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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The BEST 7D6N Jeju Itinerary (Perfect for family with children!)

When it comes to our annual holiday, we put in a heck load of thought. The first being - can our little Emmanuel (1.5 y.o at point of writing) follow us? Probably next year. So where to? We shortlisted a few places with our budget - Sydney, Melbourne.. But having been to Western Australia last year, we thought why not go somewhere in Asia? Japan? Korea? We did plan on going to Seoul, but ended up with Jeju. A whole week of Jeju. When I did my research, there are a lot of people doing 4D3N or even less. But we know we wanted a slow and relaxing one, so we opted for 7D6N. And to be awfully honest, it was still kinda rushed, as Jeju has lots to offer.
Trip Summary

With children, we love to do road trips (as with Perth), if not you'll be carrying them around. Trust me. This trip ain't any different. Once we rested at Jeju city for a day, we will embark on a 5-day road trip, covering an entire ring of Jeju - East Jeju, Seogwipo (South Jeju), and West Jeju, before returning to the city. Since we are bringing our 5 y.o daughter, Olivia, we have slot in lots of activities for children, and not to miss out many insta-worthy cafe and scenic spots. Initially we thought of station ourselves in a location and travel to-and-fro daily, but found the travelling time a bit 

Do Koreans speak English?

Most don't. But  don't worry, due to the influx of travelers, most places have pictures, and English (and Mandarin) signs. There are lots of Chinese residing and working there as well. If all else fails, there's always Google translate. And uh, hand signs.
The Weather

We went during autumn in late October, where temperature is around 13C to 20C. The sun shines pretty harshly in the afternoons, so there are many times we just forgo our jackets and just put on a sweater. On hot days, you could even wear sleeveless. Thank God it's not as sweaty as Singapore. But do take note that it starts to get chilly when the sun goes down. Skies go entirely dark by 7pm as the weather transits to winter. Here's their weather across the year for your reference:

Our Packing List

I wouldn't go as extensive as I did for Perth. Pack according to the weather. Food can be found every where and is affordable. An average meal is approximately $10/pax. If you would like to cook or something to-go, there are a  heck load of supermarts and convenience stores. Unlike Perth, where a meal for 3 easily cost up $80, I didn't have to bring my trusty rice cooker. Again, being in an Asian country, rice can be easily found. Yay!

Before the Trip

International Driving Permit (IDP - IMPORTANT if you're driving in Korea)
Unlike many countries that your local driving license can be used, you need to apply for a IDP. For Singapore license, you can apply to convert at this link. It costs just $20. There are two options:

1. Walk-in at their locations (please check their website) and collect on the spot (approximately 1 hour).

2.  Apply online and have it delivered to your house (additional $5.50 courier fees apply). PLEASE NOTE THIS WILL TAKE APPROX 2 WEEKS TO ARRIVE. So if you're in a hurry, please go with the first option.

Download these APPS
1. KAKAO T - mainly for cab/private hire services. It works like GRAB or UBER and you can select cash payment (= pay direct to driver via card). Downside is that you might need to search in Korean if the place is not that well-known, but you can simply copy the Korean address via Google and paste it in the app.

2. NAVER - especially useful for driving and saving key places. It works like Google Maps, but has a heck load of local reviews (if you can't read Korean, see the ratings), and way more accurate than Google as locals will update Naver. We learnt this the hard way.

3. Google Translate - duh. Best function is it's real-time translate via camera - simply point and aim, and the text will be automatically translated to your preferred language.
The BEST 7D6N Jeju Itinerary 

Day 1: Singapore > Jeju City
Only Scoot flies direct from Singapore to Jeju currently, and the flight timings are limited. So we had to take a red-eye flight from 12am to 6am. It wasn't the most pleasant flight as ours is economy and there isn't any entertainment on flight. Nevertheless, once we reached Jeju airport, we got our luggage and had our breakfast, meanwhile Lady M dived straight to their local health and beauty store - Olive Young. We took a taxi to our hotel, Ocean Suites, and left our luggage as it was too early to check-in.
We explored Dongmun Traditional Market, where we had lunch tried their famous hallabong (mandarin oranges). 
We eye-balled what we wanted to buy at Chilseonglo Shopping District on our last day at Jeju as we didn't want to lug it around with us. There are both international and local boutique brands, so there's plenty to shop. Please note that the shop closes early there! We were wandering at 8pm after dinner and most have pulled their shutters.
Check-in: Ocean Suites Jeju Hotel
Price: $110/night for Standard Twin (Ocean view)

Rating: As the name suggests, it has an unblocked view of the sea. Amenities are basic but walking distance to attractions like Dongmun Traditional Market and Chilseonglo Shopping District.

Day 2: Jeju City > Seongsan
After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we took a cab to Jeju Rent A Car, where we picked up our trusty Hyundai Venue for our road trip. To be honest, I'm in awe of the cleanliness of the car. It looked thoroughly polished and cleaned without any scratches. But just to be safe, always read through the contract and take photos of the car (especially defects).

Tip: If you are coming straight from the airport, most, if not all, car rental companies provide free shuttle bus pickup to and fro the airport.

Unlike Singapore, it's a right-hand drive in Korea, so drivers sit on the left which I've driven similar in Iceland. Adapting didn't took me more than 5 minutes.

Tip: Keep your eyes open! There are A LOT of traffic cameras in Jeju. Average max speed in Jeju is only 60-70km/h, and there are many "child protection zones" (aka school zones, I supposed) where you could only do 30km/h. 

The first stop for every road trip is always the supermart. We headed to one just beside our hotel (E-MART), where there are loads to shop - basically a giant departmental store, to stock up on some essentials, like snacks and drinks. But unlike our previous road trips in Iceland, New Zealand, and Perth, there are convenience stores ALL OVER. 
Next we head to Hamdeok beach, where Olivia had the opportunity to play with the sand and waters. Also located here is one of the most insta-worthy cafes in Jeju - Cafe Delmoondo, where we got some breads and tea, while enjoying the sea view.
On the way to Seongsan, you would pass by Manjanggul Lava Tube, but since my lady is not interested in tubes, we skipped it and headed straight to dinner at Myeongjin Jeonbok Abalone, where they serve awesome abalone dishes. Please do yourself a favour and order the grilled abalones (approx 12 for 30,000won =  SGD$30).
Check-in: AirBnb (link)
Price: $130/night

Rating: Superb Airbnb, the host took great care in the details. Location is great if you're planning to hike Seongsan Ilchulbong very early. Only downside is that it's located at level 3 with no lift.

Day 3: Seongsan > Seogwipo > West Jeju
Today will be a full day of sightseeing. The first starts at sunrise, and the best sunrise view in Jeju is none other than the "Sunrise Peak", Seongsan Ilchulbong. We woke up at 5am plus, prepped ourselves and took a short (but tiring) 20-minute hike up to the peak.
Tip: As there is no lighting on the hill, entrance only opens one hour before sunrise. There will be many people, so don't worry about being alone. In the early morning, it's pretty chilly, so do prep yourselves appropriately.
And the view is superb, but as a popular sightseeing destination, do expect it to be pretty crowded even in the early mornings.
After a rest back in our AirBnb, we proceeded southward to the next sightseeing destination - Seopjikoji - a scenic trail with a coastal view (and even horse-riding!) However the weather was too hot, so we kept the visit short.

Next up, Jeju Herb Garden, where my wife really wanted to go. So here we were. Hot weather and ticket pricing was approx SGD$35 for 2 adults and 1 child. But but but. There are a lot of insta-worthy spots which made this worth the visit.
Seogwipo is Jeju's second biggest city and most tourists would set their base here, travelling to and fro. We didn't have much time exploring there, only to stop by briefly before heading to Cheonjiyeon Waterfalls. It costs 3000won for adults to enter, and it's a short walk to the waterfalls.
If you have sufficient time, there are several other popular sightseeing spots at the Southern coast, such as Jeongbang Waterfall and natural volcanic formations, Jusangjeollidae and Yongmeori Coast. By the time we reached Cafe Lucia, the skies have started to darken, but we still managed to get some snacks and drinks before heading for dinner and some rest at the hotel.
Check-in: Sun and Moon Resort
Price: $220/night for Premium Twin

Rating: My wife's most look forwarded accommodation, and I can see why, it has 9.5/10 rating at most hotel booking sites. The hospitality is superb, the manager even rushed down to send us off when we checked out. They also have a phototaking spot featuring a crescent-shaped swing, and a little play area in front for the children to play. Highly recommended.
Day 4: West Jeju
This day we are heading to one of Jeju's most popular attraction, Osulloc Tea Museum
And as a huge matcha lover, this is a must-go. Here you can find a lot of snacks and tea leaves to bring home as souvenir. They even have a cafe selling their hot favourites such as matcha ice cream and rolls.
Located within the same area is Innisfree, Jeju's very own housebrand that has made its presence globally. But why shop here when you have a Innisfree at the shopping mall beside your house? They have limited and exclusive goodies only available at their flagship store! There's a cafe to fix your hunger too.
Don't miss out some photo opportunities there too!
Next, we checked in and rested at our next accommodation at Shinhwa World Landing Resort. The counter staff was kind enough to give us theme park tickets for two days. Kamsahamnida! The theme park isn't that big, with only 5-6 major rides. We managed to cover two ride that evening before most closed by 6pm.
Check-in: Shinhwa World Landing Resort
Price: $160/night for Superior King (with theme park tickets for 3pax)

Rating: Although the check-in took a while, the stay was more than pleasant. The theme park (and water park) are just 5-min walk away, while amenities such as convenience stores and many restaurants exist around and within the hotel.

Day 5: West Jeju > Aewol
We managed to get onto a couple of rides at Shinhwa Theme Park in the morning before we head northwards. The first stop was BaaLamb, and if you're looking for cute lambs to feed and pet, this is the place! 
Adults need to purchase a minimum of one drink (approx 8000won =  SGD$8), while children need to pay a entry fee of 4000won. Carrot sticks are sold separately (5000won for a large bucket of carrots). 
We headed to another top-rated cafe, Saebil, for lunch. And I kid you not, this place is seriously packed. Not only for the food, but for the pink sea of muhly grass. With just a bit of patience and the right angle, you can omit other people (without AI!)
If you're a thrill-seeker, you can head over to 9.81 Park, but since we have our 4yo with us, we decided to give this place a miss, and headed straight to our accommodation to rest. Just because our AirBnb looks crazily beautiful with a lot of attention on the little details. Probably the most beautiful one we've lived in.
What's a better way than to play sparklers to end our road trip?
Check-in: AirBnb (link)
Price: $190/night

Rating: Hands down one of the best AirBnb's we have lived. Olivia is all crazy about the stairs. You get a full unblocked view of the sunset, which happens right outside your room window. Definitely would stay here again if we are back.

Day 6: Aewol > Jeju City
Aewol is well-known for its cafe street, most featuring a panorama sea view. We had plans to take our own sweet time for cafe-hopping, but little Olivia got all frustrated from taking too many photos, so we only managed to head to BOMNAL. This place is best visited near sunset, as you enjoy a cuppa while watching the sun goes down. Just take note of the crowd there!
After a hearty breakfast, it is time to make our trip back to the city to return the car, but first a photo outside our AirBnb. We managed to check in to our last hotel at Jeju earlier, so we managed to catch some rest before heading out again.
We had lunch at the local MacDonald's, and did some shopping for souvenirs at e-Mart, 80% of which are for either Olivia or Emmanuel. If there's something you need to check off the bucket list when you're in Jeju, it's a black pork BBQ! And so we did.
Check-in: Ventimo Hotel
Price: $90/night for Family Twin Room

Rating: Located just beside the airport, this is a new boutique hotel with basic amenities, but it's neat and comfy for its price. You can even see the airport runway from your windows! Here's a glimpse of the toilet through our toilet selfie.
Day 7: Jeju City > Singapore
We had last-minute shopping around the city before leaving for the airport and flying back to Singapore.

Good-bye Jeju, you have been great.

All in all, Jeju is a great destination for family travelling. Our 4yo Olivia love it, and when we asked her, she said she prefers Korea more than Perth. If you are like us, who love a short-trip and some adventure, try Jeju! A lot of people tend to spend 3-4 days in Jeju and the rest in Seoul, but to be honest, 3-4 days is just not enough to capture what Jeju's got to offer. Take your time slow, explore the nooks and crannies, and you'll get to love this island.