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Jeju Island Travel Survival Guide

jeju island travel survival guide, travel guide for jeju island, travel information for Jeju Island

About Jeju

Jeju Island is my second favorite spot in Korea next to Seoul. Known as the Korean Hawaii, Jeju attracts an interesting mix of  drop-dead gorgeous island beauty, a laidback vibe different from mainland Korea,  a more seaside flavor and lots of Korean honeymooners. Jeju City is the most cosmopolitan you’ll get when it comes to restaurants and stores and frankly, I didn’t spend much time here, other than to catch the bus.  I wanted to see the more exotic side of Korea, the one you might see on Korean dramas of a private getaway… not a climbing city.

Seogwipo (Map of Seogwipo City) falls second as one of the tourist destinations, but has less variety. Here’s a map of places to stay in Seogwipo City. Seogwipo is at the south eastern base of Jeju and the last stop on the Jeju Airport Shuttle bus.  There is a bus station in the city and that connects you to a lot of places you’ll want to see.   I stayed at Jeju Hiking Inn (wasn’t keen on it but it’s located near the airport shuttle bus drop). Restaurants will be mostly Korean and much seafood.

Jungmun (map of hotels in Jungmun Area) is the resort area and it’s worthwhile to see the backlots of some of these posh hotels. The Lotte Hotel and  Shilla Jeju are the most popular and best known by Koreans. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency. Not only are some hotels the shooting locations of K-dramas, but offer a unique look at luxury Korea.  Many line the cliff ,overlooking the ocean.

Tips about  Jeju Airport

Visit the Tourist Information Center

Jeju International Airport has an information desk where you can pick up free maps and  tourist brochures. Get a map and ask for bus numbers to get around to where you need to go. The map will also help you spot sightseeing areas you’ve not considered.

Go to the Olle desk to find out about hiking and the Olle walking trails.

It’s next to the Information desk after you leave the baggage claim area. Having a map of the various trails up front will save you much angst figuring out online. Most local buses will announce trail stops but you need to pay attention.

Taking the Airport Shuttle Bus to Jungmun Resort or Seogwipo

There is an airport shuttle bus that will drop you at various locations in Jeju City, Jungmun and lastly, Seogwipo. I think it’s 5,000Won. The bus is a coach bus with AC and comfortable seats.

 

Trip Planning: How long should you stay?

I’d say three days at the least. A week is good as it provides more coverage of the island and its activities. Then it depends on what you’d like to see.

Jeju has a lot of zany and unusual museums and theme parks.  For those more active, you can golf, hike to the top of Mount Halla (it will take a day) or walk Olle Trails ( 2 or 3 a day depending on ambition).

Udo Island can be visited in a day trip or you can spend a night there if you miss the ferry.  Lastly, if you’re there to visit the beach or take a leisurely drive around the island, the week+ duration is more for you.
 

Food on Jeju Island

Unless you’re staying in the little urban dwelling of Jeju City, the island offers a lot of seafood and the standard Korean platter. This isn’t a problem if you know what you want to order your sushi or plate in Korean; you’ll be hard-pressed to find English menus!

For back-end survival, typical cheap eats like bibimbap or kimbap (recognize and learn how to order from one here) are generally loved by foreigners.  If you’re a very picky eater or have dietary concerns, you can do what I did and bring your own stash of instant oatmeal, power bars, dried fruits and nuts!

Another option: shop at local stores or larger multi-chain western-like stores such as Homeplus and Emart, where you can get groceries or see your menu in plasticized casings.

Getting Around Jeju Island

City Bus, bike, taxi, scooter and car rentals. These are the options. I chose to use the bus transportation with the occasional taxi. However, if you know what you want to see, have little time and want to take point-to-point trips, definitely rent a car.

Scooters & Jeju

Read Solo Jeju: Riding a Scooter around Udo Island

Taking the Local Bus

The bus routes are fairly simple to spot on the map but you’ll still need occasional help with knowing which number to catch or where the bus stops are from your hotel.  The bus is efficient, cheap and will give you a nice ride around the island.  For Olle Trails, there’s English translation announcements, which let you know when to get off. Usually, there will be some type of English announcement made either by a computer generated announcement or on the electrical banner inside. If ever in doubt, sit close to the front of the bus near the bus driver and let him know where you’re going. He’ll be sure to let you know where your stop is if he knows you’re a tourist.

Read Tips to taking a bus in a foreign country

What to do and see on Jeju Island:

Top 8 Things to Do

Hike Mt. Halla
Dragon Head Rock (Yongduam)
Manjang Cave
Loveland
Ride a Motorbike on Udo Island
Teddy Bear Museum
Haenyeo Museum
Jeju Ollie Trails
Sunrise Peak
Jungmun Resort area
Jeju Gimnyeong Maze Park
Odoelgae Rock
Visit the *many* kitsch museums Jeju has

Sunrise Peak
sunrise peak jeju trail, olle trail

jeju maze, giant maze park

 

Best Website on Jeju Island 

Jeju Island
.

Jeju Publications

Jeju Life

 

Getting to Jeju Island by Plane

From Daegu, you can fly out of Daegu, Busan and Seoul or take the Busan ferry.

How to book Jeju tickets when they’re “Sold out” for Chuseok?

1)  call Korean Airlines (one of the main airlines carriers for that route) direct
2) Ask for Business Class seats.  (* it’s a 30,000W upgrade difference)
3) Book point-to-point travel vs round trip  (you have more control over cities you fly out of & can mix the economy seating with business class.

With Korean Air you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance and still receive a partial to full refund. The penalty is under $20 (maybe even less)

 

7 Comments

  1. Sylvie Mullens says:

    Hi Christine,

    Were you able to rent a scooter on jeju without an international drivers licence. I’m going for a few days and really want to rent a scooter but only have a British drivers licence.

    Thank you

  2. cheryl says:

    Hi, I will be travelling around in Korea in August and September.
    I’d like to ask how many days did it take for you to travel in Jeju island?
    Where are the recommended place in Korea?

    • @Cheryl” I went to Jeju twice – once w/ a friend (7-8?) and once w/ my mother (3 days); Depends on what you want to do and see and the type of transportation you take. Jejudo has so much and more attractions than I listed, so be sure to hit up the Tourist Info & get a map when you arrive. If you’re gonna hike Mt Halla or do an Olle trail, estimate half a day to a day. If you want to ferry to Udo Island; it’ll be a day or two depending).

      Korea: Where to go is dependent on what kind of things you want to see and what you’re into- shopping, art, traditional/historical, activities,etc… Seoul is a must. Busan is the 2nd largest city with a huge seaport. Another thing is to check the Korea Tourism Org pages to see what festivals are going on during the time you’ll be there. Fall should be beautiful in Korea. The leaves change w/ brilliant colors. Hope this helps some!

  3. linus says:

    Hi Christine!

    Great post! may i check with on if a 1 day 1 night is enough to explore main (most) parts of jeju?

    • @linus: Apols for the delay…. Unless you rent a car and get started early in the morn, I’d give Jeju at least 2-3 days. Also, depends on what you consider “main spots” bc there really is so much and it’s spread out throughout the island. Museums, theme parks, Halla mountain, olle trails, natural wonders, etc…. You definitely won’t cover most in a day. My itinerary covers “some” of the stuff there is & I did it in a weekend via bus trips. I usually try to milk my days too, but as I said– some of these things are spread out. Would help if you had a tourist map in advance to strategize. 😉
      Besides, if you’re spending money to fly out, why only a day? However, if a day is all you have, then you’ll have to make it work and be content with what you get. I’d target an area and hit the places in that spot. Good luck!

  4. Wendy says:

    Hi Christine

    I would to ask your opinion. Which is the best way to travel to Jeju? By KTX/Ferry via Mokpo or flight? Im a budget traveller.

    Here is my tentative schedule:
    1st day: Go to busan by KTX (getting 5days pass). 2nights stay.
    3rd day: Jeju. Take KTX- Daejeon-Seodaejeon-mokpo. From mokpo, taking ferry to Jeju. 2nights stay.
    5th-10thday: Seoul. 5nights stay

    I am hoping using KTX will minimise the travel time between cities. But on the 3rd day, im abit sceptical about the interchange between daejeon-seodeajeon and hoping can catch the 9am ferry from mokpo to jeju.

    Is it practical to do this way? 🙂 I hope you can shed some lights on this.

    Big thanks!

    • @Wendy: unfortunately, I’m not very familiar with your route and never took the ferry, so I’m not sure about the cost difference. Apologies I couldn’t be of help. Good luck though.

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