Exquisite natural beauty combined with unspoilt charm and a sprinkling of unusual visitor attractions make this South Korean island stand out from the crowd.
First impressions of Jeju Island promise a tropical paradise much like the rest in this part of the world, but spend a little time getting to know this volcanic island province in the Korea Strait and you’ll quickly discover its very particular charms.
Many visitors opt to stay in the famous Jungmun Beach resort, but there’s much more to the island than five-star luxury. Get out into the countryside to see picturesque villages, breathtaking scenery and amazing rock formations. Visit some of the museums and try the local cuisine. Explore by public transport or hire a car and plan your own itinerary.
The Jeju skyline is dominated by the towering Mount Halla, the highest mountain in South Korea, presiding majestically over the national park at the centre of the island. Hike to the top for unrivalled views across the whole island and the surrounding ocean. Spend time exploring the Olle Walking Paths, a waymarked network of specially planned routes that guide you through some of the island’s most beautiful locations. Head to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak at sunrise for a gentler ascent with a photogenic reward at the end.
The volcanic origins of Jeju can be appreciated at close quarters in Manjanggul Cave, site of the largest lava column in the world and home to a huge colony of native bats, while the sweet smells of the nutmeg trees in Bijarim Forest showcase its agricultural heritage. Learn about the ancient legend of the Seven Nymphs at Cheojiyeon Falls, or walk along the beach at Seopjikoji to admire the dramatic rock formations sculpted by time and tide.
Jeju has its own share of interesting museums and visitor attractions, such as the quirky Teddy Bear Museum, which features cuddly bears in a variety of poses, from space astronauts to Elvis. One of the most popular places to spend a few hours is the Trick Art Museum, an interactive 3D gallery where you take the starring role in a variety of artworks and activities, from surfing with dolphins to shaking hands with Adam in the Sistine Chapel.
Most visitors arrive by air or boat to Jeju City, which is a good base for exploring the rest of the island, with plenty of accommodation and dining options to suit all tastes and budgets.