particle Mass (this made me miss watching fireflies), Diatom Cluster (somehow reminded me of a playground), and Digital Geology (the changing colors of these installations were mesmerizing).

Digital Geology by Jason Krugman

Water Towers by Bruce Munro

Diatom Cluster by Jason Krugman

The Hut by Tom Fruin

Field by Bruce Munro

The Pool by Jen Lewin

Every art installation in Jeju LAF glowed more as the night grew deeper (and colder) and I wished we could have stayed (and endured the cold) longer, but, as they say, all good things must come to an end and we soon had to leave, lest we get stranded there!

A tip: Though Jeju LAF is part of Jeju City, it requires two bus rides from Jeju City center and the total travel time would be an hour. With this in mind, do not wait until Jeju LAF's closing time to catch the bus as it might be too late to catch your transfer, or worse, there might not be any buses passing by Jeju LAF by 11PM! (We left Jeju LAF around 9PM and the transfer was at some quiet, sparsely populated area—and the waiting shed in the bus stop didn't have any lights! According to the printed schedule posted in the dark waiting area, the bus we were waiting for was the second to the last one for the day. If we missed that one, or should I say, if the bus driver missed to spot us and would not stop to pick us up, we'd have to try our luck for the next and last bus. Hailing a taxi was impossible—no taxi passed us at all!)

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa (you're here!)
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube

Friday, June 7, 2019

Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of

Convenience store food is fine with me, but when time permits, a nice hot meal from a proper eatery or restaurant is most welcome. Here are some of the restaurants whose names we never made the effort to learn to read, but restaurants we made the effort to go to:

35 Seogwang-ro 2-gil, Ora-dong, Jeju City

We arrived at Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse, where we would be staying in Jeju City, before 1PM and we were quite hungry. We asked the receptionist for a recommendation and he suggested this small restaurant, just a 400-meter walk from the guesthouse.

Since it was already almost 1PM, the restaurant only had one other customer. The menu board was in Hangul or Korean, but, by some magic—just kidding, the staff helped us though she herself did not speak English—we were able to order kimchi stew with pork (6000 won) and stir fried spicy pork (7000 won).

I can eat spicy food but my tolerance for it is not high. Thankfully the stew and the spicy pork were just right for me—enough to make my nose run. A runny nose could not stop me from eating the last morsel of the spicy pork and the last drop of stew. I love Korean food!

Stir fried spicy pork

Kimchi stew with pork, surrounded by a bunch of side dishes

187 Seosa-ro, Jeju City

Heuk dwaeji or black pork is a popular Jeju food. Heuk dwaeji is not black-colored pork, but just meat from a black pig. I have tried this the previous year, but since it's my friend's first time in Jeju, I thought she should also try it. This restaurant, also recommended by our guesthouse's receptionist, is just 500 meters from the guesthouse.

The menu board was in Hangul or Korean, and the staff did not speak English. One side of the restaurant looked like it was a meatshop: there were glass cases of meat on display. We, including the server, laughed because we couldn't understand each other. The server had a brainwave and led us to the glass cases and helped us choose a portion of meat which ended up on the grill on our table. We were laughing while grilling and eating our dinner of pork (but the fatty portion, I did not enjoy much) and a bunch of side dishes. The server kept laughing and looking our way; I guess she was preparing herself on how to communicate with us in case we needed help. It was probably a huge relief for her when the only time we called her was when we were ready to pay the bill, which was 40,000 won (for two persons).

Heuk dwaeji and a bunch of side dishes

67 Samseong-ro, Jeju City

On my first visit to Jeju, my Korean friend brought me to 자매국수 to try gogi guksu (noodles in pork broth) but the queue was long and we were too hungry to wait, so we ended up trying gogi guksu in the restaurant next door. That bowl of gogi guksu was a tasty memory and I figured the long queue at 자매국수 meant they served an even tastier gogi guksu. I made sure to include 자매국수 in the itinerary for my 2019 trip to Jeju. And to go before the dinner rush. Which was the right move. We didn't have to queue, but not long after we were seated, empty tables were soon snatched up. Proof that this place is very popular. And its gogi guksu lived up to its popularity. I wished I had ordered two bowls for myself! (A bowl of gogi guksu at 자매국수 costs 8000 won.)

Gogi guksu

A map so you won't have to prolong your hunger:

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of (you're here!)
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)

When I traveled to Jeju in 2018, the bus system had just been upgraded with newer and more routes, but there was very little information in English. But with a lot of prior research and preparation, I did get around just fine.

A year later, the same routes, fares, and payment options were still in place...

Bus Routes
Buses in Jeju are color and number coded:

  • Red / Express Bus / Route 1xx – travels between Jeju City and Seogwipo City with only a few stops
  • Blue / Main Line / Routes 2xx, 3xx – travels between Jeju City and Seogwipo City with many stops
  • Green / Feeder or Municipal Line / Routes 4xx, 5xx, 6xx, 7xx – covers a small area within a city
  • Yellow / Tourist Bus / Routes 810, 820 – goes to major tourist spots

Bus Fares

  • Red / Express Bus / Route 1xx
    • Cash: 3000 won, fixed rate
    • Transportation Card: 2000 to 3000 won, depending on distance
  • Blue / Main Line / Routes 2xx, 3xx
    • Cash: 1200 won, fixed rate
    • Transportation Card: 1150 won, fixed rate
  • Green / Feeder Line / Routes 4xx, 5xx, 6xx
    • Cash: 1200 won, fixed rate
    • Transportation Card: 1150 won, fixed rate
  • Green / Municipal Line / Route 7xx
    • Cash: 1000 won, fixed rate
    • Transportation Card: 950 won, fixed rate
  • Yellow / Tourist Bus / Routes 810, 820
    • Cash: 1200 won, fixed rate
    • Transportation Card: 1150 won, fixed rate

Fares can be paid in cash or by transportation card (such as T-Money). Fares will be cheaper when using a transportation card. You can buy a transportation card and add credits to the card in any convenience store.

Bus Stops
Major bus stops (where many bus lines stop) usually have a digital screen with English translation. The digital screen will show the coming buses and what time the bus will arrive, but will not show the entire schedule. Bus stops where only very few bus lines stop do not have a digital screen. All bus stops have print outs of bus schedules on the wall, but these printouts are in Korean. Inside the bus, there is a digital screen announcing the stops. There is an English translation for stops for tourist sites.

...but this time looking for transportation information was a breeze because I found a very convenient app (with the option to set the language in English!): KakaoMap.

KakaoMap is very easy to use and works like Google Maps. Type in your destination in the search box, select the directions icon, enter your location or turn on your phone's location setting for the map to detect your current location, and the app will show you the transportation options, including the duration of the journey, fare, and a map to show you the nearest bus stop. (A word of warning: some bus stop locations on the map might not be up to date. We encountered at least one when we were making a transfer. Good thing the bus driver of the first bus we were on pointed us where to find the bus stop for our transfer.)

KakaoMap shows the transportation options with pertinent information

You don't have to worry about finding the right bus stop!

Thank you, KakaoMap, for making traveling around Jeju (and anywhere around South Korea, for that matter), so much easier!!

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019) (you're here!)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube

Monday, June 3, 2019

Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse

For my second visit to Jeju, my friend and I chose Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse, just 350 meters (or a 5-minute walk) from Jeju Bus Terminal, and just 2.6 km or a short 10-minute bus ride from Jeju International Airport.

Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
5 Seogwang-ro 14-gil, Jeju City 63185 Jeju, South Korea

Photo grabbed from

Location. As mentioned, Jeju R Hotel and Guesthouse is only 350 meters from Jeju Bus Terminal. The bus stop for the airport is just around the corner. There are also restaurants (ask the receptionist for recommendations) and convenience stores nearby.

Room. We booked a twin room with ensuite toilet and shower. The room was clean and had a refrigerator (with two bottles of water provided daily), TV, electric kettle, and three power outlets (remember to bring adapters since Korea uses Type C/F plugs). Shampoo, soap, and toothpaste were provided. Towels (handtowel-sized, like what most guesthouses in Korea provide) were provided and changed daily. The room we stayed in was on the 3rd floor so it was a bonus that the guesthouse had an elevator since we had big bags.

Twin room

Ensuite toilet and shower

Price. We stayed for five nights and paid a total of 174,500 won. If you calculate per night, it only costs 34,900 KRW (around 1400 PHP) per night, and that's already good for two persons!

Breakfast. When I booked the room, I opted not to include breakfast. I did eat breakfast there once, for a fee of 3000 KRW. It was all-you-can-eat eggs (cook your own), toast, jam, instant noodles, coffee, and orange juice (same options daily).

Laundry. There are no washing machines and dryers in Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse, but there is a laundromat right across the street.

Luggage Storage. There is no luggage room, but we were allowed to leave our bags at the reception area both before check in (we arrived around noon, and check in was still at 4PM) and after check out (check out was 11AM, but our flight was still in the afternoon).

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse (you're here!)
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube