Travel guidebooks sometimes call Jeju “the Hawaii of South Korea.” Though it falls short of Hawaii’s scenery, I really liked it. It has everything from a city of nearly half a million people to outdoor recreation. Also, this list of cheap things to do in Jeju will show you how to have fun without spending a lot.
Here are a few of my favorite parts of a visit to Jeju, along with one spot I regret missing. There is plentiful transportation; city buses run often, and taxis offer a reasonably priced option for quick trips around the city.
Cheap Things to Do in Jeju
Hike: Mount Halla (aka Hallasan)
A visit to the island’s highest point will give you a great view of the entire island. I enjoyed views of the many smaller volcanic cinder cones that dot the landscape. Along the way, I passed through forests populated by roe deer. Be sure to get an early start — there’s a 1 p.m. cutoff time to climb all the way to the summit. Hallasan not a technical hike, but the longest trail is 6 miles. There’s a 1,600 won fee to use the trails, which is about $1.50 U.S.
Climb: Seongsan Ilchulbong
This volcanic tuff cone pops up along the seashore and draws flocks of tour buses. The climb to the top is short, steep, and very crowded. But it’s worth the trip. On the way down, I found a second path that leads to the shore. There, you can try fresh raw seafood like abalone and octopus fresh from the water. The admission to climb Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak was 2,000 won, or about $1.70 U.S.
Go Underground: Majanggul Lava Tube
A few miles south of the seashore, there’s massive lava tube designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not all of Manjanggul-gil, Gujwa-eup is open to visitors, and those familiar with caving may be shocked at how developed it is. Still, the sheer size makes it worth mentioning on my list ofÂ cheap things to do in Jeju. A few features inside are well lit, and people handy with their camera settings can capture some images worthy of framing. I prefer my caves and lava tubes less developed, but I still enjoy any chance to go underground. The admission fee will fluctuate according to exchange rates, but it was less than $2 during my visit.
Imbibe: Boris Brewery
Travel guides say Modern Times is the best-known brewery at the moment. “Best-known” and “best beer” are two different things. Had I known about Boris Brewery, I would’ve bypassed Modern Times (the beer there is simply awful). The latest venture by brewer Boris de Mesones, Boris Brewery earned a bronze medal at the Australian AIWA international beer competition and a silver medal at the European Beer Star. I like hoppy brews, so I’d suggest trying the two India Pale Ales on tap.
Drinking a locally brewed beer is high on my list of things to do when I travel. It’s right up there with an epic hike, eating a (sometimes revolting) regional delicacy and running a 10K. I’ve had beers all across the United States, and from 44 degrees latitude south to near the Arctic Circle.
So, where are my favorite spots? Here they are. And be assured, I tried to get away from the same ol’ same ol’ and show you at least a few places that aren’t on your map yet. Let’s go!
Let’s get this out of the way: Foster’s is not Australian for beer. During my 2009 visit, the Aussie craft beer movement was still in its infant stages. We found succor in Sydney at the Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe. I learned about Redoak from the lone grumpy Australian I met in Katoomba. Sourpuss that he was, Redoak is proof that he knew his beer. I still remember its oatmeal stout with its hint of butterscotch. I wasn’t yet a huge India Pale Ale fan yet, but I’d bet Redoak Boutique Beer CafeÂ has a good one.Â And it’s slick, elegant hangout. It would be my first destination next time I arrive in Sydney.
There’s more to Japanese beer than Kirin and Saporro. Head to the Ropongi District. Evade the barkers trying to lure you into their loud, expensive nightclubs. Go down a staircase, and bask in the Ant ‘n’ Bee. During our visit, one of the waitresses radiatedÂ ecstasyÂ from her recent visit to the American Craft Beer Festival. But she proved that Japan has its own craft beer pride. She hooked us up with a selection of regional brews, including a cask-conditioned stout, a strong ale and a harvest beer. The selection rotates – but chances are, you’ll still be able to get an order of incredible ã‚¢ãƒ³ãƒˆãƒ³ãƒ“ãƒ¼å…æœ¬æœ¨Â Ant ‘n’ Bee fries to go with your brew.
The climate in New Zealand can grow anything edible. Including hops. Since my visit, craft beer has boiled over down there. I found Dux de Lux to be the top choice. You can find a Dux De LuxÂ in Queenstown or Christchurch. It’s hard not to love a beer called the Black Shag Stout. But surprise! It was the Ginger Tom that stayed in my memory banks. The ginger-infused ale inspired me to put a ginger twist on my homebrewed India Pale Ale … which is currently the favorite among those I’ve forced to drink my homebrew. How’s that for a lasting impression?
In Flam, Norway, you’ll find Ã†gir Bryggeri. It couldn’t possibly be cooler if Vikings had chiseled it by hand from a solid block of kryptonite. There’s the architecture – based on a centuries-old stave church. There’s the dessert, Â a gooey brownie with ice cream and fruit compote. But none of this means anything without great beer. The India Pale AleÂ will please any hop lover. The Sumbel porter is also terrific, and then you can be ready to try the seasonals. How does a Cardinal Double Chocolate Chili Stout sound? Well, it’ll be even better when you get to swill it at the Ã†gir microbrewery.
South Korea Craftworks Tap House in Seoul is the total package – top-flight craft beer and awesome food. It’s a respite for those who long for a touch of Anglo-influenced cuisine. Myself? I can’t get enough bi bim bap, banchan and bulgogi. If you’re up for quesadillas and bangers ‘n’ mash, this is your place. I had the Geumgang dark ale and the Moon Bear India Pale Ale. Despite the craft beer status, theyÂ don’t have quite the alcohol percentage of North American brews. Still flavorful, still well executed, and still far better than anything else you’re likely to find in Seoul.
I live in a big country. And its pint glass overflows with killer craft beer. Since it’s my home country and it covers so much space, I’m going to give you TWO recommendations.
Alright, let’s start with the west. North of the hurlyburly that is San Diego, you’ll find Carlsbad. It’s no sleepy little town, but it’s far more relaxed than its neighbor to the south. It’s also the home of Pizza Port (there are other locations, too). I found this by accident – a nearby seafood restaurant had a long wait for a table, and I wandered in. And discovered a wonderland of craft beer, all from Port Brewing. Port has the distinction of being the only brewery that’s whipped up a pilsener that could get me excited. And it’s SoCal, so expect hard-hitting India Pale Ales, some Belgian fun and some stouts in the cooler months. The pizza ain’t bad, either. The place is also chaotic, fun, unpretentious and friendly.
Let’s go further north. In St. Paul, Minn., look forÂ The Happy Gnome. It doesn’t brew its own. But it has assembled a collection of regional brews that will astound. The northern Midwest makes a good show, with stuff like Dragon’s Mill from New Holland Brewing; Pahoehoe blonde ale made with coconut water; and the hefty Scotty Karate from Dark Horse Brewing. The food is also excellent (game hen, coconut-beet risotto!), with dessert being a particular standout. The Happy GnomeÂ creme brulee was worth every calorie.
Oh, hell – I changed my mind. I’m adding a third location. If you ever visit the Phoenix area, send an email my way. I’ll arrange to meet you at Papago Brewing. If you don’t like something in one of its 20-some rotating taps or in its huge refrigerated case, go drink some Budweiser or equally swilly Stella Artois. This week, I had an oak-aged Belgian quad from Sierra Nevada that blew me away. It’s in no way unusual to have something so awesome at Papago Brewing.
More on My List
There are places I didn’t visit, for one reason or another. But I will next time I’m in the area!
Boris Brewery (Jeju, South Korea)
I somehow missed Boris Brewery during my stay in the Hawaii of South Korea. Don’t make the same mistake. Word is, Brewmaster Boris knows how to make an India Pale Ale. This is a local favorite near Jeju City Hall. I like that the menu has Korean bar food. Do NOT make the mistake of going to Modern Time. That used to be Boris’ place, but it has taken a nosedive since his departure as brewmaster.
Monkey Wizard (Riwaka, NZ – near Nelson)
I must’ve looked so forlorn; both times my bus passed the Monkey Wizard (know known as Hop Federation), it was closed. How could I not want to drink craft beer at a place a called Monkey Wizard? Barley wines, Belgians, stouts … and a picturesque setting equal a great place to drink a pint. Oh, and there are magnificent hop field nearby. I can imagine that Monkey Wizard BreweryÂ is tapped into the local hop sources. I can only guess how that impact the taste of its craft beer creations.
Beer goggles: Seeing beer glasses in a whole new light