▲ Geomun Oreum. Photo courtesy Jeju World Natural Heritage Center
While I often hear about one or two-day visits to Jeju’s southwest and northeast, I was always left wondering about what lies in Jeju’s far southeast. The hour drive along Route 97 can seem like a long way, especially by Jeju’s standards, but before you get down to Pyoseon-ri, the largest settlement of the area, there are plenty of other attractions such as parks, horse pastures and stunning oreum to explore.
This tour I am about to recommend for Jeju Travel visits just a few of these places, but even so there is enough for a two-day tour if you want to enjoy them all to the fullest. So, before you start your journey, don’t forget to book a room at one of the cosy guesthouses along Pyoseon’s coastline, or you could live it up at the luxurious Haevichi Hotel & Resort.
Starting with a bang
In terms of Jeju’s natural history, there probably couldn’t be a more explosive start to the trip than the UNESCO-listed Geomun Oreum. This is the very place where Jeju’s renowned lava caves across the northeast were born and the entrance bears its title: UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. Not only is this one of Jeju’s biggest and most beautiful oreum, or secondary volcanic cones, but it also houses the Jeju World Natural Heritage Museum, an information center, a 5D cinema and various temporary exhibitions.
But note, visitors wishing to trek on the oreum itself must make a reservation two days in advance as daily visitors are limited to 400. The lucky ones who get a spot must join groups of fellow tourists and be taken with a guide between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. The only exception to this is when there is open access to the oreum during the two-week annual trekking festival in July to mark the UNESCO listing anniversary. Such limitations are not the most convenient, but they do ensure that the oreum is preserved for future generations to enjoy.
The group tours follow one of four courses, the shortest taking around an hour and the full course taking up to 4 hours. Unfortunately, there are only Korean-speaking guides, although free English booklets in the information center fully introduce this unique natural wonder. Even non-Korean speakers, however, should enjoy the breathtaking views and beautiful photo opportunities along the way.
Geomun Oreum and Jeju World Natural Heritage Museum
569-36 Seongyo-ro Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si Trekking time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Museum hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2.000 won for adults, 1.000 won for teenagers, soldiers and kids.
Group discounts (more than 10 people) are also available.
Call 064-710-8980 or visit wnhcenter.jeju.go.kr
Take the #900 or #981 buses from Jeju City or the #730 (change to #720 at Namjo-ro) from Seogwipo City
If you have time, it is well worth taking a slight detour to the north of Geomun Oreum and the Daheeyeon green tea fields. There you can not only enjoy fields of green tea — obviously — but also the “eco-tainment” of ziplining or the novel experience of sipping a coffee within a lava cave sourced back up at Geomun Oreum.
Despite the additional green tea museum, restaurant, souvenir shop and ornamental ponds, the headliner has to be Korea’s only lava cave cafe. Inside you can enjoy the fruits of the surrounding fields, including various green teas, green tea lattes, green tea ice cream, green tea breads, rolls and sweets, as well as green tea bingsu, or ice sherbert.
117 Seongyo-ro, Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si
9 a.m. till 7 p.m. in peak season and 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. in winter
5.000 won for adults, 3.000 won for youths, free entry for under-10s
* If you rent a golf buggy for up to six people the entrance fee is waived
Call 064-782-0005 or visit daheeyeon.com
Take the #981 bus from Jeju City. From Seogwipo City get the 780 to Jeju City before catching the #981
28.000 won per person
Call 1544-7991 or visit ziplinejeju.com
▲ Jeju's local horse breed, the jorangmal. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
Getting your gallop on
Turning back southeast along Route 97, you might be surprised by the number of horse pastures along the way. The wide open fields are perfect for the equine and so it is no wonder that a little further south lies the Jeju horse capital, Gasi-ri. It is here that visitors go not only to learn about the island’s heritage at the Jeju Horse Park, but to try out riding at one of the many horse riding centers. Somewhat surprisingly, it also hides what is regarded as the best “duruchigi” (stir fried pork and vegetables) on the island at “Gasi Shikdang.”
Gasi-ri is most of the way toward Pyoseon, and in between the two is BL Bike Park, for fans of the engine-powered stallions, if you will. Not to worry if you are not a bike (pedal and motor) fiend though, as there is plenty here to keep everyone amused, from antique bikes to amazing pieces of art made by the owner himself.
The park houses more than a 150 motorcycles and bicycles and there is also kids’ driving zone for fun and to teach the rules of the road. In addition to many other fun activities, there is also a special gallery, where you can take your place in your favourite movie poster, and a junk-art gallery with amazing art sculptures made from miniscule bike parts. Outside you can even race on battery-powered electric vehicles known as Segways.
▲ BL Bike Park. Photo courtesy BL Bike Park
BL Bike Park
847 Sehwa-ri, Pyoseon-myeon, Seogwipo-si
Opening hours 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Tickets Adults 9,000 won / Children 6,000 won
Call 064-787-7667 or visit bikemuseum.co.kr
Get the #720 (from Jeju City) or the #701 (from Seogwipo City) to Pyoseon and get a taxi to BL Bike Park (around 10,000 won)
Stepping back in time
Upon arriving in Pyoseon-ri you instantly realize its biggest treasure, Pyoseon Haevichi Beach, its wide white sands, the most expansive on the island making an instant impact. At 150,000 square meters, it is the perfect place for families to spend some time relaxing, particularly at low tide with its lake-like pools no more than a meter deep. There is also a popular sand festival every August and Olle 3 passes by for those fancying a stroll at the end of Route 97.
Once you are fully recharged it is just a short walk to Jeju Folk Village. Like the beach, it is also the biggest of its kind on the island so leave at least 2 hours to fully grasp all it has to offer. There are also free train tours for those with tired limbs, although this is not available on Sundays. Being expansive and authentic, Jeju Folk Village has been used as the setting in many films and dramas, including “Daejanggeum,” “Tamra, the island,” “Merchant Kim Man Deok,” “Iris,” and others.
If visitors are looking for a hands-on experience they can also try out traditional crafts at the shops in the village, from woodcarving and calligraphy, to painting, fortune telling and even liquor making. The village is peerless in portraying a vanished 19th-century Jeju and villages have been recreated in upland, lowland and coastal styles, and much more besides. There is even an audio tour guide which has four languages including English.
▲ Jeju Folk Village. Photo courtesy Jeju Folk Village
Jeju Folk Village
631-34, Minseokhaean-ro, Pyoseon-myeon, Seogwipo-si
8.30 a.m. till 6 p.m. in peak season and till 5 p.m. in winter
9.000 won for adults, 6.000 won for teenagers, 4.500 won for children and senior citizens. Group discounts are available.
Call 064- 7874-5012 or visit jejufolk.com
Take the #720 bus from Jeju City or the #701 from Seogwipo City
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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