About 455 kilometres from Seoul, lies Jeju Island, South Korea’s largest Island. Jeju Island, or Jejudo, is considered the top holiday destination in the country. The island receives millions of local visitors per year, thanks to its temperate climate, spectacular beaches, luxurious seaside resorts, beautiful countryside, and abundant seafood. Additionally, Jeju has a host of natural, cultural and modern attractions.
A holiday in Jeju means engaging in a long list of exciting activities – from leisurely exploration to the more rigorous water sports and outdoor activities. The island is one of the most scenic and picturesque places in Asia, worthy of a visit no matter the season.
Travelling to Jeju for the first time can be very exciting, but with the sheer number of the things to do, sights to see, and the places to visit, it can get overwhelming. So to get you started on your ultimate getaway in Jeju, here’s a list of the top ten things to do in Jeju.
1. Hike the Olle Trails. Jeju is best explored at a leisurely pace and that’s why on top of your must-do list is to hike the Olle Trails, a network of well-marked hiking trails that will take you to the most scenic parts of the island, giving you plenty of opportunity to explore rural Jeju. The 26 trails take more or less 6 hours to finish and by the end of your adventure, the Olle would have taken you to the most beautiful mountain and seafront locations, as well as through the loveliest fields and orchards in the island.
2. Climb Mt. Hallasan. If you are the type who lives an active lifestyle, then climbing Mt. Hallasan should be on your list of must-dos while vacationing in Jeju. Mt. Hallasan, a dormant volcano, is South Korea’s highest mountain.
There are two different trails to Mt. Hallasan, and the 1950-metre trek up the summit will take you more or less 3.5 to 5 hours to complete but the exhilarating experience makes it all worth it. The breathtaking view during the course of the climb is amazing – lush greenery, flowers in full bloom, and amazing rock formations.
3. Watch the sunrise from Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak). Most tourists in Jeju aspire to watch the sunrise from the Soengsan Ilchulbong, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at least once during their trip. They embark on the 182-metre climb to the top of the volcanic crater at least a good 1.5 to 2 hours before sunrise to witness one of the most awe-inspiring views in Jeju.
The Sunrise Peak is open daily, except during bad weather. Admission is less than 2 USD for adults.
4. Spend some time at the island’s unconventional theme parks. Jeju has a number of surprising attractions, among them the unconventional theme park called Loveland. Opened in 2004, Loveland is a sex-themed sculpture park that features more than 140 massive sculptures representing men and women in compromising situations. While it is certainly not for visitors travelling with kids, it truly is an interesting and entertaining place to visit despite the naughty artworks.
5. Have fun at Jeju’s one-of-a-kind museums. Jeju definitely takes museum-hopping to a different level. It is home to the Teddy Bear Museum, Psyche Museum, Sex & Health Museum, and the World Eros Museum – all waiting to be explored.
The Teddy Bear Museum, located in Seogwipo City, is probably the most popular of these quirky museums because it was featured in the Korean drama Goong or Princess Hours, a popular 2006 romantic comedy starring Yoon Eun Hye and Joo Ji Hoon.
6. Head to Udo Maritime Park for a relaxing excursion. Udo Maritime Park, or Udo Island, is a small island located off the eastern coast of Jejudo. Accessible from the main island via ferry, Udo Island boasts of natural treasures, as well as local heritage sites and various tourist attractions.
Tourists who go to Udo Island for a side trip love it for its romantic, relaxed atmosphere. To experience the best of Udo Island, join a bus tour or explore it on board a bike or a scooter.
7. Explore the Manjanggul Lava Tube. Okay, if you don’t know what a lava tube is, it is actually a tube or a tunnel that’s formed by flowing lava. When the lava cools, a tunnel is formed.
There are several lava tubes across the globe, particularly in Iceland, Spain, Portugal, and the United States but the lava tube in South Korea is considered the finest lava tube system in the whole world, earning a spot in the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
Only a small part of the Manjanggul lava tube is open for exploration. The Manjanggul cave is open from 9am to 6pm daily. Admission is free.
8. Meet the Mermaids of Jeju. Often referred to as the mermaids of Jeju, the haenyo are actually Korean female divers who gather abalone, clams, and other seafood. These female divers, working in groups and clad in vests and goggles, dive underwater, usually reaching depths of up to 20 metres to dig for shellfish using very simple tools. They are trained to stay underwater for as long as 3 minutes.
Another interesting thing about the haenyo is their age, as they can be anywhere between the ages 15 and 86. If you are lucky, you will get to chance upon these divers at the coastal villages, or even near the Seongsan Ilchulbong area.
You can also visit the Haenyo Museum to learn more about their activities and culture.
9. Soothe your aching muscles at Jeju’s spas and wellness centers. Jeju Island is teeming with spas, resorts, and wellness centers so you won’t have a problem soothing your bone-tired body after a weekend of tours and side trips. Get a relaxing massage, try the sauna, jump into a hot spring spa, or even indulge in all the pampering you need at a luxurious spa resort. When it comes to rest and relaxation, you will find a spa in Jeju that’s just perfect for your preferences and your budget.
10. Feast on authentic Korean food. You’ll find authentic Korean food in Jeju but instead of having traditional dishes you can find almost anywhere in South Korea, why not go for food that’s native in Jeju? Native dishes like redtile fish stew, abalone rice porridge, and the delicious hair-tail fish soup are absolute musts during your trip.
A big favourite among locals, the hair-tail fish stew or galchi jorim is a spicy stew made from fresh hair-tail fish. Hair-tail fish, by the way, is a long and slim fish that belongs to the cutlass family. A medium-sized serving of hair-tail fish stew will set you back 10 to 15 USD.
Planning your vacation to Jeju Island? Don’t forget to check out the tours and activities on Travezl.com.