The Yu-Xiang and Sun-Han Families
Travelers: Heidi Yu, her husband Richard Xiang, and daughter Dora Xiang (age 7) who attends Canadian International School of Beijing. Family friend Nancy Sun and her son Qiushi Han (age 7) and daughter Qianhao Han (age 5). The Han children also attend CISB.
Destination: Jeju Island, South Korea
Travel dates: June 2014
Travel plans: The Xiang and Han families made the decision to take the trip only six days before departure. They chose Jeju Island partly because of its proximity to Beijing, and partly because Chinese tourists can visit the island visa-free for up to 30 days. They flew with Korean Air and stayed at the Lotte Hotel Jeju.
Cost: The flights and hotel cost RMB 25,000 in total. Entrance fees to various attractions came to RMB 2,500. Dining cost approximately RMB 4,000 and transportation came to RMB 2,000.
Jeju is the perfect place to spend a few days away at short notice. It doesn’t require much planning in advance. Most travelers visit Jeju to see Hallasan Mountain, the Folk Village, and other cultural attractions, but as our visit was both short and kid-centric, we wanted to prioritize fun activities that the children would enjoy.
The first activity we tried was zip gliding, which is like hang gliding, except on a zip line. I didn’t tell the kids in advance that they would be going. In fact the children didn’t even know what zip gliding was before attempting it. They were nervous and excited as they were strapped in, but they quickly began to enjoy themselves. They enjoyed it so much they took a second and third trip on the zip gliders. Unfortunately information on the zip gliding trip is only available on the Internet in Korean; you can call this number 064-794-0822.
Dora’s favorite activity by far was swimming with dolphins. Although it was a hot day, the water was very cold; the dolphins need to be in cold water. The children were instructed not to touch the dolphin’s blowhole. Dora was surprised by the texture of the dolphin’s skin; it was hard and slippery, whereas she had expected it to be soft. Each of the kids took turns holding onto the dolphin’s fin and riding up and down the pool.
Marine Park, where the activity takes place, is quite new and therefore a little hard to find. It’s not yet listed on most of the usual popular travel websites. I found the park by accident while browsing someone’s vacation review about Jeju. He mentioned feeding dolphins without saying where it was. So searched directly for “swimming with Dolphins in Jeju” and finally found a link for Marine Park. However the site is in Chinese and Korean only. http://gomarinepark.com/
The park employees have to call you back to confirm the reservation for dolphin swimming. As it is a long-distance call, they may not call you; the safest thing to do is to ring them to confirm the reservation yourself.
If you travel with friends, Jeju is definitely a great destination. The Lotte Hotel Jeju has an amazing outdoor swimming pool with strict and watchful lifeguards, so parents can really relax at the pool lounge while the children swim.
The beach is within easy reach of the Lotte Hotel Jeju along the boardwalk. Because of the strong winds, water sports such as windsurfing are popular. There is a surfing club at the beach, and a lot of local people surf there.
We had the option of gambling at the hotel casino, but because we were with the kids we decided to skip it. You can shop in the hotel’s duty-free shop on the sixth floor, which is a convenient option for guests. I would recommend the hotel even though the rates are quite expensive.
- I used www.ctrip.com to book the hotel and flights. I also used information on travel plans and itineraries from the site as a reference.
- I trust the reviews on www.tripadvisor.com. I use other traveler’s comments to help choose the destination, hotels, and activities for all of our trips.
- None of the taxi drivers on Jeju could speak English, and they couldn’t read English maps either. You should always ask someone to translate your destination into Korean before every outing.
Photos courtesy of Heidi Yu