Geojedo (Geoje Island) is located way at the bottom of the South Korean peninsula. Jermil heard about Geojedo through some friends, and we decided to check it out. It’s not the most foreigner-friendly city in Korea though. So if you’re up for a bit of a challenge, which is well worth it in the end, Geojedo is the place to visit.
How to get there (since the latest Lonely Planet doesn’t help)
Geojedo is the second largest island in Korea, next to Jeju. There was no information in our 7th edition Lonely Planet Korea about this destination, and so began our confusing trip. The ticket agent at the Daejeon Dong Bu Intercity Bus Terminal presented us with several options. Of course, we had no idea what she was saying, nor any idea of where we really wanted to go, so we took the tickets that cost 16 800 won she gave us, and considered it an adventure.
After about 3.5 hours on the bus, we ended up in downtown Geoje at the “Gohyeon Intercity Bus Terminal”. We asked inside the bus station for maps of the island, but there weren’t any in English or Korean. Jermil took a picture of a large tourist map outside the bus terminal to show taxi drivers where we wanted to go.
Our first stop: Geoje Tourist Hotel
We managed to find the Geojedo Tourist Hotel, so we checked in and at the front desk there was an attendant who could speak English relatively well, and he gave us some maps (in Korean). We recommend bringing a phrase book to Geoje, and get ready to make gestures, English is not widely understood.
We ventured out of the hotel and ran into some fellow expat English teachers at “Angel-in-us Coffee Shop”, and asked them which sites they would recommend for visitors to the island. They were quite welcoming and wrote down a few spots for us: Hakdong Pebble Beach, The Korean War Diorama, and Oedo Botanical Island. They suggested we head back to the bus station and take local buses to each of the sites.
Our taxing trek around Geojedo begins here!
Geoje city buses are not easy to use. We did not find the ticket agents to be very helpful, and bus numbers had little significance, so we had to rely on people waiting at the station. We found the younger bus riders to be quite resourceful. Do not be afraid to ask for help or you will never get out of the downtown core. After about a 45 minute ride, we made it to Hakdong pebble beach, you’ll see the water and the pebbles from the bus stop. The beach was pretty and since we were by the sea, we did as the Koreans, and indulged in some raw fish (sashimi) for about 60 000 won for the two of us.
By the time we left, it was dark, so we returned to the bus stop; however, no buses came. We decided a taxi might be a better option, but those were scarce too. We finally got one, and it cost us about 15 000 won to get back downtown.
We spent the evening wandering around the main part of the island and found what seemed to be where the foreigners hang out: the “Jazz Bar” directly behind Geoje Tourist Hotel. The bar housed out-going locals, decent music, darts as well as pricey food and drinks.
The next day we followed the street signs and walked about 45 minutes to the Diorama, which according to Geoje, is the largest in the world! It costs about 3 000 won each to enter.
Oedo Botanical Island
When we were finished walking through this mountainous 3-D wondrous pictorial representation of the Korean War, we took a quick taxi ride back to the bus terminal in search of Oedo Botanical Island. A young girl at the bus station helped us get to the Coastal Ferry Terminal that would take us to Oedo Island. She kindly told people on the bus our final destination, so a gentleman on the bus told us when to get off. The ferry was quite close to the bus stop, but the ferries only run once an hour on the :20. Ferry tickets cost 19 000 won and after the 30 minute ferry ride we had to pay an island entrance fee of 8 000 won. Tourists can only come to this island for about an hour, so it’s important to ask what time the ferry will be departing. Oedo was absolutely beautiful and definitely one of my favourite places I have been in Korea; I’d highly recommend it.
We discovered that there is another intercity bus terminal in Geoje that’s just a short taxi ride from the ferry terminal, called Jangseunpo. It’s small station and buses don’t run frequently to or from it, so check the schedules, but if you are looking to do a day trip to Geoje/Oedo from your respective cities, take an intercity bus to that stop. I suppose the ticket agent in Daejeon at the beginning of our confusing journey was trying to ask which terminal we wanted to get off at in Geoje do…