Ray of sunlight shower your whole body. The touch of soft wind bathing your skin. A sound of waves hitting the shore. All this easily rushes through you when you are in Lombok. Unlike in Bali where the beach is like 5 minutes away from Kuta beach, in Lombok, you get to venture to get what you wish for.
After safely landed in Lombok International Airport, you will be overwhelmed by hundreds of locals offering taxi, transportation, and travel packages. They will most likely to approach you especially when you are obviously non-local there. Some offers are good and some are not. Go through several offers that are given to you and does research to avoid being scammed. Since the offer I got was good, I choose one of the transportations to go to Bangsal Harbour (Pelabuhan Bangsal) from Lombok Airport. The base price you should look is around IDR250K to IDR300k for the whole van or car. A one-way trip will take you around 1 ½ hour to 2 hours.
While on your way to Bangsal Harbour, please do not forget to turn on your Google Maps to know your location since the driver who supposed to take me to Bangsal Harbor purposely drop me at another harbor and ask me to take a speedboat. My guess is that the driver might get a commission if you take this speedboat. The reason I want to skip speedboat is that the price ranges differently. Speedboat cost around IDR85k per person while public ferry at Bangsal Harbour cost you only IDR15k per person to Gili Trawangan.
The difference between them; speedboat is faster and leaves on time while the public ferry is a little slower and leave only when it is full. However, I found out that the public ferry fills up very quickly. Although I have to squeeze in with the locals, I like it as it is part of the experience. I also know many reviews said to avoid Bangsal Harbour as it fills with scams. But, my advice is to buy tickets from the office and pay no advance to anyone. Just give a simple smile and walk away.
Oh, and before I forget, Gili Islands are divided into three separate islands;
The largest and the most visited islands between the three islands. Popular as a party island since most of the tourists come and stay here.
The closest islands between the three islands from Bangsal Harbour. The scene on this island is quite laid back with its local community.
The middle island between Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. This island is the most peaceful between the three other islands. It is popular among couples to relax and have a perfect time together.
And so, choose wisely on which island suits your taste.
During my time in Lombok, I choose to stay in Gili Trawangan. You can just walk-in to any hotels or you can book in advance before your arrival. Getting around in this island is easy as the island is actually not that big. Main transportation here is either by Cidomo (horse cart) or bicycle. Or else you can just walk around the whole island which is not that difficult.
Gili Islands offers an attraction you can do. Some attractions are;
i) Swing above the ocean
Well, what else can I say? This is the most popular spot to take pictures during your stay in Gili Islands and it is popping in all social media. What you can imagine is to have a beautiful picture of you hanging just above the water with a perfect sunset as a background. But, to get this, expect a line to be queued as others are expecting to do the same too.
ii) Water / Land activities
There is quite a number of water or land activities you can choose to do here. If you love hiking, you can hike to Mount Rinjani as the mountain is nearby from Gili Islands. Water activities like surfing, horseback riding along the beach and all sort of watersports are all available in the Gili Islands. If you like to explore all the three islands, you can also do an island hopping for either one whole day or half day. To do island hopping, you can choose a public ferry which will take you from one island to another. Or else, you can rent a private boat. This private boat will definitely recommend places they could bring you plus snorkeling at the best places which public ferry definitely cannot offer.
iii) Snorkeling / Diving
The water in the Gili Islands are much clearer and I can say is the best among the best. The coral, the water and the habitat living in the sea are among the best I had experienced if you compared it to Phuket, Krabi or Bali.
While I snorkel here in Gili Islands (since I don’t dive), hundreds of fish surround me as I feed them with bread. The best part is when I snorkel and getting occupied watching all the vibrant colors of coral reef, one big turtle pass by me casually. The encounter with this reptile is very fascinating. And I can tell you this encounter is not even rare when you are in the Gili Islands.
After spending a whole day doing island hopping, it always a great idea to have a full body massage. All your stress and sore muscles will suddenly go away after having this wonderful massage. Massage in Lombok is common although it is not as good as in Bali. Various massage does available here with price ranges with each shop.
Lombok or Gili Islands specifically is surely the best places to go if your ideas of vacation are to relax and to lay down surrounded with a beautiful view of a beach. Snorkeling or diving, while you are here, is also highly recommended as it is among the best. And I believe because the beauty of its island and their water, Lombok attracts thousands of tourists to come here every year.
[Update December 2018]
After major several earthquakes hit Lombok in August 2018, some places of attraction are badly affected. Lombok is still in a recovering state. Gili Islands are reported to be affected by it too. Please expect several infrastructure damages if you intend to visit Lombok.
Osaka is another part of Japan you must experience. Officially known as the third-largest city in Japan, Osaka could offer you a lot of attractions to visit, cultural places to embrace and historical places to learn.
Osaka is a major financial center in Japan. With its 20 million population, Osaka is the second-largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world.
During our visit to Osaka, we manage to cover top attractions in Osaka. Here are our recommendations for places to visit both in Osaka and Kyoto.
Attractions in Osaka
i) Universal Studios Japan (USJ)
Making a stop at USJ has become a norm for tourists when visiting Osaka. USJ is a place you cannot afford to skip because they possess unique attractions true to USJ only.
Since this place has gained a lot of popularity, USJ will be crowded almost every day especially weekends or if there is a public holiday in Japan. However, you could use this website to show you the ‘USJ crowd calendar’ for all year round which the information is pretty accurate. The link to the website will show language in Japanese. Open it and when translation pop–up, just click translate to your preferred language.
Another thing to save your time and money when going to USJ is to book your ticket beforehand to skip the line at the main entrance. Plus, if you have an extra budget, you can purchase Fast Ticket to skip the line to ride any attractions for a few times.
I’ve been using Klook to purchase the ticket to USJ and to me it is the best option to do so since it’s really easy to use them. What I need to do is to purchase the ticket online via Klook app and then they will provide me with their specific barcode. I just need to scan the barcode using my phone at the main entrance gates and voila, I’m in!
ii) Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan becomes widely famous because of its spectacular aquariums. They display sea life inhabiting the Pacific Rim in a very well-mannered and portray it in a very impressive way.
The aquarium first starts on the eighth floor and will slowly make a spiral way down floor by floor circulating the main central tank which representing the Pacific Ocean. Some tanks will stretch several floors, making it possible to view the sea life from a different angle and perspective.
The last exhibit will take further down the dark area by taking an escalator to see animals in deep-sea like the jellyfish. All marine life in Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is displayed in 15 tanks and each representing a specific region in Pacific Rim.
After spending some time in Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, just walk 5 minutes and you will arrive at the world-class Tempozan Ferris Wheel. This Ferris wheel soars 112.5 meters into the air offering an amazing view of Osaka from the above.
iii) Tsukenkaku Tower
Also known as Eiffel Tower of Osaka, Tsukenkaku Tower is one of the symbols of pride for people in Osaka. This tower standing at 103 meters tall and located in Shinsekai.
In order to reach the top of the tower, first, you need to go to the observatory deck entrance by heading downstairs, pay the admission fees (1000 yen per person) and go to the observatory deck using an elevator on the 5th floor.
There is actually another one more floor up to the open-air observatory deck, Tenbo Paradise. But, to climb up here, an additional 500 yen must be paid first.
The best time to be at Tsukenkaku Tower is right before sunset in Osaka. This way, you will capture view of Osaka from the above during the day and also during night time.
Another interesting thing to do while in Tsukenkaku Tower is to see the statue of Billiken. This charming figure is actually a god that is said to bring good luck to those who stroke the bottom of its feet. So, you will see a lot of it in the tower itself and at the souvenir shop.
iv) Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle is another symbol to represent Osaka. The current Osaka castle is actually a reconstruction of it because of the original Osaka Castle was destroyed in 1615. This castle is visually spectacular creations for Japan and the history of it dated almost 450 years ago.
The castle grounds cover around 15 acres of land that contain at least thirteen structures that have been officially designated as important cultural assets by the Japanese government.
The main castle building located at the center is five stories building on the outside and eight stories on the inside. The castle was built atop of a tall foundation to protect its occupant from attackers.
Attractions in Kyoto
i) Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari Taisha is the most popular shrines in Japan built to dedicate to the Inari, the Shinto god of rice and sake. Foxes are the Inari’s messengers, resulting a lot of fox statues placed across the shrine grounds.
What makes this shrine famous is the unending path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates that span through the hills behind the shrine itself. The walk up to the hills trails up many smaller shrines which go along 4 kilometers and will take approximately 2 hours to walk up. This place has become a trademark for people visiting Kyoto to take a very stunning picture.
Another interesting fact about Fushimi Inari Taisha is each orange torii gates in this shrine are donated by individuals and companies. This is to worship Inari as the patron of business. The small-sized gate will cost around 400,000 yen and the large gate will cost to over one million yen. And you will immediately notice at the back of each gate, they will inscribe the donator’s name and the date of donation.
Kiyomizudera are widely known with its wooden stage that is extended out from the main hall which located 13 meters above the hillside. The stage provides visitors with a nice view and sea of color of cherry and maple trees below it. In 1994, this temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
One of must-to-do things while visiting Kiyomizudera is to visit Starbucks Coffee. Why you might say? Because it’s the first Starbucks located in a traditional Japanese house.
The ground level will have a bar counter with three courtyards. On the 2nd floor, there will be three rooms where visitors need to remove their shoes and sit on tatami mats with cushions while enjoying beverages.
iii) Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion)
Kinkakuji is a three floors Zen temple in which each floor represents a different style of architecture. The first floor is built in the Shinden style. The second floor is built in Bukke style (samurai residence) and finally, the third uppermost floor is built in the style of Chinese Zen hall.
This impressive structure was built overlooking a large pond attracting many visitors annually.
iv) Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest)
Arashiyama is a visual delight for those who came here. Located in the western outskirts of Kyoto, this area has become a popular attraction for a long time ago.
There are quite a few activities you could do around here. Tenryuji Temple, bamboo groves and places like small shops, restaurants selling various kinds of food and souvenirs are scattered all around this town. On the riverside, you could hire a boat that will bring you along the river while you enjoy the view.
The bamboo groves are the best activity you could aim while in Arashiyama. These famous bamboo groves have walking paths in the center that make a nice walk and taking pictures. And yes, the pictures of Arashiyama’s bamboo groves might be one of the most photographed sights in Kyoto.
v) Nara Park
Nara actually not located in Kyoto nor Osaka. It is located 28km east of Osaka and 35km south of Kyoto, bordering Kyoto Prefecture.
Nara Park is a large park covering 660 hectares in central Nara known as Nara Koen in Japanese. This park is the oldest park in Japan since it is established back in 1880.
This place is famous for its free-roam deer. There are hundreds of deer roam freely around the park. These deer are thought to be the messenger of Shinto Gods and have been ‘taught’ to politely bow to human for food.
Sapporo is widely known for its white and smooth snow during its winter season. Every year, this city will host the world’s most popular snow festival named as “Sapporo Yuki Matsui” which commence in early February. Apart from its glorious festival, Sapporo also has one of the best ski resorts located nearby the city.
Sapporo is the fifth-largest city in Japan and the capital city of Hokkaido. It is believed Sapporo is the coolest winter destinations in Japan. And with all winter themes attractions making up the image of Sapporo, what else can we do if we visit Sapporo out of winter season? I mean as for an example, summer in Sapporo?
Temperature in Summer
As for my last visit to Sapporo during Summer, my initial thought about how the temperature will be during summer differs totally from what I have in mind. Wandering around the city with my shorts while enjoying ice lemonade. Little that I know in actuality, during the day, the temperature in Sapporo will be around 20°C and during the night the temperature will get as low as 13°C.
With all the clothes I pack for my stay, it is totally inappropriate. However, I manage to get through it all. Oh well, lessons learned!
Must try food
i) Eat crabs
Crabs are one of the foods you must try while in Sapporo. It is widely known that crabs are a major delicacy in Hokkaido. You could order crabs almost anywhere in Sapporo and it’s really not that hard to find for you to taste it.
There are several ways you could enjoy eating it either eaten it raw, cooked or grilled.
ii) Yubari Melon
Yubari Melon is another brand that is well—known in Hokkaido. It has a bright orange color inside it and will be the sweetest melon you will ever taste.
It is said that the high maintenance to produce this high-quality melon is what makes this melon expensive. Yubari King Melon once sold for a price up to JPY 3,000,000.
Explore the cities
i) Sapporo TV Tower & Mt Moiwa
Sapporo TV Tower located in the center of Sapporo City and have a towering height of 147.2 meters. This tower offers a fantastic panoramic view of the city during night or day from the observation deck. With its majestic view, it is enough to make this tower as a symbol of Sapporo.
Nominated as the top three best night view in Japan what makes Mount Moiwa popular. Mount Moiwa is a mountain located in the southwest of central Sapporo. With a high at 531 meters, Mount Moiwa offers you an observation deck reachable by cable car. They also have set up a “Happy Bell” at the top of the mountain which is a sacred place for lovers.
What I love about how they operate their business is how honest and transparent they are. Before you even buy the ticket or redeem your cable car ticket, there will be a television which shows a live feed from the top of the mountain. You could check from the ticketing counter if the view above is worth to go or not. If the visibility is low, the staff will surely recommend to not buy the ticket and come again another day.
ii) Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade, Susukino
Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade is one of Sapporo’s famous place to visit. This shopping arcade host around 200 shops such as souvenir shops, karaoke bars, restaurants, fashion stores and many more along its 1km—long road from east to west. This street is the oldest shopping streets in Hokkaido and established around 150 years ago.
My favorite shopping spot in Tanuki Koji is at Don Quijote shop. These humongous five levels shop open for 24—hours where a huge variety of items await your picking. I highly recommend if you short of times to buy souvenirs for your friends and family back home, you can just focus on this shop alone.
iii) Odori Park
Hidden in the center of the city that separates the city into north and south is where Odori Park located. This park spans about 1.5 km and an oasis to 92 types of trees which contributed to the increase in the greenery within Sapporo.
This lush green park has fountains, flower beds and serves as a popular picnic and relaxation spot to locals and visitors. While during night time, this park will be dominated by local skaters and musicians who will showcase their talents to visitors. Odori Park is popular in winter, summer and autumn seasons.
Explore farms tour
A one-day bus tour is highly recommended if you want to visit all popular farms without wasting your precious time and money. Going from one farm to another will consume time and money as the farm located quite far from each other especially if you take public transportation. Hence, what we did last time is to book a one—day Furano and Tomita Farm Day Tour from Klook.
Our day starts with a visit to Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park to indulge ourselves in the stunning flower fields. After that, we head to Shikisai-no-oka where we get lost in the colorful sea of flowers, with over a dozen different species. This place has stunning panoramic views of Hokkaido’s natural landscape with rows of flowers that reaches the horizon.
They then serve us with an authentic Japanese buffet for our lunch. This trip also generously includes all-you-can-eat Yubari Melon buffet for us. With our energy replenished, our guide takes us to Farm Tomita which offers us a vibrant color of lavender, poppy, cosmos, and Kasumi in the flower garden park. Inside the farm, there is a Popurri’s Inn, Perfume House, Flowerman House, Distilling Inn and Poppy’s Inn where you can observe the process of perfume are being made.
Our last stops for the day will be the Ningle Terrace. This place is located in the forest of the New Furano Prince Hotel where it’s an area where you can leisurely stroll in beautiful cottages and enjoy shopping in the middle of nature.
It is estimated that 2.4 million people will visit Jozankei Onsen yearly making it as one of the most popular hot spring districts in Hokkaido. These hot springs are less than an hour’s drive south from the center of the city. There are at least 56 hot springs sources scattered around in Jozankei district which hot water at a temperature of 60°C to 80°C surface each minute.
In order to reach here, you can hop on the Kappa Liner, a shuttle bus that departs from Sapporo Station, Odori, and Susukino which offers 13 daily shuttle services. However, this shuttle bus required a reservation before you can use them.
The history of the Otaru Canal started in the year of 1923, where this canal is being used to transport the goods from smaller ships to the warehouse until it became obsolete when modernization of facilities takes over. However, thanks to the locals, some parts of this canal were restored to be one of the leading tourists’ spots in Hokkaido and became popular.
The Otaru Canal located around at least a ten-minute walk from the JR Otaru Station. Walk down Chuo Street towards Otaru Port and you will arrive at one of the three bridges going across the canal, Chuo—Bashi.
The canal makes a pleasant stroll during the day with its cobblestone walkway, retro-designed gas lamps and stone warehouses which bring the canal back to its glorious times. While in the evening, the canal and the warehouses will all lit up and change the atmosphere completely different from during in the day.
A lot of misconception by people thinking Krabi is an island. It is not, people. Nevertheless, Krabi is the perfect place if you wanted to clear off your mind from your work or from your hectic city.
I wanted to share you all the stuff that makes Krabi so famous so the next time you visit Krabi, you can straight away try it.
Krabi have 2 famous beaches you can stay. Both is almost the same. Ao Nang is the main tourist attractions and Railay beach is its sister and has an island feel. It is entirely up to your preference on which beach you like to stay. Or if you prefer to stay at both places why not spend one night in Ao Nang and another night at Railay Beach?
For this part I will enlist all the top activities you can try when you are in Krabi;
i) Phi Phi Island tour
If you are visiting Krabi for the first time, Phi Phi island tour is a must place for you to go. This island is the most visited place for tourists when they come to visit Krabi or Phuket. Mostly when you come here, you can either spend a night on this island or just to take a one-day tour to this island. Most of the time, the place you will cover when doing Phi Phi Island tour is like sightseeing, swimming or snorkeling at Maya Bay, Loh Samah Bay, Pileh Cove, Viking Cave, and Monkey Beach.
ii) Krabi Island tour
Krabi surrounded by many small islands and it is not surprising to see tours offering various kind of island hopping around Krabi. An example of island tour you could take is like Krabi 4 island tour, Koh Hong day tour, James Bond island tour and Krabi 7 island sunset tour.
I still remember ended up taking Krabi 7 island sunset tour. Well, it is not 7 islands but instead of 7 places. The whole package is good since you could go to lots of places in one day. However, the activities in each place rushed as you need to cover 7 places. The time allocated in each place is only around 30 minutes only.
The highlight of the activity is when after getting our dinner, they will bring you to the middle of the sea to see bioluminescent plankton. The light of the boat will be switched off and we are at total darkness. Then they told us to snorkel around the boat surrounded by darkness. At first, I hesitate to jump out of the boat as it is pitch black out there. But the moment I entering the water, I could see the light of the plankton. It is quite a nice scene to see.
iii) Emerald Pool & Hot Springs
If you want something that is not related to the beach, you can definitely try to soak yourself at the famous emerald pool in Krabi. This emerald pool can be found if you go to the Khao Phra Bang Khram Nature Reserve. If you are not taking a tour and decide to drive, you need to pay THB200 at the entrance for both hot springs and the emerald pool.
In order to reach the emerald pool, you need to walk for around 20 minutes from the entrance to the pool. On your way to the emerald pool, you will witness a hot spring available for you to soak yourself into. At the emerald pool, you also could swim over there and enjoy the scenery. And if you walk for another 20 minutes further up from the emerald pool, you can enjoy seeing the blue pool. This place is unfortunately not open for swimming and only for taking pictures.
If you wanted to experience something else, there are tons of activities you can do. Some of them are rock climbing, riding ATV, kayaking, riding a horse along a beach and many more.
There are like over 50+ activities you could do in Krabi. All of it you can mix and match based on what your budget and your time. There is a lot of a travel agent setting up a booth along Ao Nang and Railay beach. Just walk a few of them and search for the best price. They will bargain the price since the competition is high among them. If you found the best deal, grab it and make a booking. Whether you like it or not, I believe if you want to do any activities here in Krabi, it will always a better choice to pick a travel agent as they really control the majority of activities in Krabi. But there is always an alternative if you want to do it yourself without hiring any travel agent. This is entirely up to you to make up the choices.
I read a lot of bloggers who recommend trying banana pancake in Krabi. To me honestly, I cannot find why it is so famous and craving by so many people. I detest none of the Thai food, in fact, I love them! I bet there are many other Thai foods in Krabi that is better and taste good. But for me banana pancake is like the normal ‘roti canai’ that I could find back in my town; Kuala Lumpur which is cheaper and taste exactly the same. One banana pancake in Krabi cost almost THB50 (USD1.5) based on what flavor you want to add while in Kuala Lumpur you can get the same pancake with only THB20 (USD 0.5).
The resemblance is uncanny, isn’t it? Okay. Enough ranting about this pancake. My advice just does not skip this signature food in Krabi. Try this banana pancake once to taste it. If you like it, good, buy another one. But, if you did not like it, then you can try other Thai food like Pad Thai or Mango Sticky Rice which are way better.
Pubs & Bars
Unlike its neighbor, Phuket which has its famous Bangla Road where most people spend their nightlife by either partying and drinking until morning surrounded by a loud noise and crowded people. Here in Krabi, such night is rare to be seen. Krabi is a much quieter town with not so much entertainment available at night. For me, its good news. After spending a whole day snorkeling, swimming or doing island hopping for the whole day; what would be more relaxing other than chilling at the bar drinking and feasting your ears with good music.
Krabi is crawling with pubs and bars. Almost every corner has one. You need to search for which one that suits your taste and preferences and pay them a visit. They will surely welcome you with an open heart.
And so, Krabi is really a perfect place for you to go if you want to take your mind off and to take your body to rest. Enjoy every moment you spend in Krabi and have fun with it.
Jeju Island belongs to South Korea and has long been the country’s favorite domestic holiday and also for travelers. What made Jeju become a popular destination is thanks to its beautiful beaches, freshest seafood, volcanic landmarks, green tea plantations, and its natural world heritage sites.
Going to Jeju is easy since this place practicing a liberal visa requirement. All year round, Jeju has a moderate climate and even in winter, the temperature rarely falls below 0 °C.
This island features a dormant volcanic Hallasan in the center of the island, a 224-kilometer semi-topical forested national park, a coastline filled with waterfalls and the longest lava tube in the world. With all these features, Jeju recently has been listed as one of the new seven wonders of the natural world.
i) The Initial Preparation
Our visit to Jeju Island happens to be between the six of us. Our mission while visiting Jeju is to cover all the top attractions on the island with our main highlight which is to hike Mount Hallasan.
Before starting our journey to Jeju, we did some preparations beforehand. Since Jeju is a visa-free entry for most countries, applying a visa does not apply to us. Our next step is to book places for us to stay and also our mode of transportation.
For places to stay, we choose to use booking.com to search for the best place for us to stay. And based on our needs, we divide our stay to be in two different locations which are north and south of Jeju. As for your information, booking.com right now has this neat feature whereby you can choose either to search for a hotel or apartment to stay during your vacations. This proves to be useful since now you can exactly plan which type of places might suit your budget and preferences.
As for our transportation, we choose to rent a car for our stay in Jeju. But before we could rent a car, some requirements are needed. First is you must have a valid driving license from your original country (if you are from the United States of America, driving permit issued by The American Automobile Association is acceptable) and secondly you have to apply for the International Driving Permit issued by Geneva or Vienna Convention. Plus, they have certain age limits for a type of car for you could rent. As for an example, the age limit to drive a 4-seater car is 21 years old.
I highly recommend you to choose Lotte Rent-a-Car if you decide to rent a car while in Jeju. Booking a car from them is easy and you could get up to a 60% discount when you register to be a member of their website at lotterentacar.net. And if you do have any questions, hit them an email (email@example.com) and they will get back to you in a jiffy. But if renting a car is not your cup of tea, using public transportation in Jeju is also doable.
ii) Day 1 – Departing to Jeju Island
Upon our arrival in Jeju Island, we immediately headed out to get our rental car. Just head out from the airport, go to the right side and hop on to the shuttle bus that will take you to the car rental house. Be sure to take the correct shuttle bus according to your rental car company.
It took us around 15 minutes before we are ready to hit the road and head to check in to our first stay located on the outskirt of Seogwipo. It’s a beautiful villa with an enormous garden in front of it.
Since its winter season, it will get dark quite early. After unpacking our bags and stuff, we go out and found a small local restaurant not far away from our house to fill in our tummy before getting our rest for tomorrow’s adventure.
iii) Day 2 – Visiting Seogwipo
Osulloc Tea Museum
Innisfree Jeju House
Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff
Yeomiji Botanical Garden
First thing in the morning we get our prepared breakfast before starting our first place to visit which is to Osulloc Tea Museum and Innisfree Jeju House. These two places located nearby within each other with just 3 minutes’ walking distance.
Here in Osulloc Tea Museum, you could learn about Korean tea history and its tradition. Inside here, there is an indoor garden, Tea Cup Gallery, Tea Stone, Tea Store, and Tea House.
While over the retail area, you will see a lot of diversity of tea that you could buy. If you are lucky, some of the tea is offered for free and serve as a tester. And while you are here, please don’t forget to try the insanely famous green tea latte and green tea roll cake at the Tea House.
After spending some time in Osulloc Tea Museum, we continue our tour to the Innisfree Jeju House. If you are wondering about Innisfree, here’s some insight about it. Innisfree is a South Korean all-natural ingredients cosmetics brand and originated from Jeju. All of their products are created with high-quality ingredients and sourced from Jeju.
Other than offering you with Innisfree products line, the Innisfree Jeju House also offers natural soap making classes, cosmetic testing, making a face mask, free plain postcards for you to stamp on it and also Innisfree Café.
After spending ample time in both of these places, we head out to Yongmeori Coast. Yongmeori which means dragon head got its name because the beach looks like a dragon jumping into the ocean with its head raised.
In here, you will see a sandstone bed created by layers of sand that have been deposited for ten million years. It is highly advisable before you come here to check the tides since visitors are only allowed to walk along the Yongmeori Coast during low tides only. Nevertheless, this place will also be closed during high tides, high winds, high waves, and any dangerous weather conditions.
Our next stop will be to Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff. This place offers you a view of stone pillars piled up along the coast that is formed when the lava from the Hallasan Mountain erupted into the Sea of Jungmun.
There is nothing much to do other than viewing the Jusangjeolli Cliff and taking pictures of this spectacular place. We did spend around 30 minutes in this area and quickly hop on to our next stop.
Next on our list is Yeomiji Botanical Garden. This place is without a doubt is a place for those who love gardening and photography. Yeomiji Botanical Garden is one of the best botanical gardens in Asia. This place divided into two spaces to explore namely;
i) Indoor Garden
These three acres glass greenhouse have a divided section which is Mystery Garden, Central Hall, Flower Garden, Aquatic Garden, Cactus Garden, Jungle Garden, and Tropical Fruit Garden. While at the center there is a 35-meter tall observation tower in which you could take an elevator to go all the way to the top.
ii) Outdoor Garden
A 24-acres big land that holds various kinds of warm temperate and temperate zone plants in various gardens including Japanese, Korean, Italian, French as well as Jeju Natives Garden.
During our visit to Yeomiji Botanical Garden which is in the winter season, the condition of the outdoor garden was not very overwhelming. Although the indoor garden was still spectacular to see, our overall expectation for this place gets tarnish with the presentation of the outdoor garden. Well, what’s more, to expect for us to have when you have a 6°C temperature outside. Perhaps when it is during summer or spring season, this place was worth the time to visit, if not, might as well skip it.
The last stop for us today will be to Cheonjeyeon Waterfall which means “the ponds of God”. It is located just a 2-minute drive away from Yeomiji Botanical Garden. Before reaching any of the waterfalls, you will cross the Seonimgyo Bridge which means seven nymphs bridge. Cheonjeyeon Waterfall could be divided into 3 sections of waterfalls;
i) The First Tier Waterfall
The first-tier waterfall runs from the floor of the mountain on the upper part of Jungmun –dong and pours which create fall for 22 meters. The waterfall in this area could only be seen when there are rains.
ii) Second Tier Waterfall
From the first tier, the waterfall will fall again creating the second-tier waterfall (30 meters).
iii) Third Tier Waterfall
Finally, the water flows into the ocean after falling from the third-tier waterfall. The trail to the third-tier waterfall is the longest which requires you to climb stairs for about 10 – 15 minutes.
iv) Day 3 – Hike to Mount Hallasan
Our main highlight for our trip to Jeju is to hike Mount Hallasan during winter. As this is our first-time hiking during winter, here is our best recommendation for those who wish to do the same. Click on this link to read further; Winter Hiking: Useful Tips for Beginner.
Mount Hallasan has four to five trails for you to choose from. However, there are only two trails that will lead you to the summit of the mountain which is Gwaneumsa Trail and Seongpanak Trail.
i) Gwaneumsa Trail
Gwaneumsa – Dongneung Peak
8.7 km distance one way
Take about 4 to 5 hours one way
Gwaneumsa is a shorter and steeper trail but will offer a more scenic and making it well worth to get here.
ii) Seongpanak Trail
Seongpanak – Dongneung Peak
9.7 km distance one way
Take 3 to 4.5 hours one way
Seongpanak is the longest trail but it is also the easiest trail to get to the summit of Mount Hallasan, making this trail to be the most used trail by visitors. This trail usually gets busy at the weekend and could be reached via public transport.
Both of these trails start at different spots. Usually, most of the hikers choose to climb using Seongpanak Trail and descent using Gwaneumsa Trail since it is easier using this way and you get to experience both trails in one climb.
We woke up early this morning. Around 05:30 am all of us are already woke up and ready to go. The journey to the starting point will be at Gwaneumsa Camping Site. The night before, all of us agree to choose Gwaneumsa Trail for our hike today. We agreed to do this since we are already in Jeju and why not challenge ourselves and see how far our body can go. It is once in a lifetime experience and we need to savor every minute of it.
Do take note that if you wanted to hike using Seongpanak Trail, the starting point will be at Seongpanak Trail Information Center, which located nearby Seogwipo.
We start our hike around 06:30 am. Although it’s still dark, a lot of hikers already start their hiking way ahead of us. Along the way, you’ll see signage and approximate kilometers on how far to go making getting lost while hiking Mount Hallasan is almost impossible to happen.
Based on our experience, although the official website and all the signage shows us the total kilometer for you to hike Mount Hallasan is 8.7 km, my fitness tracker recorded otherwise. Total we hike from the starting point to the summit of Mount Hallasan is actually almost 12.5 km. Way more than what they claimed.
The first hour of our hike went smoothly. The trail is fairly easy and there are no snows in our ways. After the first 3 km of our hike, things start to get tough for us. Most of the time, we need to ascend and the terrains are getting harder for us. The cold weather added with snows making our journey even harder.
During our hike, the snow falling on us making the temperature drop to –7 °C. With our limited water and food supplies that we bring, it even makes our hike even challenging that what we anticipated.
The first checkpoint before climbing to the top of Mount Hallasan will be at Samgakbong shelter. Here is the point where you need to arrive before 12:30 pm or else you are not allowed to climb to the summit of Mount Hallasan.
According to them, hiking at night is not permitted because it is dangerous to do so. And for us, we manage to arrive at Samgakbong shelter around 11:30 am. There is a small shelter for us to rest together with other hikers.
A toilet is also available here with a heater inside it. Unfortunately, there are no sellers that could be found in Samgakbong shelter. In our imagination, there will be sellers selling snacks, foods or drinks so we could replenish our energy but sadly none of it could be found.
Around 12:30 pm, we resume our journey to the top of Mount Hallasan. Along the way, we met a lot of other hikers who are using Gwaneumsa Trail to descend and using Seongpanak Trail to climb to the summit of Mount Hallasan.
At this hour, although we are tired, we have to push ourselves to the top because after 01:30 pm the ranger at the top of Mount Hallasan will start to ask all hikers to begin clearing the area and start descending from the mountain.
Using all our effort, we manage to reach the summit at 01:20 pm. The view was breathtaking and with our little preparation, we finally manage to arrive here at the top of it. Something that we could proud of.
There is a frozen lake at the center of the crater. The wind blows heavily while we taking our pictures. And right at 01:30 pm, the ranger sounds the siren indicating all hikers to hike back down.
To us, the view from Samgakbong shelter until the top of Mount Hallasan is the best view that we see. At 05:30 pm, we end our hike with the new experience gained.
We believe our time spend to hike in Mount Hallasan could be better if we did our homework and prepare properly beforehand. And if you are happened to be a first-time hiker during winter, please do read the guide here at Winter Hiking: Useful Tips for Beginner, so that your next hike during winter will sail without a problem.
After we had our dinner, all of us called it a day as we deserved an early rest.
v) Day 4 – A Trip to Jeongbang Waterfall and Manjanggul Cave
After getting enough rest, today, most of us are already fully recovered from our hike yesterday. Today is also our last day staying in Seogwipo before we will be moving on to the cabin house by the lake located in West of Jeju Island, Gujwa – eup.
We purposely start our day a little bit late than usual since today our list of places to visit is not a lot. Our aim is to visit Jeongbang Waterfall and Manjanggul Cave.
At 10:00 am in the morning, all of us are ready to start our day. Our first stop for today is Jeongbang Waterfall. This waterfall was chosen as one of the Ten Scenic Sights of Jeju with the name of “Jeongbanghapok”.
What makes Jeongbang Waterfall even special is because it is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. After paying for the entrance fee, there is a platform to walk down to take us to the whole scene of 23 meters high waterfall shooting over the cliff and falling to the rocks below that lead to the ocean.
Just nearby the Jeongbang Waterfall, you can see a group of ajummas under the small tent. They are Haenyeo which means sea divers; diving for seaweeds, sea cucumbers and abalone. It is possible to try and taste fresh abalone sashimi by directly buying from them as they are more than happy if you do so.
We spend almost an hour in Jeongbang Waterfall before we moving on to check in to our second stay which is a cabin house located at Gujwa – eup. This time in front of our house the view has changed to a beautiful lake view that flows into the ocean.
There are a lot of cranes, ducks swimming in the lake adding a bonus to the serenity and peacefulness of this place. Later in the evening at 03:00 pm, we made ourselves available for our second place to visit; Manjanggul Cave.
Manjanggul Cave is a UNESCO World Heritage, which was formed by volcanic lava. The total length of the Manjanggul Cave is about 7.4 km but only 1 km is open to visitors. The main tunnel width is about 18m and its height is about 23m.
Manjanggul Cave is one of the largest and well-preserved lava tubes in the world. Along the way inside Manjanggul Cave, we learn a lot from the information board that is available for visitors to read.
There is various cave formation made from the lava flows such as stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, lava tubes, lava shelves, and lava rafts. At the end of the visitor area, there is a lava column which is 7.6m high and known to be the highest lava column in the world.
After spending some time in Manjanggul Cave, we head out to get our dinner before going back to get our rest.
vi) Day 5 – Sunrise in SeongsangIllchulbong Peak
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Jeju Folk Village Museum
Today, we woke up early at 04:30 am in order to catch the sunrise in Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. It is wise to check what time the sun will rise before planning for the day. And for us, google told us the sunrise will happen at Seongsan Ilchulbong exactly at 06:20 am.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak is made from a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago. The huge crater of 600m in diameter and 90m tall could be observed at the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak.
In 2011, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak is named as one of the seven wonders of nature in the world. Plus, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hence, no trip to Jeju Island will be complete without a hike up to the Sunrise Peak.
We give ourselves ample time to hike to the top. There are two hiking trails available. One trail leads uphill while the other path is downhill.
Hiking up to Seongsan Ilchulbong is not hard. Usually, it takes 20 to 30 minutes to walk up to the Sunrise Peak without taking a rest. We took exactly 20 minutes and get a front view to sit and wait for the sunrise.
We then return to our house shortly after that and get our quick shower before heading for our second location; Seopjikoji. This coast located at the end of the eastern shore of Jeju Island. What makes Seopjikoji different from any other coast in Jeju Island is because this coast is made of red volcanic ash and possesses strange rock formations which are very unique.
The entrance for this place is totally free and the activities that you can do here is to walk along the coast while viewing the nice view Seopjikoji could offer you. The walk along the coast is easy and with the nice view surround you, most probably you will never realize how far you already walk and how fast the time passes by.
Our next stop is at Jeju Folk Village Museum. Here is the place for visitors to learn and explore more about Jeju’s traditions and culture. There are over 100 houses and facilities that were once actual residences are being displayed here.
The Jeju Folk Village Museum displays scenes of Jeju’s village from the year of the 1890s. This place is so huge covering a 4500 – hectares site holding places like mountain village, fishing village, botanical garden, market place and old government building and also an authentic shamanistic rite.
With over 8,000 pieces of folk articles explaining things such as household equipment, farming instruments, fishing tools, furniture, and earthenwares; we learn so many things about Jeju’s past.
Our last stop for the day is to Loveland. This place opens from 09:00 am until 12:00 am so it’s best to place Loveland to be visited last since you could visit this place even late at night.
Jeju Loveland is a theme sculpture park based on sensuality and erotism. It took 30 to 40 minutes to look around the park. This park holds around 140 sculptures and it’s a piece of land art. Although Jeju Loveland always being associate as a site for couples, but for us, it is also best for a group of friends going together and experience the art, unlike the others.
Soon after that, we end our day by enjoying our dinner and ready to get our rest.
vii) Day 6 – Farewell Jeju Island
As today is our last day in Jeju, all of us spend our morning just enjoying the lake view in front of our cabin house while enjoying our breakfast.
We head to the airport later in the afternoon to get ready for our flight in the evening. And before that, we need to return our rental car at Lotte Rent – a – car. The returning process is such a breeze. They only ask about the car keys without any other questions asked.
Our last moments in Jeju are filled with our flashback on how good Jeju treats us and all the memories will surely stick to our mind until the rest of our life.