As the honeymoon capital for all of Korea, Jeju Island is often highly regarded as the “Korean Hawaii” by many Koreans. Being a Hawaii native, I’d say it’s definitely in the running realm of consideration. While it misses on the crucial vibe of Aloha, the spirit that Hawaiians take pride in, Jeju has several jaw-dropping natural wonders which should rank it higher in UNESCO World Heritage listings, than mother Korea. Tropical climate, beaches, inactive volcanoes, off-the-wall museums and theme parks and a leisurely island pace, a fun and refreshing bibimbap of Korean style!
Top 8 Things to Do in Jeju:
Jeju has three main tourist ports: Jeju City, Jungmun Resort area and Seogwipo. The airport limousine bus makes stops along that city route and regular buses around the island is efficient and regular. A giant adult amusement park, Jeju has activities galore as well as, some pretty fun and oddball attractions to fill your travel itinerary. Here are some of the things I did and would recommend:
1. Visit Jeju’s quirky museums
Jeju has a wealth of both, serious and seemingly cheesy museums, which are sure to entertain you! From Trick Art Museum (reviewed by Kiss My Kimchi) to Sex & Health Museum, World Eros Museum and a Psyche (aka Butterfly) Museum,… Jeju aims to keep its tourists and honeymooners, entertained, informed and well-oiled for humor.
Being a fan of the Korean drama, Gung (aka The Palace), the Teddy Bear Museum was my first stop. Visiting the Haeneyo Museum to learn more about Jeju’s female divers, the historical protectresses of the island, was inspiring and worthwhile!
Advice: Have the tourist information desk at the airport map it out for you or tell you which buses to take to get there.
Teddy Bear Museum. Located at Jungmun Resort Area. The Airport Limosine bus stops in front of
the museum enroute to Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex.
Above: Shinyeong Cinema Museum
2. Amuse yourself with Jeju Islands Off-beat Theme Parks.
There’s straight-forward fun in waterfalls, golf courses and casinos; but then comes the off-beat thrills of enigmatic theme parks! Just reading the names of them, you want to say– What the hell?
Loveland, Gimnyeong Maze Park, Psyche World (it’s really about butterflies), Mini Mini Land, Stone Park, Pony and Alligator Town (does this mean ponies and alligators?) ... the list of curiosities just won’t end.
Pick a theme, any park… then come back and tell me what it was about!
Advice: See the tourist information desk for a map and bus schedule.
3. Experience Jeju Island’s Natural Wonders
Despite its chic resorts and theme parks, Jeju is probably the only place in Korea whose “natural” beauty is not a result of heavy cosmetic surgery. Outside the main tourist cities, Jeju life feels down-to-earth, rural and pretty au naturale. Break out those hiking backpacks, sunscreen, walking shoes and cameras! I grew up in Hawaii and I’m not exaggerating when I say, Jeju is sprinkled with gorgeous seaside cliffs, impressive waterfalls, caves and fresh ways to make you say, “Gaaa”!
Here’s spots I found particularly impressive:
Hiking your thing?
Why not climb Mt. Halla or take the bus to the west coast of Seongsan-ri to visit Sunrise Peak.
4. Take a walk on the ‘Olle‘ side
Jeju has set up some twenty walking paths called Olle Trails (duration anywhere from 3-6 hours). The routes are marked by arrows, sculpture or colored tags and promises to lead you through the *most* drop-dead, picturesque mountain scenery, neighborhood backyards and breathtaking beachfront shores. Walking the Olle Trails are free of charge and coastal bus routes make regular stops at trail points.
Recommended: Try one or all of the Olle Trails if you get the chance (more info here)!
5. Hop a ferry to Udo Island
Beautiful beaches, sweeping cliffs, woven back streets and rural country charm… it’s all worth a day trip.Udo Island is a tiny, romantic island with a Scottish/Irish feel, modest B&B pensions, a lighthouse and it’s navigable by scooter, ATV, bus and car. I’ve heard you can wisk around the island in under an hour by scooter! If I didn’t explore the inland veins of the neighborhood streets, it’s possible I would’ve made it within that time frame.
Advice: Take the bus or better, rent a scooter!
Getting there: Take the bus out to Seongsangri- Harbor (past the Sunrise Peak stop) and take the ferry over to Udo. You may need to present your passport.
6. Visit Jeju’s famous K-drama film locations.
If you’re a K-drama fan, Jeju Island is littered with prominent film location spots and they aren’t hard to find. Book a Hallyu tour or make it a point to visit some along the way; they aren’t hard to find! Korea is often proud of their film locations and many sights are often highlighted on the tourist maps given out at the airport tourist information desk. But be on your toes, some sites aren’t listed, and you may stumbled upon them by accident. My mom and I booked a room at the Hyatt and discovered the chapel outside our room looked very familiar… it was a location where they filmed Boys Over Flowers!
7. Do more than bus it or drive it.
In Jeju there’s a range of alternate transportation options at your disposal! Buses on Jeju are convenient, cheap and efficient modes of transportation. They will get you everywhere and if not, taxis can pick up the slack. However, from ferries, horseback riding, scooters, ATVs, bikes, etc… Jeju is a mixed bag of tourist treats, so don’t get stuck just trying one flavor!
Advice: If you plan on renting a scooter or car, you must bring your driver’s license, passport and your international driver’s permit.
8. Spend a night (or visit) Jungmun’s resort hotels and beaches.
Jungmun’s beaches are nice, but that’s not the spectacle of worship you’ll die to see; it’s the top resort hotels! They’re not only fancy-schmancy, they’re mega-glam! Who lets you rent camping tents so you can BBQ on astroturf resort grounds? The Shilla Jeju does. Yowzers! Who’d craft an enormous ice-skating rink and giant windmill in their backyard? Just say, Lotte!
But it doesn’t end there. From jacuzzis, heat lamps near pools, hiking trails and casinos, in the Jungmun Resort neighborhood, you’ll find more things to make you groan with envy. What does it cost for a room at one of these opulent babies? Well, normally, it’s prices that might want to make you weep.
Tip: Other than resort restaurants, you won’t find many food options in the area, other than a neighborhood 7 Eleven. Do your snack shopping before you arrive.
Where to stay in Jungmun Resort: Here’s a map of hotels in Jungmun Area if you’re interested in shelling out some money for a couple of nights. If you can afford it or find a good deal, I’d recommend it. I booked a weekend stay at the Hyatt Regency for me and my mum. Our hotel was actually one of the locations, where they filmed the popular Korean drama, Boys Over Flowers and the balcony of our room opened right to the wedding chapel!
Wedding Chapel at Hyatt Regency Jeju: location for Boys over Flowers
If you’re a monumental fan of Korean drama, check out the check out the Seeas Hotel. It’s not as spectacular as the Shilla and Lotte, but the main grounds are locked off and accessible only to guests. We later discovered so many dramas film there, like Boys Over Flowers, Secret Garden, etc.. an entire slew.
Getting there: Take the airport bus or a bus to Jumgmun Resort. You’ll see a handful of museums as you enter, such as the Teddy Bear Museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
Seeas Hotel in Jungmun Resort is a popular film locations for K-dramas Boys over Flowers, Gung/Palace and Secret Garden.
What are your top things to do on Jeju Island?
Watch my videos on Korea Travel Essentials
Watch : Top 5 Tips for Traveling to Seoul
Read: Top 5 Travel Tips for Navigating Korean Culture
Top 5 Things to Buy in Korea
More cool things to buy in Korea
Check out my free Jeju Travel Survival Guide
Top 5 Travel Tips for Seoul
10 Cool things to do in Seoul
Finding Seoul: Namsan Tower and the Locks of Love
How to make your own Korean drama film tour
Top 8 Things to Do in Jeju Island
Backpacking Seoul: Getting there from Daegu