Things to do on Jeju Island. Also known as Islands of the Gods or Jejudo, Jeju Island is a beautiful paradise on the coast of South Korea. Besides being the largest island in the country, Jeju is also home to Hallasan, the highest mountain in Korea. Furthermore, you can find waterfalls, volcano craters, nature parks, beaches and lots of cultural activities. It’s not a surprise that Jeju is a popular vacation spot for locals, holiday seekers and honeymooners.
We spent four days on this island and loved it. If you’re planning a trip to this place, this article will certainly be useful. We explain how you can get around Jeju Island, what fun activities you can do, and we recommend two restaurants and a great hotel.
Some facts about Jeju Island
Jeju is actually a volcanic island with a surface over 1,846 square meter. It started erupting roughly 1.8 million years ago. It has continued to do so throughout history, until approximately 5000 years ago. Volcanic activity and eruptions created the form of Jeju Island. Mount Hallasan rises 1950 meters above sea level and is the centre of the island. Around this main volcano you can find more than 300 satellite volcanoes.
On the island you can find the natural World Heritage Site Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. In addition, Jeju has recently won the Global Geopark certificate and has been chosen as the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Jeju Island is not only known amongst Korean vacation goers, but it’s also a popular honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds. They even call it the Hawaii of Korea.
All over the island we encountered stone statues. We later learned these are known as dolharubang, meaning stone grandfather. The first statue was carved from lava rock in 1750 and are now part of the unique cultural heritage of Jeju. Dolharubang are believed to offer protection against demons.
How to get around Jeju Island
Before we get to the good stuff, we want to talk a little bit about transportation. Jeju Island is pretty big and unlike Seoul, public transport isn’t the best. Therefore, it’s really useful to have a car to get around. We will discuss the possibilities of getting around Jeju below.
Rent a car
We really, really wanted to rent a car. It isn’t that expensive: around $25 USD a day. Plus, you have so much freedom if you have your own car! However, in South Korea you can’t rent a car if you don’t have an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is the case in most foreign countries. They don’t make any exceptions and are really strict about it, it is just not possible to get a car at all from any car rentals if you don’t have an IDP. We weren’t even able to get a simple motorbike. Since we have been away for over a year, our IDP has been expired for a long time already.
So, be sure to arrange your International Driving Permit before you go to Jeju Island if you want to rent a car. This is not a replacement for your driver’s license, but more an extra license for translation.
Besides needing a IDP, renting a car on Jeju is pretty straightforward. And by just googling car rental Jeju you’ll find loads of options.
It is also possible to rent a car including a driver. The price for this was $160 USD for 8 hours. Furthermore, there is also a tour bus, which costs $75 USD per person for a day.
Public transportation: going around by bus
We had to use the public transportation to get around. We didn’t look forward to this much, as we had learned from our Korean friend that it is pretty bad in Jeju. However, it was better than we expected. Yes, the bus doesn’t go as often and it takes a lot longer, but we we were able to go where we had to go.
Like we mentioned in our Travel Guide for Seoul, the T-Money Card is working everywhere in South Korea. So, also on Jeju Island! It does work a bit differently, as you have to tell the bus driver where to go and he sets the amount on your T-Money Card. You do check in and out like in Seoul when entering and exiting the bus. Oh, and in case you were wondering: there is basically only a bus network on Jeju Island.
Things to do on Jeju Island
Visit Mount Hallasan
If you are going to Jeju Island, you should at least visit the highest mountain of Korea and listed UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site: Mount Hallasan. With 190 meters in height, this volcano can be quite the long hike. But, it is not necessarily a very hard one. On Hallasan you can find majestic cliffs, steep slopes, rock formations, and different flora and fauna. There are different trails you can take. So if you’re not a big fan of long hikes, you don’t necessarily have to go all the way to the top.
Hiking on Mount Hallasan is only permitted during the day. Furthermore, they are strict about the time that you can go to the top. When we were there, there was a certain point where you could only pass before 1.30 pm.
The hike was easy for us, until we reached the peak. It got really cold, as there were no trees to protect you from the winds. There was even snow and ice, while at the bottom of the mountain it was sunny and warm. Thus, if you do decide to hike to the top, check the weather and be prepared.
Soon we’ll write an extensive guide, with personal experiences, to hike Mount Hallasan and we will include everything you need to know for your hike.
Address: 2070-61, 1100-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Entrance fee: free
Visit Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Another UNESCO World Heritage site: the Seongsan Ilchulbong. This peak is an easy-peasy climb compared to Mount Hallasan and only takes 45 minutes for a round trip. Seongsang Ilchubong is an extinct volcano with a crater at the top.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak is mostly known as being a great spot for watching the sunrise. Usually we are always in for waking up early to experience a great sunrise. However, this peak wasn’t located that close to our hotel, so we decided to go here a little later and skip the sunrise for once. It was definitely still worth it!
Address: 284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Entrance fee: it was free when we were there, normally it’s about $2 USD.
Visit beautiful parks and gardens
Jeju is especially nice during spring, just like most of South Korea. We were just in time to experience the magical cherry blossoms on Jeju Island, which can be seen all over the island. There are even cherry blossom festivals you can attend if you go during the right time. These festivals are usually held in the area of Jeonnng-ro and at the Jeju National University. If you want to experience Jeju during the beautiful cherry blossoms, the right time to go is from late March to the second week of April.
But even when it’s not Spring, there are beautiful gardens and parks to visit on Jeju Island with gorgeous plants and flowers. We just stumbled into one public park near our hotel, where we found countless beautiful flowers. If you’re going to Seongsan Ilchulbon, you’ll also encounter lots of them. You can find flowers almost everywhere on the island, but there are also lots of parks and gardens. Two of them are:
Yeomiji Botanical Garden has over 2000 rare tropical and subtropical plants and flowers. They have a Flower Garden, Water Lily Garden, Jungle Garden, Cactus Garden, Subtropical Fruit Garden and an observation platform.
Address: 93, Jungmungwangwang-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Entree fee: Adults $9, kids $5 USD.
Jeju Kimnyoung Maze Park is a unique maze park in the shape of Jeju Island. In addition there are images that can be seen from above, so luckily there are skywalks and an observatory from where you can see the whole maze. More information can be found here.
Address: 122, Manjanggui-gil, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Entrance fee: Adults $3, kids $1 USD.
Chase Waterfalls on Jeju Island
Unfortunately, we didn’t chase any waterfalls during our stay, but we just had to include them in our blog. Jeju Island has lots of them and we wish we had the time. If you manage to rent a car during your stay, it will also easier to go to at least one of these waterfalls, and we highly recommend it. Even if we haven’t been there ourselves, the reviews are good and they look stunning!
We listed a few of them below. Please click on their names for more information.
Where to stay on Jeju Island
Hotel RegentMarine The Blue
For a very comfortable stay on Jeju Island we recommend Hotel RegentMarine The Blue. It’s conveniently located near the airport and various sightseeing spots.
One of the wow-factors definitely was the view from our Deluxe Double Room; the ocean just seemed endless. If you decide to stay here, please get a sea view room! In addition, the room was very clean, the shower was amazing, and we loved our comfy bed.
They have some great facilities as well, including a fitness centre, seasonal rooftop pool (too bad it was too cold when we were there!) and a free self-service laundry room. On the ground floor they have Latif, an excellent restaurant where they serviced yummy breakfast. We especially liked the pancakes.
As we mentioned earlier, we really recommend renting a car. Jeju Island is so big, and al the fun activities are spread out over the island. Hotel RegentMarine also has free parking for guests, which is ideal. Luckily, there are several sightseeing spots near the hotel. Just a few of them are:
Yongduam Rock was created over the course of thousands of years. Wind and waves have formed this rock that resembles a dragon’s head.
Jeju Mokgwana is the former government office under the Jose dynasty. It has been reconstructed after it was destroyed during Japanese rule.
Jeju Folklore and Natural Museum and Jeju National Museum, where you can learn more about the history and culture of Korea and Jeju.
Samyang Black Sand Beach is a beautiful beach with black volcanic sand.
Where to eat on Jeju Island
If you decide to stay at Hotel RegentMarine, we have two recommendations for restaurants close by. Ofcourse, you can also try out the restaurant of the hotel; Latif. Plus, if you like seafood, you can have a look at the promenade for plenty of seafood restaurants!
I love Gimbap
We are not even sure if this is the restaurant’s name. I Love Gimbap was written on the outside of the venue so we just assumed it. But, the outside also had some Korean words on it that could have an entirely different meaning. Unfortunately we could not find it online.
It is really close by Hotel Regent Marine and it’s only a small venue. If you find it; go eat here. It’s seriously the best Korean food we had, plus the cheapest too! We ate here for two nights and both times we only spent $15 USD, which is so cheap for Korea.
Tapdong Family Restaurant
Great Italian restaurant. We recommend this place if you’ve been craving a good pizza or pasta after all that Korean food. Although the menu is not very extensive, it’s definitely high quality. And quality over quantity right? The best dish we had at Tapdong definitely was the Salmon pizza. However, if I remember correctly this was the special of the day, so they might not have it while you’re there. The pasta and lasagna were excellent too!
There is really so much more to do on Jeju Island. If you have only a few days like us, we really recommend to plan your visit wisely. We especially liked Hallasan and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, but a visit to those locations already can take up a half or even full day. Be aware that those activities, especially Hallasan, can be a bit tiring.
We hope this article proves useful and if you have any comments or questions please let us know!
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