Jeju is Korea’s largest island and often called “The Hawaii of Korea” or “Honeymooner’s Paradise.” With the island’s recent inclusion into the New 7 Wonders, the small 1849 sqm. patch of land has seen more international visitors in the past year. This month on The Korea Blog, Featured Writer Steve Miller shares with you four travel itineraries designed to help visitors experience the most of this incredibly beautiful island.
Jeju is awesome and one could spend a lifetime exploring every nook and cranny of this amazing paradise. Unfortunately, most only have a few days to set foot on this beautiful island, and with so much to see and do, it’s difficult to know where to start. While there are a number of buses that crisscross the island’s roads, those wishing to truly experience Jeju are better off renting a car once arriving. They are fairly inexpensive and will allow for more timely excursions. For this first installment, we’re going to focus on Jeju’s east coast.
The first stop: Seongsan Ilchulbong Crater
The crater is the result from an eruption about 100,000 years ago and is a 600 meter peak. The area is well traveled, with benches and a lovely paved trail to the top. Why is this a must-see place on Jeju? The sunrises. Driving here before dawn is a must-do experience when on Jeju. The views from atop the crater are breathtaking and as the sun comes up over the horizon, there is simply no better way to start the day. Once the sun is high in the sky, make your way back down and stop off at Dongamsa Temple. It’s a fairly small Buddhist temple at the base of the crater, but worth a look.
Hours: Winter : 1 hour before sunrise – 20:00 / Summer : 1 hour before sunrise – 21:00 (No admittance during bad weather)
Admission: W2,000 (adults), W1,000 (children)
Address: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Seogwipo-si Seongsan-eup Seongsan-ri 114
Public Transport Directions:
At Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a Direct Bus (Dongilju bus bound for Seongsan) and get off at Seongsalliipgu bus stop. (Travel time : 2 hrs)
At Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, take a Direct Bus (Dongilju bus bound for Seongsan) and get off at Seongsalliipgu bus stop (Travel time: 2 hr 30 min)
At Seongsalliipgu bus stop, you will see Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. Walk to the peak (about 1km).
Second Stop: Udo
Shaped like a cow, the nearby island of Udo is a fun place to kill a few hours. If you’ve hired a car (you did, right?), you can enjoy the island in your personal transportation after a short ferry ride across the water. If you didn’t, no worries, right on the dock are several vendors ready to rent out scooters or ATVs. If you’re not too sure of yourself on a bike, they even have golf carts available. I personally don’t see the cow shape when looking at the majestic landscape, but what I do see are fantastic beaches and clear, blue water. The island’s beauty has appeared in a number of television shows and major films, and it’s easy to see why. When you come here, you are transported away to paradise.
Address: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Jeju-si Udo-myeon
Phone: +82-64-783-0533, +82-64-728-4333 (Korean) (+82-64-1330 tourism line)
Transportation: Make your way via intercity bus or car to Seongsan Port.
Stop Three: Jeju Haenyeo Museum
Haenyeo refers to female divers who dive into the ocean water to gather various shellfish, seaweed, etc., without using any underwater diving equipment. It is truly am impressive task, one that should be revered by all. To go into these cold waters for hours on end and farm the sea is nothing short of incredible and a testament to these women’s character. It’s no wonder that Jeju has a very matriarchal society. The museum has a few exhibition halls, all dedicated to the daily life of these mermaids of the sea. It take about an hour or so to thoroughly enjoy the museum, and anyone who is interested in history and culture would find this a must-visit stop.
Address: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Jeju-si Gujwa-eup Hado-ri 3204-1
Phone: +82-64-782-9898 / +82-64-710-7771~5 (+82-64-1330 tourism line)
Hours: 09:00 – 18:00, closed first Monday of the month.
Admission: W1100 (adults), W500 (children)
Directions: Take bus No.100 or No.200 from Jeju International Airport and get off at Jeju Bus Terminal. Then take the bus bound for Sehwa and Seongsan and get off at Jeju Haenyeo Japan Resistance Movement Memorial Park in Hado-ri, Gujwa-eup (Travel time: takes 60 minutes)
Stop Four: Gimnyeong Maze
Gimnyeong Maze Park (김녕미로공원) is located between the two major tourist destinations of Manjanggul Cave and Gimnyeongsagul Cave. Originally built by Adrian Fisher Minotaur Maze Designs, the project was funded by Frederic Dustin, an American Professor on the island. The maze park incorporates several themes related to Jeju and is a blast for anyone looking to get lost. It’s probably one of the most fun experiences children of all ages can have. Racing though the maze from start to finish is quite the challenge, even with the available map. Once finished, it’s also quite enjoyable to look over the maze from one of the bridges and see others trying to navigate the clever twists and turns.
Phone: +82-64-782-9266, 9267 / +82-64-1330 (tourism line)
Address: Jeju Special Self-governing Province Jeju-si Gujwa-eup Donggimnyeong-ri
Admission: W3300 (adults), W1650 (youth), W880 (children), W2500 (senior)
From Jeju International Airport take bus No. 100 and get off at the Intercity Bus Terminal (제주시외버스터미널). Then take a bus for Manjanggul Cave (만장굴행) and get off at the parking lot by the cave entrance (만장굴 입구). The trip will normally take 50 minutes.
From Jeju International Airport take bus No. 38 and get off at hamdeok-ri (함덕리). Take a bus for the East Coast (Dongilju 동일주) or catch the Eup-myeon Circulation Bus (읍면순환 버스) and get off at the parking lot in front of the Manjanggul Cave (만장굴입구). Walk along the old road leading to the cave for 15minutes.
Final Stop: Manjanggul Cave
It’s part of a larger network of lava tubes on Jeju, that UNESCO has designated as World Heritage Site. In places, this particular tube was 24m high and 18m wide. While the entire cave is over 13km in length, only 1km is open to visitors. During the trek inside, you’ll be able to see some amazing formations and bear witness to Jeju’s impressive volcanic past.
Address: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Jeju-si Gujwa-eup Gimnyeong-ri
Phone: +82-64-783-4818, +82-64-1330
Hours: Summer season 09:00~18:00 / Winter season 09:00~17:30
Admission: W2000 (adults), W1000 (children)
From Jeju Bus Terminal, take the Donghoe Line Intercity Bus to get off at the parking lot near Manjanggul Cave Entrance. (app. 1hr 20 min.) At the parking lot, take a bus bound for Manjanggul. 20 minute walking distance from Manjanggul Cave Entrance (The parking lot) to Manjanggul Cave.
From Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, take the Donghoe Line Intercity Bus to get off at the parking lot near Manjanggul Cave Entrance. (app. 1hr 20 min.) At the parking lot, take a town bus bound for Manjanggul or a taxi. 20 minute walking distance from Manjanggul Cave Entrance (The parking lot) to Manjanggul Cave.
It’s a full day of adventure and there is still plenty more to see on this side of the island. What places have you visited? Next week, we continue our exploration of Jeju by looking at sights in the north and central regions.