The Northwest side of Ulleungdo is easy to pass over on your way to the more popular sights around Cheonbu or when it’s late and you just want to get back to Dodong or Jeodong. Taeha (태하) and Hakpo (학포) have some of the best views on the island and the best water activities so I would highly recommend adding these 2 Ulleungdo towns to any itinerary you have. There is a short forest trail that connects the 2 towns and is great if you want to spend the morning swimming at Hakpo and then hike over to Taeha for lunch and sightseeing. If you’re unsure about how to use the buses on the island, be sure to read up on the ultimate Ulleungdo Travel Hacks.
So here’s what you can find in Taeha and Hakpo:
The Taeha monorail is possibly the number 1 thing to do on Ulleungdo. You will find the monorail next to the ocean and on the Taeha promenade and it costs 4,000 Won to ride. The word for monorail is the same in Korean and English, so if you do somehow get lost, you can ask a local!
At the top of the monorail you will find a trail that leads to the Taeha lighthouse which has a great view over the surrounding cliffs and the East Sea. But I would recommend a slight detour away from the lighthouse; this is a tip that most Koreans don’t even know and we got insider help! This alternative viewing point has a much better view and there will be less people to get in your way.
As you walk along the path to reach the lighthouse you will reach a fork with a signpost. Take the path to the right and follow it until it dips down to a home. You will see a small footpath leading through a little field. Follow that path through the field and a line of trees until you reach one of the best viewing points on the whole of Ulleungdo.
For some more photos of the monorail and a little more detail, read about our first impressions of the Taeha monorail.
Taeha Sea Walkway
Sea walkways are really popular on Ulleungdo and if you’ve ever visited the island you will understand why. The paths offer an amazing view around the edges of the island. Walking next to the rugged, volcanic cliffs with the sea crashing below you is wonderful. If you can get out for the early morning or late afternoon sun the experience is even more magical.
The start of the walkway is up some steep ramps but they have used the extra wall space to detail the history of the island in murals. Unfortunately the information is only in English but the pictures are well made and add a little extra to the walk. If you follow the walkway around completely, you will reach a viewing platform. Along the way there are also numerous opportunities to wander down on to the rocks so you can get that perfect Instagram shot.
Unfortunately the new pathway no blocks off visiting the Ochre rocks of Taeha. The early settlers used this rock to create their pigments and you will see it advertised on tourist information. Even though you can’t get close to this rock you can view it as you walk up the ramp.
Taeha Sea and Land Museum
Taeha was the first area that was settled on Ulleungdo and with that comes an interesting history of the claims to the island and how the early settlers lived. If history is your thing then definitely pay a visit to this museum. With a 4,000 Won entry you are treated to a very modern museum with lots of multimedia displays and information in both English and Korean. You can also have some fun with a photo booth.
The key feature of the museum is actually outside. It is a replica of an Inspector’s ship that was used to maintain control of the island and ensure that the Japanese weren’t trying to poach fish or wood. The replica is well put together with lots of mannequins and models to show what life was like on these ships. You will not miss the ship as you enter Taeha and even if you don’t want to visit the museum, it is worth having a look at the ship.
You will see this temple tucked into a small patch of trees right next to the Taeha bus stop. It is a shamanic temple that is believed to have been erected in the early 15th century. The shrine contains the spirit tablets of 2 innocent children, a boy and a girl, who are honoured as shamanic deities known as Seonghajinam and Songhajinyeo.
We were told that the two children were sacrificed when the first settlers arrived on Ulleungdo to ensure plentiful food and safe travel to and from the island. The temple is often closed so you won’t be able to see inside but if you are lucky enough it will be open for you to have a peak in.
Taeha’s Street Art
Just down from the Seongha temple you will fins a street decorated with some delightful street art. From Alice in Wonderland to strange owls being covered in money, you will have fun wandering down this street and seeing what the locals have decided to decorate their homes with.
If you are travelling towards Taeha from Dodong you will need to get off the bus just before you arrive at Taeha. You will see a large building that makes pumpkin yeot and just after that you will see 2 golden cranes on the right hand side of the road; you need to get off there. There you will also see a large signpost with a variety of water activities that you can take part in at Hakpo beach.
Unfortunately the walk down from the main road is quite long but on the plus side, there is a wonderful swim waiting for you at the bottom. Hakpo is one of the best swimming beaches on Ulleungdo and you can go for a paddle in a glass bottom canoe, get pulled around on a banana, go snorkeling and even scuba dive. Like almost all of the beaches on Ulleungdo, Hakpo beach is rocky but the water gets deep very quickly so it is perfect for a swim.
There is a cheerful, red cafe down by the ocean so you can get yourself some drinks or ramyeon if you feel the need for a snack.
Accommodation around Hakpo
If you are looking for accommodation on Ulleungdo, Hakpo beach several places you can choose from. We can highly recommend the Airbnb that is situated halfway down. The owner is fluent in English and offers help getting to and from the ferry for half the price of a taxi. Click on the Airbnb link at the bottom of the post to find out more!
There is also a large campsite if camping is your thing and the cafe at the bottom of the hill has rooms to rent. Phone 010-3369-7005 to find out more about the cafe, although you my need a Korean speaker. From Hakpo you will have a great view of the sunset over the ocean. Unfortunately you will need to do a lot of walking to catch the bus but if great views are your thing, it will be worth it!
Hakpo to Taeha Forest Trail
If you want a really picturesque path from Hakpo to Taeha then consider doing the forest trail between the 2. It takes about 30 minutes at a brisk walk and you have wonderful views over the surrounding areas. The path itself is a bit overgrown and not well looked after but if you are wearing comfortable walking shoes you won’t have any problems.
You will find the start of the path as you head along the only road between the main road and the beach. You will see a signpost towards Taeha from Hakpo. Follow the road up a very steep hill and past a little house. The road will end quite abruptly but you will see an arrow painted on to the concrete. Step off there and you will find the path. It takes you out in Taeha behind the Buddhist temple. You can’t miss the large white sculpture with a golden flower perched on top.
Lunch in Taeha – Ulleung Bancheom
There is only one place you need to eat in Taeha and that is at the Ulleung Bancheom. A Bancheom is a Chinese/Korean restaurant where you get wonderful food like Jjangmyeon and Tansuyuk. What you will find at this particular restaurant is the most amazing Tangsuyuk you have ever eaten. They use cinnamon in the sweet and sour sauce and it is mindblowing. The serving portion is huge, you can order the small portion to share between 4 people!
If you make an effort to eat at any restaurant on Ulleungdo, definitely find the Ulleung Bancheom in Taeha!
Final thoughts on Taeha and Hakpo
A trip to Ulleungdo just wouldn’t be complete without visiting these 2 towns. You will need to do lots of walking but both offer some of the best views on the island. If you have several days to spare, take a full day to enjoy both places, you won’t regret it! Even if you are pushed for time, I managed to travel around the entirety of Ulleungdo and still do everything there is to do in both of these towns.
If you’re looking for accommodation use this Airbnb link to signup and you can get a $40 discount on your first booking. We also get a discount on our next booking so it is a win-win!
If you’d like to get a hotel, use the booking.com link below. We are part of an affiliate program with booking.com so we get a small commission if you use this link without any extra cost to you, this helps us keep the blog running.
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
- The best snorkeling on Ulleungdo
- Taeha Monrail
Happy travels and blue skies!
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