This week Tuesday our boss informed us that due to the MERS virus, which happens to be particularly bad in the Dongtan area, our school would be closed for the remainder of the week, so we decided to take the surpsie vacations days and make a short trip to Geoje-do (do means ‘island’ in Korean), off the south east coast of Korea about 1 hour from Busan.
To get to Geoje-do:
Note: Many blogs and websites will tell you there is no direct bus from Seoul to Geoje Island, but they’re outdated! The new express buss from Nambu to Gohyeon is reasonably priced (32,455 KRW per one way ticket) and takes between 4-4 1/2 hours
Take the express bus from Nambu Bus terminal in Seoul to Gohyeon Bus Terminal, which is located on the western coast of Geoje.
Lodging on Geoje Island (Okpo)
We wanted to save money, so we didn’t stay in the larger, more well-known hotels on the island, but there are two popular ones around Gohyeun:
- Geoje Island Hotel: in Okpo, and only a short (11,000 KRW) taxi ride from the Gohyeon bus terminal. It’s popular enough that most taxi drivers will know when you tell them you want to go there. For a two person room, you will pay 110,000 KRW a night (this for the lower levels, more for the nicer rooms on the higher floors).
- Samsung Hotel:located near Gohyeon Bus Terminal. You’ll be able to find it easily, since it’s the best known hotel in the area. It’s more luxurious that hotels I’ve stayed in in Korea-there’s a pool, a men’s and a women’s sauna, and a fitness area. I didn’t stay there, but here’s the link to their site with a map and a list of their accommodations. You can even book your room online, in English (score!)
Directly behind the Geoje Island Hotel in Okpo is a 7-eleven (on the corner of the shipyard) with a motel above it. We stayed in this motel for three nights at 45,000 KRW a night (I think the original price was 55,000 or 50,000, but Sam haggled it down).
We had a room overlooking the shipyard, and it was very comfortable-they gave us two bathrobes, toothbrushes, a razor, and even a condom. I’m not sure if that’s ‘normal’ for Korean motels, but we thought it was hilarious!
The first floor is the 7-eleven and a parking lot, and the second floor is ‘business rooms’. The motel management and reservation area is on the third floor.
The room also came with it’s own water filter, which was a huge money saver in the long run since we could fill our water bottles before hiking or going out. There was also a hair-dryer and free coffee, tea, and orange juice in the mini- fridge.
If you do stay at this motel, which was the cheapest we found on Geoje Island, please note the absence of the 4th floor in the building-another thing we found humorous during our stay!
Places to Eat on Geoje Island:
- Mom and Pop’s-My favorite restaurant on Geoje Island was Mom and Pop’s, a small American restaurant owned by two lovely Koreans who spent 36 years living in America-and you can taste it in their food! We were pleasantly surprised to be waited on by fluent English-speakers, and the nachos and fish & chips we ordered were unbelievably good (this coming from someone who hasn’t had ‘real’ American food in 6 months!) The average price for a meal is somewhere around 13,000-17,000 KRW, and the portion sizes were very large. We could tell is was a favorite with many of the locals who were coming to eat there, and it was easy to understand why!
- Dino’s Meat Grill House-Another great restaurant is Dino’s Meat Grill House-an all you can eat meat buffet only a few blocks from Geoje Island Hotel (ask any foreigners-and you’ll see many! how to get there). The price is great-only 14,000 KRW per person– and as it’s a buffet of sorts, you can bring the metal tray to the meat counter as many times as you want. The meat is all raw-you’ll grill it on the grate at your table in typical Korean-BBQ style. If you need any more banchan (Korean side dishes) or water, just press the call button on your table.
- Quiznos-if you’re in the mood for (in my opinion) being totally lame and American (but saving a good amount of money) you can get a Quiznos sub for anywhere from 5,300-8,000 KRW.
- There’s also several Indian restaurants (like Delhi or Hello India), one Mexican restaurant called El Gitano (link to FB page) and many Western pubs and bars. They’re all located in the same area, so if you don’t find something you like right away, keep walking-you’re sure to find something to fit your tastes and budget.
Things to Do on Geoje Island:
- Prisoner of War Camp-built to house prisoners during the Korean War, this POW camp is located near the center of the Island and is only 45 min from Okpo by bus.
- Okpo Great Victory Commemorative Park built in honor of Admiral Yi (or Lee) Sun-sin, who protected Korea from Japanese invasions in the 16th century. It’s only a short 10-15 min walk from Geoje Island Hotel in Okpo along the boardwalk near the shipyard. If you’re interested in history and turtle ships, it’s worth a stop to the Park/Museum. A replica of the turtle ship Admiral Yi Sun-sin used is in the Okpo shipyard. Entrance fee: 500KRW. Website/Directions/Phone here)
- Zip Line on Dokpo (or Deokpo) Beach
- Visit the Five Main Beaches on Geoje Island: Gujora Beach, Wahyeon Beach, Hakdong Beach, Myeongsa Beach, Deokpo Beach
- Oedo Island and Ferry Tour-post coming soon!
- Walk around the enormous shipyard in Okpo. When we were there, the largest ship in the world was in the shipyard-here’s a youtube video about it.
Important & Helpful Links for Visiting Geoje Island
Geoje Foreign Resident Association has a great website so you can see what’s going on in the area while you’re there, general information, maps, and telephones number- this site is a GEM and I wish I had found it earlier in our trip.
BUS TIME TABLE for buses on Geoje Island. Buses are a mess here, compared to Seoul or Dongtan, so I highly recommend taking a taxi if you can afford it or reading this meticulously!
10mag’s Article about Geoje-do.
Weebly’s Geoje Webpage-FB links for Geoje Island, history, things to do, children’s activities, and much, much more-Especially great for people who are moving to the island or staying for longer than a day or two.