Today is the day we go to Korea’s Hawaii! We found cheap flights from Seoul to Jeju for just $15 per person, each way! Who could or would want to pass up that opportunity?
Day 20 South Korea Family Travel Journal
Cheap Flights from Seoul to Jeju Island
We threw everything together quickly this morning for our cheap flight from Seoul to Jeju and called a taxi to take us to the airport. After our fiasco going to Lotte World, you could say we are a little burnt out from long subway rides.
Somehow the one hour taxi to GMP was only 30,000 with 990 in tolls; whereas driving a taxi, also for an hour, but all the way to Seoul instead costs 75,000 and 10,000 in tolls. I’ve come to the understanding that there are a lot of things about Korea, I will likely never understand.
We flew out of the Gimpo International Airport, GMP, which is much smaller than Korea’s main airport Incheon International Airport, ICN. We arrived really early to the airport because we had no idea what to expect. Early for us is two hours. Typically we stroll in about 45 minutes prior to departure and race to the gate. We hate waiting at the airport, probably because flying standby we have to do so much of that already due to the fact that there aren’t enough open seats for our growing family. The Gimpo International Airport is fairly small and really straightforward, there really is no need to arrive at this airport more than 15 minutes prior to boarding. It was a breeze.
Because we are traveling with minors we couldn’t print our boarding passes at the kiosk. There were plenty of gate agents to assist, and no lines, so we easily got our passes. We had so much time we followed the signs to the children’s play area. It is a colorful fun playground with a couple punching bags, or swings if you are Eclair; a rounded staircase that Molasses had fun trying to climb, cubby holes that every child including our own tried to stuff themselves into, a hammock and slides.
We played so long we didn’t have time to eat, or thought we didn’t. Security actually took less than 10 minutes. There were so many agents open, I think I counted 30, and just one or two people in each one. No one had to strip down, take off their belts or shoes, or remove all the food or water we were carrying. Only laptops and tablets had to be removed from our carry-ons. We were amazed at the proficiency that Gabriel snapped a couple photos of the non-existent lines. When we collected all our items we were approached by an agent who demanded, very nicely, to see our camera and made us delete all the photos.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
Fly, Better Fly
For our cheap flight from Seoul to Jeju we flew Jin Air. Did I mention it was just $15 per person? There weren’t any extra charges for seat assignments, or carry-on bags, or breathing. We could have flown for $15 on the return home as well, but we didn’t want to fly those hours so we ended up paying $40 on the return. I’m still shocked at the prices. It costs more to buy fresh fruit and vegetables in Korea than it does to fly to Korea’s Hawaii.
Flying Jin Air as a family was awesome, albeit extremely cramped. But for one hour cheap flights from Seoul to Jeju, I couldn’t care less! By the way, not flying standby is so dreamy! There is no anxiety and no stress. You just board the flight, like a regular human.
Not to mention, for an avgeek, this is such a unique airline. The Inflight crew wears jeans! And, they have the greatest safety information card in the history of ever! When the twins were first learning how to read we pulled out one of the safety information cards on a flight and guessed what each picture meant.
There are truly no coincidences in life. Because of that one experience, the kids always look at the safety cards. Because of that one experience, we now know that on Jin Air if you have to make an emergency evacuation…
From the airport we took an hour long bus ride to Seogwipo. We chose to stay in Seogwipo because it’s considered the countryside of Jeju. There is still a bustling city, but much less packed then in Jeju City. We learned this lesson recently when we traveled to Vieques. We wished we’d stayed in Luquillo and didn’t want to make that mistake again.
Bus Line 600 is a straight shot from Jeju International Airport to Seogwipo and follows a tourist route that takes you just about anywhere you want to go. Continuing the trend, first with cheap flights from Seoul to Jeju, then a cheap bus ride from the Airport to our Hotel for just ₩5,500. We were dropped off directly in front of our hotel.
► Ranking: #wetdiaper
87 Chilshimni-ro, Seogwi-dong
We joked beforehand that Hotel fine, was just fine. But in reality, it’s just fine. The balcony is small, and the view is marred by the ugly buildings. The facade of the hotel is extremely nice, especially considering the nearby surrounding buildings, and they have all the basics. They are just lacking the touches that elevate a hotel from simply a place to sleep for the night.
For instance, they don’t have a baby crib, or baby cot, as was the final translation that broke the language barrier when I gestured the universal sign for sleeping and pointed to the baby. They don’t offer extra blankets for pillows; and use of the swimming pool is not included in the nightly price.
The main thing is that we booked a Superior Family Room with a Balcony. A Superior Family Room with a Balcony at Hotel Fine offers you one full bed and one twin bed. Apparently this is the largest room they have.
We booked the hotel on booking.com and indicated that we had four children including their accurate ages. They didn’t seem thrilled with the fact that we were bringing four children, but that wasn’t a huge surprise either. The room we chose said it would accommodate our family; apparently this room can accommodate four adults. I don’t know where those four adults are going to sleep, nor do I know what towels those four adults are going to use because the hotel only provided two. They also provided just half full bottles of shampoo and conditioner.
Fortunately during the discussion about the baby cot, they did end up bringing us a floor pad and extra blankets and pillows so I presume something was lost in translation.
All in all, it’s fine. We’ve stayed at worse, and while we avoided airbnb because we wanted to have more of a standard hotel experience where someone cleans up after you, we are remembering now that it’s always best to do airbnb when in a foreign country.
We spent most of the day traveling, and we were starving. Across the street from Hotel Fine we found tanks of live fish, eel, squid, mussels, shrimp and crabs. Of course we wanted to check them out. After a few minutes of saying hello to the fishies a man came out and started scooping up some of the fish and putting them in a bucket. The kids watched as they flopped all around and thought it was so funny.
The man left with his bucket, but came out soon thereafter to get more fish. While he was doing this he also grabbed a crab and a shrimp for the kids to investigate, placing them on a rock next to the tank. He showed the kids how to get the shrimp to cramp onto their fingers and dangle and how to rub the crabs so their feet wiggled. He let them touch and hold them, and when they were done eventually put them back in the water. They had such a great time learning about the animals and conversing in English and Korean.
We wanted to eat here, but the plates were ₩120,000 each! They looked amazing. A nice man dressed in a fancy business suit came out to translate for us, explaining everything here was raw, and while we chatted the cooks brought the kids a hallabong. Hallabong is a type of orange they grow on Jeju Island. They are the sweetest most tasty orange you will ever have!
They recommended the fishery next door, which was boiled fish, but everything there was ₩60,000 a plate! We didn’t get cheap flights from Seoul to Jeju just so we could blow it all on one meal!
We learned we were actually staying right on Chilshimni Food Street! We figured it couldn’t be very long before we found a variety of different restaurants but we walked all up and down the street and every restaurant was the same. ₩60,000 for Cutlass, Mackerel and Sea Bream fish. We were very specific asking if ₩60,000 would feed every one, and every time we were told no. I’m pretty sure in every language holding up one finger means one person, and crossing your arms in the shape of an x means no; in this instance something like no sharing, or not enough for family, or just plain no.
We were not only hangry, but I was getting nervous that there was a a price we were going to have to pay for finding cheap flights from Seoul to Jeju and that we’d end up eating chips and candy bars for dinner every night.
Finally, we found a Chinese restaurant with an outdoor menu that indicated they offered thick noodles and sweet and sour pork for two for ₩18,000. Having been to China, we knew this wouldn’t be the type of Chinese food we were accustomed to in the states, but we didn’t care at this point. It was cheap(er).
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
We were right, it wasn’t like the Chinese food we were used to. It was incredibly good. In fact, it was so much better!
Gabriel ordered way more food than we needed. He ordered two plates of dumplings, that came on a platter of 10 each. We ended up with 20 thinking we’d have six or maybe eight.
We ordered a seafood black bean sauce with noodles and vegetables.
Update: These are the famous Jjajangmyeon Noodles famous in Chinatown in Incheon, Korea!
Sweet and sour pork that was piled high on a platter with the clear thick sauce in a separate bowl that was lightly colored purple and tasted so pure and unadulterated.
A dish of fried rice, plus two extra bowls of rice.
The nice women working there had to explain to us how to combine all the food and eat it, and every bite was worth going without much food for the majority of the afternoon!
We paid ₩50,000 for the entire meal and ate it all. To feed our entire family at Chinese Restaurant in Korea it cost less than one plate at one of the fishery’s. I have no doubt the fish was amazing, we just weren’t trying to eat the cost of the ocean.
On the way back to the hotel after dinner we explored the neighborhood a little bit. We found a speed radar and the kids tested how fast they could each run. The twins each made it up to 18kph and Eclair can run 12kph. The speed radar was conveniently located on a school street, so we ended the day creating obstacle courses through the playground, chasing each other all over the soccer field, and playing on the seesaw.