If you really want to fall in love with Korea, I highly recommend you dedicate part of your trip to visiting Jeju Island. It's considered one of the New7Wonders of Nature, and it's absolutely beautiful. Now, I've heard of many expats visiting and only really staying in Jeju City, which is a huge mistake. The real beauty lies far away from the main cities, so I thought I'd write down some of the top things to do in Jeju! I've been twice now, and I'm planning on at least one more trip in the future to do everything I still want to do.
Tips for Visiting Jeju Island
While I already wrote a huge, more logistical guide to Jeju, here are some quick tips before you dive into figuring out what to do and see.
While you can take a ferry to Jeju, trust me when I tell you it is so much easier to just fly. Every time I booked, the prices have been the same or cheaper by plane. It's only an hour to Seoul and about 40 minutes from Gwangju. I usually use Expedia for flights, but Kiwi came up with the cheapest options on my second trip. Just make sure you clear your cookies before you go to book anything!
The first time I went to Jeju, I chose to just try and take public transportation all around. This time we rented an electric car from Sixt, and if I'm being honest it's a thousand times more convenient. You can check daily rates here. Keep in mind, with an electric car you don't need to pay for gas and the recharging stations are free (or at least already included in the price). My friend, Nicole from Wee Gyspy Girl, did cycle all around Jeju with her boyfriend if you're into that!
I also noticed that Jeju has its own hop on, hop off bus. It doesn't cover everything, but it might be a good day option to hit a few spots at once. You can book a day pass here.
Booking Things Ahead of Time
Of course, it's totally easy to just buy your tickets in person, but I realized looking at things later that it can actually be a lot cheaper booking things beforehand. If I find discounted tickets, I'll link them with the thing to do!
If you don't have a car, it might also be easy doing a day tour for some things. I collaborated with Funtastic Korea on an East Coast tour last year, and I recently became an affiliate with Trazy. They both have tons of different tour options both in general and for specific places.
If your phone is unlocked, it's really easy to get a SIM card at any of the Korean airports you fly into. When I was looking through Trazy's site, I actually realized they offer SIM cards are a pretty discounted price. You just buy it online and pick it up as soon as you arrive at their designated locations in the airport. Check the prices here.
Check what your insurance company at home offers because often they have coverage abroad. Sometimes even credit card companies offer insurance, from what I've heard. If not, World Nomads is highly recommended in the industry. A Korean hospital bill can be fairly expensive if you don't some sort of insurance. Get a quote from World Nomads here.
Top Things to Do in Jeju
Okay, and now all the top things to do in Jeju! I'm listing the places I've been and things I've done so far, and at the bottom, I'll put some of the things I still want to do.
Camellia Hill is a super arboretum near Seogwipo. We had seen pictures of the red flowers pop up during our Instagram research and decided to stop by! Of course, if you know anything about flowers (unlike us), you'll know camellias are not mid-summer flowers. We also just missed hydrangea season, so the hydrangeas were all dead as well. Still! It was a pretty place with tons of different gardens.
Korean Name: 카멜리아힐
Times: 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (or 5/5:30 p.m. depending on season), they'll stop selling tickets an hour beforehand
Entry: 7,000 KRW, book here for slight discount
Get There: Find Bus No. 940 and get off at the Camellia Garden Bus Stop
Do NOT mix this one up with Cheonjiyeon, because they're two very different waterfall experiences. Nicole and I basically bickered and started second guessing our own memories because we were both convinced we had visited CheonJIyeon on our last trips. CheonJEyeon is actually a three-part waterfall that involves a bit of climbing and is a bit more out of the way. If you're already planning on going to Yeomiji Botanical Garden, you can easily combine them both. I will say, though, that you'll probably find Cheonjiyeon or Jeongbang a lot more impressive. You don't get close to the water at all, and instead, you climb out to these little observation decks to view the different parts that way. You'll climb a decent amount of stairs, and we almost didn't go to the 3rd part because we were so tired and sweaty!
Korean Name: 천제연 폭포
Times: 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Entry: 2,500 KRW
Get There: Take the Airport Limousine Bus to Yeomiji Botanical Garden, walk about 10-15 minutes
This is the waterfall I visited on my first trip, and it's seriously gorgeous! Once you enter, you'll have to walk about a kilometer to get to the actual waterfall, but all the sights along the way are beautiful.
Korean Name: 천지연폭포
Times: Sunrise to 10:00 p.m.
Entry: 2,000 KRW
Get There: You'll have to take a taxi from Seogwipo. I believe I took a bus to the main Seogwip bus stop (it was near an E-mart) and got a taxi from there. Cheonjiyeon is actually kind of underground if that makes sense? My taxi driver dropped me off at a bridge right above it, and I basically had to walk along the road and then down to the entrance where I walked back to where I was dropped off, but one floor lower. You can't see the falls from the bridge either.
Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff
So, we actually didn't have Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff in our plans at all until Jasmine mentioned wanting to see the lava rock beach! Basically, the cliff was formed when Hallasan erupted into the sea. The cliff looks like a series of pillars, and I can't really describe how incredible it looks! While we drove over and walked around the area, I saw on Trazy that you can actually book a luxury yacht tour to see it from the sea instead of above. It's $37 USD/person for an hour, which actually doesn't seem too bad!
Korean Name: 주상절리(대포동지삿개
Times: 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Entry: 2,000 KRW
Get There: From the Jungmun Tourist Complex, take a taxi to Junsangjeolli.
This is probably the closest you're going to get to a Hawaii experience of lounging by the beach. However, trust me, when I say that you'll be disappointed if you go in thinking it's going to resemble anything like Maui or even the nice parts of the Jersey Shore. Let me just say, it's really, really crowded.
I stayed here during my last trip, and we stopped by right before we had to drop off the car. The sunset is gorgeous if you get a clear day. Within walking distance, there's also this awesome pizza place called Donato's Pizza. It's honestly some of the best pizza I've ever had, and I've been to a pizza buffet in Milan before!
Korean Name: 협재해변
Times: 9:00 a.m. - sunset
Entry: No Fee
Get There: Find a bus that goes to Hanrim Park (or Hallim Park). I stayed here for a night when I first visited, so I remember taking a taxi to the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal and then getting my ticket there.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
This is has got to be my favorite place in Jeju. Every time I go, I love it a little more. Sunrise. Middle of a cloudy day. Sunset. The peak was formed from a volcanic eruption, and the very top is actually a crater. While you can hike up to the crater fairly easily, the best views are actually far away. Walk along the shoreline away from the peak to see it from afar. We also discovered the Cloud Hotel, which is on its own cliff set back from Ilchulbong and absolutely lovely on its own. If you can't get a booking there, they do have a café that you can hang out in.
I honestly can see myself escaping to Jeju for a long-ish weekend and staying in this area. It's known for its sunrise, but I personally think the sunset is much prettier.
Korean Name: 성산일출봉
Times: Before sunrise and after sunset
Entry: 2,000 KRW (however, when we went at sunrise, there was no fee)
Address: 284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address: 제주특별자치도 서귀포시 성산읍 일출로 284-12
Get There: Find the Dongilju bus, either from Jeju City or Segwipo. Get off at Seongsalliipgu Bus Stop.
Kim Kyung Suk Sunflower Farm
High off my Rhode Island sunflower fix and narrowly missing the bloom period for a field near me in Pennsylvania, I actually looked up where to find sunflowers in Jeju. Nicole also wanted to find some after seeing them featured on Innisfree's account, so together we found the Kim Kyeong Suk Sunflower Farm. It's pretty out of the way, but if you drive it's really easy. Unfortunately, we were either just a bit too late or something had eaten away at the flowers because they were pretty dead and wilted when we arrived. We didn't have to pay, though, so I guess that's a minor perk?
Korean Name: 김경숙 해바라기농장
Times: I found the times on a Naver blog when we went, but for the life of me I can't find that blog again. I believe it's 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., though, because I know we wanted to go for sunrise or sunset and couldn't.
Entry: 3,000 KRW
Address: 854-1 Beon Yeong-ro, Bonggae-dong, Cheju, Jeju-do
Korean Address: 제주특별자치도 제주시 번영로 854-1
Get There: Find Bus 720 and find the "환경시설관리 사무소 정류장" stop or ask your driver about the "해바라기 (Hae-ba-ra-gi)."
Lee Jung Seop Street
Lee Jung Seop is a famous Korean artist, and he lived in Seogwipo for a year as a refugee during the Korean War. The street (and nearby gallery) is in homage to his work, and it's a great place if you want to find some cute cafes to relax in.
Korean Name: 이중섭 미술관
Address: 27-3, Ijungseop-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address: 제주특별자치도 서귀포시 이중섭로 27-3 (서귀동)
Get There: I remember going to Lee Jung Seop Street after Cheonjiyeon, and I'm pretty sure I just asked a taxi to drop me off there. If you want to try to go by bus, I'd use the Lee Jung Seop Gallery as a reference (that's the address I listed). Look for Buses 1, 2, or 9 and get off at Songsan-dong Citizens' Center Bus Stop.
Manjanggul Lava Tube
Mangjanggul is one of the biggest and best lava tubes in the world. It's also great if you're visiting Jeju in the summer and need a full reprieve from the sun. You'll walk about 1 km to the lava tube, and it's pretty dark! I remember it being insanely quiet too.
Korean Name: 만장굴
Times: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (last ticket at 5:10 p.m.)
Entry: 2,000 KRW
Address:182, Manjanggul-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address:제주특별자치도 제주시 구좌읍 만장굴길 182 (구좌읍)
Get There: Find Bus 990 for Gimyeong and get off at Manjanggul Cave Bus Stop.
O'Sulloc Tea Museum, Seogwang Tea Garden, + Innisfree Café
Ahh, one of my favorite areas to visit, mostly because I've been a devoted Innisfree fan for the last six years! This area is three different things in one, which confused me when I initially was trying to figure out where everything was on a map. The tea museum and café are more or less connected, and they're surrounded by the tea garden and tea fields. There's one area where everyone gathers for photos, but if you go just a little farther away, you'll find it completely quiet and empty.
Korean Name: 서광다원
Times: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. for the museum and café, the garden is always open
Address: 446, Sinhwayeoksa-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address: 제주 서귀포시 안덕면 신화역사로 446
Get There: Find Bus 755 and get off at the O'Sulloc Bus Stop
Jeju Stone Park
As one might expect from a place created by volcanic activity, stones play a major role in Jeju's history and culture. The Stone Park commemorates their importance in one place. It's a really lovely place to walk around, and if you want to embrace your inner geology nerd, there's a great museum in the park that goes into more detail.
Korean Name: 제주돌문화공원
Times: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (last ticket sold at 5)
Entry: 5,000 KRW (discount tickets here)
Address:2023 Namjo-ro, Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address:제주특별자치도 제주시 조천읍 남조로 2023
Get There: Find a bus bound for Namjo-ro (if you're in Jeju city, it leaves from the bus terminal), get off at Jeju Stone Park
Seongeup Folk Village
Seongeup Folk Village is a great little area to visit if you want to experience more of Korea's traditional style of life. Everything from the homes to the trees is historically significant. When I went with my tour group, we had a black pork lunch here, and it was delicious.
Korean Name: 제주돌문화공원
Times: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Entry: 5,000 KRW (discount tickets here)
Address: 2023 Namjo-ro, Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address: 제주특별자치도 제주시 조천읍 남조로 2023
Get There: It's actually complicated getting here on your own via public transportation. Seogwipo is much closer than Jeju-city, so here are the instructions for that. From the bus terminal, take Dongilju bus and get off at Pyoseon-ri samuso. Walk straight and turn left at the intersection. You'll soon find a bus stop. From there take the Beonnyeong-ro bus and get off at Seupeup 1-ri.
The real beauty of Yongmeori is getting a chance to walk on the beach. Unfortunately, even after multiple visits, I still haven't had a chance. The first time I went the tide was too high, and this past time we were so hot and sun tired, we stayed in the nearby cafes. Yeongmeori is an extension of Seongsan and looks like a dragon head extending into the sea (Yeongmeori means dragon head in Korean)
Korean Name: 용머리해안
Times: Times vary depending on weather and the tide, but the area around the beach is open.
Entry: 1,000 KRW
Address:218-10, Sanbang-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address:제주특별자치도 서귀포시 안덕면 산방로 218-10 (안덕면)
Get There: Find a bus that goes to Sanbangsan. From Jeju City, there's a specific bus that goes to Sanbangsan. From Seogwipo, you'll want the bus headed for Sanggye.
Yeomiji Botanical Garden
I had wanted to go here on my first trip, but it was too out of the way compared to what else I wanted to see. Nicole and I went here first because we both were eager to go. The garden is within the Jungmun Resort and more or less connected to Cheonjeyeon. If you're a fan of botanical gardens like I am, you won't want to miss this! And if you're a photographer, you'll have a field day.
Korean Name: 여미지 식물원
Times: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Entry: 9,000 KRW (discounted tickets here)
Address: 93, Jungmungwangwang-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Korean Address:제주특별자치도 서귀포시 중문관광로 93 (색달동)
Get There: Look for Bus 600 and get off at the Yeomiji Botanical Garden bus stop.
Be Sure to Eat + Drink
I'm not the biggest foodie and eat pretty much whatever is put in front of me when I'm hungry. However, there are a few things you'll want to definitely try specifically in Jeju!
Jeju Black Pork
I had this only twice, once in hamburger form in Seogwipo and once on my tour in Seongeup. If you're a Korean pork fan, you'll love all reiterations! The black pig is native to Jeju and apparently has a distinct taste.
Peanut Ice cream (and/or Makgeolli)
I saw peanut ice cream and makgeolli (a Korean alcoholic drink) as a must-try on Udo, a smaller island near Seongsan. While we didn't go to Udo, the cafe I did some work in served the ice cream. I mean, it's peanuts and ice cream -- can you really go wrong?
One of the things Jeju is most famous for is its sweet hallabongs! They're little oranges, and you might know them by the Japanese name, Dekopon, or Sumo Citrus in the U.S. I love getting the Hallabong smoothies personally.
Jeju Green Tea
I LOVE Korean green tea and green tea products in general. If you're at O'sulloc and manage to be there when there isn't a crowd, definitely go and get some green tea ice cream. O'Sulloc also has a ton of different teas you can buy. Elissa used to pick up a bunch whenever she went to the store in Seoul as a treat, and her aunt actually requested some after her gifted supply ran out!
Things to Do in Jeju Still on My List
Believe it or not, even two trips weren't quite enough to do everything. There are still quite a few things I still have or keep discovering. I'm really hoping to make it down maybe once or twice more at least to accomplish all of these!
Wander or bike around Udo Island.
Udo is apparently the "Scotland" of Korea, and Nicole of WGG, a native Scot, agreed to this sentiment, so I've been wanting to go! The next trip I'm 100% going no matter what.
I didn't have time or energy the first time, and it was way too hot to hike it this last trip. However, I feel like it'd be a shame to visit three times and not hike Hallasan! It's the tallest mountain in South Korea, after all!
I feel like if anyone has heard of Jeju or Korea, a lot of times it's because of Loveland or similar parks in the country. Don't go if you're even remotely prude! I didn't go the first time because it was out of the way and, honestly, it's not that fun walking around a sex park by yourself... (Get discounted tickets here)
Watch a Hanyeo performance.
Hanyeo are these badass women divers in Jeju, and sadly, the practice is slowly dying out. While we caught sight of them at Ilchulbong during the sunrise, I still have yet to see a performance!
Go horseback riding.
One of the things to do in Jeju is to go horseback riding. I didn't actually realize this until it popped up in one of my elementary school textbooks. I'm not much of a horse person, but I'd like to try it out. I think the last time I rode a horse, I was ten at Disney World... (For more on horseback riding)
Visit Jeongbang Waterfall.
I think this is the last major waterfall on my Jeju waterfall list, and from the photos I've seen, it's definitely the most impressive!
Go on a Hot Air Balloon.
I'm probably not going to own a drone anytime soon, so my next best options to see Jeju from the sky are either by helicopter or by hot air balloon. I've already had the chance to see a city by helicopter, so why not a hot air balloon? I saw this incredible option on Trazy for a sunrise hot air balloon, and the photos look incredible.
Walk parks of the Olleh Trail (or all of it).
The Olleh path goes all around Jeju with different trails in different parts. I'd like to experience walking at least one of them!
Visit Bijarim (or Bija Forest).
It's the largest nutmeg forest, and its oldest tree is 800-years-old. It's also supposed to be extremely good for the immune system to breathe in the forest air.
Another big thing to do in Jeju is kayaking, particularly the clear bottom kayaks. The clear kayaks should be fun, though I have a sneaking suspicion they won't be quite as clear as you'd hope they'd be. When I went to Yeosu, we got the clear bottom cable car thinking it'd be cool, especially for photos, but the whole bottom was scratched up! Either way, it's only about $8 for 30 minutes, and the sea views are going to be gorgeous regardless.
Hang out at Hello Kitty Island.
I mean, why not? Who doesn't love Helly Kitty?! It's just a massive café, not its own island though!
Visit Gimnyeong Maze Park
This is a huge maze in the shape of Jeju, and it's near Manjanggul. You can also go up to an observatory to see the maze from above.
Let me know if I'm missing any things to do in Jeju! What would you add to this list?
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