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!
16 Top Things to Do on Jeju Island
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:
Visit cute quirky museums
Jeju has a wealth of both, serious and seemingly cheesy museums, which are sure to entertain you! From trick art to teddy bears and female divers … Jeju aims to keep its tourists and honeymooners, entertained, informed and well-oiled for humor.
Advice: Have the tourist information desk at the airport map it out for you or tell you which buses to take to get there.
Rooms of teddy bears and fun teddy exhibitions. Teddy Elvis, Teddy Marylyn Monroe…fans of the Korean drama,The Palace/Princess Diaries will love this museum. Getting there: The Airport Limosine bus stops in front of the museum enroute to Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex. Across the street is Ripley’s Believe it or not museum and the Chocolate Museum.
Did you know one of Jeju Island’s UNESCO attractions happens to be Korean mermaids (aka female divers)? The Haeneyo Museum is dedicated to the history of these heroic women who started a tradition that is now growing extinct. One of my favorite museums; worth a visit.
3. Shinyeong Cinema Museum
The museum showcases the history of cinema in Korea with focus on its origin and a history of some of its workers. Some interactive exhibitions. Korean drama fans may be a little disappointed as the museum does not feature contemporary celebrities nor is it a film studio. Getting There: 15-20 minutes from Seogwipo by taxi.
You will not believe your eyes, because the illusion looks frighteningly real. Two dimensional art with three dimensional illusion. Don’t forget to bring your camera for selfies. Getting there: Seogwipo near Seongeup Folk Village.
Jeju Island’s 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),Sex & Health Museum, World Eros Museum , 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.
Here’s a couple of my favorites:
With sex being a closeted topic in Korea, Loveland made it on my travel list as a definite MUST! The park showcases boldly erotic, curious and humorous artwork about sex in Korea. The park houses statues of erotica of curious nature and a museum building with more fun sculptures, art work and a pleasure store where you can buy souvenirs, a condom and maybe even a dildo.
6. Gimnyeong Maze Park
As a fan of Harry Potter and the Shining, I was curious about maze parks. While Gimnyeong Maze Park is rather small, it still challenges your skill to find your way out. Read more here.
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”!
Some of Jeju’s impressive natural wonders:
7. Hike Mt. Hallasan National Park
Koreans love hiking, so being the highest peak on Jeju Island, Mt Hallasan National Park is a popular hiking attraction. It’s known to be very scenic. Getting to Hallasan National Park: Two trail entrances: Eorimok (take bus 1100, last bus 3:00p) and Seongpanak (take bus 5.16, last bus 9:30p) .
8. Sunrise Peak
The view from Sunrise Peak overlooks the volcano crater and the island. There are stairs to get there and it takes around 20 minutes to get up there, depending upon fitness levels. After visiting the peak, shop for souvenirs at shops below or stroll down to eat at the restaurant along the cliffside. The restaurant is run by haeneyo (Korean mermaids, who are like diving grannies) who catch the seafood fresh. In the cove below the restaurant, they have dive shows.
Getting to Sunrise Peak: Take the bus to the west coast of Seongsan-ri and walk 10-15 minutes to the entrance of the peak. This stop also lands you near the ferry pier for Udo Island.
9. Jusangjeolli Cliffs
Jusangjeolli Cliffs are hexagonal rock formations in the cliff and jutting out of the ocean. Getting there: Take Airport Limousine Bus & stop at International Convention Center. About a 15 minute walk or 3 minute taxi ride to entrance.
10. Odoelgae Rock
Odoelgae Rock is a dramatic rock formation jutting out of the ocean. Nearby there is an olle hiking trail with a beach below.
11. Manjuggal Caves( lava tubes)
Being that Jeju Island is a volcanic island, Manjuggal caves are actually lava tube caves, which you can explore. Nearby are restaurants if you’re hungry and a man-made maze, to make your drive to get there, worthwhile.
Getting to Manjuggal Caves: Take Donghoe Line Intercity Bus to get off at the parking lot near Manjanggul Cave Entrance. ( 1hr 20 min.) It’s a 20 minute hike to the actual park entrance; take 5 minute taxi ride there.
12. Jeju Olle Trails
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)!
13. 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.
14. Visit Jeju’s famous K-drama film locations
If you’re a K-drama fan, Jeju Island is littered with popular Korean drama film locations and they aren’t hard to find. Korea is proud of their film locations highlight some of their locations in the tourist maps given out at the airport tourist 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 Jeju Hyatt Regency hotel and found the chapel sitting outside our room was a location for Boys Over Flowers!
15. Experience it by ATV, motorbike, horse back
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.
16. Enjoy 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!
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. Unfortunately, you won’t find many food options in the area, other than a neighborhood 7-Elevens and hotel restaurants. 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.
Who lets you rent camping tents so you can BBQ on astroturf resort grounds? The Shilla Jeju Hotel does. Yowzers!
Who’d craft an enormous ice-skating rink and giant windmill in their backyard? Just say, Lotte Hotel & Resort!
For Korean dramas fans, check out the Seeas Hotel. Film locations to ‘The Secret Garden’ or ‘Boys over Flowers’ and more. The main grounds are locked off and accessible only to guests.
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.
Travel Essentials for Jeju Island
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What are your top things to do on Jeju Island?
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