Meet and Greet with Kim Jong Kook and Park Min Young in Singapore

Samsung in partnership with Viu held the Samsung Galaxy Exclusive Launch Party on August 10 at Gardens by the Bay. The party featured two TV personalities from South Korea, Park Min Young from What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim and singer-actor, … Continue reading

Round and round the bushes in Jeju’s Mazeland and scenic Olle Trails

In the past when I travelled around Jeju by public transport, I missed out these attraction sites as one could not access them conveniently by bus. Perhaps you did too?

This time, with a friend to drive us around the island, I could instead enjoy cafe-hopping and even have a go at some of Jeju’s natural walks and trails.

Here, I shall bring you to visit Jeju’s Mazeland and one of the many Olle trails, Olle Trail 5 by the coast. The former has appeared in many Korean TV shows like Running Man while the latter was recently featured in the Netflix original Korean series Busted as the final mysterious destination in Episode 2’s Treasure Island.

Step right into one of Jeju’s most visited attraction sites, The Mazeland. The themed park presents the three elements which Jeju prides in: Rocks, Wind, and Women. This is reflected in the three mazes as each is shaped, and thus named, after the individual element. There is the Wind Maze, Stone Maze and Woman Maze.

Take a quick look at the map of Mazeland and you will realise that the mazes take on each form of the elements. Here, one can probably spend a few hours navigating through the mazes on their own. After all, what fun is there if you do not get lost in them!

For those yearning for a unique shot to make it as your photo-of-the-day, do allow yourself to explore the mazes. There are a few unique photo locations which may turn out to be a delight.

At the end of the mazes, do not hesitate to leave Mazeland just yet. There is something magical hidden right behind the mazes, especially during the summer season!

Follow your way towards the rose garden and viola, one would find oneself surrounded by beds of blossoming roses, each adding a vibrant colour to one’s summer photos.

During the hydrangea season in summer, continue the path which will bring you to a sea of blooming hydrangea. While some may prefer skipping Mazeland after a visit to Gimnyeong Maze Park, I believe that Mazeland is worth a visit for more than just the mazes.

As one tour around the flower gardens, be sure to catch these boards. Written on them are beautiful quotes which would brighten your day, including the above which says of “I still worry about myself yet hope for the best” and others like “I am the prettiest today” (below) or “Happiness is felt when you are with me”. Along the way, one can even read about the folk myths in Jeju, illustrated by the stone statues on the paths.

Further down, one can trail into the bamboo woods and the wood forest which makes a great resting place for a picnic. Fairy lights hang from the branches, transforming it to a beautiful fairytale-like location for families and couples to relax and appreciate each other’s company. There is even a mini wooden maze there to excite the kids.

At the end of the long exploration, head back into the cooling gallery which shows of exhibitions of mazes, puzzles and other brain-stimulating challenges to occupy everyone in the family.

During the summer, visitors to Jeju must visit the Olle trails. These trails bring one through the woods, past the flower fields and even to the beaches of Jeju. The Olle trails will lead one to all of Jeju’s natural scenery there is offer on the island, including the attractions sites like Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (Information to get there by public transport can be found here).

However, I shall bring our readers to a unique place where one can view the whole of Korea. It was also featured in the Netflix original Korean series Busted. Puzzled by what I mean? Let me show you!

Introducing Jeju’s Olle Trail #5 around Namwon Keuneung Coast. This Olle trail is located in the south of Jeju, a short drive from Seogwipo City.

The trail takes one around the coast to appreciate Jeju’s rocky coasts and let one’s hair loose in the cooling ocean breeze. The trail is ideal in the late afternoons of summer to avoid the warm temperatures.

The trail begins here at the pavillion and around the corner, there is a cafe which was featured in my other travel post on cafe-hopping in Jeju. Then, begin your walking journey through the bushes around the coast.

Here, one can access many scenic points of the coastal areas. The trail is really long with few paths leading out of the trail. As such, I would suggest for visitors to prepare their own snacks and water for the journey ahead. Do ensure sufficient time to finish the trail before the sky darkens.

However, you must be wondering what i meant by “a unique place where one can view the whole of Korea”. Check it out yourself!

Located in the middle of the Olle trail #5, there is a spot called the Korean Peninsula 한반도 where the bushes of the trail form the outline of the entire Korean Peninsula. This phenomenon is so famous that even Koreans would specially make a trip down to observe it and take a photo.

For the less adventurous who wish to only visit this location, you can skip the Olle trail #5 and head straight down to Kumho Jeju Resort. Facing the ocean, take the small path down which would lead you straight onto the Olle trail. Make a right turn onto the path and you will see the Korean Peninsula outline.

Credits: Busted, Netflix production, and KShowOnline

The same location was featured in Busted when they discovered the last treasure hidden near the bushes.

These locations are best accessed by private transport. Hopefully, my introduction to these places will encourage you to discover more hidden places in Jeju! This has been my third visit to the island yet I cannot wait to explore many other sites. In fact, there are numerous Olle trails available. I only had the time to pick this meaningful location during my visit.

Are there any other trails our readers would like to recommend?

Summer time = Festival time in Korea

Indeed, frequent visitors to Korea are probably aware that summer time = festival time! All around Korea, many regions would host various types of summer festivals, such as the university festivals in Seoul, the spectacular flower festivals and the refreshing water festivals in coastal towns.

Today, allow me to present two popular summer festival events in Korea: Buyeo Lotus Festival and Boryeong Mud Festival. Both cities are less than three hours of traveling distance from Seoul hence I would highly recommend visitors to take a day trip down for a visit.

Welcome to Buyeo Lotus Festival where one can enjoy the beautiful scenery of vast lotus ponds. Speaking about all the Instagrammable moments of one in a flower field?

That is probably behind time. After all, flower fields can be found in most places of the world. Instead, hop onto the new trend with photo moments around numerous lotus flowers blossoming from the depth of the ponds. Admission is free.

The festival is held annually in mid July in the city of Buyeo and attracts thousands of visitors annually. Although the actual festival often lasts within two weeks, visitors can stroll through the public park anytime during the lotus season. This also implies that one can enjoy the lotus flowers anytime from late spring to summer.

During the festival, one can learn about the history about the Buyeo lotus ponds. It all began with King Mu, the 30th King of the Baekje dynasty, who appreciated lotus flower and dug these ponds during his reign in AD634. One can also visit booths which host cultural activities and sell local products.

In the past, King Mu used to enjoy a boat trip around his lotus ponds with the Queen. To replicate this moment, the festival also provides a short kayaking experience around a shallow lotus pond for ₩5000 per pax.

Take a relaxing stroll around the park and one will arrive at Gungnamji 궁남지 which is transformed to a floating pavilion enveloped by a huge lotus flower.

Head towards another area of the park and one would be surprised by a hidden sunflower field too!

After the festival, one can then enjoy a city tour around Buyeo on the city tour bus. Less known to foreign visitors, Buyeo used to be the capital of the Baekje Dynasty. The city contains four UNESCO-listed heritage sites of the Baekje Historis Areas, including the above Jeongnimsa Temple Site. Hop onto the city tour bus and one can visit all the four historic areas conveniently.

How to get here from Seoul:

Take a intercity bus from Seoul Nambu Terminal and arrive at Buyeo Bus Terminal. The bus journey would take between one and a half hour to two hours. From there, take a 20 minutes walk to SeoDong Park or grab a taxi over in less than ten minutes.

Visitors with private transport are advised to check for free public parking areas around the park. Free shuttle buses are also available to fetch passengers to and fro these parking areas.

Special note:

For visitors who wish to take the intercity bus from Nambu Terminal, be ready to head early to purchase your ticket on the spot. The return ticket can be purchased directly at Buyeo Bus Terminal instead. I would advise one to secure one’s return seat immediately upon arrival in Buyeo.

Next up, the famous Boryeong Mud Festival which attracts not just locals, but also foreign visitors for a stay to experience the refreshing mud baths, games and even wrestling matches in mud pools!

Recall those wrestling games played in Running Man? Yes, have a go yourself to experience a muddy splash in Boryeong!

Indeed, hot summer is all about refreshing dips, water fights, and suntanning by the beach. However, in Boryeong, it is all about their nutrient-rich mud. For an all-day admission of ₩12,000 (Mon-Thurs)/₩14,000 (Fri-Sun), one can splash around in all the mud games organised in the venue.

Located by the beach, the Mud Festival also welcomes beach lovers to Daecheon Beach. Take some time away from one’s hectic schedules and laze by the beach for the entire day. What is a summer vacation without getting a good suntan?

And for those who do not want to miss out on other activities, plan well for your visit to conincide with the music performances in the evening. This year, the Mud Music Performances invited guests like BewhY and Jessi.

Boryeong is famous for its mud that in fact, it produces its own mud-related skincare products, from mud masks to mud scrubs and even hair-related products. During the festival, booths are set-up around the venue to offer tax-free shopping at discounted prices too. Isn’t summer fabulous?

How to get here from Seoul:

Take an express bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Boryeong 보령. The journey takes approximately two hours to two and a half hours. From Boryeong Bus Terminal, take bus 100 bound for Daecheon Beach. This bus journey is approximately 30 minutes to 45 minutes. The bus stop is located right inside the bus terminal parking lot.

Take the KTX, Mugonghwa or SRT trains headed towards Daecheon Station. Duration of train journey varies. From there, take bus 100 bound for Daecheon Beach.

Planning a visit to Korea the next summer?

Why not consider taking a day trip out of Seoul to experience the summer joy Buyeo and Boryeong have to offer. Seize the sunny moments to enjoy summer time at Korea’s festivals too!