To countless devotees, Jeju Island is, without a doubt, the best vacation spot in Korea. Known as the Hawaii of Korea, Jeju Island makes people feel as if they are worlds away from the Korean peninsula with its beautiful tropical landscapes. Jeju Island has everything you need or want for your perfect vacation escape from magnificent Halla Mountain to amazing seasides.
To travel to Jeju Island, it is best to plan to do it in three parts: one day in Jeju City, the west and Halla Mountain, the second day in the south, and the third day in Udo Island and the east. There are so many things to see in Jeju Island. A good strategy is to travel to Jeju Island for 3 nights and 4 days if you want to enjoy the Island to the fullest. We would like to guide you with these recommendations and we hope this will help you to enjoy Jeju Island fullest.
Jeju-si, Western Jeju-si, and Halla Mountain
Yongduam Rock is located right at the north shoreline of Jeju-si right by Jeju International Airport. It is the one of most famous landmarks on Jeju Island. This breathtaking rock formation was named Yongduam after the shape of a dragon rising from the sea in a roar. It is said that the height of the exposed part is about 10m and the length of the body submerged in the sea is about 30m which looks like a dragon wriggling.
According to Yongduam Rock’s legend, deep in the sea in Yongdam-dong, Jeju, there lived an Imoogi who wanted to become a dragon. To become a dragon, it had to stay in the darkness for a thousand years. The Imoogi so desperately wanted to become a dragon and ascend to the sky that it endured a thousand years of total darkness.
Finally, a thousand years passed, and the dragon ascended to the sky with flashing blue scales, a long beard, and sharp feet. Soon after, however, it was hit by an arrow shot by the god of Hallasan and fell back into the sea. The dragon fell into the sea but felt so enraged that all its efforts became meaningless that it raised its head above the sea and roared before turning into a rock.
Halla Arboretum is a perfect place to see and experience various species of plant and tree species on Jeju Island. Halla Arboretum, located at the foot of Gwangi Oreum (”oreum,” Jeju dialect meaning peak) along 1100 Road in Yeondong, Jeju City, is an arboretum where over 1,100 species of plants, including Jeju’s native trees and subtropical plants, are planted and displayed and serves as a place for education and research for students and professionals.
In particular, the forest bathing area, which is around 40 acres in size, is about a mile walking course that goes up almost to the top of the mountain and then down. This beautiful walking trail attracts many people who want to exercise early in the morning, and many families and tourists come here on weekends.
Hallasan Mountain stands proudly at the center of Jeju Island and is the island’s most memorable landmark. Also called Yeongjusan Mountain, meaning “mountain high enough to pull the galaxy.”
It is of great academic value due to its diverse vegetation distribution and is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. It was designated and protected as Hallasan Natural Reserve, Natural Monument No. 182, on October 12, 1966. Also designated as a national park in 1970, there are 368 parasitic cones called “oreum” (Jeju dialect meaning peak) around the main mountain. It was designated as a national park on March 24, 1970, and a UNESCO biosphere reserve in December 2002.
Hallasan Mountain is one of the three most sacred mountains on the Korean Peninsula along with Jiri Mountain and North Korea’s Geumgang Mountain, is located at the southernmost tip of the Korean Peninsula and is the highest mountain in South Korea at 1,950 meters above sea level.
Hallasan Moutain is also known for its beautiful hiking trails and people from all over Korea and the world come here to hike and enjoy this magnificent mountain. There are 5 trails on the mountain where you can go up to its crater but only 2 of those will take you to the summit, Baekrokdam, The Top of South Korea. Here is the list of those 5 trails:
- Gwaneumsa Trail – 8.7km (one-way) and 8-10 hours return hike (the BEST views!)
- Seongpanak Trail – 9.6km (one-way) and 7-9 hours return hike (the EASIEST hike!)
- Eorimok Trail – 4.7km (one-way) and 2.5 hours return hike
- Yeongsil Trail – 3.7km (one-way) and 2 hours return hike
- Donnaeko Trail – 9.6 km (one-way) and 6 hours return hike
Western Seogwipo-si and Seogwipo-si
O’Sulloc opened on September 1, 2001, and travelers visiting from all over the world enjoy its majestic green tea fields, which is an amazing place to take the perfect Instagram pictures. It is Korea’s first museum dedicated to tea, and its official name is O’Sulloc Tea Museum. (The “O” in “O’Sulloc” means “enjoy” but also means “origin” as in the origin of sulloc tea.)
The interior of the O’Sulloc Tea Museum is a cultural space where Eastern and Western traditions and modernity come together. The museum also runs a Korean traditional tea ceremony experience program to help you understand Korean green tea and other traditional tea culture. You can enjoy a unique experience right there at the museum. You can also taste warm Jeju Island green tea roasted on-site by a tea master.
There are vast Korean green tea selections here and they are all remarkable. Also, they serve delicious Korean desserts made with green tea and other local ingredients. You must try those desserts. They are all good!
Jungmun Tourist Complex is a multi-tourism area of Jejudo Island and the largest resort in Korea. It is an international tourist resort built by the Korea Tourism Organization in the Jungmun, Daepo, and Saekdal-dong areas of Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do since 1978. The complex takes advantage of Jeju’s unique natural scenery and geographical conditions.
As the most expansive tourist resort in Korea, Jungmun Tourist Complex has 9 top-class hotels, including: Shilla Hotel, Lotte Hotel, Grand Chosun Hotel, Suite Hotel, Booyoung Hotel, CS Hotel, Bloom Hotel, Hyatt Hotel (currently remodeling), and Korea Condo (currently remodeling). Tourist attractions include: Yeomiji Botanical Garden, Teddy Bear Museum, Grim Forest, Alive Museum, Chocolate Land, Jeju International Peace Center, Cheonjeyeon Falls, Columnar Joints, and Jungmun Golf Club.
In particular be sure to check out Jungmun Saekdal Beach, where you can enjoy marine leisure sports such as surfing, yachting, and parasailing, as well as ocean-view cafes and walking trails, has recently been in the spotlight.
Cheonjiyeon means a pond where heaven and earth meet. The length of the waterfall is 22m and the depth of the pond below is 20m, so this beautiful fall is truly called the pond where heaven and earth meet.
A UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, Cheonjiyeon Falls is a place where people of all ages can comfortably walk while appreciating nature because on the southwest side of Cheonjiyeon Falls, evergreen trees and orchid trees, such as old pine trees and camellia trees, grow thickly, forming a subtropical forest. It is cool even in the middle of summer, and the trail is well-made of basalt.
You will also be able to enjoy this stunning attraction at night since they do not close until 10 pm.
Soesokkak is located at the end of Hyodoncheon Stream, which is a stream of water from Hallasan Mountain that flows south to Jeju Island. Soesokkak is a deep formation created when freshwater and seawater from Hyodoncheon meet. “Soeso” means a pond shaped like a cow lying down and “Kak” means the final end.
The freshwater reflecting on the rocks of Soesokkak is exceptionally blue and clear, creating a spectacular view of the dark gray strangely shaped rocks. It is a place that connects Jeju Olle Courses 5 and 6, so it is visited by many Olle climbers.
If you continue down the promenade, you will reach Hahyo Soesokkak Beach, famous for its black sand. The Soesokkak Festival is held between July and August, where you can experience various events such as catching fish with your bare hands and walking down Daureong-gil.
If you go down the Damsu promenade, there is a small boarding area where you can ride a traditional wooden boat that seats several people or just two people. You can enjoy the quiet of nature to the fullest amidst the spectacular scenery of strangely shaped rocks.
The East Part of Jeju Island
Bijarim, a Jeju gotjawal, is home to 2,900 nutmeg trees ranging from 500 to 800 years old. The entire forest has been designated as a natural monument.
You can find a variety of nutmeg trees, from trees struck by lightning to Areumtree trees that feel like they have been around for a long time. In addition to nutmeg trees, various tree species such as maple trees and silverberry trees fill the forest.
The Bijarim Trail is divided into A and B courses. You can walk any course, but Course B is tougher with a somewhat rougher and rockier path.
As you walk along a refreshing trail filled with phytoncide, you will naturally fall in love with the charm of forest bathing with a pleasant scent spreading from the forest entrance.
Seongsan Ilchulbong, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, is unlike other volcanic cones on Jeju Island. It was formed when magma erupted from under the water. As the hot magma erupted during volcanic activity, it met cold seawater, forming volcanic ash; this ash retained a lot of moisture and grew sticky, forming layers that eventually became Seongsan Ilchulbong.
The sedimentary layers near the sea were eroded by waves and currents, creating the steep slopes they have today. When it was created, it became an island separate from the mainland of Jeju. As sand and gravel piled up around it, a road formed that connected it to the mainland at low tide. In 1940, a road was constructed here, and it is now perfectly connected to the mainland.
When you climb to the top, you can see a crater with a width of about 65 acres, which is concave like a bowl and has grass such as silver grass growing inside. There are 99 high peaks (rocks) surrounding the crater. It was named ”Seongsan” because it looks like a huge castle, and ”Ilchulbong’’ because the view of the sun rising is spectacular.
The steep stairs leading to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong may get you winded, but it is possible to reach the top in 20 minutes. At the top, the view of the wide crater and the ocean spreading out behind it gives a majestic feeling that is completely different from other Oreums in Jeju. Since ancient times, the sunrise view seen from the top of this place has been said to be the best among the 10 scenic spots in Yeongju (Jeju’s scenic spots), and the Seongsan Sunrise Festival is held every year on December 31st.
Udo Island is a lava plateau formed after volcanic eruptions that is 3.8km off the coast of Jeju Island. Udo is an island adjacent to the eastern end of Jeju Island and is the second largest island in Jeju Special Self-Governing Province after Jeju Island. The name Udo was given because the island looks like a cow lying down.
This beautiful Island is absolutely worth a detour if you have time. To go to Udo, you have to take a ferry from Seongsan Port and you can explore Udo Island for a half-day. The ferry leaves for Udo every 30 minutes, the first one leaves at 7:30 am. Please remember that the last ferry from Udo to Seongsan departs around 5:00 pm.
Udo is known to have excellent food made with peanuts. So you have to try peanut ice creams there as well.