This is a promotional article for Jeju Tourism Association.
We waited anxiously next to the brightly colored bus stop at Gwangyang Rotary (City Hall) for our ride for the day. All of a sudden, in the distance, we noticed the big golden brick heading our way, standing out clearly in a sea of cars and city buses.
The Jeju Golden Bus City Tour is entirely gold, inside and out. It almost looks like it belongs in a Willy Wonka film, a rare sight in Jeju City. When the doors swing open, we are greeted by the bus driver and a woman dressed head-to-toe in a shiny metallic golden get-up.
Although the bus can be caught at any one of its 22 stops, it departs from Jeju Welcome Center, Shin Jeju, where visitors can find extensive information about what Jeju has to offer.
The 12,000 won ticket gives visitors an all-day, unlimited access pass and the entire circuit takes an hour and 40 minutes to complete. With two buses plying the route buses should arrive hourly at each destination.
The service is brand new, with the launch as recently as Nov. 11, 2014. The buses themselves are very clean and sparkly, and in addition to golden seats there are impressive decorations to mark the holiday season.
All the bus drivers and tour guides were also extremely friendly and helpful, and the bilingual tour guides (most speak Chinese and others Japanese, in addition to Korean) even made a point of suggesting some stops that might be of interest. With this support the buses are intended to be very easy and convenient for tourists from China, Singapore, Malaysia, and mainland Korea. (English-speaking guides will be recruited in the near future.)
Even if your native tongue is not available, one of the best features of the Golden Bus are the headset broadcasting systems stationed at every seat. Put on the earphones and you will hear an explanation (in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and English) of every stop, and why it is important in Jeju.
About 10 minutes after boarding the bus we arrive at our first destination: Dongmun Market in Old Jeju, the historic part of town. The market sells a wide variety of fresh fish and other Jeju-themed goods. We have fun and buy some socks from local sellers, before sitting down in a little shop offering gimbap rice rolls, mandu dumplings, fried octopus, and tteokbokki, a spicy red pepper sauce and rice cake snack.
▲ Photos courtesy Melanie Couchman
After spending an hour walking through the market, we make our way back to the bus stop for our next destination. The bus comes right on time, and a new set of faces welcomes us on the other bus in circulation. We sit down and enjoy the ride.
Just a few stops away from Dongmun Market we decide to hop off again at Gwandeokjeong, a pavilion built in 1448, the reign of King Sejong. It was used as a military training ground and now stands as one of Jeju’s oldest historic buildings.
Next door is Jeju Mokgwana, the Joseon (1392-1910) government offices. With an ARC (Alien Resident Card), entrance to this attraction is free, but even without it is just 1,500 won for adults.
There is a nice little museum inside where we find a closet filled with traditional Korean clothing. We try them on for a fun photoshoot and even with the rain it is easy to spend a whole hour there.
The original bus picks us up one more time, and we head to our third and final destination, Jeju Museum of Art. The outside of the museum is just as artistic as the inside, and the mist over the pond at the entrance gives the visitor a very tranquil and relaxing welcome.
We take in all the museum has to offer and learn about modern art culture in Jeju. The museum bills itself as the epicenter of Jeju art and there are permanent exhibition halls, a special exhibition hall and outdoor gallery. There is also the Chang Ree-suok Hall displaying 110 works by the renowned Korean artist. Entrance is 1,000 won for adults.
It was the perfect end to a packed day of sightseeing. Easy, enjoyable and economical, Jeju Golden Bus City Tour is a great way to see all the city has to offer.
Jeju Golden Bus City Tour
Operated by Jeju Tourism Association
Departs from Jeju Welcome Center
Runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at hourly intervals
1 hour 40 mins full circuit
12,000 won (adults),
10,000 won (children)
(1,000 won discount for online purchases)
or visit jejugoldenbus.com
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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