Last month we spent 2 nights in exploring the volcanic UNESCO island of Jeju-do, and it was right smack in the middle of rainy season so it felt as it if was raining or drizzling every single moment of the day we were there. In the mornings I was always not sure if it was drizzling or just misty. Sometimes it was both.
Before I left I asked around about what friends had to recommend to do there, and all I got was, “I’ll email you” (2 never did, thanks ah!), Teddy Bear museum, golf, and horseback riding. I found out that Jeju is so much more! There are SO many things to do, from all kinds of museums (there’s even a safari park), to a miniature world where you can see the wonders and other landmarks of the world, submarine rides (at like 4 different locations!), kim chi making classes, a “mysterious road” where it feels like you’re going up when actually you’re rolling down (or something like that, I was unimpressed), and I was so impressed that if you look at a tourist map of Jeju, there are like a zillion things to do all over the island.
Most of all, the island of Jeju is a Triple Crown UNESCO winner, meaning that they have three different UNESCO awards for Biosphere (marine and flora/fauna), World Natural Heritage (for the island being formed by a volcano, I think), Global Geopark (which relates to the volcanic formations), which makes it easy to understand why it’s also one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in the world. This all means that if you’re a geography student like me, there’s just SO much to see! When it’s not raining all the time, that is.
We travelled with a native Korean, so we rented a car and she figured out the Korean directions for us, but I’m sure they must have a Hertz or something similar. Driving around is pretty easy (if I’m not the one attempting the right hand drive, of course), and there are quite a number of international hotel chains, but we stayed in a log cabin at the Seokbujak Museum which was so quaint! We saw quite a number of Korean families at our “resort” with young kids, although I’m not sure which places they took them to. And I’m not sure if I would bring my kids to Korea just yet, unless I know they would like Korean food. And I think to really enjoy and understand all the sights and geographic formations, they might need to be 6 years old? Maybe 8? Heck, I couldn’t quite understand some of the explanations myself.
There’s quite a fair bit to do in Jeju, I think you could stay 4 nights and still have things to do, especially if you want to do lots of walking in the parks. There are some flight connections through Incheon airport, but because of our flight timing we had to transfer to the domestic airport to catch a flight from there.
I feel like Korea is the new Japan. Everyone is crazy about K-pop now, and since the whole radiation thing, I’d rather not take the risk in exposing myself or my kids (especially the kids!) to radiation. This was our third trip in three years to Korea (the first 2 to Seoul when I followed the hubby on conference), and to be honest, I was a bit apprehensive before my first time, thinking that Koreans seem quite brash, but now I think it’s a great destination, and this time was a little disappointed we didn’t even get to go to Seoul at all. Our second trip we even went skiing in YongPyong (or thereabouts??), and there are some good slopes which are easily accessible from Seoul.
Incheon International Airport has been voted the best airport in the world this year, and although I think I personally prefer Changi’s T3 better (at least we came in second!), we always find that there is sooo much to do, and this time we actually allocated 5 hours to lounge and shop and it still wasn’t enough! We just barely managed to get a photo taken in traditional wedding costumes at one of the Traditional Korean Cultural Experience Zone (luckily our flight was delayed slightly), and I love that these last 2 times we were there they had a “royal wedding parade”, with people dressed up in the traditional garb pretending to be part of a royal procession.
Apparently 2010-2012 is Visit Korea Year. Are you going to go this year? 🙂