Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jeju Island Road Trip Day 5: CHOCOLATE MUSEUM

For chocolate lovers like us (me, specifically, and my kids, sometimes), a visit to the first and only museum in Asia specializing in chocolate and cacao was something worth looking forward to. To add to the excitement, the Chocolate Museum in Jeju Island was said to be one of the largest in the world after the one in Cologne, Germany (which we didn't get to see). I'm already imagining it's raining chocolates when we get there.

From Mt Sanbangsan and the Yongmeori Coast, we drove inland to the Chocolate Museum which was located in what looked like a suburban residential area. We initially thought we were already lost because the surroundings didn't look touristy at all. The GPS directed us right in front of the Chocolate Museum which didn't look like it was one of the largest chocolate museums in the world.
got a hug from my very sleepy little boy
We entered what seemed like a residential place through it's iron gate and headed to a the first window/counter we saw. Tickets cost 5,000 won ($5.92) for adults and 3,000 won ($3.55) for children. We paid for our tickets which came with free chocolates and coffee. I'm not really a coffee drinker but I got myself one just to see if there was any difference in taste compared to other coffee. Nope. Still bitter.
at the entrance of the Chocolate Museum with our free coffee
We walked from the main gate towards this brick red building with a very odd shape. We were greeted by a medieval knight at the entrance and, with much curiosity, made our way into the museum. We could either turn left or right from the main gallery and opted for a left turn where the history of chocolate began.
There were various displays of cacao and the boys couldn't believe that the chocolate they have been eating came from the cacao beans. We walked from one gallery to another taking in as much information as we could from all the displays and exhibits. This one particular exhibit about drinking chocolate caught Ira's interest as it had a train going around in circles carrying cacao. It also displays ancient aztec idols/statues which represents where and when chocolate was first used/made/discovered. 

One of my favorite galleries was the Everyday Christmas Hall. The room was decorated with Christmas trees and ornaments. You wouldn't even know that you're in a chocolate museum once you step into this room. It even comes with a living and dining area with all the Christmas trimmings. Christmas came early for us with our visit to this hall.

Another gallery we loved was where they had different types of chocolate cases and other items that's somehow related to chocolates and gift-giving. Some were made of tin, some were made of cardboard boxes. Some were heart-shaped, most were rectangular. They came in different sizes and shapes. The cases themselves were a treat. They even had a Sponge Bob tin case with handle. 

This was one of the galleries where Ira had fun going through all of the questions and opening up the boards to know the answers. He learned a lot of new information about chocolates. I did, too! It's amazing how many chocolate myths and truths there are that we didn't know of. We've been misinformed for decades! Here's one for you:
Which of these myths and truths is or are new to you?
Reading about chocolates and looking at different pictures/posters of chocolates made us crave for chocolates. The next gallery sure did make us drool some more! This is the Chocolate Museum factory where all the chocolates they sell in the museum shop are made. Yummilicious sweet treats right in front of us. So close yet so far. If only we could sneak in and get one or two (or more) pieces of these chocolates.


A family could dream and it could come true. As we were walking along the hallway, we saw someone handing free samples of chocolates. The boys got a handful and more. 
We then headed to the second floor where there were exhibits on how cacao beans are transformed to chocolates. There was like a mini processing plant showcasing machinery used in the olden days, as well as in the present, to make chocolate. There was also a room which features finely crafted china (cups and saucers and kettles) used hundreds of years ago to serve chocolate drinks to the elite.
At the basement of the museum (via a separate entrance at the side of the museum) was where the museum conducts chocolate-making workshops. It was awfully quiet when we were there. There wasn't any workshop on-going but we got to see the very neat kitchen where hundreds if not thousands of chocolates have been hand-made by workshop participants.
Outside the museum was the Chocolate Museum trolley. It wasn't in service during our visit but it was said to operate between the museum, Jung-mun and the airport during peak season. This trolley brought back memories of our visit to San Francisco in 2003 where we took a ride on the famous San Francisco cable cars (trolley).
here's a photo of the Chocolate Museum with the trolley parked in the lawn

After walking the halls of this world-famous museum, we stepped outside and enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh breeze. It would have been better if we had a box of chocolates to enjoy but they were too dear for our liking (and our budget). Maybe next time?

If you're a chocoholic with interest in history this museum should be on your list.

About Chocolate Museum:

  • Address: Seogwipo Daejong-up Ilgwari 551-18
  • Telephone Number: 064-711-3171
  • website: www.chocolatemuseum.org
  • Opening hours:
    • Mar-Jun 10am-6pm
    • Jul-Aug 10am-7pm
    • Sep-Oct 10am-6pm
    • Nov-Feb 10am-7pm
Travel tips of the day:
  • Don't expect too much of chocolate sampling. This is a museum and not a sampling venue after all.
  • If you're a true blue chocoholic and plans to bring home a box or two from the museum shop, prepare about $35 for a box.
  • If you want to take part in the chocolate-making experience, call in advance for reservation.