Travel Highlights

Dokdo & Ulleung-do, Korea's Easternmost Islands

  • Tag Food History Tour
  • Date01/08/2016
  • Hit13752

Photo: Haengnam Coastal Walking Path (Dodong)

Photo: Haengnam Coastal Walking Path (Dodong)

Dokdo & Ulleung-do, Korea's Easternmost Islands

Ulleung-do Island and Dokdo are known for their impressive natural environment. Created by volcanic eruptions with its unique geographical landscape, the islands present abundant picturesque spots for visitors to explore. In the center of Ulleung-do Island stands the majestic mountain known as the Seonginbong Peak, where its highest point offers a bird’s eye view of the entire island. Visitors may also choose to enjoy a cruise on the deep blue waters of East Sea with oddly formed rocks and strangely shaped stones surrounding.

Meanwhile, it takes about 1 hour 30 minutes by boat to get from Ulleung-do Island to Dokdo, where one can get a glimpse of the most beautiful first sunrise of Korea. Dokdo holds a special place in the hearts of Koreans as they hold pride in defending Korea’s easternmost reached territory.

Ulleung-do Island, a Mind-Opening Natural Attraction!

Jukdo Island

Photo: Fields of blossomed canola flowers

Photo: Fields of blossomed canola flowers

Jukdo is a small island adjacent to Ulleung-do Island, and it is considered the largest island among the others in the region. Due to the strong presence of bamboos on the island, it was given its name as juk refers to bamboos in Korean. In order to have the top view of Jukdo Island, visitors will have to first climb a spiral stairs consisting of 364 steps. After making your way up the stairs, an observatory deck offering a panoramic view of the neighboring Ulleung-do Island with facilities including log benches, two rest shelters, camping ground, picnic sites, as well as will local food restaurants can be found.

From the observatory deck, the ridge found Northeast of Ulleung-do Island, cliffs; Gwaneum-do Island and Samseonam Rocks can also be seen. More often than not, tourists visit Jukdo Island on their way back to the Ulleung-do Island, the ‘main island’ by taking a ferry service leaving from Dodonghang Port. The cruise service only operates during the summer peak season (from Dodong Port to Juk-do Port). It takes about 20 minutes from Dodong Passenger's Port for a one-way trip to Jukdo Island.

  • ☞ Address: Jeodong-ri, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
    • ☞ Directions: Take a passenger cruise from Dodonghang Port to Juk-do Island
  • ☞ Fees: Passenger Cruise (Round-trip) 15,000 won / Jukdo Island Admission 2,000 won

Naesujeon Sunrise Observatory

Photo: View of Jeodong Harbor from Naesujeon Sunrise Observatory

Photo: View of Jeodong Harbor from Naesujeon Sunrise Observatory

The Naesujeon Sunrise Observatory offers an expansive view that allows one to see most of Ulleung-do Island. It takes about 15-min to get to observatory from the harbor by following the narrow inclined pathway. Aside from the plentiful camellia flowers and rowan plants (also known as mountain ash) that fills the tunnel along the pathway; lights have also been installed for visitors who flock to catch a glimpse of sunrise and the local fishermen’s at work.

  • ☞ Address: Jeodong-ri, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Cheonbu-Jeodong and get off at Naesujeon Bus Stop → Walk for about 1km to arrive at Sunrise Observatory

Bongnae Waterfall

Photo: Bongnae Waterfall

Photo: Bongnae Waterfall

Known to be one of Ulleung-do Island’s best sceneries, Bongnae Waterfalls is a three-tier waterfall with a height of about 30m. While the abundant volume of water flows down majestically throughout the year, the water also serves as a main source of drinking water for local residents in the south.

A therapeutic walk in the Redwood forest located within the Bongnae Waterfall can be chilly as the natural breeze is colder than an air conditioner. Ulleung-do Island’s nostalgic traditional shingle-roofed houses of first settlers’ can also be found nearby, functioning as rest shelters for visiting tourists.

  • ☞ Address: Jeodong-ri, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Dodong-Bongnae Waterfall and get off at Bongnae Waterfall Bus Stop → Walk for about 850m to get to Bongnae Waterfall

Geobukbawi Rock

Photo: Geobukbawi Rock

Photo: Geobukbawi Rock

Geobukbawi is a rock that is shaped like a turtle crawling towards the village. This is a top photo taking zone by tourists that should not be missed, along with the eye-catching juniper plants that are growing at the foot of the rock. A variety of fishes can also be found in the waters around Geobukbawi Rock, and thus it also became famous for the fishing lovers.

  • ☞ Address: Namyang-ri, Seo-myeon, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Jeodong-Cheonbu and get off at Tonggumi Bus Stop

Taehahyangmok Tourist Monorail

Photo: Daepunggan Seaside Cliff (left) / Taehahyangmok Tourist Monorail (right)

Photo: Daepunggan Seaside Cliff (left) / Taehahyangmok Tourist Monorail (right)

Taehahyangmok Tourist Monorail was introduced in order to showcase Taehahyangmok’s unexplored hidden gems in a comfortable way. With an approximate 304m in distance, it takes only about 6 minutes to arrive at the top of the observatory deck. From the observatory deck, walk for about 10 minutes up on an approx. 500m gentle slope to arrive at the Ulleungdo Lighthouse. Next to the pathway are filled with silver magnolias that serve as cooling shades for visitors walking up.

During the peak cuttlefish fishing operation, the sight of bright lights from the fishing boats at night along the Ungpo Coast and in front of Daepunggam Aromatic Tree Inhabitants id also an event you cannot afford to miss.

  • ☞ Address: Taeha-ri, Seo-myeon, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Jeodong-Cheonbu and get off at Taeha-ri Bus Stop → Walk for about 350m to arrive at Taehahyangmok Tourist Monorail
  • ☞ Operating hours:  09:00–17:30 (Ticket box closes at 16:30)
  • ☞ Fees: Round-trip 4,000 won

Elephant Rock (Gongam)

Photo: Elephant Rock

Photo: Elephant Rock

The Elephant Rock, Gwaneumssang Cave and Samseonam Rocks are the top 3 picturesque sites of Ulleung-do Island. The name 'Elephant Rock' originates from its resemblance of an elephant drinking water with its trunk. There is a hole at the back of the elephant trunk, which has a diameter of approximately 10 meters wide that boats can even pass through. The surface of the rock appears like columnar joint with firewood being stacked up by humans. With that, the lines and holes of the stones surface bear resemblances to the skin and shape just like that of an elephant.

  • ☞ Address: Hyeonpo-ri, Buk-myeon, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Jeodong-Cheonbu and get off at Pyeong-ri Bus Stop → Walk for about 750m to arrive at the Elephant Rock

Cheonbu Maritime Observatory

Photo: Cheonbu Maritime Observatory

Photo: Cheonbu Maritime Observatory

Located in the heart of the sea, visitors will be able to see the crystal clear waters of Ulleung-do Island, as well as, the mysterious underwater ecological system through the transparent windows installed on the grounds of the observatory. Telescopes are provided on the first floor of the maritime observatory for visitors to have a look far down the sea. The maritime observatory was built 6 meters deep underwater with 20 one-metered wide windows for visitors to appreciate the colorful marine species of Ulleung-do Island.

  • ☞ Address: 718-54, Cheonbu 2-ri, Buk-myeon, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Jeodong-Cheonbu and get off at Cheonbu Bus Stop → Walk for about 300m to arrive at Cheonbu Maritime Observatory on the Sea
  • ☞ Operating hours:  09:00–17:30 (no operations during Winter season)
  • ☞ Fees: 4,000 won

Nari Basin

Photo: Panoramic view of Nari Basin (top) / Shingled-roofed houses (bottom left) / Tumakjip (bottom right)

Photo: Panoramic view of Nari Basin (top) / Shingled-roofed houses (bottom left) / Tumakjip (bottom right)

The northern part of Seonginbong Peak was created by caldera, crater formed during volcanic eruption or collapse. It is the only flatland in Ulleung-do Island. Located north east of Nari Basin is Nari Village, and located south west is Albong Peak Village where no people are living there presently. There is one traditional shingled-roof houses of the first settlers, as well as 4 tumakjips (houses built by stacking up wood and soil) currently found and preserved as cultural assets in the Nari Basin.

  • ☞ Address: Na-ri, Buk-myeon, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Jeodong-Cheonbu and get off at Cheonbu Bus Stop → From Cheonbu Bus Stop, transfer to a bus bound for Cheonbu-Nari Basin and get off at Nari Basin Bus Stop

Gwaneum-do Island

Photo: Gwaneum-do Island Connecting Bridge

Photo: Connecting Bridge to Gwaneum-do Island

Gwaneum-do Island is an islet with no living residents. The Gwaneumssang Cave is consists of two caves with ceilings 14 meters high. There is a legend says that drinking water that falls from the ceiling of the caves can lead to longevity. Ranked as one of the top 3 picturesque sites of Ulleung-do Island, visitors can cruise around the island for sightseeing.

A connecting bridge especially for pedestrians is available for all visitors to Gwaneum-do Island. Walk for about 140 meters on the bridge and you will be lead to the stairs in the direction of Gwaneum-do Island. It takes approximately 40 minutes to take a leisure walk around the islet.

  • ☞ Address: Cheonbu-ri, Buk-myeon, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, walk about 200m to Dodong Bus Stop → Take a bus bound for Jeodong-Cheonbu and get off at Cheonbu Bus Stop → From Cheonbu Bus Stop, transfer to a bus bound for Cheonbu-Gwaneum-do Island and get off at Gwaneum-do Island Bus Stop.

Haengnam Coastal Walking Path

Photo: Haengnam Coastal Walking Path (Jeodong)

Photo: Haengnam Coastal Walking Path (Jeodong)

On the left of Dodonghang Port, visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of nature through the coastal walking pathway that follows along the coasts, natural caves and valleys. The trail is about 1km and when you make a right turn at the end of the trail, another pathway towards the Dodong Lighthouse is revealed. Go up to the lighthouse and you can see Jeodong Port, the famous Chotdae Bawi Rock statue, which can be reached by a separate coastal walking path from the Jeodong Port. Keep walking from Jeodong Naesujeon Sunrise Observatory to the north of Seokpo Village as it is an old road that is densely filled with trees for an intriguing experience of sightseeing through the island.

  • ☞ Address: Dodong-ri, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: Walking distance from Dodonghang Port

Dokdo Island Observatory Cable Car

Photo: Dokdo Island Observatory Cable Car

Photo: Dokdo Island Observatory Cable Car

There are two types of Dokdo Island Observatory. Sakdo Observatory is where one can have an overview of the bustling Dodong area while the Maritime Observatory offers a view of the sea nearby Dokdo Island.

Visitors may ride the cable car at Dodong Mineral Spring Park to get to Sakdo Observatory. The steep terrain going upwards to the observatory covers a distance of about 512m.

Sunrise can be better seen from the Maritime Observatory then Sakdo Observatory as sun usually rises from the ocean area. The observatory typically attracts many people who like to see the most beautiful first sunrise of Dokdo Island in the months of December and January.

  • ☞ Address: 99, Yaksuteo-gil, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions:  From Dodonghang Port, walk about 850m to arrive at Dokdo Island Observation Platform Cable Car
  • ☞ Operating hours:  06:30–20:00 (Ticket box closes at 19:00)
  • ☞ Fees: Round-trip 7,500 won

TIP. Recommended Restaurants on Ulleungdo-do Island!

Barnacle Noodle Soup & Rice with Sea Mussels

Photo: Barnacle Noodle Soup (left) / Rice with Sea Mussels (right)

Photo: Barnacle Noodle Soup (left) / Rice with Sea Mussels (right)

Made with barnacles that grow on coastal rocks, the barnacle noodle soup is one of the must-eats on Ulleung-do Island. Barnacle pieces as big as the size of a thumb, as well as wild edible greens are added, creating a delicious and fresh scent of ocean with every mouth of this dish.

On Ulleung-do Island, mussels are often cooked and complemented with rice. Seaweed are also added with some spicy soy sauce and eaten by mixing ingredients together like a bibimbap. Unlike mussels caught closer to the mainland, those caught in Ulleung-do Island are the size of an adult's hand. For a true blue local taste, the dish is regularly eaten with side dishes like wild aster, dried laver, fatsia shoots, and other wild edible greens found on the island. with barnacles that grow on coastal rocks, the barnacle noodle soup is one of the must-eats on Ulleung-do Island. Barnacle pieces as big as the size of a thumb, as well as wild edible greens are added, creating a delicious and fresh scent of ocean with every mouth of this dish.

On Ulleung-do Island, mussels are often cooked and complemented with rice. Seaweed are also added with some spicy soy sauce and eaten by mixing ingredients together like a bibimbap. Unlike mussels caught closer to the mainland, those caught in Ulleung-do Island are the size of an adult's hand. For a true blue local taste, the dish is regularly eaten with side dishes like wild aster, dried laver, fatsia shoots, and other wild edible greens found on the island.

Ulleung-do Island Beef & Cold Raw Squid

Photo: Ulleung-do Island Beef (left) / Cold Raw Squid (right)

Photo: Ulleung-do Island Beef (left) / Cold Raw Squid (right)

A wide assortment of medicinal herbs can also found on Ulleung-do Island and the cows that were fed with medicinal herbs are thus known for its great quality and unique herbal flavor. You may enjoy the taste of fresh meat food even with the unseasoned meat when it is roasted over hot coals. The most delicious way to eat is to cook the meat till slightly burnt, place a piece of it and wrap it with vegetables and pickled vegetables altogether.

Squids are one of the local specialty foods on Ulleung-do Island and there are many variations of food made with it. One of the popular dishes is ojingeo mulhoe (cold raw squid) and a fresh, sweet and spicy sensation can all be tasted in a single bite. The cold broth gives a refreshing feeling along with the other vegetables and sauce that enhances the other flavors. It also serves as a great side dish of alcohol.

Dokdo Island, Korea’s First Sunrise Spot

Photo: Dokdo Island's Dongdo (left) and Seodo

Photo: Dokdo Island’s Dongdo (left) and Seodo

Dokdo Island is comprised of two main islands: Dongdo, or East Island and Seodo, or West Island, as well as numerous smaller rock formations. The clear blue sea and the surrounding natural environment put together spectacular landscape for all.

Dongdo is located southeast of Dokdo Island, and it sits 98.6m above sea level. A watched lighthouse with a circumference of 2.8km is present, including the Dongdo wharfs, where major storages for marine products are kept fresh and facilities for coastguard are located. The area has a wharf within the close range, big enough to allow a vessel size over 500-ton class transporting a large batch of tourists pass through every day.

On the other hand, the rugged terrains of Seodo are used by fishermen in cases of emergency. In addition, Gajaebawi Rock, Dongnimmunbawi Rock, Chotdaebawi Rock, Eolgulbawi Rock and many other uniquely shaped rocky islands are fun to look at as well.

Photo: Panoramic View of Dongdo (left) / Seodo (right)

Photo: Panoramic View of Dongdo (left) / Seodo (right)

Designated as Natural Monument No. 336, access to Dokdo Island had been restricted according to the Article 33 of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act.

Passengers entering Dokdo Island (Dongdo) from Ulleung-do Island via ferry can only stay for a maximum of 30 minutes on the island. Furthermore, there are always possibilities that the transit travel will not be available due to harsh weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Nonetheless, visitors can still enjoy the beautiful nautical view over the deck that commends the full view of Dokdo Island and its surrounding. Please also be noted that the ferry will not operate during winter season.

  • ☞ Address: Dokdo-ri, Ulleung-eup, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
  • ☞ Directions: From Dodonghang Port, take a ship bound for Dokdo Island. (Total travel time:about 4 hours; round-trip including time of stay on the island)
  • ☞ Fees: Passenger Ship 50,000 won (varies according to shipping company)
  • ☞ Website: www.dokdo.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

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Photo courtesy of Ulleung-gun Office

* This column was last updated in December 2015, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official website before visiting.

<Last updated on December 31, 2015>