South Korea is full of wonders and one of the highlights surely has to be Jeju Island. This tropical paradise is one of the best-kept secrets in Asia. With dramatic, dormant volcanoes, rolling hills, hiking, beach sports, and a lovely coastline, this is the ideal spot for couples, families, and honeymooners. Still not discovered Jeju? Take a look at our must-see highlights of this sparkling isle.
All About Jeju Island
Jeju Island is located a few miles off the coast of South Korea and is a popular destination for Koreans, particularly in the summer months. The island is around three times bigger than Seoul, so there is plenty of space and it is a relaxing place to come even in the height of summer. It is certainly one of the highlights of Korea, and a must-visit when you come to the country at any time of the year.
Top 9 Highlights of Jeju Island
1) Climb Halla Mountain
If you are up for a challenge, go to Halla Mountain. This majestic peak towers over the island and offers excellent hikes for people who are fit and healthy. You need to walk five hours to get to the summit, and then make the return back, but there are also some less demanding walks that nevertheless give you some excellent views and the opportunity to stroll through some wonderful countryside.
2) Eat Some Delicious Seafood
You’re going to eat well on Jeju when you sample the local seafood. Fill up with clams, crab, seafood stews, fish, and other delicacies fresh from the ocean. The dishes are spicy or simply tasty, with the addition of seaweed, rice, squash, and other ingredients.
3) Walk the Olle Trails
Olle is the word for the narrow pathway that goes from a house’s front door onto the street, according to Jeju dialect. Now it is the name for the 26 hiking paths that link up various parts of rural Jeju. The paths are all very well-marked and have distances of between seven kilometers and 23 kilometers, so you can choose how long you want to walk. These trails are ideal for getting a close-up glimpse of country life in Korea. You’ll encounter such a diverse array of sights including fruit orchards, thatched villages, and rocky coastlines, you will never get bored.
4) See the Deep-Diving Women
One of the human highlights of Jeju is the spectacle of the deep-diving women. Women on Jeju learned to dive for seafood while the men were on the fishing boats, and the practice still continues to this day. The haenyo women dive up to 20 meters without any equipment and they are famous for these feats, particularly as women dive right up until when they are in their 80s.
5) Climb to the Top of a Volcano
Trek to the top of Seongsan Ilchul-bong, a volcano that is not active anymore but will provide you with amazing views over the surrounding countryside. The volcano is on the eastern side of Jeju Island and it is best – if you can wake yourself up – to trek to the top before dawn. The sunrise from the volcano is spectacular. It takes around 25 minutes to walk to the top so it’s not a huge climb, but you do need to be reasonably fit. It is 182 meters in total.
6) Watch the Sun Set on Hyeopjae Beach
This beach in Hallim Village is one of the best-looking in the whole of Korea. It has perfect white sand and is characterized by jutting prominent of black volcanic rock, and it is a very popular place in the summer months. It is best to come here at dusk, however, where you can relax and watch the sunset over the ocean.
7) Head to Another Wonderful Beach
While there are many beaches in Korea, Jeju Island is where the best of the bunch are congregated. These include Jungmun Beach which features a marvelously blue sea and sand dunes, as well as Emerald Bay, Shinyang, Hamdoek, and Gwakji.
8) Check Out Some Lava Tubes
Visit the Manjang cave if you are looking for something a bit different. This cave system stretches more than eight kilometers and there is a one-kilometer stretch you can walk in. The cave system is formed by cooling lava and it is certainly a cool place – both literally and figuratively.
9) Go to Sagae
The Buddhist temple Sanbang-gul-sa is located in the southwest of the island of Jeju. You need to walk to get to this distinctive temple, by climbing some steep rocks and then stairs to get to the temple. Here you will find some unforgettable views and atmosphere.
For more ideas and tips on Asia travel including Jeju Island, South Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, and more, visit PhuketOn. The website PhuketOn is ideal for exploring Asian travel and adventure.