Planning a trip to South Korea?
One of the country’s best-loved islands, Jeju Island is teeming with natural wonders and fun activities for the adventurous traveller. It is particularly known for its exotic beach resorts and volcanic landscape.
With this in mind, it is no wonder that Jeju Island is a popular tourist destination for those looking to explore natural wonders, captivating beauty and uniquely rich culture.
With so much to see and do, a visit to the island can be overwhelming without guidance. Here are my top things to do in Jeju Island to get you started. I’ve also included some of my favourite places to eat and sleep to help you further immerse yourself in the culture!
If you don’t speak Korean it can be tricky to get around the island. Most taxi drivers don’t speak English and many aren’t able to read written Korean so it gets very tough. So taking a tour can be an excellent option to get around more easily.
Things to do in Jeju
There are many different and exciting Jeju Island points of interest, each promising to leave a memorable mark on your holiday. The following Jeju attractions only scratch the surface of what to do on the island, but they are a great place to start!
1. Hallasan Mountain
Hallasan is the highest mountain in South Korea, reaching a height of nearly 2,000 meters. Surrounded by the Hallasan National Park (Hallasan Seongpanak), the shield volcano is worshipped by some locals who believe that gods and spirits live in it.
Most travellers enjoy a hike up the mountain, absorbing the beautiful scenery and taking in the panoramic vistas. Depending on the season that you visit Jeju, the hike can be quite chilly – especially before you start walking and warming up! I would definitely recommend wearing layers so that you can peel off your clothes as you begin to break a sweat.
The beauty of the trail is that there are various routes to choose from depending on whether you want a relaxing, moderate or steep climb. To reduce the stress of planning the trip yourself, I would recommend that you book a Hallasan transfer trip!
The hike is very much worth doing it – there are stunning views! I visited Jeju in August and it was incredibly hot. Only 2 of the paths will take you to the summit. We decided not to take these. It actually would have been ok as it was much cooler up the mountain than it was in Seogwipo. But to get to the summit and back is a serious 8 hour day.
⇒ Korea isn’t the easiest country to get around. It is a perfect place to travel with a group – check out my post on 30 Fantastic Solo Travel Groups.
Instead, we chose to take the Yeongsil trail – this only goes 1280 meters and is just over 5kms. There is a shelter/rest stop along the way. It was quite basic but it did have 2-minute noodles. We had chosen to hit a convenience store before getting to the mountain so this is what fueled our climb. Don’t forget to take lots of water.
2. Seongsan Ilchulbong
Also known as ‘Sunrise Peak’, Seongsan Ilchulbong is not only one of Jeju’s most famous geographical features, but it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption under the sea, Seongsan Ilchulbong offers the best sunrise view on the island.
The hike can easily be done by most travellers, with rest stops and benches frequently set out along the way. The estimated time to the peak at a leisurely pace is about 45 minutes. Don’t forget to take your camera to snap the sun as it rises over the island! No matter what time of day you visit the views are fantastic.
3. Cheonjiyeon Waterfall
Commonly known as the “Pond of God”, Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is made up of three sections. The waterfall is surrounded by lush plant life, including the rare Solimnan reeds. Further exploring around the waterfall will lead you to a cave, a pool of water and additional waterfalls.
It is very easy to access the waterfall – it is almost in Seogwipo! The easiest option is to walk. Once heading in the right direction you will see the grandfather rocks – follow these to the waterfall. It is very atmospheric and photogenic and well worth a visit.
Other things to look out for in Cheonjiyeon Valley are Seonimgyo Bridge and the octagonal Cheonjeru Pavilion.
Although you could easily spend the day indulging in the cool waters of Cheonjiyeon, there are so many awesome day tours that guide you to some of the other exciting places around Jeju Island – including the falls!
4. Jeongbang Waterfall
Another one of Jeju Island’s top waterfalls is Jeongbang Waterfall. This waterfall is incredibly unique as it is the only waterfall in Asia that flows directly into the ocean. Falling down the black cliff from a height of 23 meters, Jeongbang is, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the island!
A visit to the falls promises a great day out for those with a zestful love for nature. Start in the conveniently-located parking lot, and set off to purchase your ticket. The information board shows clearly mapped-out routes, with little scattered waterfalls to explore along the way.
It is quite easy to walk to Jeongbang falls from Seogwipo.
5. Jeju Love Land
A rather unusual element of Jeju Island is the number of sex-themed parks! Let’s face it, one sex-themed park on its own would be something unique and Jeju has a few! The reason for this is that Jeju is a popular honeymoon destination for Koreans. Due to the generally conservative bent of Korean society, it is likely that many newly marrieds are quite inexperienced sexually. Therefore, these parks were created to educate and entertain!
The sex-themed outdoor sculpture park boasts a variety of sex education films and sculptures demonstrating various sex positions. Although a popular activity for couples, Love Land is also a fun place to go for groups of friends. Whatever you do, don’t go with your parents or with your children – far too uncomfortable!
Breaking the traditional taboos of sex, the park combines art with eroticism. If you are travelling as a family, the park conveniently offers recreational play areas to look after your young ones! Be sure to look out for the name of the sculptures as they definitely add to the entertainment.
As the theme park is outdoors, I’d suggest that you book your ticket to Jeju Love Land on a day when the weather is good.
6. Seogwipo Traditional Market
As in most Asian countries, the cuisine is integral to the culture, and what better way to indulge in traditional cuisine than at a traditional market? Seogwipo traditional market is one of the best markets in Jeju.
Located in the arty area of Seogwipo (hence its name) the market is full of street food and interesting wares. A true cultural infusion, the vibrant market offers a huge variety of goods to explore. This is a must-do activity to immerse yourself in the Korean lifestyle.
I suggest visiting at lunchtime. We joined the longest queues and ended up with some fantastic snacks! Some amazing shaved pork skewers and then a pancake type product with an egg, spam, shredded cabbage and 3 types of sauces!
7. Saeyeongyo Bridge
Connecting Jeju Island to the uninhabited islet Saeseom, Saeyeongyo Bridge is renowned for being the longest pedestrian bridge on the island. Another one of Jeju Island’s attractions, you can expect to walk 20 minutes just to cross it! With this in mind, I would highly recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes when visiting the bridge.
There is a little bar on the way to the bridge that has some rather interesting Korean wine that can be drunk out of shot glasses.
Take the time to absorb the surrounding scenery and listen to the sounds of the birds. If you are looking for something extra special, make the return journey at night and watch the beautiful LED light display on the guardrail of the bridge come to life. As an added bonus, no entrance fee is required to cross the bridge!
8. Sangumburi Crater
Sangumburi crater boasts an impressive circumference of 2 km! No wonder it is a National Monument!
The extinct volcanic crater is filled with lush plant life. You can expect to find the likes of red-thorn trees and Magnolia trees as well as Ondaerim vegetation. The wide variety of vegetation makes the crater a popular spot for researchers as well!
Autumn is a great time to visit the crater as the ridges adopt a golden tone from the silvergrass, and Japanese Cedar trees dominate the landscape. If you are looking for a spectacular sunset view spot – then Sangumburi Crater is the place to be!
It takes about 15 minutes to walk up to the top of the crater and it is very well worth it! The crater looks very impressive and is so so green! Alas, it is tough to get a great shot due to how round it is – part of it is always in the shadows. It would be great to get an aerial shot here – perfect for a drone but do ask permission!
When I visited it was 35 degrees and super humid so the climb up was a bit hideous but in better temperatures, it would be quite an easy stroll.
9. Manjanggul Cave
Manjanggul Cave is a top attraction in Jeju Island. Formed over thousands of years of volcanic activity, the lava tube can get quite chilly so pack a sweater to stay comfortable as you explore the well-preserved passages. Take note of the micro-topographic features inside!
It is about a 2km round trip to walk through the caves. Do walk the entire way as it ends with the largest lava column in the world! Rather difficult to photograph due to the darkness but still a cool thing to do! And if you are visiting in summer you will enjoy the cool temperatures in the cave!
If you have time, be sure to also visit the Manjanggul Cave Museum which is full of interesting exhibitions and information boards.
Take note that if you intend on spending time in the cave, you should probably visit the toilets before as there are no facilities for use once inside! For extra help in getting to and from the cave, you can book a Manjanggul Cave transfer service.
10. Lee Jung-Seop Gallery
A final suggestion for those travellers who love both history and art is to visit the Lee Jung-Seop Gallery. Known as one of Korea’s most iconic modern artists, Lee Jung-Seop is revered as an artistic genius.
Make your way to Seowipo and enjoy getting lost in the art that built Jung-Seop’s legacy. Influenced by his time as a refugee during the Korean war, his artworks communicate a deep feeling that is entrenched in Korean history and culture.
The gallery is across several floors – the top floor has a nice view in good weather.
⇒ Heading to Japan? Check out my post on the Nakasendo Trail
The gardens here and the streets around the gallery are very photogenic and have lots of shops and cafes. This was my favourite area in Seogwipo.
⇒ Another great place to visit in Asia is Malaysia. Check out my post on the Best Places to Visit in Kuala Lumpur in 24 hours.
This pretty area is in the east of Jeju Island and has featured in many Korean tv dramas – and is therefore quite popular! There are a lighthouse, a gingerbread house and some great views of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak from the end of the lighthouse.
I hired a bike to get around when I visited which worked very well. It is a slightly odd area but very photogenic!
⇒ Travelling solo to Korea? Check out my post on Solo Travel Groups – several of the companies in the post run organised tours to Korea.
How to get to Jeju Island
Seoul is the usual port of arrival for most into Korea
Jeju is a very popular domestic destination and there are many low-cost cheap flights. The flight from Seoul takes just over one hour. Remember – this flight will take off and land at the domestic airport in Seoul, not the international airport Incheon.
Do you need a Visa?
It can be a real pain trying to figure out if you need a visa for a country and then all the hassle of figuring out how to apply, how long you can go without your passport, when the embassy is open etc. iVisa has completely revolutionized this process and put it all online and make it super simple and paper and hassle-free!
Where to Eat In Jeju Island
South Korean cuisine is as colourful and vibrant as the culture. Whether you are visiting Jeju Island for a short vacation, or a longer holiday, here is my list of top places to try!
Offering traditional Korean barbeque, the Sunny Garden is a top spot to go for brunch, lunch or dinner! Prepare to cook your own meat on the open stove at your dining table. If you love Korean beef, quick service and are looking for an authentic experience, then this is the place for you.
Looking for good Korean food at affordable prices? Ankeori Pakeori should definitely be on your list of food spots to try! They are known to serve their kimchi very well, and their customer service is out of this world. You can expect a table full of interesting dishes to try if visiting for lunch or dinner.
Mint serves super tasty contemporary cuisine in the arty district of Seogwipo. Boasting an outstanding view, it will be tricky to choose which is better – the food or the vista! I would recommend going on a clear evening to watch the sunset – it is breathtaking.
Soul Kitchen offers the ultimate comfort food menu if you’re looking for a break from traditional Korean cuisine. While the restaurant offers a true steakhouse ambiance, it also has a wonderful vegan and vegetarian menu. This gem of a spot can also be found in Seogwipo.
Childonga is the ultimate dinner venue if you’re looking to try the famous black pork in Jeju. While the interior of the restaurant is similar to most other venues, the food is unparalleled.
Although the staff don’t speak much (if any) English, the food is definitely worth the effort of struggling through the language barrier.
My favourite place for coffee and photos in Jeju was Cafe Mayb. This super cute cafe does a nice breakfast and also serves wine and beers come the evening. There is also a nice florist next door.
Paris Baguette is a safe stop for coffee and baked treats. There are many of these around Korea. And the Grey Owl Cafe has good coffee and ham and egg muffins – it isn’t easy to get a western style breakfast on Jeju! And for a cafe with a view, unique modern design and good coffee visit Cafe Over the Window.
Don’t miss Jeju’s famous tangerine juice! It is on sale all over the island and absolutely delicious. I lost track of how many I had. They tend to be served slightly frozen so they are wonderfully refreshing! And sometimes they come in plastic bottles shaped like the grandfather rocks – my favourite!
⇒ One of the tastiest places to visit in Asia is Hoi An Vietnam. Check out my Hoi An Blog.
Boutique Hotels Jeju Island, South Korea
Finding a temporary home base in a foreign space is very important. Depending on what you want from your trip, you need to be careful about the area you choose to stay in. Here are some of my top choices.
Chason Hotel The Smile
Chason Hotel The Smile is in the heart of Seogwipo – perfect for travellers looking to explore nearby waterfalls, visit the iconic sights and discover the local food.
The hotel offers the usual perks of excellent WI-FI, a continental breakfast and the best coffee! I would recommend this spot for couples travelling to Jeju Island, however, they do also offer family rooms. All the rooms are very clean, neat and provide all the amenities you could wish for.
Hidden Cliff Hotel and Nature
The Hidden Cliff Hotel and Nature sits on the top of a hill and is surrounded by thick woods teeming with life. The hotel is surrounded by hidden hiking trails for the adventurous soul, and offers a large infinity pool to cool down in at the end of a long day.
The vibrant rooms have wooden finishings and a private balcony to relax on. As an added bonus, Jungmun Beach is just a five-minute drive away!
Bayhill Pool and Villa
Bayhill Pool and Villa offers luxurious rooms with private terraces and ocean views. Located in a slightly secluded area, it’s the place to stay if you are looking for a quiet getaway. The spacious rooms have a stylish modern interior for you to enjoy and unwind after a day exploring!
Final thoughts on Jeju Island
Jeju is every nature lover’s paradise and has something special for everyone – couples, families and solo travellers! If South Korea is on your bucket list, then you need to make a stop in Jeju. One of the top spots for travellers to visit in South Korea, the to-list in Jeju seems never-ending!
I hope that my list of things to do and places to visit has come in handy and wet your appetite! My suggestions should help you to plot your trip, but remember that each adventure is unique, and you can never be too sure what to expect!
Who Paid for What With this Post
I covered all my costs for this trip. This post does contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. Just wanted to make sure that you knew!
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