Jeju is the largest of over four thousand islands belonging to the Republic of Korea. It is also the most distant: the distance to the southernmost point of the mainland is 90 km. Isolated from civilization centers and its unique tropical look, the island has become a godsend for tourists rushing there from all over the world. The mild maritime climate of Jeju (average summer temperatures range from +22°-26° C) is in harmony with the unique natural landscape created by volcanic activity.
The island itself, one of the most beautiful in the East Asian region, is an extinct ancient volcano. Practically in the center is one of the natural attractions – Mount Hallasan, the highest point in South Korea, which rises into the sky at 1,950 meters. Jeju, an island and a special autonomous province of Korea, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007. And it was named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World by the New7Wonders Foundation, an international competition held in 2011.
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Video: Jeju Island
From the history of a “distant piece of land”
The origin of Jeju Island, which has a total area of 1,845 square kilometers, is attributed to the eruption of a powerful ancient volcano 400 million years ago, so it consists mostly of basalt and lava. Its almost regular oval shape also testifies to its volcanic origin: the coastline is basically straight, there are no large bays, to say nothing of bays. Jeju’s landscape is predominantly mountainous, its coastline is steep and in some places steep. There are also gentle areas where tourists enjoy sandy and pebbly beaches. There are many volcanic lakes. But the rivers are few: they are small and not full-flowing.
The name Jeju means “faraway land,” which is how the Korean word for Jeju translates. Or simply “Far Island. On geographical maps published in Europe during the Middle Ages, it was signed “Quelpart. The first human settlements appeared here about 30,000 years ago. The migration seems to have been from the south of the mainland towards Japan, and some people decided to settle here. Around the 6th century AD, Jeju had its own state, called Thamna. It retained its independence until the expansion of one of the three Korean state entities, Silla. When the latter ceased to exist in 938, the island was ruled by the Goryeo Kingdom, which granted it autonomous rights.
The Korean Peninsula, including Jeju, was annexed to Japan in 1910. The new occupation authorities changed the latter’s name to Saisu. After the liberation until 1946, the island was part of the Jeolla region and later became a separate province with wide-ranging rights. Today its capital is Jeju City, the largest on the island (area of 255.5 square kilometers, population about 260 thousand people). Located in its northern part, it is a major tourist center, which – just think about it! – about 4 million tourists come every year. Basically it’s the citizens of China, Japan and South Korea itself. The city is widely represented in the gambling industry, not to mention the developed entertainment infrastructure in general.
Jeju Nature, Climate and Beaches
Jeju is rightfully called the crown jewel of Korea and Korea’s Hawaii. It’s all thanks to the peculiarities of local nature. It’s also an island of three abundant things, meaning rocks, wind, and… women. The first are the most plentiful here, because it consists entirely of stones. Resourceful inhabitants have long been fond of this strong natural material, making fences around houses, tombstones, and even coastal traps. Mandarins are the fourth abundance of the region. They grow everywhere and yield bountiful harvests. Anyone, including tourists, can take part in picking the fruit from the trees in small plantations. There are also tea plantations. And the islanders also grow wild orchids. They even grow on rocks and clay pots.
Because of the lack of industrial enterprises island is considered one of the most environmentally friendly regions of Asia. Closer to the south, the typical maritime climate becomes a subtropical monsoon climate. Rainfall is uniform throughout the year. During the summer season, the air can get as warm as +30°-33° at times. The temperature of the surface layers of the sea rises to +25°, not dropping below +24° until October. During the season, which falls in June-October, the beaches of Jeju are not empty. Their total length is 256 km. There are all opportunities for a healthy and wholesome vacation. Tourists go scuba diving, parasailing and vidsurfing, kayaking and jet skiing, sail to the smaller islands.
Video: Jeju Island from Above
Some sights on the island
Tolharubans. These entertaining stone figures depicting good-natured Korean old men are Jeju’s calling card. They are fondly portrayed on postcards and souvenirs, so tourists usually don’t have to ask what to bring home as a souvenir. But for locals, tolharubans are a true talisman. You can hardly find a house without a three-meter high giant that guards against evil spirits.
Jeju Loveland. A famous park of erotic sculptures, the main theme of which is sexuality in its many manifestations. Under the open sky there are 140 sculptures, which depict not only people, but also the beloved by the locals dogs in various erotic poses. The theme park is something out of the ordinary, not only for Jeju, but for the whole country, given the national modesty of Koreans. But tourists love it!
Songip Folklore Village. It is a natural ethnographic reserve, where the indigenous people cherish their identity, and sacredly honor the customs and traditions of their ancestors. In the Middle Ages the village was the capital. But not of the whole island, but of one of its counties. People come here for recipes of folk medicine and ready-to-use remedies. In Seongõp they sell local handicrafts, which tourists readily buy.
Tayu Land Hunting Park. A true paradise for lovers of hunting! Located in the vicinity of Hallasan Mountain, on the slopes of which there are a lot of animals. Hunting here is mostly for birds (particularly pheasants). Snares and firearms, including traps, are also used. You do not need a license, but you will have to pay “for the pleasure”. The fee depends on the weapon used and, of course, the type of hunting.
The subtropical Hallim Park. Once it was a lifeless stony wasteland, but now it’s a real oasis with various specimens of local flora. The park is divided into several themed gardens, among which there are tropical and aquatic. There are several volcanic caves. The attention of visitors is invariably attracted by unusual cacti: the juice of their purple and green fruits, it turns out, is suitable for drinking.
Yomiji Botanical Garden. It has an area of over 112 thousand square kilometers, which gathered unique samples of plants growing in the tropics and subtropics, about 2 thousand rare species. They are scattered throughout the open and closed areas. Some gardens – Floral, Jungle, Cactus Garden, Lily Pond, Nature Garden and others – are in the national style, that is reflect the characteristics of flora of different countries: Italy, France, Japan and Korea itself.
Green Tea Museum. Was created to study the history of this popular and healthy drink, which is loved not only in Asia but also in all corners of the world. Visitors there will discover the secrets of its proper preparation, as well as talk about the use of tea leaves in cooking. Few people know that Koreans add them to baked goods and desserts. Tea leaves are also used in cosmetics and perfumery.
Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum. It is a real cultural center that is divided into several thematic exhibitions for convenience. Two of them reflect the folklore heritage of the island and Korea as a whole, the third relates to natural history, and the fourth was placed under the open sky. Of particular interest are the exhibits found during archaeological excavations.
Jeju Island Waterfalls. Cheonggyeong Waterfall is located near Chungmun District, right in the park where (namely, from the 7 Nymphs Bridge) one can get a great view of the sea. Cheongbang is considered the most picturesque: it even has stairs leading up to it. In its surroundings in good weather, there are always a lot of women divers: they fish for seafood. Not far from Seogwynpo Port, Cheonggyeong has a deep 12-meter pool.
How to get to Jeju Island?
First, you need to get to Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. There are direct flights from Moscow operated by Aeroflot and Korean Air, travel time is about two hours. Upon arrival in the city, you can take a Seoul-Ceju-Seoul flight (flight time is 35 minutes). Other tourists prefer to get to the island by ferry, which regularly operates from the mainland. There are five-star luxury hotels and inexpensive local guest houses at the guests’ disposal. A popular service among tourists is the transfer service usually offered by the hotels (often free of charge).
Jeju Island: Travel Guide
Jeju Island (Jeju or Jeju-do) is the largest island in South Korea and also the smallest province in the country. Jeju is located in the very south about a hundred kilometers from the nearest shore and is washed by the waters of the Yellow Sea.
In this post, I will tell you why you should come here, the sights and beaches of Jeju Island, the best time to visit, how to get here cheaply, the transportation system of the island, and much more. It turned out to be a big guidebook based on the results of our stay for several days. I’m sure you will find such information useful.
Clean and clear sea water
Jeju Island South Korea
Jeju Island is very popular with Koreans (plus tourists from neighboring China and Japan). Newlyweds often spend their honeymoons here, and kids come in their school groups with friends and relatives. But there are not so many foreign tourists, which for us was probably a plus. It is worth coming here for the gorgeous views of the sea, beaches with black volcanic or more usual light sand, fresh air, parks, entertainment complexes and a well-developed infrastructure.
Jeju is an island of volcanic origin that was formed many years ago by an eruption. The central part of the island is occupied by the long extinct Hallasan volcano, which is the highest point in Korea (1950 meters). The island is warmer than the rest of South Korea and does not experience winter in the usual sense, so it is the premier resort in the country.
Jeju is called the Mandarin Island because of the mandarins that grow here. Another symbol of the island is the haryban or stone grandfather, a figure carved out of volcanic rock. You can find them everywhere, small statues as souvenirs or large ones standing near houses and in parks.
For me personally, this is the most interesting region in South Korea. I think Jeju would be great as an unusual vacation destination, all the opportunities on the island are there for that.
Jeju is elliptical in shape with the Hallasan volcano in the center and mountainous terrain that gradually flattens out as you get closer to the seashore.
The airport is located in the north near the main town of Jeju-si, and to the south is Seogwipyo. These are the two localities that are the most convenient in terms of location and choice of accommodations.
Lagoon on the coast
The climate in Jeju is subtropical monsoon, with the four seasons as we know them.
The winter season lasts from November to mid-March, which is probably the worst time to visit Jeju Island.
Spring comes in mid-March and lasts until mid-May. It is very beautiful here, everything is in bloom, the air is perfectly fresh and clean, but it’s still too early to swim. It’s perfect for hiking and sightseeing.
We traveled around the island at the end of May, and it was already wet and warm, although the water in the sea was cool (but we were after Thailand :))
The beaches with black volcanic sand
During the summer from June to the beginning of September the hottest weather is +25 … +32C, the sea gets warm from the end of June to +25 degrees. If you came for a beach holiday, the best months are July and August. But as usual, this time is the most crowded. Interestingly, it is in the summer that a lot of rain falls.
Autumn lasts from late September to early November, nature is painted in bright colors of red, yellow, orange. It is again a good time for excursions.
The attractions in Jeju are so many that you lack time to see them all, so let me mention just the main ones. About the beaches, I’ll tell you about them below.
Highlight: Hallasan, an extinct volcano. There are 7 trails in the park next to the volcano, but two lead to the top. The entire round trip will take you a full day. The starting point of the most popular route, Seongpanak, can be reached by bus 181 from Jeju-si. We never got to see the volcano, all the time hidden from our view behind a veil of clouds.
Olle Trails are special hiking trails all over the island. Choose any and go ahead and enjoy being at one with nature.
You can download good quality maps of Jeju hiking trails at this link.
There are three sex museums in Jeju at once: Jeju Loveland (entrance 9,000 won), Museum of Sex and Health (12,000 won), and World Eros Museum (7,000 won). You will definitely get a naughty picture.
Sex Museum on Jeju Island
Cave Manjang-gul is the world’s longest cave formed in volcanic lava. Located on the east side of the island, accessible by bus 101.
The extinct volcano Seongsan Ilchul-bong and the park of the same name around it (entrance 2000 won). Just an awesome must-see place in Jeju! Popular with tourists to see the sunrise (if you’re lucky with the weather), though you can come at any time. The volcano was shrouded in clouds during our stay. Nearby is a cool beach with black sand and just picturesque places, you can walk for hours.
Descending down the slope of the volcano, all in fog
One of the main cultural attractions in Jeju is the hanye (or women of the sea, literally). Hanye are female divers who dive to 3-5 meters, some even up to 20 meters, without using any special equipment. They spend a few minutes underwater.
There are not many divers left, and most of them are of advanced age, so hurry up and see! Hanyo put on a little show on the beach at Seongsan Park.
Women Diver Show Schedule
Udo Island is a very tiny island that can be reached by ferry from Jeju. Volcanic scenery, clear sea water, the smell of seaweed in the air.
Seongeup Folk Village (free admission) – traditional houses, statues of stone grandfathers.
Cheonjiyeon Pokpo and Jeongbang Pokpo Falls (entrance to both is 2000 won), located in Sogwipho.
Cheonjiyeon Pokpo Falls
Jeju attractions – Jeongbang Pokpo Waterfall
Jungmun Resort is an entire amusement park complex with interesting attractions, museums, beaches, hotels, etc. Here are, for example, Yakcheon-sa Temple, Teddy Bear Museum, Yeomiji Botanical Garden.
On the grounds of Jungmun Resort
Another popular entertainment area is located in the northwest of the island and is called Hallim . It has several beautiful beaches and a park.
The best beaches on Jeju Island :
Hyeopjae Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and is located in the western part.
Hyeopjae Beach on Jeju Island
Geeunmeung Beach – located next to the previous one, but there are considerably fewer people here in season.
Samyang Beach and Hamdeok Beach are two nice beaches near Jeju-si that are easily accessible by bus.
Gimnyeong Beach is a small beach with white sand and calm waters.
Jungmun Beach – Located next to the Jungmun Resort complex, it has a good infrastructure, many hotels and entertainment.
Jeju Beaches – Jungmun Beach
Getting to Jeju Island
You have two options: fly or take a ferry from the mainland. I recommend the first option, it’s fast and inexpensive. We flew to Jeju from Kuala Lumpur (with Air Asia) and went to Busan with Eastar Jet. The fare for both of us was 48600 won (or 2860 rubles at the exchange rate at the time). I think it’s cheap for 40 minutes of flight and 15 kg of luggage per person. This is not Pobeda.
Planes fly to Seoul (Incheon or Gimpo), Busan and other major cities in South Korea, as well as various Asian destinations, close and not so close. There are no direct flights from Russia, you must change planes, most probably in Seoul. The cheapest option is to fly from the cities in the Russian Far East, which is logical.
The airlines to consider are Korean Air, Air Busan, EastarJet, Jeju Air, Tway. The last three are low-cost airlines.
You can take a ferry from Busan and some other cities on the coast. The ferry to Jeju from Busan costs about 50,000 won, but takes 12 hours and runs three times a week. If one chooses this route, it’s only out of interest.
Cheap Airfare Calendar to South Korea by Month
Transport around the island
Jeju has an excellent bus service. You can take a bus to almost anywhere, including right from the airport. There are bus terminals in Jeju-si and Seogwipho, with buses running between them and from there to different parts of the island.
Express bus from the airport
We got a map of the bus routes from the Information Office at the airport upon arrival. Here’s a good quality diagram.
The intercity buses come in blue and red. The blue ones have a starting price of 1150 won (for the first 20 km), the red ones have a starting price of 2000 won. If you ride more than 40 km, it costs 3000 won (approx. 180 rubles).
The route is signed on the side.
Payment can be made in cash or by a T-money card. It is better to buy the card at once, it would be much more profitable, besides it works in any other city in South Korea in the subway and buses and even in supermarkets. With the card you can transfer to another bus within 30 minutes and ride it for free.
At bus stops there are special interactive boards, where you can see the route you want, as well as the time of its arrival – just a space! And a nice bonus – every bus has free Wi-Fi at a decent speed, so you can post fresh pics
If you need to get from the airport to the city and you don’t want to bother with bus routes, in addition, if you have large bags, I recommend ordering a shuttle directly to the hotel door.
Rent a car
Renting a car in Jeju is also feasible. You need an international license and you must be over 21 years old. The price of a car starts at 60,000 won per day. Gasoline and gas are quite expensive.
I recommend choosing a hotel or hostel either in Jeju-si (close to the airport and bus terminal) or in Seogwipho (there is also a bus terminal and many things to see around). These two cities are the most convenient for independent travel around the island by bus. The choice of accommodations is wide, from hostels to world-class hotels. But the general price level in South Korea is quite high, so even a bed in a hostel will cost a good room somewhere in SEA.
Selection of hotels on Jeju Island:
Jeju Island Tours
Jeju Island is not a popular tourist destination, it is more suitable for those who want something really unusual and unconventional. Nevertheless, a tour is a good opportunity to visit this remote corner, and often cheaper than if you would do it yourself.
For example, a complete tour for a week from Moscow with roundtrip flight, accommodation, breakfast, and in the high season will cost 65-70 thousand rubles per person.
You can easily find and buy tours to Jeju online onlinetours.ru.
Bonus: a short video about Jeju Island trip:
Jeju on a map
Putting all the interesting and useful points on the island on a google map.
We use it ourselves and recommend it to friends:
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