Most tourists in South Korea only know about Jeju Island. However, near South Korea’s border with Japan, are the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands. The area is located in Ulleung County in the North Gyeongsang Province.
Why should you go there? Unlike Jeju Island, the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands are much less commercial. Consequently, if you’re looking for a semi-remote, peaceful getaway, the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands are perfect for you.
Ideally, you should explore the area on a weekend. In that way, you have enough time to go to both islands. However, if you’re pressed for time, is it worth going to both? After all, what does Dokdo have that Ulleungdo doesn’t?
Let’s find out.
In this travel guide, learn all you need to know about the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands.
How to Get to the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands From Seoul?
If you’re visiting the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands from Seoul, you’ll have to prepare for a four-and-a-half-hour journey.
From Seoul, travel to Gangneung via a bus. You can also go to Gangneung via train, but it’s more expensive and the journey duration is essentially the same. Through the bus, the journey will take approximately two hours.
Once you’re at the Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal, catch a taxi to the Anmok Ferry Terminal. This won’t take more than 15 minutes. From there, a ferry will take you to Ulleungdo Island. It’ll be a two-hour ride. If you want to go to Dokdo, you can catch another ferry at Ulleungdo.
Now, since the journey is pretty long, you have to catch an early-morning bus. For example, you can get a 5:00 AM bus from Seoul, so you can reach Anmok Ferry Terminal by 9:00 AM.
This might not sound very appealing for late-risers. However, when you consider what the islands have to offer, waking up early seems worth it.
What Do Both Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands Offer?
As mentioned, getting up early is a small price to explore these two islands. Here are the things you’ll find on both islands.
Few things beat watching a sunset at Ulleungdo Island. One of the best things about these islands is the scenic environment. Unlike Jeju, which is a more commercialized tourist hub, the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands don’t see much tourist traffic.
Much of the islands’ natural topography is untouched, preserved by local authorities and environmental activists.
If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, a stay on either island will do you good.
Even Dokdo has striking views of both Ulleungdo and the stark blue waters. Ulleungdo is essentially a fishing village, so you’ll see lots of pretty boats around as well.
Secondly, both islands have amazing local food. Since both are islands, seafood is a big commodity. You can find raw fish restaurants at Ulleungdo. Eating platters of raw fish (akin to sushi) with soju is a local delicacy.
Another delicacy on both islands is pumpkin makgeolli, which is pumpkin-flavored rice wine.
You’ll also find a lot of herb-based dishes. Both the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands are rich in medicinal herbs. Thanks to its cool climate, Ulleungdo has over 700 herbs growing on its terrain.
Why Go To Both Islands?
However, killer views and good food aren’t everything. What else do these islands offer to make a double-trip worth it?
A lot, actually.
Remnants of Volcanic Rocks
Firstly, both the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands are remnants of volcanic rocks, dating back to the Cenozoic era. If you’re interested in geology, the construction of these rocks will astound you.
However, even if your interests aren’t academic, you can appreciate the beauty and mysticism of these rocks.
The Dokdo Observatory
If you’re going to Dokdo, you have to check out the observatory. You don’t even have to wait for a ferry. You can go to the observatory via a cable car. It’s a lot of fun, especially once you get there.
The Dokdo Observatory gives you a solid view of the constellations and surrounding islands and rocks. You can see how pretty Ulleungdo looks at night.
Bongnae Waterfall at Ulleungdo
For those going to Ulleungdo, seeing the waterfall (and drinking its freshwater) is a must. As mentioned, Ulleungdo and Dokdo are some of the least polluted areas in South Korea.
Therefore, local attractions such as the Bongnae Waterfall are 100% natural and organic. Visiting the waterfall is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Ulleungdo’s Haengnam Coastal Walking Path
Lastly, you have to walk along Ulleungdo’s coastal walking path. It’s one of the main attractions in the entire area. It’s like hiking, except the path is constructed like a bridge.
However, you get to see all of Ulleungdo’s natural beauty as you walk. It’s an excellent place to sit, relax, and watch the sunset.
You can also walk and observe local flora, fauna, and wildlife. There are a lot of birds on the island, which migrate with each season.
If you’re a blogger or photographer, the area is also very picturesque and Instagrammable.
The Bottom Line
All in all, both the Ulleungdo and Dokdo Islands are fantastic tourist destinations. Both islands are romantic and beautiful. Consequently, it’s worth visiting both, especially with family and friends.
If you’re looking for more stuff to do in South Korea, you can explore Seoul’s spectacular tourist spots. Don’t forget to check out this travel guide to exploring Daegu’s Kim Gwangseok Street.