Ulleung-do is the Best Kept Secret of South Korea

Ulleung-do (Ulleung Island) was worth the time and money we spent to get there. It is a secret island in the East Sea that Korea has kept so well hidden. Many Koreans envied our travel plans and said they wished they could visit Ulleng-do.

We didn’t see any other foreigners during our time on the island. Many Koreans visiting the island were also curious about how Ulleung-do travels here. The internet doesn’t have much information that western travellers can use. We found the best advice through a few outdated travel blogs. So we wrote this post to help you plan your trip to Ulleungdo, the mysterious island.

How to get to the island

After waiting for the high seas to calm down for a few days, we finally caught the ferry from Gangneung to Ulleung-do. Although the journey took three hours, it was easy because of our travel sickness tablet. We slept throughout. Each one-way ferry ticket cost 55,000 won. The ferry took us to Jeodong Port 2, the island’s 2nd most popular tourist port.

We arrived at the Tourist Information Centre, a small building with a cabin-like appearance located 100m from the ferry dock. We were surprised to find that the women spoke little or no English. We didn’t book any accommodation because it was difficult to find one advertised online. We decided to “wing it” and explained that we searched for a place to rest using many hand gestures. We began to walk after she gave us an English map and pointed us in the right direction.

Finding a place where you can stay

From the port in Jeodong, you can drive straight to the squid Docks. This is where fishing boats dominated the coastline. This market also houses a small, local market that is an interesting aspect of Korean culture. Here is an annual Squid Festival in July. The squid can be caught with your bare hands. You can find fresh seafood here, as they love it.

For 60,000 won per night, we found a motel. We would make this our base for the island adventures we planned to take over the next few days. Everything here is in Korean, so it might be hard to find accommodation if you are unsure where to look. We found one place that we could access by going up some stairs and passing through an unsigned door on the main street. It’s not easy to be bold. If you accidentally stumble upon someone’s private residence, smile broadly, have a good time and play the silly tourist.

How to get around the island

Jeong-RI and Dodong-RI are the main tourist areas on the island. Both have their ports. Although Dodong-RI offers more accommodation options, it can be quite expensive, given its proximity to the main ferry port.

It is easy to get around Ulleungdo as buses run like clockwork, with most main buses arriving every half an hour. One adult ticket costs 1,000 won up to 1,500 won, depending on the distance travelled. Use your map to guide you to the destination.

Taxis are also readily available but at a much higher cost. Taxis to Bongnae waterfall, for example, would have cost us 10,000 won (10-15 minutes drive). But instead, we chose the bus, which costs 2,000 won per person.

Maxine B. Sandoval

Road To Paradiso is a travel blog that brings out the travel companion stories together so that anyone can learn from the experiences and decide which city to wander, what travel items to carry, and what time to visit.

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