Jeju is the largest of more than four thousand islands belonging to the Republic of Korea. It is also the most remote: the distance to the southernmost point of the mainland is 90 km. Isolated from civilization centers and its unique tropical look, the island has become a real godsend for tourists, who rush here from all over the world. The mild maritime climate of Jeju (average summer temperatures range from +22°-26° C) is in harmony with the unique natural landscape created by volcanic activity.
The island itself, one of the most beautiful in the East Asian region, is an extinct ancient volcano. Practically in the center is one of the natural attractions – Mount Hallasan, the highest point in South Korea, which rises into the sky at 1,950 meters. Jeju, an island and a special autonomous province of Korea, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007. And it was named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World by the New7Wonders Foundation, an international competition held in 2011.
Save on your trip!
Video: Jeju Island
From the history of a “distant piece of land”
The origin of Jeju Island, which has a total area of 1,845 square kilometers, is attributed to the eruption of a powerful ancient volcano 400 million years ago, so it consists mostly of basalt and lava. Its almost regular oval shape also testifies to its volcanic origin: the coastline is basically straight, there are no large bays, to say nothing of bays. Jeju’s landscape is predominantly mountainous, its coastline is steep and in some places steep. There are also gentle areas where tourists enjoy sandy and pebbly beaches. There are many volcanic lakes. But the rivers are few: they are small and not full-flowing.
The name Jeju means “faraway land,” which is how the Korean word for Jeju translates. Or simply “Far Island. On geographical maps published in Europe during the Middle Ages, it was signed “Quelpart. The first human settlements appeared here about 30,000 years ago. The migration appears to have been from the south of the mainland towards Japan, and some people decided to settle here. Around the 6th century AD, Jeju had its own state, called Thamna. It retained its independence until the expansion of one of the three Korean state entities, Silla. When the latter ceased to exist in 938, the island was ruled by the Goryeo Kingdom, which granted it autonomous rights.
The Korean Peninsula, including Jeju, was annexed to Japan in 1910. The new occupation authorities changed the latter’s name to Saisu. After the liberation until 1946, the island was part of the Jeolla region and later became a separate province with wide-ranging rights. Today its capital is Jeju City, the largest on the island (area of 255.5 square kilometers, population about 260 thousand people). Located in its northern part, it is a major tourist center, which – just think about it! – about 4 million tourists come every year. Basically it’s the citizens of China, Japan and South Korea itself. The city is widely represented in the gambling industry, not to mention the developed entertainment infrastructure in general.
Jeju Nature, Climate and Beaches
Jeju is rightfully called the crown jewel of Korea and Korea’s Hawaii. It’s all thanks to the peculiarities of local nature. It’s also an island of three abundant things, meaning rocks, wind, and… women. The first are the most plentiful here, because it consists entirely of stones. Resourceful inhabitants have long been fond of this strong natural material, making fences around houses, tombstones, and even coastal traps. Mandarins are the fourth abundance of the region. They grow everywhere and yield bountiful harvests. Anyone, including tourists, can take part in picking the fruit from the trees in small plantations. There are also tea plantations. And the islanders also grow wild orchids. They even grow on rocks and clay pots.
Because of the lack of industrial enterprises island is considered one of the most environmentally friendly regions of Asia. Closer to the south, the typical maritime climate becomes a subtropical monsoon climate. Rainfall is uniform throughout the year. During the summer season, the air can get as warm as +30°-33° at times. The temperature of the surface layers of the sea rises to +25°, not dropping below +24° until October. During the season, which falls in June-October, the beaches of Jeju are not empty. Their total length is 256 km. There are all opportunities for a healthy and wholesome vacation. Tourists go scuba diving, parasailing and vidsurfing, kayaking and jet skiing, sail to the smaller islands.
Video: Jeju Island from Above
Some sights on the island
Tolharubans. These entertaining stone figures depicting good-natured Korean old men are Jeju’s calling card. They are fondly portrayed on postcards and souvenirs, so tourists usually don’t have to ask what to bring home as a souvenir. But for locals, tolharubans are a true talisman. You can hardly find a house without a three-meter high giant that guards against evil spirits.
Jeju Loveland. A famous park of erotic sculptures, the main theme of which is sexuality in its many manifestations. Under the open sky there are 140 sculptures, which depict not only people, but also the beloved by the locals dogs in various erotic poses. The theme park is something out of the ordinary, not only for Jeju, but for the whole country, given the national modesty of Koreans. But tourists love it!
Songip Folklore Village. It is a natural ethnographic reserve, where the indigenous people cherish their identity, and sacredly honor the customs and traditions of their ancestors. In the Middle Ages the village was the capital. But not of the whole island, but of one of its counties. People come here for recipes of folk medicine and ready-to-use remedies. In Seongõp they sell local handicrafts, which tourists readily buy.
Tayu Land Hunting Park. A true paradise for lovers of hunting! Located in the vicinity of Hallasan Mountain, on the slopes of which there are a lot of animals. Hunting here is mostly for birds (particularly pheasants). Snares and firearms, including traps, are also used. You do not need a license, but you will have to pay “for the pleasure”. The fee depends on the weapon used and, of course, the type of hunting.
The subtropical Hallim Park. Once it was a lifeless stony wasteland, but now it’s a real oasis with various specimens of local flora. The park is divided into several themed gardens, among which there are tropical and aquatic. There are several volcanic caves. The attention of visitors is invariably attracted by unusual cacti: the juice of their purple and green fruits, it turns out, is suitable for drinking.
Yomiji Botanical Garden. It has an area of over 112 thousand square kilometers, which gathered unique samples of plants growing in the tropics and subtropics, about 2 thousand rare species. They are scattered throughout the open and closed areas. Some gardens – Floral, Jungle, Cactus Garden, Lily Pond, Nature Garden and others – are in the national style, that is reflect the characteristics of flora of different countries: Italy, France, Japan and Korea itself.
Green Tea Museum. Was created to study the history of this popular and healthy drink, which is loved not only in Asia but also in all corners of the world. Visitors there will discover the secrets of its proper preparation, as well as talk about the use of tea leaves in cooking. Few people know that Koreans add them to baked goods and desserts. Tea leaves are also used in cosmetics and perfumery.
Jeju Folklore and Natural History Museum. It is a real cultural center that is divided into several thematic exhibitions for convenience. Two of them reflect the folklore heritage of the island and Korea as a whole, the third relates to natural history, and the fourth was placed under the open sky. Of particular interest are the exhibits found during archaeological excavations.
Jeju Island Waterfalls. Cheonggyeong Waterfall is located near Chungmun District, right in a park with a great view of the sea (namely, from the 7 Nymphs Bridge). Cheongbang is considered the most picturesque: it even has stairs leading up to it. In its surroundings in good weather, there are always a lot of women divers: they fish for seafood. Not far from Seogwynpo Port, Cheonggyeong has a deep 12-meter pool.
How to get to Jeju Island?
First, you need to get to Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. There are direct flights from Moscow operated by Aeroflot and Korean Air, travel time is about two hours. Upon arrival in the city, you can take a Seoul-Ceju-Seoul flight (flight time is 35 minutes). Other tourists prefer to get to the island by ferry, which regularly operates from the mainland. There are five-star luxury hotels and inexpensive local guest houses at the guests’ disposal. A popular service among tourists is a transfer service, which is usually offered by hotels (most often it is free).
Popular Attractions in Jeju-do
Jeju-do is simultaneously the largest island of South Korea and the smallest province of the Asian state. The administrative center of the province, which has special autonomy within the country, is Jeju City. Tourism plays a major role in the province’s economy, and the island’s beautiful and unusual attractions attract tourists not only from mainland Korea but also from all over the world.
Jeju-do Island’s main attractions
Sanbangsan Mountain on the island’s east coast resembles a bell, and legend has it that one of the island’s spirits, disturbed by a hunter, threw a part of a huge rock into it. And so it remained lying there in the form of a low mountain.
The main attraction of the mountain is a grotto cave, from which a small stream flows out. At the turn of the X-XI centuries in the grotto was founded a Buddhist temple, where in the farthest hall of the grotto is a statue of Buddha.
It is noteworthy that there are two temples on the mountain. In addition to the Sanbangul temple, there is also the Pomunsa temple, but it is almost impossible to understand where the boundary between them lies.
Jusan Jeolli Rocks
Any map of South Korea and guidebooks on the wondrous island show an amazing natural monument. The Joosan Jeolli Rocks were formed as a result of lava solidification, some 250,000 years ago.
It is noteworthy that the columns washed by the waves of the ocean, has a regular hexagonal shape. All stone giants have a different height, and they stretch along the coast for 2 km.
The tallest rock has a height of 27 meters, and for the convenience of contemplation of natural beauty on top of the rocks equipped with an observation deck.
Sokpuchak Garden Museum
In the south of the island on one of the slopes of the multiple hills there is a magnificent private botanical garden. It is a museum garden with rare species of plants and trees.
Tourists visiting Sokpuchak are most amazed by the beautiful orchids that grow directly on the volcanic lava without a single gram of soil.
It was opened to visitors in 1997. It is nice to walk among rare flowers and philosophize in the shade of mandarin trees.
Yak Chongsa Temple
Cult construction is the largest Buddhist temple in Asia, and it covers an area of 100 thousand square meters.
It was built in the traditional eastern architectural style, the hallmark of which is a pent roof and several entrances oriented on the sides of the world.
A magnificent park is laid out around the complex, and the interior and exterior decoration is strikingly luxurious. Inside the main temple of the complex is a sculpture of Buddha and an altar.
Cheonggyeong Falls Park
Three waterfalls on a fast-flowing river flowing through a picturesque mountain gorge form a beautiful cascade that is a true decoration of the island.
Thanks to a special microclimate, majestic tropical plants grow around the waterfalls. The river does not dry up in the driest periods, and the locals believe that a dragon lives here, guarding the miracle of nature.
At the second waterfall, which is the largest of the three, over the waters of the river there is a bridge in the form of an arch, and on its sides there are sculptures of seven nymphs. According to legend, these nymphs helped the emperor to bathe in the waters of the river.
If you are interested in the topic of waterfalls, then on our website most-beauty.ru you can find information about the most beautiful waterfalls on the planet.
Just one letter in the name, and the tourist gets to another beautiful waterfall of the island with the name Cheonjiyeong. There are no cascades and the waterfall falls from a height of 22 meters.
It is located near the town of Seogwipho, and an artificial pond was created at the base of the rock. There is an alley leading to the waterfall, flanked by tropical plants so that the path is buried in verdure.
The attraction is popular with tourists, especially at night, when the official lighting of the natural site creates incredible beauty.
According to botanists and tourists, Yomiji Garden is one of the best botanical gardens in Asia, and it opened its doors to visitors in 1989.
Three years after opening, a unique glass-roofed greenhouse was built for the garden, and the shape of the building itself resembles an enormous octopus. Under the roof there are many rare exotic plants from around the world.
In the center is a viewing platform for a circular view, and the garden itself is divided into compartments located in the “tentacles” of the octopus.
Hallasan, which has been extinct for centuries, is the highest mountain peak in the country and the area at its foot has been designated a National Park.
It is a true symbol of Jeju-do because its peak can be seen from anywhere on the island and it is listed as a national natural landmark.
A Buddhist temple was founded on the slope of this beautiful mountain during the Goryeo Dynasty, and Pengnoktam Lake was formed in the crater, which is 100 meters deep in the rainy season.
This is the only and largest lava cave in the world that is open to the public. It is considered the true geological pride of South Korea.
It is always cool inside and the walls are decorated with bizarre patterns of lava. It was formed about 10,000-13,000 years ago, and archaeological research has shown that Paleolithic people used it as a dwelling.
There is a park around the cave, and everything is done for the convenience of visitors. There are benches and even a cafe where you can drink great coffee.
You can learn even more about very beautiful caves in a separate article on our website.
The word “bonsai” has two meanings. One, it is the art of growing dwarf trees that originated in Japan, and, two, it is an ornamental tree itself.
A bonsai garden in Jeju-do is characterized by the fact that the trees here grow outdoors, something you can’t find in China or Japan. Gardens in the East are a philosophy of merging the three virtues of truth, goodness, and beauty.
In 2007, it was called “Spirited Garden”, but everyone interprets it in his own way – “thinking garden”, “inspired garden”…
Teddy Bear Museum
Children are sure to love the Teddy Bear Museum, as evidenced by their rave reviews in the visit book, albeit handwritten by their parents.
As it turns out, the Koreans are real teddy bear fans, and have created their own museum for them. The three-story building is simply packed with teddy bears. There’s also a 6-meter King Kong bear, and even a teddy bear in the inimitable image of Marilyn Monroe.
Children and adults take with them after their visit not only fond memories, but also nice pictures against the background of a variety of bears.
The park was initiated by Son Bom Gyu on the hillside of Halpasan Mountain, and today it is one of the most beautiful places on the island.
To create the natural splendor, tons of fertile soil were brought here and rare tropical plants have been planted for years. There are so many of them that the area just drowns in the greenery, delighting tourists.
In the park are the streets of a folkloric village, with thatched roofs of houses and household items long gone out of use. The park is also famous for its two natural caves with beautiful vaults and halls.
Green Tea Museum
O’Sulloc Tea Museum, that’s how the guides spell the name of this unique museum in English. The museum building was erected near the tea plantations spread across the expanses of the Korean island.
In the halls of the museum you can learn a lot of interesting things about tea traditions in Korea, and most importantly see the amazing exhibits related to tea ceremonies, formed many centuries ago. The guides not only tell, but also show you how to brew tea and tell you about the cultivation techniques.
In addition, there is a tasting room where you can taste rare varieties of tea and enjoy their great taste.
A beautiful park in the heart of Saogwipho with beautiful walkways and original landscaping was opened in 2008. The park is owned by a passionate man, collector and botanist Yang Li.
More than 6,000 plants are planted on the territory, which the collector has collected from all over the world. Man-made stone pyramids can be seen in various corners of the park, as well as a visit to the meditation house.
At the end of the garden is a magnificent cascade of artificial ponds, but the main treasure is, of course, the camellias of different varieties and shapes.
The largest entertainment complex on a small island offers visitors a huge range of entertainment, and the attractions of Waterworld provide an unforgettable experience.
In addition to the many water rides and slides, there is a fitness club where you can work out. Under the roof of the park there is a golf course, which makes it original among similar places of rest around the world.
Those who are tired of entertainment can visit a traditional Korean bath “chimjilban”, where the visitors will rest their soul and body.
One of the most unusual museums in the world where every visitor can create his or her own illusion. Photographs from the halls of this museum will surprise your friends and shock the uninitiated.
Three-dimensional compositions in the halls of the museum, in front of which you can take pictures, are striking for their realism. Magnificent 3D installations are made so that any visitor can become part of the work of art.
One of the halls displays one of the largest collections of sweets in the world. By the way, some of the exhibits can be eaten. In the backyard of the museum is an exhibition of three-dimensional giant sculptures.
Amusement Park / Soingook Theme Park
Another place in Chenju that will surprise tourists with a huge variety of entertainment and cozy places to relax.
The park is divided into themed areas, and during the day you can visit the world of dinosaurs and wander through mysterious mazes. Those who wish can visit the dolphinarium, where dolphins and humans show harmony of mutual communication.
Small replicas of world landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Tower Bridge and many others have been built in the theme park.
Höpche Beach (협재해변)
The gorgeous beach in the western part of the town of Hallimõp is part of Hallim Park, and has long been a favorite destination for tourists. The beach season here is open from May to September.
The beach is the purest white sand with a small admixture of shattered seashells. The resort area stretches for 9 km and from the beach there is a splendid view to Piyando island and the sea. Comfortable hotels are just around the corner.
The beach is bounded by a dense tropical forest where wilderness lovers can pitch their tents and make their Jeju-do vacation a true paradise, devoid of the amenities of civilization.
And about all the most beautiful beaches in the world we have prepared a separate article!
Jeju Folk Village Museum
A unique village presents the dwellings, everyday life and traditions of the islanders as they were formed in the XIX century.
On an area of 4,500 hectares, there are fishing huts, a section of a mountain village, a botanical garden, and an ancient government building. On the squares you can see the ancient shamanic rites, and in the shops you can buy objects of folk art and crafts.
There is also a showroom in the village, which presents items of folk life, and a theater, which shows folk performances of peasant life.
The fantastic scenery of a small river bed with many ramparts forms a picturesque gorge, not far from Hahösvesokkak beach.
Trees grow right on the rocks, and in some places vines descend to the water. Visitors can rent kayaks and catamarans, so you can see the gorge not only from high up or from the shore, but also from the water surface of the river.
And the beach of Hahösvesokkak itself, which overlooks the gorge, is famous for its unusual black sand of volcanic origin.
Locals believe that these amazing stone statues protect the island from evil spirits, and help residents in their affairs.
In the local dialect, the stone figures carved from basalt are called Haryban, which means stone grandfather. Although researchers argue that this name did not appear until the early twentieth century, and before that they were called “onjunsok”.
Pillar-like figures with human face are included in the World Heritage List. The facial expressions of the stone statues, with a slight smirk on the lips and convex eyes without pupils, are striking.
South Korea is an amazing country where high technology easily coexists with the innovations of scientific and technological progress, and Jeju Island is a South Korean state in miniature, but with its own unique traditions and local coloring. Finally, note that you can reach Jeju-do from Seoul by any mode of transportation, but the most exotic journey is a ferry ride.