11 Aug 2017

The Jeju Roadtrip!!! (How-to guide to renting cars and Jeju Itinerary!)

Last month, Ceph and I decided to pay a visit to my old-second home. Throwback to the days where I used to visit Korea at least once every year..... and right now UK is my new second home as I can see myself shuttling between the two countries since there is still awhile till Ceph completes his degree there...

Anyways, one of the places in our itinerary was Jeju. Deciding between taking buses around everyday from Jeju City, renting a car, and hiring a chartered taxi to drive us around places, we went with renting a car, since Ceph can drive and he can be my chauffeur for 3 days muahahahaha.

Getting to Jeju
There are two ways to get to Jeju from the main island, or at least for us, from Seoul.

1. A flight, from Gimpo Airport
There are so many flights from Seoul to Jeju daily. While we were waiting for our flight, there was at least one flight departing for Jeju from Gimpo Airport every 30 minutes. Do note that flights from Singapore usually land at Incheon International Airport. To get to Gimpo Airport, you would have to take the airport railway located at the basement of Incheon Airport, to get there. It would take approx. ~20 minutes. 

We booked our flights with Asiana Airlines for SGD 93++ (return) per person. Asiana is not the only airline that flies to Jeju though, there are still other budget carriers to choose from. However we seemed to only be able to get tickets from Asiana and Jeju Air via Skyscanner.

2. Cross the sea with a ferry.
This would take you eons to get to Jeju. Unless you would like to tour Busan and the southern cities of Korea, I would not recommend this route.

Renting a Car
There are a couple of car rental companies in Korea. The bigger ones are namely AJ Car Rental and Lotte Rent-A-Car. Be sure to have your International Driving License on hand when you reserve your car online (yes they require it). And also, remember to bring it with you on your trip! It is relatively affordable to rent a car in Jeju. It costed us only around 67,000 won for 2 days, which is around SGD 40 per person. Pretty worth it, I must say!

If you are strongly against renting a car and driving around by yourself cos you're a loser like me who can't drive, you can try to navigate around using the local buses, or book a local taxi/bus tour. A good website I would recommend is Trazy, they offer bus tours and taxi tour recommendations so do check out their page! (not a sponsored post)

Collecting the car
When you arrive in Jeju, the car rental counters are on your right. If you are coming from elsewhere, the car rentals are at the arrival hall. (Unless you came out from somewhere else or some volcano hole then idk how to help you) 

Head to the counter with the glowing sign if you booked yours from AJ. Lotte Rent-A-Car is on the left of AJ's counter. And there is also Jeju Rental Car on the right of AJ. (Heh my Korean Level 1 helps eh?)

They will give you this paper at the counter. Just follow the instructions. The Rent-A-Car house is a grey building that I didnt manage to take a picture of as I was pushing my bigass luggage in the sweltering midday sun so pls be understanding. But basically, its just a grey-coloured building with the words "RENT-A-CAR" plastered really big so it can't be missed.

Get there, find the bus that belongs to your rental car company, and board it. It will bring you to your rental car collection point. We got our car in less than 20 minutes! And oh yes, we rented a Chevrolet Spark hehe. Comes with a sunroof for me to stick a GoPro out like a suaku. Also, music could be played from your phone with either the bluetooth or the USB cable.

About Rental Cars in Korea (or at least the Chevrolet Spark) and driving in Jeju

1. Global Positioning System, or Gou Pi System?

There are two types of GPS available in Korea – Korean and English. I'm pretty sure we got the Korean one as the location names were all in Korean, and I guess Ceph wanted to test mine (and also his) abilities to speak Korean.... -.- Anyway, if you would like an English GPS, it is an added cost. 

Thankfully, the Korean GPS has the function where the navigation system speaks in English, if not we would be doomed. Other than that, all the options are in Korean, so we had to play some guessing games here and there. Before we set off, a representative from AJ Rental Cars taught us how to search for the locations using their telephone numbers, so it would be handy to have the telephone numbers and Korean names of the places you would like to visit already on hand.

^ example of a kiasu Singaporean traveller

However, for some slightly more obscure locations that we visited, like Yongmeori Coast, there was no telephone number. So we had to manually key in the Korean name of the destination. (용머리해안 - reads Yong Meo Ri Hae An

For EVEN more obscure destinations like this guesthouse that we booked (Atopension), neither the telephone number of the guesthouse or the Korean name worked. So, we had to find the nearest landmark to the destination that appeared on our GPS and navigate there. And upon approaching that landmark, we switched to using Naver Maps on my phone to navigate. It was pretty annoying as that shows the system isn't 100% reliable so 1. Go learn some Korean 2. Have Naver Maps/Kakao Maps ready on your phone. And also, there are SO MANY humps on the road that are of the same colour as the road..... We probably went 10 over humps without warning and ughhhhhh....

2. Rabzkebabz Reckless Driving
It is so cliche that with all the speed cameras put in place in Jeju, the roads should be safe, but NO it totally wasn't. We met countless drivers that were so recklessly cutting lanes, running red lights like "f**k the popo", drivers who are tourists that probably are so shitty at driving they shouldn't be on the roads but they are still driving. Smaller lanes in the city weren't demarcated a direction, so cars can just be coming from the opposite direction in your lane and you have to find a way to dodge/reverse. 

Traffic was the WORST at the area near G-Dragon's cafe at Aewol Coastal area as it was just a super narrow two way lane (I wouldn't even call it a proper road) and cars were just fighting to turn in and out, and parking spaces weren't clearly demarcated too. 

All in all, it was mania. So just get the maximum insurance you could for your car. 

3. Petrol Costs
As with most rental car companies, the company would charge you extra if you don't return your car with a full tank (or at least the meter shows that the petrol is still at full tank). Petrol is pretty expensive in Jeju for about 4,000 won for 1/8 of a tank. So just do the math. I don't drive back in SG so Idk the cost of petrol back at home, but 32,000 won for a full tank sounds damn bloody expensive to me.

Planning the itinerary
As we had only 2 full days (Well sort of) to the car, we had to rush through most of the places sadly. We split our itinerary up to tour the North-East on the first day after collecting the car at noon, South and a bit of the South-west on the second, and then the North-West on the third day before we returned the car. The good thing about Jeju is that the places are relatively close-by and drive durations usually would not exceed 45 minutes.

The weather was stormy when we collected the car, so the only sheltered place we could think of going in the North-East was the Manjanggul Cave with the lava tunnels. So we headed there instead of the initial plan to visit the Sangamburi Crater. With that said, do always be prepared for wet weather when you visit Jeju, especially during the monsoon season in July. 

It was sunny for the rest of the days so we continued our itinerary as usual. However we sort of left a little too late on the last day so we couldn't make it to Yongduam Rock. But its fine as I think Ceph was a little sick of seeing rock formations already hahaha.

Places we went

1. Manjanggul Cave (만장굴)

I wouldn't say I was in awe by this UNESCO heritage site as I have been to other caves that were more impressive looking. Basically, Manjanggul Cave is a lava tunnel that is approx. 13.2km long, but only 1km is opened to public. Besides seeing the stalactites, there are also bats in the cave (which I did not see or hear any). At the end of walking 1km deep into the tunnel, we saw this:

I guess we didn't do much research on the place as we thought after walking 1km, we would reach the other end of the tunnel and could exit.  NO..... we had to walk another 1km back from where we started, as the entrance was also the exit. If you were to ask me, "Is it worth it to walk 1km to see that stone structure?", I would answer you with a definite "No."

Nonetheless, the rain stopped for the day after we came out of the cave. So that was some time well spent I suppose, instead of waiting it out in the car or driving around aimlessly in the rain.

Admission to Manjanggul Cave is 1,000 won, while parking is free.

2. Seopjikoji (섭지코지)

Seopjikoji is the end of the eastern shore of Jeju. "Seopji" was the old name was this place. while "koji" is Jeju dialect for a bump in the land. Hence, it means there is a bump in this place? Haha. We took a chill evening walk to the lighthouse, before walking back to our car. There's still a road leading to more bumps beyond the lighthouse but we didn't venture beyond that...

The coastal walk at Seopjikoji provided nice views of Jeju's east coast, and also, you could even see the Seongsan Sunrise Peak in the distance! I suppose you could walk there from Seopjikoji if you wanted to? It was a 10 minute drive away anyways.

The weather was reaaaaaally humid when we went. The rain made us feel even stickier from the humidity in the air + the heat, arghhhh. Worst combination ever. When we got to Seoul, even the wind that blows is hot! That really made me appreciate Singapore's weather much more. At least when the wind blows back home, it's cooling.

 ^ thats me struggling to get on top the breakwater-ish thing lol fail

Admission is free, but parking costs 500 won.

3. Seongsan Sunrise Peak (성산일출봉)

Basically, one visits the Sunrise Peak to catch the sunrise (since it is situated in the east) and check out the crater at the peak. The crater is not so much of a beauty, but the real beauty is the views of the sea and coastline around the sunrise peak.

I think my lifespan dropped by ten years after climbing up Seongsan Sunrise Peak... Though on the way we saw many other couples in the same situation as us, where the boyfriend is encouraging the girlfriend to keep climbing. One of them even played the "Eye of the Tiger" song for the girlfriend, hahaha.

A part of me wonders how I climbed up this peak years ago when I was in Sec 3 with boots that are unfriendly for climbing. Maybe cos I was young and fit then, and maybe because I did it in winter. But up till now, I still have no fate to see Seongsan Sunrise Peak in the full glory on a sunny day as I am always here on a rainy day :/

Admission is 2,000 won, and parking is free.

^ ded

4. Soessokak Estuary (쇠서깍)

It was supposed to be an exciting morning at Soessokak Estuary and we got there slightly late at 1030, hoping to still get some time to canoe at the estuary.... Alas, the rental shop was closed?!?!?!?!?!? What is going on... It was supposed to be opened at 9am?!

Nonetheless we still got some decent views at the pebble beach. During the summer season, the insects that reside by the coastline will ALL emerge. Not sure why though. But I saw a colony of them near the river mouth of the estuary and started shrieking like an idiot as they were approaching the higher ground that I was standing on to snap photos and I didn't know how to get down (loser situation #666) 

Both admission and parking is free.

5. Jusangjeolidae (주상절리대)

After a disappointing morning at Soessokak Estuary, and a not very decent Jeju Black Pork lunch, the Korean winds brought us to Jusangjeollidae, which is a coastline of rock pillars piled up against each other. It was formed from lava when Hallasan, the tallest mountain in Korea (which is situated in Jeju), erupted. These rock formations are similar to the ones seen at Black Sand Beach (I almost typed bitch) in Vik, Iceland. 

Pretty impressive, though I wished I could get closer to the rock formations or climb onto it to take a picture or something haha. 

Admission is 2,000 won while parking is free.

6. Yongmeori Coast (용머리해안)

Aish, this beautiful place. I wished I stayed longer. Yongmeori Coast is actually the coastline at the foot of Sanbangsan, or Sanbang Mountain, where Sanbangsan stretches into the ocean. According to the description, it looks like a "dragon's head is going underwater". Nope, I totally couldn't tell that out. 

It was a pity we did not have time to go up Sanbangsan, then hike down to the coastline. But that would take a few hours, and we didn't have that time. :/ However, the time-saver in me tells me that walking along the coastline is enough :) I have never seen such beautiful rock formations before, and thanks to Faith, who recommended me this place! (Or more like I saw it on her Instagram and asked her where was that) It is probably through thousands of years of erotion by the ocean water that caused this rock formation (heh o level geog knowledge coming through) And also, aunties selling fresh seafood set up their tents (pojangmacha) along the rocks, so if you are daring, go try some!

Admission is 1,000 won, parking is free. (1,000 won WELL SPENT)

8. O' Sulloc Museum/Innisfree House

This is my second favourite place in Jeju officially, after Yongmeori Coast. The O'Sulloc Tea Museum's main attraction is the museum shop and cafe, and also the green tea plantation at the back of the museum for the 'gram. 

Total damage done was around 23,000 won for 2 Iced O'Sulloc Matcha Lattes, Green Tea Soft Serve, and a slice of Green Tea Roll. I loved the Green Tea Soft Serve as it went really well with the Matcha Latte, but the Green Tea roll was a tad bit dry. I also purchased the famous Green Tea Milk Spread and I would 10/10 repurchase it as it is so good and so creamy. Yum.

Crossing over from the back of O'Sulloc Museum would lead you to the Innisfree House, where you could shop for Innisfree's skincare products, indulge in food and drinks at the Innisfree Cafe and also partake in a soap making workshop! As both O'Sulloc and Innisfree House closes at 6pm daily, they would encourage you to start on the soapmaking latest by 5.30pm. So do arrive before that! A soap-making kit costs 12,000 won and you could choose from Volcano, Green Tea or Jeju Tangerine (Hallabong) scents for your soap!

I chose the Green Tea scented soap kit. Each kit contains 3 soap bars for you to mould into your desired shape. At every workstation there is an ipad equipped with English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese instructions to guide you through each step of the soap making process. My soap looks like shit so I shall not show you heh. #failedartstudent

After we were done with our Innisfree business, the tea plantations were just right outside the Innisfree House! As the sun was setting, the lighting was perfect for us to snap some pictures so... now you know how to plan your journey around this amazing place for shopping+eating+soap-making! This place provided a perfect end to day 2 of driving around in Jeju. 

Admission and parking is free, but do prepare for a big damage.

^ I told him to "Act like you are the new Innisfree ambassador"

7. Cafe Aewol Monsant (G-Dragon Cafe)

We didn't plan for this in the itinerary but since we could not find anywhere better along the Aewol Coastal Drive to chill before returning the car, we came here. And also, my boyfriend is a bigger G-Dragon fan than I am. (He got 100/100 singing "Who You" at the KTV in Seoul, say what?) 

As I mentioned above, this cafe is an absolute bitch to get to, if you drive, as parking spaces are limited and the road to that corner of Aewol Coastal Area is very narrow. After parking, there are no clear signs of how to get to Cafe Aewol Monsant and we found it with the help of a waiter at the cafe located at the entrance of the coastal walk. 

So now I'm gonna teach you how to get yo ass to the G-Dragon Cafe:

Upon arriving at the cafe, you will be very distracted by the exterior of the cafe which works like a mirror. But do take note that if you make an embarrassing pose, the people inside the cafe can see you VERY clearly. 

^ Cherry Discotheque aesthetix anyone?

^ Damage for a Rooibos tea (that was perfect for the sweltering weather) and Hallabong (Jeju Tangerine) cake was around 16,500 won, which is about the price that you pay for a cake and a tea back home too. The Hallabong cake was really refreshing and goes very well with the fruity rooibos tea! Good job G-Dragon, your cafe isn't a scam heh heh heh. Besides tea and desserts, they do serve brunch too! So go check it out if you have the stomach hehe.

Final Thoughts
All in all, it was a good 3 days in Jeju though we both wished we had more time to venture around. Maybe we shall spend 5 days there next time? Heh I think we'll both be bored to death by Day 4.  But anyways, hope you enjoyed this guide! Sorry I took so long, and I promise the next guide will be out before I start my FINAL YEAR OF UNIVERSITY!!!!!! /shudders/

Stay outruigeous!


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