Jeju South Korea



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Description: Open source travel guide to Jeju, featuring up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, travel tips and more. Free and reliable advice written by Wikitravellers from around the globe.

Jeju Island, also known as the "Island of the Gods," is a popular vacation spot for Koreans and foreigners. It remains the top honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds. Despite attempts to market the island as "the Hawaii of Korea," climatologically and geographically it bears little in similarity to the Hawaiian Islands in the U.S. The island offers visitors a wide range of activities: hiking on Halla-san (South Korea's highest peak) or Olle-gil(routes), catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, riding horses, touring all the locales from a favorite television K-drama, or just lying around on the sandy beaches.

Although tourism is one of the main industries on the island, many of the hotels and other tourist areas are run by mainland companies, so much of the income never gets put back into the local economy. Also, since the attractions are geared towards tourists, many of the entrance fees can be hefty (although the locally owned and operated ones tend to be cheaper). Similar to Gyeongju and some other areas, local residents can enter most places for free or for a steeply discounted price.

Jeju is Korea's capital for unusual themeparks and niche commercial attractions. Oddly somewhat of a duopoly has developed on the island with typically two competing variants on the one theme in Jeju-si and Seogwipo-si, respectively. This trend extends even to the most bizarre ideas with pairs of sex, glass, and teddy bear museums all in existence.

The local traditional culture stands in stark contrast to the mainland (and much of Asia) as being matriarchal. Stemming from this basis, and some odd tax reasons, the role of seafood gathering on the island has been dominated by women. As such, a common sight around Jeju's coastline is that of the "haenyo" or "woman diver", a figure that has become somewhat iconic of the island. Perhaps even more iconic are the "dol hareubang" or "grandfather statues", giant basalt statues. You will often see them outside restaurants, plus a few are thrown into any tourism site for good measure.

Much of the northern coast of the island is densely built up, and not particularly attractive. Some of the more attractive beaches of the island, however, are at the western part of the the north coast at Hallim. The south coast of the island has more been developed as a tourist destination. Although the island is no longer than 70 km, travel times between different parts of the island are relatively high (especially by bus), and your stay on the island will strongly be affected by where you decide to stay and what transport you will be using. Renting a car may turn out to be useful (and an international drivers licence is obligatory for foreign drivers, so prepare for this.)

Typical mild coastal climate with minimum temperatures just below 0 degree celcius even in winter due to warm currents. Because it is to the South of the mainland, the island has a high mountain area that rises up into the atmosphere significantly, and the wind currents and jet stream move from the mainland to the island, it is in a perfect position to capture frequent moisture. The island is on the border of moderate and subtropical zones. The beach season runs from July to September. The climate features a hot summer. the usual air temperature being 26 °C (highest 33 °C), highest water temperature of upper layers is 28 °C. It has a warm and dry autumn when the air is becoming cooler and water temperature remains as in summer (24 °C) until October. Short and mild winter with snowfalls in the northern part of the island and in highland, while in the southern part farmers harvest tangerines. And finally a warm spring when everything blooms. During all seasons except summer, the island is known for being very windy. Its location in a zone ripe for frequent atmospheric pressure changes ensures almost constant moderate to high winds.

  • Jeju City - the capital and where you will arrive if coming by plane. Most of the attractions on Jeju Island are outside of the city, so if you don't have your own form of transport it's only worth spending time in the city for the wider range of bars and restaurants.
  • Seogwipo - located in the south of the island, and close to a wide range of tourist sites. Also home to Jeju's World Cup Stadium and the Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex .

Furthermore, smaller villages dot the coastline and eastern and western interior. The following lists a few of note roughly clockwise from Jeju City:

  • Gimyeong - village closest to the Manjangmul Lava Tube and adjacent Gimyoung Maze.
  • Seongsan - village in the east of the island, conveniently located for Udo Island and Seongsan Ilchubong, a volcanic crater. The village has a number of interesting seafood restaurants and can make for a pleasant overnight stay, but be aware that there are no nightlife options (apart from a disproportionate number of marts for the size of the village).
  • Udo Island - a tiny island off the coast of Seongsan great for an afternoon countryside bike or ATV ride.
  • Gangjeong - small coastal village just west out of central Seogwipo. Non-noteworthy if not for the fact that it is the proposed site and thus ground zero for the battle over keeping naval bases off Jeju.
  • Hallim - also romanised as Hanrim. Close to many inland themeparks and golf courses but in an area generally poorly serviced by inter-city buses.

As the tourist trade in Jeju Island has grown larger in recent years, it is increasingly common to find some taxi drivers who speak English, Japanese and Chinese, especially in Jeju City. The vast majority of service and tourist industry workers, however, are still monolingual.

Natives of Jeju island speak a dialect of Korean that is very different in vocabularies rather than the accent compared to the standard dialect spoken in the Seoul area. But all staff in the tourist industry are required to speak standard Korean, so this will not be a problem in places such as bus terminals, the airport, and most districts in the city.

Jeju international airport (IATA. CJU. [2] ) has a total of 23 airlines providing direct flights (thirteen local, ten international). The vast majority of flights to Jeju are from Gimpo (Seoul's domestic airport) or Busan; there is also one direct flight per week to Incheon, seven direct flights per week to Tokyo Narita, seven to Osaka Kansai, four to Beijing. flights to Shanghai Pudong, Nagoya. Shenyang. Fukuoka. Dalian and Changchun. plus a flight to Hong Kong.

Eastar Jet [3] also started operation from Jeju to Seoul Gimpo, Gunsan, and Cheongju. Asiana Airlines [4] offers even more destinations and flights from as low as KRW22,000. So they might even challenge the price of a ferry. Despite being budget airlines, they offer good service and are willing to change flights (including refunding the difference if you change to a cheaper flight). This offers a convenient way for travellers to fly into Jeju from all over Korea or leave Jeju to any destination required - the best option is you are flexible.

Unfortunately, travel between Jeju and almost anywhere outside of Asia is not very convenient. Most itineraries will require either changing airports (likely in Seoul between Gimpo and Incheon), or spending a night in some other city. Your best bet is to try to sandwich the flight to Jeju between time in other cities in Asia. Jeju airport is undergoing active expansion so keep an eye out as more convenient routes may pop up in the near future.

Upon leaving the terminal, you will see taxis as well as two bus stands, one for the inner-city Jeju City bus services, and one for the Airport Limousine service to Seogwipo (more information about this service below).

Jeju port has five direct routes. Only 6% of total travelers come in and out of Jeju by sea, which can be explained by the very competitive flight fares. Ferry services are comparatively slow but of reasonable value after factoring in accommodation savings made on overnight ferries. There are daily services from a number of ports. Reservation can easily be done via phone, just ask you local tourist information or guest-house.

  • Busan - Mon–Sat, 11h overnight, 7PM departure both to and from Jeju port. Third class (sleeping on the floor) KRW51,550, second class bed in a small shared room KRW74,000, and first class also available. For return journeys you must buy two single tickets (no discounts) and tickets can be brought at the ferry terminal up to the day of departure providing there is availability. The boat contains a restaurant, bar and small shop.
  • Mokpo - 2 daily ferries, 3h 10min - 4h 30min duration. From Jeju to Mokpo, 9:30AM and 4:30PM. Economy tickets cost around KRW30,000-38,000 one way. These tickets are just for a floor space. Follow the lead of the Korean Ajumas and bring a blanket and a picnic. For busier journeys (weekends/summer), the boat is a large liner, and has many amenities like a restaurant, convenience store and cafe. However, off-peak, the smaller ship is a lot more basic. Seated areas cost around W50,000 one way. There's a free shuttle bus service from Gwangju at 6:30AM, but you should probably ask a Korean for help booking it.
  • Incheon - 13 hours
  • Wando - 3 daily ferries, 1h 40min - 5h. From Jeju to Wando, 8:20AM, 2PM, and 4:30PM Mon-Fri, 12:00PM Sat, 12:00/5:50PM Sun. It is a little more time consuming to get to and from Wando compared to Mokpo. but else it's the same.
  • Nokdong - 1 daily ferry, 4h, from Jeju to Nokdong, 5:10PM.
  • Nolyeogdo (노력도): [5] runs a boat twice a day between Jangheung county and Seongsan in Jeju island. It takes 2h to connects both cities and the cost is KRW31,000 one way.
  • Yeosu - this service has stopped

Buses and taxis are the main method of public transportation. Some locals prefer bicycles to cars, especially in areas outside of the Jeju City metropolitan area.

While most of Jeju is within an hour and a half distance from any point by motor vehicle, it's worth noting that most traffic lights in Jeju are notoriously timed to let only one through lane or turning lane go at a time. If you're in a rush somewhere, just remember this fact.

  • A good network of inner-city (shi-nae ) buses run around Jeju City for a flat fee.
  • Similarly, a second network of inner-city buses run in Seogwipo. spanning out to some of the surrounding tourist locations on the southern end of the island, such as Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex .
  • Furthermore, an extensive series of inter-city (shi-wei ) buses run between the inter-city bus terminals of Jeju City and Seogwipo by one of a number of different routes. All buses servicing western Jeju pass by Halla Medical Center in Jeju City and most by Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex in Seogwipo making these alternate departure points. Prices for the bus vary by distance between KRW1,000 for a short trip and KRW3,000 to go between the two end points. The ones cutting the centre of the island (primarily feeding the start points of the Mt. Halla hiking trails) tend to cease operation around sundown, but the coastal routes run until late. As such it is easy to jump on and off, although the cost can mount up. Note that the English information on the island often erroneously translate shi-wei buses as "local bus" so don't be too concerned if you're directed to the "local bus terminal" when traversing the island end to end.
  • The Airport Limousine (route #600) bus runs every 18-20 minutes between Seogwipo and the airport in Jeju City express, stopping only at a few select stops, including Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex (and International Convention Center), World Cup Stadium and terminating at the Seogwipo KAL Hotel.

All buses on Jeju accept cash or Seoul's T-money transit cards, but do not accept Busan Mybi, Daejeon Hakkumi nor Daegu cards.

While the taxi rates are reasonable, the island is large enough that the fares can add up. The initial meter charge is at KRW2,800. Hiring a taxi for the day costs about KRW100,000, but the driver will likely not speak much English, so have the hotel write down the itinerary ahead of time.

Car hire is a good option to see the island's many sights. Hiring an English-speaking tour guide costs about Kw 200 000, plus car expenses (about KRW50,000 for up to 3 people so a private car can be used, more than that requires a van and a separate driver).

Despite the frequent high winds and heavy precipitation, many people enjoy getting around the island by motorcycle. There are a number of places that offer to rent scooters and motorcycles, some of which will be able to speak English and provide rental agreements in English as well. Most well known are Mr Lee's Bike Shop [7] in Jeju City, downtown near Hanguk Hospital, and Scooter & Free Zone [8] in Seogwipo, behind Seogwipo Middle School and just northwest from Jeongbang Falls. The legality of foreigners driving motorbikes on Jeju are unclear, and differ from place to place. Mr. Lee's requires at least an international driver's permit along with a license issued in one's home country, while Scooter & Free Zone might void the complimentary insurance and let just a home country's license slide.

Scootering at night will present some notable dangers, so plan and proceed carefully if crossing the island after dusk. Most of the interior highways, including the 1100-meter alpine route, will be unlit except for your paltry headlight. Grooved sections of highways near junctions or slowdown areas can be dangerous if approached while going even half the speed limit. Using the separate bikepaths is tricky, as they often are in rough condition. Lastly, higher elevation roads can be starkly colder than the sea-level streets, so keep a warm jacket handy.

When the weather is adequate, you can ride around on a bike in Jeju much easier than you could in the rest of South Korea. There is less traffic, wider roads and it is possible to travel the island entirely by bicycle. Several of the more well-trafficked highways and roads have separate bike paths their entire lengths.




Photogallery Jeju South Korea:



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File:Waterfall on Jeju Island, Korea.jpg - Wikimedia Commons