No trip in Korea would be completed without stepping foot on Jeju Island, the paradise of South Korea. Situated in the south off the mainland of the Korean peninsula, the island is filled with jaw dropping landscapes, which many were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its laid back culture, lack of traffic, fresh air and nature are a welcoming change from the dense, polluted and stressful environment of the cities.
With so many awesome places, it would take weeks to explore every parts of the island. Jamming up a list of places to go in 5 days would be chaotic and rushed. Hence we planned for only 2 or 3 places to go in a day in order to enjoy and indulge in the place totally.
Upon touch down, we proceeded to locate the free shuttle bus at the parking area that would fetch us to our rental car company. The car rental company was Lotte rent-a-car which is the most reputable company. We made reservation via Rentalcars.com which was cheaper compared to booking from the Lotte rent-a-car website itself.
We opted for the car that includes zero excess package so that we are insured from any damage to the vehicle. It is important to get an international driving license for driving in Korea. The car has an English speaking GPS system which operates by keying in the Korean phone number and it will guide you to your destination. (*Important* Not all GPS number stated were available in the system nor it direct us to our destination. There were a couple of times where we ended up in the wrong place, do take down the google coordinates of the places you wish to go as a safety net)
Korean cars are left-hand driven. Do check the left side of for incoming traffic if you are used to right hand driven road system.
Our rented car, a Kia Soul, parked at our Airbnb
Coast of Aewol-eup
We checked-in to our airbnb nearby the northwestern coast of the island in Aewol-eup . The area we stayed were filled with accomodation for travellers from hotels to airbnbs and guesthouses. Recently more cafes such as Starbucks, Cafe Pascucci and local korean restaurants had opened up along the winding coastline, where one can dine with the lovely backdrop of the Sea of Japan.
Cafe Pascucci Google coordinates: 33.478292, 126.363459; Korean GPS: 799-8497
Starbucks Google coordinates: 33.472896, 126.348717; Nearby Korean GPS: 799-1711
Yongmeori Coast/Sangbangsan Mountain
On the southwestern part of Jeju Island, lies a beautiful coast that is hidden from view. Yongmeori Coast appears to be a normal looking cliff from the roadside until one explores the coastline along the cliffs, which consist of stacks of rocks called Sa-am that was built up over million of years, creating a beautiful and scenic appearance along the coastline. It is said that the coast looks like a dragon that is heading underwater. Woman divers can be seen selling fresh seafood along the coastline. Entrance fee: 2000 Won
Above the Yongmeori Coast, sits Sanbangsan Mountain, which was in fact a body of lava and was formed due to violent volcanic activity some 700,000 to 800,000 years ago. There is a cave inside the mountain which its name “sanbang” means. There are two Buddhist temple, Sanbangsa and Bomunsa located around the mountain vicinity. Best time to go would be in April where the Canola Flowers bloom and a beautiful the landscape with yellow. Entrance fee: 1000 Won
Google coordinates: 33.236275, 126.312409
O’Sulloc Green Tea Museum and Innisfree Jeju House
Jeju Island is the origin of Innisfree and O’Sulloc, and a visit to this flagship store is a must for all ladies who wants to get their beauty products. Besides selling their flagship products, both places includes a cafe. Try out their yummy green tea ice cream at the Green Tea Museum and indulge in healthy meals at the Innisfree Jeju House. Visitors can also make their DIY soap with natural materials found on Jeju Island. Nearby the Innisfree Jeju House is the green tea fields, perfect for photo taking among the rows of tea leaves.
Entrance fee: Free
Google coordinates: 33.305253, 126.289270
Korean GPS: 794-5351
O’Sulloc Green Tea Ice Cream
Ecoland Theme Park
If you are itching to ride a train in Jeju, then Ecoland is the only place you can get it. The theme park consist of 4 main attractions and can be reached via the train ride.
At the Eco Bridge and Lake side, you can walk along the raised wooden bridge which leads you to the lake side area where you can have some water fun with bump boats, eat at a cafe, explore a ship and windmill.
The Picnic Garden is where you can take a hike on a trail formed by mysterious substance call Scoria and explore the primeval Gotjawal Forest. There is also a kid’s town nearby for children and families to play and picnic.
The Lavender, Green Tea and Rose garden, is the last stop of Ecoland. Cross the garden bridge and it leads you to a European style garden filled with herbs, roses, lavender field and green teas. Across the garden is a vast horse yard where the horses graze.
Entrance fee: 12,000 Won
Google coordinates: 33.447128, 126.667779
Korean GPS: there is no korean GPS number for Ecoland but we can use the GPS of Jeju Stone Park, 710-7731, as Ecoland is located just east of the stone park.
Cheonjeyeon waterfall, which translate to ‘Pond of God’, is a 3 tier waterfall which eventually flows south to the sea. One of the highlight is the Cheonjeyeon Pond which has an unique rock formation. The pond is 21m deep and emits a bluish tinge to the water. Walking further down south would be the second fall, which is 30m high and the most majestic of the three falls. The place require some climbing of stairs and are not wheelchair or stroller friendly.
Google coordinates: 33.250568, 126.416659
Korean GPS: 760-6331
Entrance fee: 2500 Won
Cheonjeyeon Pond, which is 21m deep and emits a bluish tinge.
Cheonjeyeon second falls
Hyeopjae beach is located at the northwestern coast of Jeju Island. It is a popular spot for people for its clear shallow waters and white sandy beaches. It is a great place for family or friends gathering for picnic, swimming, and watching the sun set. There are plenty of restaurants nearby the beach which are walking distances away.
Google coordinates: 33.393114, 126.239576
Korean GPS: use GPS of Hallim Park 796-0001
Entrance Fee: Free
Hallasan, Yeongsil trail
There are 4 trails in the Hallasan National Park, Seongpanak, Gwaneumsa, Eorimok and Yeongsil. If you like long challenging trails and wish to hike to the summit, Seongpanak and Gwaneumsa would be the trail to take. If you wish a less tedious trail and do not mind not hiking up to the summit, Eorimok and Yeongsil will be the trail of choice.
We eventually chose Yeongsil. Although it is the easiest and shortest trail, it is also the most scenic. The trail is 5.8km long and takes about 2.5 hours one way. If you park your car at the Yeongsil Entrance you will need to take the same route back down, which will be another 2.5 hours.
The Yeongsil trail is known for its scenery. As we hike, we were greeted by 4 transitions in the habitat environment; from the dense temperate forest in the lower altitude to rocky cliffs, to mountane vegetation of short unique looking trees and an open grassland with the view of the Mount Hallasan summit.
Google coordinates: 33.348381, 126.496773
Korean GPS: 747-9950
Entrance Fee: Free
Located 3.5km off the northeastern coast of Jeju Island, Udo Island is named for its resemblance of a lying cow. This island, although tiny, has much to offer. Rent a bicycle, scooter or self drive around the 13km beach road and enjoy its breathtaking landscapes. To get to Udo Island, we drove to the Seongsan Port to take the ferry to the island. We chose not to drive our car in as we wanted to explore the island on bicycle.
After getting our electronic bicycle, we cycle along the beach road and alighted at the Seobin Baeksa, a red nodules beach. The color of the water varies depending on the water level, from bright emerald to deep sapphire. This beach truly resembles the Mediterranean for its white beaches, blue seas and the European inspired houses around the vicinity.
The island is full of wonderful cafes to choose from traditional Korean seafood to western cafes along the beach road. The most happening area in the island would be the Geomelle beach area. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes at this area. It is a must to try out the mandarin orange ice cream and the fresh jeju mandarin orange juice. The Geomelle beach also boast gorgeous scenery of the cave site with its clear waters. Activities include speed boat ride at the beach, exploring the black sand beach and the cave or hike up the lava rocks cliff for an elevated view of the island.
Seongsan Port Google Coordinate: 33.472669, 126.934595
Korean GPS: 7825671
Ferry fare: 5500 Won round trip
Seobin Baeksa, a red nodules beach
Bangsatap, which means “protective towers”, were built by villagers as a protection by harmful spirits. It is believe that the stones posseses positive energies and will bring in good fortunes.
Geommeolle Beach site with its beautiful waters on Udo Island, Jeju. Geommeolle means “black sand”, which describe the dark grey sand on the beach.
A tiny gap in the Geommeolle Cave lead to this gorgeous scenery
If you love flowers, then Camellia Hill would be the place to visit. Spanning 17.2 hecatres, the garden is home to 6000 camellia trees of 500 different species, and various different trees, plants and wildflowers.
The garden is a perfect place for couples looking for a romantic stroll and some quiet moments as the place is filled with romantic decorations and corners to spend with your loved one.
Google coordinates: 33.288914, 126.370123
Korean GPS: 792-0088
Entrance fee: 7000 Won