Nature’s paradise in Jeju

When I posted on why NOT to visit Jeju some months back, some of you disagreed with me, so for the record, here’s what I do like about Jeju.

Jeju Island was voted as one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature a few years ago, and you can probably guess that it wasn’t for the Teddy Bear Museum or Loveland Sex Park. Formed by violent volcanic eruptions 2 million years ago, Jeju is a true geological marvel with natural attractions found nowhere else on earth. So if you’re not heading to Jeju prepared for some outdoor exploration (at bare minimum, comfortable walking shoes, rain protection and clothes suitable for the season) then you’re missing out on the best Jeju has to offer.

Café in the forest

Been really looking forward to writing this post as very few people know about this cafe. It’s in a rather quiet corner of Seoul National University and even some students don’t know about it.

Cafe Pascucci is quite a big chain but this outlet is special because it’s nestled in SNU’s Gwanak mountain campus and surrounded by beautiful pine trees. The counter is on the first floor and the second floor has ample space for you to lounge on the nice sofas and do your homework.

The first floor of Cafe Pascucci's Seoul National University outlet

Hiking Busan’s Geumjeong Mountain Fortress

Busan’s Geumjeong Mountain Fortress was built in the bad old days when the Japanese pirates came to raid the Korean towns. The Koreans were pretty good at building forts, maybe too good, because they built them too big, and were unable to defend them.

Anyway, the fortress has been restored and you can easily tell the difference between the original stones and those that have been added recently.

The ancient fortress wall at Busan's Geumjeung Mountain.

There are many ways to get into Geumjeongsan but here’s how I do it:

Best views of Busan

Busan is one of Korea’s most scenic cities and here are a few photogenic spots that I’d like to recommend.

Sunset over the Busan skyline

1) Dongbaek Sea Wall
Want a great view of the Busan skyline at sunset? Take the Green Line to Dongbaek station (Exit 1) and turn right. Walk down the street to the sea wall where you can have an unrivalled view of the setting sun behind the majestic Gwangan Bridge (pictured above).

View of Busan's coastline and beaches from Jangsan

Where to see cherry blossoms in spring

There are quite a few “Cherry Blossom Festivals” in Korea, including the one in Jinhae that I visited, but I didn’t like any of them as much as I loved the cherry blossoms in front of Gyeongju’s Bulguksa temple. Here are some pictures.

Cherry blossoms in spring at Korea's historic capital of Gyeongju

Cherry blossoms in spring at Korea's historic capital of Gyeongju

Read about a cycling trip to Gyeongju’s historic sites here.

Why NOT to see Jeju

Beyond Seoul, Jeju is definitely the most popular destination in Korea for the average tourist. No tour itinerary is complete without a few days in Korea’s “honeymoon island” and it is often said that there are more tourists than locals in Jeju.

So why don’t I recommend Jeju? Here are a few reasons:

1) It is needlessly EXPENSIVE
Accommodation and food prices in Jeju are jacked up by the hordes of tourists. A simple meal at a homely restaurant cost me 8,000 won when it could have been 4,500 won in Busan. Also, do factor in the flight cost. In comparison, many of Korea’s southern towns, such as Tongyeong, Yeosu and Gyeongju, are just as pretty as Jeju and only half the price.

Climbing Bukhansan

Bukhansan National Park is huge and there are many trails that you can choose, but I’m just going to introduce one of my favourite ones.

Start by taking the subway to Suyu Station (Line 6) and then catch a public bus to the foot of the mountain. (Directions from the official Visit Korea website) At the final bus terminal, lots of hikers will get off the bus so just follow them and you’ll find yourself on a proper road heading up towards Dosonsa temple. Look out for a gate on the left leading up a steep slope into a forested area with a dirt track.

A little waterfall amidst the greenery of the valley below the Jindalle Ridge on Seoul's Bukhansan mountain.

Glamping Under the Stars at Raventree in Gapyeong

Fall has officially arrived in Korea. The season may not be the longest, but it is, without a doubt, the most beautiful. The country's autumn colors, crisp air and cool temperatures beckon its inhabitants to don their sweaters and head outdoors for festivals, mountain hikes and danpoong noryi, excursions to see the fall foliage. Yet there is one autumn activity that has particularly taken off in Korea in recent years that sets itself apart from every other seasonal activity -- glamping.

Stepping Out Of Seoul

Living Life The Korean Way

I’ve been living in Korea for 18 months now, enough time to get over the initial culture shock and to adapt to living the Korean lifestyle. There have been both good things- going out for dinner and getting a delicious, filling meal for under £5, and bad- fearing for your life every time you are on/ near the road because of the crazy drivers.

Here are some of the things I have become accustomed to during the last year and a half in  Korea- the good, the bad and everything in between…

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