Jeju Island Korea – Just as South East Asia has Bali, Australia has the Whitsunday Islands, and Japan has Okinawa, Jeju Island is South Korea’s contender for the best tropical island getaway in Asia-Pacific. What was once Korea’s best kept secret is now a popular destination opened up to the world, made famous through A-grade tourism campaigns and with the help of rising Korean celebrities whose number one local getaway always seem to be Jeju Island.
Commonly known as the Hawaii of Korea, Jeju Island South Korea is home to the largest (inactive) volcano in Korea and exists under a subtropical climate, therefore it’s consistently warmer than the rest of Korea (which is probably why many locals escape to the island all throughout the year, even in winter!). It’s also an extremely popular destination for honeymooners to get away from the cityscape to enjoy the greener side of South Korea. Beautiful beaches, luscious mountains, and beachside resorts – Jeju Island South Korea is the perfect island getaway.
How to get there?
From within Korea alone, there are more than 100 flights daily that fly to Jeju Island. Prices can get to as low as 55,000 won for a one-way ticket from Seoul, and the flight duration is only 70 minutes.
Where to stay?
Guesthouse – Choi Hostel & Guesthouse
Choi Hostel Jeju is located a 15-minute walk from Cheonjiyeon Falls, and is located 10-minutes from Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market and Lee Jung Seop Street. Complimentary daily breakfast is provided, and there is free Wi-Fi throughout. All rooms have air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a fridge, and a closet.
Why Guests Love It: The rooms were spacious, great view of the hills, local bus station is nearby, airport limousine stop is near the guesthouse, Halal friendly.
Book It Here: Choi Hostel & Guesthouse
This total is just under a 10-minute walk from Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market and Lee Jung-Seop Culture Street. It boasts a rooftop terrace, spa baths, a fitness centre, and an on-site restaurant. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. All rooms are air-conditioned, and have a balcony, a flat-screen cable TV, free bottled water, and bathroom amenities are all provided.
Why Guests Love It: Very friendly and very professional, free parking, bed was very comfortable, location was near many attractions, great views of the ocean.
Book It Here: Howard Johnson Hotel Jeju Seogwipo Harbor
Jeju Island Korea – Mount Hallasan
At 1,950m above sea level, Mount Hallasan easily boasts the highest mountain peak in all of Korea. It’s currently listed as a Natural Monument of Korea, as well as an UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. When you visit Jeju Island, it is highly recommended that you dedicate a day to climbing one of the five hiking trails on this mountain. Whilst only two of the five trails actually lead to the top, gorgeous views are offered along all the trails themselves (but the best ones are reserved for the peak, especially in autumn and winter). In addition, with nearly 6000 species of flora and fauna co-habiting on this mountainous area alone, you’re bound to be snapping away with camera endlessly, trying to capture all the beauty that the mountain beholds.
The ‘Seongpanak’ and ‘Gwaneumsa’ Trail are the two trails that lead to the top. The ‘Yeongsil’ and ‘Eorimok’ Trail are the shortest and most beginning friendly. If you are planning to hike to the summit, it is recommended that you start super early in the day. Summertime is probably the worst time to hike, as there are often rainclouds above the mountains.
Address: 2070-61, 1100-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Access: To hike Eorimok, from Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus no. 740 and get off at the Eorimok Trail Entrance. To hike Seongpanak, from from Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus no. 781 or 781-1 and alight at Seongpanak Bus Stop.
Book a tour: Horseback Riding in Hallasan
Jeju Island Korea – Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
As with most volcanic islands, a legacy has been left behind from an eruption thousands of years ago. Seongsan Ilchulbong is a huge crater peak that is around 600m in diameter and 90m in height. It is absolutely stunning to see in person, and views of Jeju from the top are incomparable. At the peak, the crater is surrounded by sharp rocks, which is a unique formation feature. In spring, the peak hosts an onslaught of sunshine yellow canola flowers – it’s a truly an amazing sight to behold.
Be prepared to encounter many tourists whilst you head up to the peak. The climb isn’t particularly steep or long, however, the crowds of tourist will add additional minutes onto the time bank. For the ultimate experience, head to the peak before sunrise to catch the first glimpse of the rays as it hits your face. The view from there is priceless.
Access: From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take the Dongilju bus bound for Seongsan and alight at Seongsalliipgu Bus Stop (approximately 2 hours of travel). From there, head towards the peak (about 1km).
Hours: 1 hour before the sunrises – sunset
Cost: Adults: 2,000 won (2$), Children: 1,000 won (1$)
Jeju Island Korea – Learn more about the local ‘haenyeo’ who dive daily for seafood
Jeju’s famous female divers, known as ‘haenyeo’, have been free-diving in the ocean for oysters, abalone, clams, seaweed and other creatures without the assistance of technological breathing equipment since the 17th century. Through learning the techniques from the young ages, these women, some of whom are currently in their 80s, can hold their breath for up to two minutes of diving up to 20m. This is an extremely difficult feat to achieve, and goes to show just how dedicated and rare these ‘haenyeo’ divers truly are.
You might be able to catch them jumping into the ocean along the coast during your trip here, but if you don’t happen upon that chance, then head to the Haenyeo Museum, which is a museum dedicated to educating visitors on their history, folk customs, and tools of trade long before the benefits of the wetsuit came about. It’s one of the most interesting museums you’ll ever come across, as haenyeo are exclusive to the Jeju Islands South Korea, so don’t miss out on this chance to learn more!
Access: From Jeju Bus Terminal, take the bus bound for Sehwa and Seongsan, and alight at Jeju Haenyeo Japan Resistance Movement Memorial Park in Hado-ri, Gujwa-eup (60mins)
Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm (Closed January 1, Chuseok, 1st and 3rd Monday of every month)
Cost: Adults: 1,100 won (1$), Youth (13 -24): 500 won (0.5$)
But for your information, you can also book a tour to the east of the island and meet the haenyeo during a day trip.
Jeju Island Korea – Tea lovers, head to the O’Sulloc Museum
Tea enthusiasts, you haven’t been forgotten. This museum is entirely dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of Korean teas and the traditional Korea tea culture. You can visit this museum on your own accord, but for a detailed guided tour, you will need to reserving a spot on the O’Sulloc Museum’s Tea Time and Tea Stone Tour, which will take you on a trip through the entire museum to learn all about the different types of teas, how to properly brew them, and how to categorise distinct tea leaves. The museum itself houses a tea gallery area, an eco-friendly resting area, and a quaint café where you will be able to sample some of their teas and taste some of their desserts which are made from the tea flavours.
Access: Take bus no. 150-1/250-3/771-1/784-1/820-2 and alight at O’Sulloc Bus Stop.
Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Cost: Free (Tea Time and Tea Stone Tour: 30,000 won (27$) for 2 people)
Before we carry on adventures in Jeju Island, I wanted to let you know that you can discover other amazing islands in SE Asia in these blog posts: Southeast Asia Islands.
Jeju Island Korea – Have Some Fun at Loveland
A taboo area for anyone under 20 years of age, this outdoor adult theme park is dedicated to the sensuality of human nature, and anyone who considers themselves a prude should either actively avoid, or else be prepared to be blown away by the completely uncensored sculptures, artworks, exhibits, and suggestive features around the park. There are a total of 140 still sculptures in total, not including the interactive exhibits and sculptures that you can partake in (note: hilarity will ensue if anyone decides to try these!). Whilst this is not suitable for everyone, anyone who is down to have a good-natured laugh at random and excessive artwork should make their way here for a few hours of fun and memorable sightseeing.
Access: From Jeju International Airtport, take the bus bound for Chuksanjinheungwon, and alight at Dokkabi Road.
Hours: 9:00am – 12:00am
Cost: 9,000 won (8$)
Book here: Loveland Park
Jeju Island Korea – Discover Manjanggul Cave
Manjanggul Cave is a lava tunnel that features unique rock structures and lava stalagmites that are 70cm in length. You can participate in some interesting guided tours that will take you through the first kilometre of the caves (unfortunately, only that part of the cave is opened to the public for safety and preservation purposes), or you can opt to explore the cave on your own, but either way, there’s a chance you might come across some wildlife that only inhabit this part of the island. On super hot summer days, this would be the perfect getaway, as it is underground and cold, dark and wet – a great way to escape the heat. Whilst not many visitors complete the entre 1km path through the cave (the path you take in is the path you take out, so that would mean 2km in the cave), make sure you make it far enough to see the main attraction – the Stone Turtle. This should be around 300-400m in.
Those with claustrophobia or a fear of winged animals beware – this place is narrow at times, slippery with water, and you will often see bats hanging up on the dark corners.
Access: From Jeju Bus Terminal, take the bus no. 101 and alight at Manganggul Cave Entrance bus stop. You will need to walk roughly 20 minutes to the cave, otherwise, there is a mini shuttle service.
Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm (Closed on 1st Wednesday of every month)
Cost: Adults: 2,000 won (2$), Children: 1,000 won (1$)
Jeju Island Korea – Bask under the sun at the stunning Jungmun Saekdal Beach
A trip to Jeju would not be complete without a visit to the beach (it’s like heading to Hawaii and skipping the beaches). Imagine picturesque white-sand beaches, gentle rolling waves, the heat of the sun beating down on your back as you leisurely lay on the sand under an umbrella. That’s exactly what some of the beach experiences in Jeju are like. Others will have massive, crashing waves, perfect for those seeking a water adventure.
Jungmun Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations amongst locals and tourists. You can head where with the intention of popping open a book and napping in the sun, but there are also various activities you can do on that beach also, including parasailing, scuba diving, surfing, water skiing, windsurfing, rafting, and so much more!
Access: From Jeju International Airport, take airport shuttle bus no. 600 to Play K-Pop Bus Stop (approximately 1.5-hour travel time). Once you alight, follow the main path for just over 10 minutes towards the main beach.
Jeju Island Korea – Jeju Waterworld
Jeju Waterworld is Jeju Island’s largest water theme park, and is located right next to the ocean. For families with young kids, this is the perfect place for you to let the kids run rampant on the multitude of exciting rides available, whilst you could either join them or head to a nearby jjimjilbang or sauna to unwind and relax for a couple of hours. Although it may seem like a place for the younger audience only, this cannot be further from the truth. On a trip with a bunch of mates? Head here for some adrenalin-pulsing rides in the water. On a romantic trip for two on the island? This is a great way to break up the solitary hikes and museum visits with some good-natured theme park fun. Again, after all your energy’s zapped from sliding down all the rides, head to a jjimjilbang or sauna (hint: the Samda Water Tangerine Spa’s waters contain the essence of Jeju’s local specialty, tangerines, and are reported to assist with sclerosis and hyperpiesia), or head over to the indoor golf range to unwind over an easy game of golf.
Access: From Jeju International Airport, take an airport shuttle Bus No. 600 (bound for Seogwipo). Alight at Jeju Worldcup Stadium Bus Stop (roughly 20-24 stops away). Walk for roughly 6-minutes until you reach the gymnasium building (total travel time is around 100 minutes).
Hours: Peak Season: 10:00am – 9:00pm, Off-Peak Season: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Cost: All-Day Pass: 26,000 won (23$), Afternoon Pass (2:00pm – 8:00pm): 21,000 won (19$), Children under 3: Free (Note: this does not include access to the sauna, jjimjilbang, or golf complex)
Jeju Island Korea – Cheonjeyeon Falls
With a name that translates to “sky connected to the land”, what would you expect Cheonjiyeon Falls to be?
The picture it paints is exactly that.
This stunning waterfall is 22m in weight, 12m wide, and 20m in depth, and is one of the most picturesque waterfalls you will ever come across. It’s even known as the ‘Pond of God’. Crystal clear water pours down from the top, surrounded by Dampalsu trees (a South Korean Natural Monument), Sanjuya trees, and camellia flowers. The luscious green vegetation contrasts with the water to display an always picture-perfect view, and if you ever look down, you’ll see through the clear and deep waters to the Mutae eels, which seek refuge in the Cheonjiyeon Falls. If you’re visiting in May during the Chilseonyeo Festival, bring along your swimsuit because you can actually take a dip in the waters!
Access: From Jeju Airport, take the Airport Limousine Bus 600 (bound for Jungmun) and alight at Yeomiji Botanical Garden (approximately 50 minutes). Walk 5-10 minutes to the entrance of the Yeomiji Botanical Garden, and grab the entrance tickets there.
Hours: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Cost: Adults: 2,500 won (2$), Children: 1,350 won (1$)
Book a tour: Western Island Exploration
Jeju Olle Trail (Olle-gil)
‘Olle’ in the local Jeju dialect roughly translates to ‘a winding path to your front door’, and the famous Olle coastal trails are a set of windy paths that anyone can take to self-tour around the island itself. The routes often change landscape so prepare yourself for terrain of all sorts. Some of the views you’ll encounter include coastal routes overlooking distant islands, large funky rock formations, and man-created caves born from activities during the Japanese occupation. Some visitors have been reported to spend an entire day just exploring the Olle Trails around the island, too engrossed in discovering more and more of the scenic off-the-beaten paths.
Access: there are 26 routes in total that anyone can take, and they are all free of charge. It is best if you head to their website, and work out which route is closest to your accommodation, or which route you would like to take, and start from there. To check their routes, click here.
Of course, the above is only the tiniest fraction of what The Island of the Gods has to offer. There is an endless list of activities that you can pour over, including picking fresh, juicy mandarins in Yusuam Town, horseback riding, zip lining on the outskirts of the Geomun Oreum volcanic site, hot air ballooning across Gotjawal Forest, parasailing over the Jungmun-Daepo Coast – we simply cannot fit all the good stuff in one piece for you.
Whether you’re headed to South Korea for the food, the culture, or the k-pop sensation, just remember, an hour away from the main city is this amazing island with an impressive coastline even Hawaiian’s would be envious of. Come and experience the holiday destination of choice for many local Koreans at Jeju Island South Korea.