The volcanic Jeju Island has an otherworldly charm, with ancient villages, a wealth of natural beauty and quirky museums and attractions all awaiting discovery.
Pristine white beaches and high volcanic cliffs evoke visions of a quintessential island paradise, but even a little time spent on Jeju reveals the island off South Korea has a distinct appeal of its own. Lap up the five star luxury at the island’s most famous resort on Jungmun Beach, or take a drive through the countryside. Quirky sights such as the hareubang, stone ‘grandfather’ statues, and traditional thatched roofed houses start to reveal themselves among the bright yellow fields of rapeseed, or the pink, white and purple carpets of cosmos flowers.
Mount Halla dominates the skyline and is visible from almost everywhere on the island. Keen hikers should climb to the top and enjoy the views. To the south of the mountain, the world-class network of trails known as the Olle Walking Paths can keep hikers busy for days. Enjoy spectacular views from the lower Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak on the island’s east coast, where the vistas are especially good at sunrise. For natural beauty of an entirely different kind, head underground to the Manjanggul Cave, one of the largest lava tunnels in the world.
Winter on the island can be cold. When the weather isn’t right for outdoor excursions, Jeju Island has a host of indoor attractions. These range from the quirky, such as the Teddy Bear Museum and the Trick Art Museum, to the even quirkier Loveland. Here, numerous erotic statues stand in a range of compromising poses. For something more family friendly, try Psyche World Butterfly Park, one of the largest butterfly collections in the world.
Most visitors fly into Jeju City or arrive by boat. While the majority of attractions are elsewhere, the city can be a good place to base yourself, with plenty of food and accommodation options. From here, many attractions are easy to reach by rental car or public transport. An excellent network of buses service the entire island.
Being geographically distinct from Korea, Jeju Island has developed its own cuisine. The island is famous for its hallabong, a type of tangerine. Try abalone porridge made with abalones caught by the island’s famous female divers.