Udo Island: A Perfect Day Trip From Jeju
Jeju, a beautiful South Korean island has so many things to do and see. If you have an extra day to spend and is not sure what you should do, I'd recommend going on a day trip to Udo island (also known as Udo or U-island).
You don't even need a full day, perhaps just a half day trip is great because it is easy to get there, with plenty of activities, and is far less crowded than other parts of Jeju. Especially during the summer or school holidays, Udo is the way to go!
Udo Island - What is it?
Off the eastern coast of Jeju Island is Udo Island, commonly known as "Cow Island" in Hanja. It is a volcanic islet, or lava plateau, that was formed a thousand years ago as a result of volcanic activity. The island resembles a cow lying down because of its shape. Interesting, ain't it?
People only started living and visiting Udo when the Joseon government built a horse ranch there. In 2000, it was officially named a maritime park.
Where is Udo Island?
Located close to Sunrise Peak, Seongsan Ilchulbong, Udo island is at the east side of Jeju. If you've already woken up to hike the sunrise peak, you can wind down by heading over to the little island of Udo.
This tiny island receives millions of visitors each year. Get ready for a day of relaxation in a serene setting devoid of people, nightlife, and significant attractions other than stunning nature. Please don't miss it, nature lover!
How to get to Udo Island?
As the name suggests, this island is off the eastern coast of Jeju. It takes about a 15 minutes ferry ride where you can take in the scent and breeze of the ocean.
There are two ports each on Jeju (Jongdal Port and Seongsan Port) and Udo (Haumokdong and Cheonjin). Depending on the month, the boats between Seongsan and Udo depart at intervals of 30 minutes between 7:30 and 8:00 am and arrive between 5:00 and 6:30 pm. The ferries between Jongdal and Udo's Haumokdong depart around 9:00 and 9:30 am and arrive at 4:00 pm (departing from Udo) and 5:00 pm (departing from Jongdal).
Keep track of the last ferry as if you happen to miss it, you'll need to start booking an accommodation at Udo! ;)
We'd recommend the Seongsan and Cheonjin route as the ferries there are more frequent and it is more convenient to get to.
For those on a self-drive trip around Jeju island, you won't be able to bring your car onto the ferry for this leg as car rental companies do not provide foreigner insurance on Udo island. Those cars that you see boarding the ferry, are typically cars with Korean drivers.
So now that you know, you should park your car at the port and make your way to the ferry terminal itself by foot!
Tickets to Udo Island and The Process
Bring along your passport for this trip! Tickets (8,500 won for return tickets) can be purchased directly from the counter at the ferry terminal. Before that, you'll be asked to fill in some declaration forms.
It takes only a few minutes and remember to purchase a round-trip ticket!
Getting Around Udo Island
We said to leave your rental car at the ferry terminal in Jeju itself, so how should we get around udo island? And here's where the fun begins!
There are a bunch of transportation options in Udo:
Electric Mini Car
Hop on, hop off shuttle bus
By foot (16 km of Olle trail)
Once you arrive at the port, you'll immediately see all the different shops. The prices are roughly the same no matter which store you go to, and the difference is whether or not you get to rent an electric mini car (or a cute ATV) and a scooter.
Some of the rental companies totally shoo-ed us away when they hear that we are foreigners. However, if you have a valid motorcycle international driving permit, some stores actually do allow you to rent the electric scooter.
As we didn't have the documents (only a license for car), we were only able to get ourselves some electric bikes. No matter, it was still so fun!
Where to stay in/near Udo island?
There aren't that many options for accommodation in Udo island. Most of them are guesthouses and pensions like Robin & Blue - the best choice in our opinion as it features sea views with a nice wooden and blue colour palette. Alternatively, stay in the Seongsan area like us. Playce Camp is our pick for budget travellers. Though the rooms are small, they are cosy and the facilities at the hotel features an amazing cafe, bar, and restaurants.
For those who are looking for something more luxurious can consider The Four Grace resort. This family-friendly resort is located close to Udo island.
What to do in Udo Island?
The best part about udo is that you don't need an itinerary and a free-and-easy round trip around the little u-island will easily take you through all the attractions.
There are plenty of beautiful cafes, each over-looking the sea, and having their own specialties - including the famed peanut ice cream!
Nonetheless, take a trip with us to see the sights of the island!
Enjoy the blue waters at Seobinbaeksa Coral Beach
Here, you'll see clear blue waters and white sand. It is a popular beach for domestic locals to visit over the weekend. By the beach, you'll find interesting some interesting stores where you can stop for a snack.
Find a cafe and have some peanut ice cream
There are simply so many interesting cafes at Udo island. We randomly chanced upon the most colourful one and walked right in. It was so relaxing having peanut ice cream while looking at the clear blue sea. Bliss!
Check out an island of an island - Udo Biyangdo
Connected via a little bridge with its very own lighthouse is a mini island of udo, called Biyangdo. There's not that much to do here but it was quite interesting riding the electric bike on the bridge to the mini island of an island.
Walk along the coast of Geommeolle Beach
Geommeolle is a small little black sand beach, and is located below a cliff. The total length is only 100m but the climb down: I would just say, there are a lot of stairs. >.< If you don't wish to head down, the view on top is marvellous too!
Go lighthouse hunting
There are actually numerous lighthouses on udo itself like Dapdani Tapmangdae and Udo lighthouse. All of which show splendid views of the ocean. Udo lighthouse especially requires a little bit of a climb and you'll be rewarded with a nice bird's eye view of the ocean.
Bonus: Try some Hallasan fried rice
After cycling or driving around udo the entire day - don't miss out on having Hallasan fried rice located close to the Cheongjin port. There's only 1 restaurant with an interesting signboard. The food, though, I would say is alright. But the little "performance" with a commentary of how Hallasan created Jeju and Udo was quite interesting.
There you go, we hope this little guide inspires your next trip to Udo when visiting Jeju. Especially when there's now a direct flight from Singapore to Jeju.