Seogwipo is the second largest, and main tourist city in Jeju Special Autonomous Province, South Korea.
Technically covering the entire south side of the Jeju island, Seogwipo in its present division was formed in 2006. The city itself consists of a rather small urban centre and port on the coast, directly south of Jeju's most prominent landmark: Mt. Halla. However, urban sprawl has seen it extend in a thin strip along the coast westwards up to the township of Jungmun and some of the coastal villages beyond.
Seogwipo claims the Jeju International Convention Centre and the Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex with Jeju's fanciest accommodation. Furthermore as one of the many co-hosts of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, it holds the island's only stadium.
Being spread out along a coastline made out of columnar basalt cliffs and beaches intercheangably makes it a somewhat unusual visit. A coastal wander may see you strolling across a busy summer beach one moment and sheepishly striding through incredibly swank hotel grounds the next. Yet equally likely, one could end up traversing rocks alongside sheer cliffs, dark caves and beautiful waterfalls.
Seogwipo harbour, as seen from downtown.
Buses run from Jeju city on the other side of the island. Seogwipo is a main hub for buses for the southern side of Jeju island. Therefore the majority of buses running on this side of the island pass through Seogwipo.
From Jeju beach/downtown area, get bus 100 to the bus terminal. From there, buses leave every 10minutes to Seogwipo. 3,300won takes about an hour
- The Airport Limousine (route #600) bus runs from Jeju International Airport to Seogwipo every 15 to 20 minutes. Journey time is about an hour and 20 minutes. Cost is 5500 Won per person (June 2015). It makes stops at about 10 locations, including all the five-star hotels in the Jungmun Resort Area. The final destination is the Korean Airlines Hotel (KAL Hotel) in Downtown Seogwipo.
Downtown Seogwipo to Jungmun.
Seogwipo is spread out in a thin line along the coast from Seogwipo downtown to the east and Jungmun to the west along the main arterial road, Ilju-ro (Highway #1132).
Like its northern counterpart, Jeju City, Seogwipo has its own inner-city (shinnae) bus system. Almost all of the buses take the same route along the highway between downtown and Jungmun, but tend to branch out at either end, servicing even a few of the smaller villages such as Daeepyeong-ri in the south-west of the island. In the downtown district there are a pair of bus "terminals" located around a main traffic roundabout from which most depart downtown, else just make your way to the highway. Inner-city buses cost 1000 won.
Long distance inter-city buses mostly follow the same route along the highway as inner-city ones and can also be used to get around. The cost is a little higher but they are faster, only stopping at major locations before zipping out of town to Jeju City. These long distance buses look more like tour buses than the city buses and go pretty much anyhere on Jeju. Seogwipo has two inter-city terminals. The main inter-city terminal is in the south-east of downtown, near the Jeongbang Waterfall. The second is to the right of the E-mart in front of the World Cup Stadium (tucked in the back of a rather nondescript building). In practicality however, you can just get on from one of the larger bus stops on either side of the highway around the stadium or Jungmun, and or at the traffic roundabout in downtown.
Taxis are also an option and most places are happy to call one for you. However, if planning to go the full 25 km distance from Jungmun to downtown, you may find the bill a bit steep.
There are one or two places that rent scooters in Seogwipo.
The main city area of Seogwipo, World Cup Stadium and Jungmun all lie in a 25-30km long thin strip along the coast. Whilst it is downright easy to wander each of the three key areas individually, walking between them would be inconvenient. Having said that, the Jeju Olle hiking trails do run along the coast in this region.
Most places can be comfortably walked to from the nearest highway stop.
Seogwipo is located near to most of the tourist sights that are found on the southern side of the island. There are also a number of museums and an aquarium in the area.
The coastline in this area consists of some rather spectacular formations and a number of waterfalls (no swimming though), two within walking distance from downtown Seogwipo.
- Cheonjiyeon Waterfall (Cheonjiyeon pokpo (천지연 폭포)). Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is one of the "three famous waterfalls of Jeju". Cheonjiyeon (meaning a waterfall connecting the sky (ch'eon) and land (ji)) receives a large number of tourists to get their picture taken with the falls in the background. Although there is one main area where water falls over the cliff, depending on how much rain has fallen recently, the stream may spread and cascade down at several points. The water falls into a large, artificial pond that has been created by two small dams to maintain the water at a certain level. 2000 won.
- Cheonjeyeon Waterfall (Cheonjeyeon pokpo (천제연 폭포)), Jungmun. One of the "three famous waterfalls of Jeju". Crossed by the incredibly iconic red Seonimgyo Bridge: carved with seven 20m wide white nymphs on each side.
- Jeongbang Waterfall (Jeongbang pokpo (정방 폭포)), Seogwipo (A kilometre or two east of Seogwipo harbour.). The only waterfall in Asia to fall directly into the sea and one of the "three famous waterfalls of Jeju".
Basalt pillars of Jungmun Beach.
- Jusangjeolli (Daepo jusangjeolli (대포 주상절리)), 2663-1 Jungmun-dong to 2507 Daepo-dong, Seogwipo-si (East end of Jungmun Beach. Get off the bus in Jungmun next to the elementary school. The site is directly behind Jeju Convention Center.). Jusangjeolli is the literal Korean translation of columnar basalt: hexagonal pillars of volcanic rock. You've almost certainly seen pictures of these in Northern Ireland as part of the Giant's Causeway or perhaps even in nearby Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan. The hexagonal joints are formed as liquid lava contracts whilst cooling. The Jeju formation is situated on either side of Jungmun Beach, however the most spectacular part is a set of cliffs at the far east end. A viewing platform with detailed explanations exists, charging 2000 won entry. If you want to actually climb around on the stones, theres actually another small cluster tucked away in the bay a mere 100m outside the eastern ticket gate. Just keep an eye for rogue waves and be aware that any damage to the rocks is protected by a series of hefty fines.
- World 'Eros' Museum, Seogwipo (Literally under the World Cup Stadium), ☎ 064-739-0059 (fax: 064-739-6091). 9:00am-8:00pm. At first glance, Seogwipo's answer to the infamous Loveland, this attraction actually lives up to its title: a museum. A museum that has amassed genuine erotic works of art from the world over and put them on display next to a pile of cheaply photoshopped "flowers" and some Japanese pornography playing in a traditional house-front with holes poked in the paper screens... but a museum nonetheless. As no information at all is in English a fun game to play is to guess the country of origin of a piece based on how violent the acts depicted are (Hint: the spectrum runs from Chinese at one extreme to Japanese at the other, use clothing styles to check answers.) Probably not a place for children. Check out the 12 vases of the animal-love zodiac. 7000 won.
- Some scuba diving centers near to Seogwipo.
- Submarine tours - The tour consists of a 10 min boat trip out to a pontoon, then going down to a depth of 40m below the water surface in a submarine near Munsom Islet. It takes about 70 minutes all up. You can see coral, fish, a small shipwreck and a Haenyo diver. An hour trip costs 55,000 for adults and 25,000 for children. It's sometimes possible to get a 10% discount by booking ahead though one of the Tourist Information Centres. The commentary is continuous and loud, and all in Korean, but if you sit near the Captain you can get some info in English. The staff take a photo of your group on the pontoon, which you get for free as you leave, and another photo in the submarine. You can buy this photo if you want at the end. Small photo cards are 4,000w; large matt photos are 6,000w.
- Jeju Water World, (Take the local or intercity bus to the World Cup Stadium and walk around to the south side. It's in the mouth of the giant, green-lit shark.). Family-friendly water park consisting of a large indoor section quite literally under the south grandstands and a small outdoor section off to the side. Has a sauna and jjimjilbang attached. 21,000 for water park admission (8,000 for sauna, 10,000 for jjimjilbang).
- Jeju hallabong (citrus fruit akin to an oversized tangerine) are grown predominantly on the southern side of the island so they are both most abundant and cheap from roadside stalls around Seogwipo.
- Locally made Hallisan Soju.
The ONLY Bank in Southern Jeju that we could find: In Seogwipo, there's a KB Star bank that accepts foreign cards, its on the corner of Jungjeong-ro & Jungang-ro opposite Mr pizza (type "Kb Bank" into google maps). Also, it seems that most Family Mart which have an ATM inside work with foreign cards too - but you'll pay a $4 fee plus receive the worst exchange rate in Korea (about 5-6% below the bank's rate).
Being a coastal city on an island, expect the hoe (회, sashimi) to be excellent.
Downtown Seogwipo contains mostly Korean-style restaurants. To illustrate, even the E-mart food court is strictly Korean fare. In the main circle in town there is a coffee shop/restaurant that has some western dishes prepared in a Korean way on the second floor. It has pictures of famous westerners lining the restaurant.
A great more upmarket restaurants, catering to foreign tastes, can be found in and around the Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex.
An interesting culinary option around Seogwipo is sea cucumber. Jeju's iconic women divers are scattered around the coast, particilarly near Jungmun, ready to serve it up fresh before your eyes for an average 10,000 won. If you time your approach right, you might even see your meal get hauled in before your eyes. If you're game that is...
In addition to the ubiquitous number of Korean-style drinking restaurants, there is a small strip with a few western style bars and Korean style clubs. The strip is located on the way from the main circle to the harbor in Seogwipo. On the way down the hill the strip will be located on your left hand side.
- Milano. Great views, cheap booze and good food. Smoked chicked to share (2-4people), 17,000won. Highly recommended. Sign is only in Korean, but it is the bar on the way down the hill towards Cheonjiyeon Falls in downtown Seogwipo. Look for the bar with a log-cabin feel.
- Rose Marine. Across the water from Milano in downtown Seogwipo, towards the harbor, is a small waterfront bar called Rose Marine. The exterior of the bar looks like an old ship, complete with lights hung over an old mast. Inside, a small store serves as the restaurant, where you can choose from a large selection of Korean alcohols. Grab a table by the water if you can, and enjoy the view.
- Gecko's Terrace, 2156-3 Seakdal-dong, Jungmun, Seogwipo-si (About a 10 minute walk west of the information booth and inner-city bus stop outside Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex. Buses finish well before midnight and taxis back to downtown Seogwipo are costly so plan ahead.), ☎ 064-739-0845 (fax: 064-738-7903), . A fairly new entry in the Gecko's Terrace franchise of full-sized proper Western-styled bars and restaurants and the only true expat establishment on the island. The bar has a handful of real beers on tap including Guinness as well as a Western food menu including real, unfrozen steaks and a couple of vegetarian options. Open for lunch as well as in the evening. Prices unfortunately are at Western levels (think 10,000-30,000 won a meal).
- Jeju Dive Resort, 349-1, Gangjung-dong, Seogwipo city (3 minutes walk from the World Cup Stadium towards the ocean.), ([email protected]), . checkin: 4PM-10PM; checkout: 12AM. Owned by an extremely friendly and renowned SCUBA Instructor, this resort is a 5 minute walk from the ocean and offers first timer SCUBA diving experiences as well as certification courses. The rooms are very clean and spacious. There is also a large outdoor area available for BBQ which the owner will happily grill upon request, something that is highly recommended. 20,000W per person, 2 person minimum.
- Jeju Springflower Guesthouse, Daejeong-eup, Hamo-ri 1046-1 (5 min from bus terminal or harbour, see website for map), ☎ +82 70 4273 6668, . checkin: 10AM-10PM; checkout: 10AM. A British owned guesthouse in Moseulpo. Dorm beds from W18,000. Private/Family/Group rooms available. Convenient for boats to Gapado and Marado, as well as Olle courses 9-14 W18,000.
- Little France, 486-1, Seogwidong, Seogwipo-si, ☎ ". Affordable guesthouse with very friendly owners.
- Jeju Hiking Inn, 587-15, Seogwidong, Seogwipo-si (Jeju Hiking Inn is located in Seogwipo City, about a 3 minute walk from the harbor and the Limousine Bus (line 600) that connects you to Jeju International Airport. This bus runs every 10 minutes from 06:20 ~ 22:00), ☎ 064-763-2380, . from 22,000KRW (double room 30,000).
- Backpackers Hostel, ("Walk). Located up the hill from the harbor, but with a view. 22,000won.
- Yurak Jang Motel, See webpage for map ((close to Jeju Hiking inn, downtown)), ☎ 064 -732-1277, . This is a very clean and slightly retro love motel. All the usual amenities: Bathtub, LCD TV, Fridge, toiletries inc. Aircon, fan but NO Wifi or internet - however, we picked up a connection from over the road (from north facing rooms). There is no English website but you can check out the link URL for review/pictures Double rooms: 30,000.
There are no jjimjilbangs in downtown Seogwipo, and only one in the greater city, quite literally located under the World Cup Stadium (the southern grandstands to be precise):
- Jeju Water World, (Take the local or intercity bus to the World Cup Stadium and walk around to the south side. It's in the mouth of the giant, green-lit shark.). A rather large jjimjilbang located near the beach and attached to an indoor water themepark. Has the usual heated rest rooms and ice room but also smaller darkened sleeping rooms for not just women but men too. Promise of a Nintendo area in the near future. For your sleep, expect a pair of cotton pyjamas, sauna access and a patch of warm, hard floor. Despite its immense size, this place takes the Korean running gag about insufficient sleeping mats to a whole new level of cutthroat with even fewer than a standard sized premesis. 8,000 for the sauna alone, 10,000 to stay (21,000 for water park admission).
- Slow Citi Hostel, 33 Cheonji-ro (307-3 Seogwi-dong), Seogwipo-si, Seogwipo-si, CJ, South Korea, ☎ +82 010 2706 1288. checkin: 2:00 PM; checkout: 10:30 AM. Comfortable and cozy guesthouse conveniently located close to the Olle Market and main bus stops. Includes free internet and basic amenities. There is a direct bus straight from the Jeju Airport. Staff can speak Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. One day tours are also avalible. 15000won..
- Shinsung Hotel - Hotel with internet and jacuzzis in most rooms. Many rooms have a nice sea view. 50,000 for a double room per night. Rooms numbered -01,-02 and -03 face the sea, so ask if you want a sea view
- Milano Motel - A clean and modern motel with a decent view, 5 mins walk from the harbour. 50,000w for a double room per night. The sign (visible from a few blocks away) is written in Hangul only. Tel (064) 733-5421. 586-3 Seogwi-dong, Seogwipo-si.
The fanciest and most expensive hotels in all of Jeju tend to be situated within the Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex alongside Jungmun Beach, west of downtown Seogwipo:
- The Shila Jeju, 3039-3 Saekdal-Dong, Seogwipo-Si, ☎ +82-64-735-5114, . 5 star hotel. The Shilla Jeju is set in its own private 21-acre cliff-top gardens at the centre of the comprehensive Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex on the South coast of Jeju lsland. Since the opening in 1990, as Korea's first 5 star resorts, The Shilla Jeju has been the most prestigious venue in the Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex.
- Hyatt Regency Jeju, 3039-1 Saekdal-song, Seogwipo-si (By the beach in Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex.), ☎ +82 64 733 1234 ([email protected]), . 5 star hotel with 224 rooms and suites. All rooms have balconies and most have ocean views.
- Korean Airlines Hotel, 486-3 Topyeong-dong, Seogwipo-Si, ☎ (064)733-2001 ([email protected]), . 4 star hotel. 225 guest rooms in a 9-floor building with, some sea-side, some mountain-side. Traditional on-dol rooms as well as suites for business travelers. As of August 2013, Gecko's appears to be closed.
You're about as far south as one can get in South Korea; either try to continue down to Gapa or Mara Islands just off the south coast, explore the interior of Jeju or head on back to Jeju City.
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