Dodong (도동) is Ulleungdo’s largest town and has the most to offer in the town itself. It is also one of the 2 ports that your ferry will arrive in if you leave from Pohang. For more on getting to Ulleungdo make sure to read our post on Ulleungdo Travel Hacks, it covers ferries, buses, an app for the island and more!
If you are visiting Ulleungdo, it is a good idea to find accommodation in Dodong as it is the starting point for the buses going to both sides of the island. There are also lots of places to eat and if you feel like a night out there are several Norae Bangs (singing rooms) and places to drink.
Here is the full list of what to see and do in this Ulleungdo Town:
Dokdo Museum and Viewing Platform
If you’ve done any reading about Ulleungdo you will have come across Dokdo. This is a political hot potato that many Koreans feel very strongly about. To learn more about Dokdo and Korea’s claim to these 2 tiny islands the best place to start is the Dodko Museum in Dodong. Unfortunately most of the information is in Korean but there is enough English for you to gain a better understanding of the history of Dokdo and why Koreans feel so strongly about it.
From historical treaties dating back to the Joseon dynasty, to maps and artifacts, this museum has enough to keep any history enthusiast happy. The museum is modern and well curated with some interesting videos of Ulleungdo from many decades ago. Entrance to the museum is free.
After poking around the museum you will want to take the cable car up to the Dokdo viewing platform. It costs 6000 Won to ride in the cable car which offers a great bird’s-eye view of Dodong.
Looking out from the platform you can see Dokdo in the distance but the day has to be perfectly clear. We have yet to see it! Even if you can’t see Dokdo itself, the view over Ulleungdo is incredible and well worth going up to the viewing platform.
Getting to the museum and cable car
As you walk up the main road (Dodong only has 3 roads) from the ferry terminal, a road forks off to the left under an arch. Follow that road up until you see some souvenir shops and a large Buddhist temple. There is a large grey building to your right which has an elevator.
You will find the museum and cable car at the top of that elevator. The walk up to the elevator gets incredibly steep so be ready for that. When you get near the top you will see Buddha looking down at your efforts and laughing!
While you are by the Dokdo museum take a few minutes to visit the Dodong mineral spring. This spring is tucked away and has a turtle carved into the rock where you can drink from the spring. As you walk down the hill from the museum the road curves sharply and you will see a flight of stone stairs to your right, walk up those and then a second flight you will see above those. You will find the spring there.
As you walk up you will notice a gutter that is coloured orange. This is from the high content of iron in the spring water. The water itself tastes sharp, almost bubbly and like licking a handful of coins. It sounds terrible but it is part of the experience and it grows on you!
Dodong Sea Walkway
The Dodong sea walkway is possibly the highlight of a trip to Dodong. It starts at the ferry terminal and winds its way around the sea-cliffs, right next to the ocean. The walk is exceptionally beautiful and it is a must-do. The walk ends at Haengnam beach and takes roughly 30 minutes.
Along the way you will find restaurants selling the freshest fish you will ever eat, a mountain spring with the freshest water you can drink and beautiful rock formations and caves. You can also hop into the water anywhere along the walkway for a swim. The water is clear, going about 8m down, and there are lots of fish to see if you have snorkeling gear with you.
At night the walkway is well lit and in the distance you can see the boats fishing for squid, easily recognisable by their very bright lights. If you feel like going on a romantic evening stroll, Dodong’s sea walkway will not let you down.
If the weather is bad, the walkway will be closed because of high waves and potential rockfall. Keep an eye on the Ulleungdo App to see if it is closed. For a more detailed breakdown of the Dodong sea walkway read our post here.
Dodong Forest Trail
If you enjoy walking through forests and having a great view of the ocean then the Dodong Forest Trail is for you! This trail is not commonly used and you will most likely have it all to yourself. The hike winds its way above the sea walkway so you can look out over the ocean as you go. The late afternoon sunlight is amazing as the shadows fall over Dodong.
The hike starts just next to the post office in Dodong and you have to climb up one hell of a steep flight of stairs to get into the forest on the surrounding mountain. You can follow the trail all the way round to the Haengnam Lighthouse which has a beautiful view over Jeodong, the neighbouring town, and, if you are feeling adventurous, you can get a great view of the sunrise. From the lighthouse you can walk back down to Haengnam beach and back to Dodong along the sea walkway. The whole walk will take about 1.5 to 2 hours. If you want to you can stop for a beer and snacks along the way.
For more on the forest walk you can read our post here, and to highlight the necessity of checking the Ulleungdo App, read this post on the little walk that wasn’t:
Haengnam Beach and Lighthouse
Both the sea walkway and forest trail from Dodong lead you to Haengnam. Apart from the beach and lighthouse there is very little to see. The area is very rocky and rugged and the best views I have had there are around sunrise or the early morning light.
There is also a ‘Bamboo Forest’ but this is just really a large patch of bamboo, forest is exaggerating! On a windy day the wind through the bamboo sounds amazing.
There is a small restaurant that you can stop at for some beer and snacks. A few years ago you could carry on to another sea walkway that lead you to Jeodong but that has now collapsed. There are talks to fix it but at the moment there is nothing being done.
The best thing at Haengnam is if you go up to the lighthouse, or follow the pathway to the start of the old seawalkway to Jeodong, you have the most fantastic view over Jeodong. You can see to the tiny neighbouring islands of Gwaneumdo and Jukdo.
You won’t need to spend much time around Haengnam but the view makes it worth a visit. If you feel adventurous one morning, hike through the forest trail to catch the sunrise. At the height of summer this is at 5am but during Chuseok, around September, it is only at 6am!
Seonginbong is one of the main attractions of Ulleungdo. It is the highest peak on the island and the whole walk is through primeval forests. It is a tough but beautiful hike that I would highly recommend to do if you have time. I have been up Seonginbong several times and enjoyed it each time. Sometimes the weather can conspire against you and when you reach the top for the best view over the entire mountain, it can be covered in clouds! Read about some of our adventures on Seonginbong by clicking the picture below:
Getting to Seonginbong
There are numerous routes that get you to the start of the Seonginbong trail. The best place to start is probably Dodong, you can hop on a bus that will take you to the road that leads directly to the start. If you want to walk all the way there you can find a trail that leads to the KBS station up from the hospital in Dodong. The KBS station is just below the start of the Seonginbong trail. You can also start the trail in Nari Basin, read our post on Cheonbu for more details about it.
Round the Island Ferry Tour from Dodong
A fantastic way to see the whole of Ulleungdo is to take the Ulleungdo sightseeing boat from Dodong. The tour is called ‘섬일주’ which literally translates to ‘Round the Island’. This ferry travels around the entire island giving you a great view from the ocean. It takes roughly 1.5 hours for the entire trip and costs 25,000 Won per adult.
It is a fun way to see the whole of Ulleungdo without having to walk up any hills! The tour goes out twice a day, leaving at 9:15 and 15:40 from Dodong. You can buy tickets from the tour office next to the ferry terminal or phone 054-791-2002.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Dodong
In Dodong you will be spoilt for choice of places to eat, drink and sing. It is the liveliest of the towns on Ulleungdo and I have had several evenings where I have had to stumble home from a teacher’s night out!
This quaint cafe is at the top of Dodong 3-gil as it meets the main road. The interior is designed to look like Santorini and it serves possibly the best coffee on the Island. There are also a variety of smoothies and teas to choose from which are all delicious. If you feel snacky you can buy a tub of little coffee breads or else you can also order their delicious and freshly made pretzel pizza breads. The menu is in English so it is easy to read.
커피 & 계란빵 (Coffee and Egg Bread)
This little coffee shop can easily be missed on the side of the road heading out of Dodong. You will find it just by the bus stop where the 3 roads meet under Ulleung Elementary. This cafe has the cheapest coffee that we have found on Ulleungdo at 2,500 Won and the egg bread is fantastic. You can have plain egg bread or pumpkin egg bread, both are delicious. If you are lucky enough to get one of these little taste sensations straight out the oven, you’ll never want to leave!
Green Beans Cafe
This cafe is a quirky little shop with a great view over the ferry terminal. The decorations are unique and fun and the coffee is really good. It is entertaining to sit and watch the tourists around the terminal and it is a great place for a rest in Dodong.
역사전시관 & 카페 (History Pavilion and Cafe)
This little gem is easy to miss. It looks like a private home and almost always looks closed. It is a preserved house from the time when the Japanese controlled Ulleungdo and has been converted into a cafe and museum. Unfortunately most of the information is in Korean but the staff are friendly and try really hard to explain in English. Not only do you get to see some of the history of Ulleungdo and Dokdo, but they will also print out one of your photos of the island for you and give you some small gifts! The coffee is delicious so make sure you pop in for a visit.
This restaurant is just next to the post office. I would highly recommend trying the Duck Bulgogi from this restaurant. It is quite expensive at 25,000 Won but it is large enough for 4 people and it is incredible! I always feel like rolling out of this restaurant because I just can’t stop eating this dish. There are a large variety of other meals you can try but the Duck is the best.
If you like Korean Barbecue then this restaurant is a must. It is large so even during the busy tourist season you should still be able to find space. The meat is delicious and they have some of the best ban chan (side dishes) on the island. Definitely try the Heuk Dwaeji (black pig) or the Hanu (special Ulleungdo beef).
Ulleungdo is a great place to eat fish. The fish is the freshest you will ever eat; either caught that day or fished out of one of the tanks outside the restaurant. This fish restaurant served us more fish than we could possibly eat for 25,000 Won. If you enjoy fish you cannot leave the island without having eaten at one of their numerous fish restaurants.
If you’re unsure of what to order, or need help with what to expect from Korean food and the names of particular dishes, check out this comprehensive guide to Korean food:
Final thoughts on Dodong
Dodong is a great town to visit while you are on Ulleungdo. If you can find accommodation at one of the Pensions around the Town you will be in a great location for getting around and having a good time. Unfortunately many of the pension owners don’t speak English and you can only book over the phone.
I’d suggest using Airbnb. If you sign up through the link below you will get a $45 discount on your first booking and we also get some dollars off our next booking, it’s a win-win!
Otherwise check out booking.com. The link below is an affiliate link so we get a tiny commission if you book using it but it doesn’t affect your price at all! We can recommend the Camelia hotel in Dodong as a reasonably priced and comfortable hotel to stay in.
If you haven’t already be sure to check out what else Ulleungdo has on offer and advice for travelling around the island:
- Ulleungdo Travel Hacks
- Taeha and Hakpo
- The best snorkeling on Ulleungdo
- Taeha Monrail
Happy travels and blue skies!
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