Travel Destinations: Ulleungdo, South Korea

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Travel Destinations: Ulleungdo, South Korea

Ulleungdo in Gyeongsangbuk-do is the ideal place to get away from it all when travelling in South Korea. It offers breathtaking scenerary – white, whispy clouds hovering over volcanic cliffsides, seabirds squealing at each other, quaint little fishing boats, peaceful and traditional harbours. In a simple word – beautiful.

Ulleungdo is a quiet place, not the ideal place for those seeking amusement parks or major resort sites. It is a place where you can relax and walk and watch the world go slowly by. Ulleungdo is a quiet fishing town with just few hotels and restaurants for the travellers who come here.

The volcanic island was caught by pirates to secure the east coast of the peninsular on the orders of King Yeji from the Shilla period. Until 1884, Ulleungdo stayed essentially as a military outpost until settlers migrated to the island, sanctioned by the government.

Tourists generally come onto the island by the port of Dodong-ri, located on the south-east side. A new port was opened in nearby Sadong-ri.

The main tourist hub is Dodong-ri, which is the island’s administrative centre. Its narrow harbour is almost hidden away in a tapered valley, nestled between forested mountains. Tourists usually only see it when they approach it directly. From the ferry terminal, travellers can make the hour long walk along the cliffs to the lighthouse.

The Mineral Spring Park is a 350m climb above Dodong-ri. A cable car will allow one to view the exquisite sights – the sea and a birds-eye view of Dodong-ri below. At the top is a karaoke lounge and a restaurant. If you stand on the observation deck, on a clear day you can see Dokdo, about 92km away.

The mineral-water spring is nearly at the top and has a distinct flavour if tasted – almost like a diet-citrusy soda with quartz. Some people have claimed that it has medicinal benefits but please be aware of drinking untreated water.

Boat trips around the island are a great way to appreciate Ulleungdo’s distinct beauty. Tours usually depart at Dodong-ri’s ferry and take about two hours. In the summer they can take up to four hours. There are other boat trips that can take you to Jukdo, a nature preserve about 4km from the island. Picnics can be taken for lunch and the trips usually take about an hour and half.

Hiking is a good way to explore Ulleungdo. The two key routes start from Dodong-ri or Naribunji. The former route takes about five hours and the second about four to five hours return.

If going to Ulleungdo it is best to take your passport with you as you will need your passport number to board the ferry. You can board the ferry from Pohang, taking about three hours to get to the island. It is recommended that you book your tickets in advance.

Ulleungdo is a must-see location for those wanting to relax for a few days after a hectic travelling itinerary in South Korea. It is a beautiful location, just waiting for you to soak in its peaceful manner and stunning views.

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