My dad and I went to Jeju Island last month (june 2011) and had a disastrous experience with a local tour operator booked through Hana Tours. Read this before booking anything with them!
First let me explain that we are Korean and I speak a little korean (child level). So the tour operator was a korean speaking operator.
We booked a tour through a travel agent who booked it through Hana Tours. They are the largest tour operator in Korea according to my cousin. We got flight from Busan to Jeju Island, hotel 2 nights at Shilla Hotel which is a top hotel, and a tour for one price.
Apparently the tour was for three days and the Hana tour guide was supposed to pick us up from the airport along with a number of other people. So after being picked up we went on a tour of the island before heading to the hotel. This is where the problems began. The tour operator was absolutely terrible. After picking us up at the airpot he drove us to the first tour destination. It was some natural water spring that feeds into the ocean. There he told us to take a short hike down, view the springs, and then walk up the other side. After that we were to walk through some alley an to a parking lot where he would meet us. So we all went to the destination as instructed and walked up afterwards. At this point we could not find him. There were actually several parking lots, several alleys, and investigating all of them proved fruitless. After about 15 minutes of tour members making different suggestions and walking around someone called the tour guide and got directions. Turns out we had to go further on some other alley and he was waiting there smoking a cigarette.
The second destination was just some hill with a viewpoint at top. I'm not 100% sure because although I can speak a little korean I cannot read it very well. The Hana tour guide didn't explain anything at all. He started on his cigarette. So we trudged up the hill guessing on some path to take. Apparently we guessed wrong because then he came up and told us to go the other way. The tour group proceeded to go up and return. Again, no explanation of anything from the operator. I suppose the sign explained some things.
Afterwards, we were taken to a restaurant for dinner which was included. And after that we were checked into our hotel.
Now at this point my dad and I feel the Hana tour of Jeju Island is pretty crappy. Add to that my dad's feeling a bit sick. So we decide to skip the next day.
The next morning we inform the Hana tour guide that we are not going on that days trip because my dad is sick. He then informs us there is a penalty of $100 per person per day for not attending! Are you kidding me? He calls the Hana tour office and passes the cellphone to us. The person at the Hana tour office informs us we signed some kind of agreement (which we did not) that said if we don't attend there is a penalty of $100 per person, per day. That would be $400 for the both of us for the next two days! We informed Hana Tours that we were not asking for a refund but simply not attending due to my father's poor health but they insisted we pay the penalty. Of course they wanted cash. I'm so mad at this point I could barely contain myself. I tell my dad to hang up and tell the Hana tour guide to hit the road. He leaves but the Hana tour office keeps calling my dad's cell phone so he has to turn it off.
We ended up taking a taxi the following day and the taxi driver was much better at giving a tour. He mentioned he heard other tourists complain of the same treatment and being forced to attend tours under penalty of a fine for not attending!
After a few weeks we return to the US. Guess who calls my dad? The travel agent we used to book the tour asks us to call the US office of Hana tours. My dad informs them to send us a letter instead of calling.
Anyone else hear of a scam like this? I'm still steaming about it.