Experience Jeju Island: the North and East Coast

  • Post author:
  • Post last modified:July 11, 2024
  • Reading time:30 mins read

Arrival and First Tip: Renting a Car!

Jeju Island, a volcanic island southwest of South Korea, boasts a stunning coastal landscape with dramatic basalt formations. It is the largest island in South Korea and is often referred to as the “Hawaii of Korea”. We are excited to explore Jeju Island for a week!

The flight to Jeju takes only one hour from Gimpo Airport in Seoul and is very budget-friendly – we paid about 45 euros per person. In comparison, the ferry from Busan would have taken 12 hours and cost significantly more. The flight with Air Busan was pleasant and straightforward, allowing us to arrive on Jeju Island relaxed and ready to explore.

Here’s my first tip: If you want to experience the island without wasting time and with flexibility, rent a car directly from the airport. There are no other rental stations across the entire island.

If you only plan to spend a few days in the south of the island in Seogwipo, you can take Limousine Bus No. 600 for the transfer. The journey takes about 1.5 hours and costs less than 3 Euros!

Airport Shuttle

The Dongmun Traditional Market: A Brief Visit

From Jeju City, we made a quick stop at the Dongmun Traditional Market. If you park for less than 30 minutes, you don’t have to pay any parking fees, and since we wanted to move on quickly, we only briefly visited the market. As vegetarians, the many food stalls weren’t particularly enticing, although we would normally take more time. For those interested, you can visit the Jeju Folklore and History Museum or explore the beautiful Coastal Walk at the airport. The Iho Tewoo Beach is also beautiful, which we saved for our last day as the culmination of our Jeju Island adventure.

Dongmun Traditional Market

Exploring Jeju Clockwise: From North to East

Continuing from north to east, we were eager to see a UNESCO World Heritage site and passed by the beautiful Hamdeok Beach. A mistake, as it turned out, because the UNESCO Manjanggul Lava Tube is closed until August 2025 due to construction. How frustrating! The only remedy was a delicious meal at the vegan restaurant Five Seventh, followed by coffee and cake at Café Ri.

A Museum and an Architectural Masterpiece

It’s getting late, and we decide to drive directly to our hotel on the East Coast. If you have time, be sure to visit the Jeju Haenyeo Museum! The museum showcases and honors the Haenyeo culture – women who dive for seafood and are pioneers in Jeju’s economy.

Tip: Orrrn Café is an architectural gem with stunning views. If you like, take a short break here and indulge in sweet pastries, coffee, and excellent vistas.

For us, a long but very enjoyable day concludes at Hotel Thira*.

Hotel Tip: Hotel Thira

Our stay at Hotel Thira* was a true highlight of our trip. The hotel is easily accessible by car, making it an ideal base for our explorations. While the rooms are small, they exude a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

The hotel stands out for its cleanliness, which is the most important factor for us besides location in a hotel. Particularly noteworthy is the friendly and attentive staff. From check-in to check-out, we were greeted with smiles, and our requests were promptly fulfilled.

Tip: In Korea, large bath towels as we know them are not usually provided, but you can specify your preferences when booking.

Thira also boasts an excellent location, just a few minutes’ drive from the East Coast’s major attractions.

After a day full of discoveries, sinking into the comfortable beds and looking forward to the next day of adventures was a delight.

For us, Thira was definitely the perfect hotel. If you’re looking for a well-located and hospitable hotel, Thira is the perfect choice. It was one of our favorite hotels on Jeju Island, and we highly recommend it!

A Hearty Breakfast at Noodlelab

Our day starts with a hearty breakfast at Noodlelab restaurant, which turns out to be an absolute find for us. So far, finding vegetarian food has been challenging, as Koreans love their barbecue, and seemingly everything contains meat, fish, or meat broth. At Noodlelab, we finally discover cold noodles with vegetables, and it tastes absolutely fantastic!

Heading to Seongsan Ilchulbang UNESCO World Heritage Site

Today’s plan takes us to Seongsan Ilchulbang, also known as Sunrise Peak, a part of Korean cultural heritage. The entire area reminds us of Jurassic Park with its black basalt rocks and green treetops. We pay our entry fee of 5,000 Won per person and embark on the steep climb to the volcano’s summit. We were told it would take just 30 minutes to reach the crater’s edge. Let’s see if we can make it.

The sun beats down, the steps are steep, but remarkably, we reach the summit in the specified time – despite many breaks to catch our breath and take photos. Upon reaching the crater’s edge, we are rewarded with a breathtaking view: Udo Island to the left, endless sea to the right. We take the time to fully appreciate this moment before beginning our descent.

Back at the bottom, we are greeted by bustling tourist activity. Despite the crowds, we are content and treat ourselves to peanut and mandarin ice cream while enjoying the view of Seongsan Ilchulbang. The ice cream is refreshingly delicious after the strenuous hike and helps us forget the hustle and bustle around us. Refreshed and filled with new impressions, we decide not to end this beautiful day just yet and opt to linger a bit longer in this corner.

Discoveries and Delights on Jeju Island

We spot a green roof and become curious about what lies beneath. Descending a few steps, we discover a burger restaurant. To our delight, there’s even a vegetarian burger option here. While the ice cream was tasty, it didn’t quite fill us up, so we indulge in a burger at Greenroof Jeju.

After our meal, we make a detour to Café The Light, offering unobstructed views of Seongsan Ilchulbang. It’s amazing to think we were up there just a while ago. It’s a shame we can’t fly a drone here; Sunrise Peak would surely look even more awe-inspiring from above. Before moving on, we stroll to the Haenyo Divers Resting Lounge. Here, we even spot one of the divers resting outside – a fascinating glimpse into local culture.

To cap off the day, we drive to the nearby area of Seopjikoji. We’ve heard about the enchanting views here, and we don’t want to miss out. Arriving at Seopjikoji, our first sight is Candlestick Rock, majestically rising from the sea.

It’s a beautiful, relaxing coastal walk that holds many surprises. One of them is “All In House”, a building that looks like a gingerbread house and was used in the K-Drama of the same name.

We stroll along Bongsu Fortress and enjoy the pretty view of Bangdupo Lighthouse. Along the way, we spot horses and even discover an art museum! While the Yumin Art Nouveau Collection has closed for the day, it doesn’t dampen our spirits.

A spectacular day comes to an end, and we land tired and happy at our hotel Thira. We have something very special planned for tomorrow!

Udo Island

A heartfelt wish comes true: we take a day trip to Udo Island!

This small island, just a short ferry ride from Jeju, is known for its stunning beaches and picturesque landscapes. The crossing takes only about 15 minutes and costs around 10,000 Won per person. The ferry runs every 30 minutes, with the last one returning at 6:30 PM. We have plenty of time and are excited to explore the island.

Udo means cow in Korean

Udo Island welcomes us with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. We rent bicycles and set off to explore the island.

The paths lead us along the coast and breathtaking cliffs. Particularly impressive is Hongjodangoe Beach with its bright white coral sand. Hagosudong Beach, with its turquoise-graded sands, is a dream come true. Everyone else posing in the water probably thinks the same thing.

After an extensive bike ride, we take a break at one of the island’s cafes. James chose it because of all the photos of K-Pop stars adorning the cafe’s walls. When he finds out the stars weren’t actually here, he’s pretty disappointed. The ice cream here isn’t that great either, but the famous Udo peanut ice cream is an absolute must on the island! Perhaps just from another stand.

We rest and watch the busy scene before slowly making our way back to the ferry.

If you want to learn more about Udo Island, you can gather useful information and impressions here on our soon to come blog about Udo Island.

Heading Inland

Today’s agenda includes visiting Geomun Oreum and the Jeju World Natural Heritage Centre. We want to explore another crater and hope to descend into a lava tunnel.

At the Jeju World Natural Heritage Centre, it quickly becomes apparent that communication, even with translation apps, is challenging. Eventually, we manage to purchase a ticket, which includes only the ascent to the crater’s edge and not the descent into a lava tunnel. The tours are exclusively in Korean, and both the ascent and descent into the crater require a guided tour.

Tip: Be aware that the ticket for the Jeju world Natural Heritage Centre is only valid for two hours.

The tour is strenuous, the heat oppressive, but reaching the top rewards us with gigantic views. When the group splits at the descent point, we are confused. Eventually, we realize that part of the group is returning to the Heritage Centre, while the other part is heading to the lava tunnel. With better communication (or better planning), our original plan to explore the lava tunnel would have worked out. But we are hungry, out of water, and the sun has taken its toll.

With heavy hearts, we decide against the lava tunnel. We continue driving and stumble upon a hidden Cold Noodle Restaurant, frequented only by locals. This promises to be something special – and it is! Delighted to find vegetarian options here, we replenish our energy and continue our journey of discovery with better spirits.

Jeju Stone Park + Museum

After our refreshing break at the Cold Noodle Restaurant, we eagerly head to the Jeju Stone Park and Museum. This place is renowned for its impressive handcrafted stone sculptures that reflect the history and culture of Jeju Island.

Upon entering the park, we immediately feel transported to another world. Well-maintained paths lead us through lush, green landscapes where we discover numerous fascinating stone sculptures. Each sculpture has its own story and significance, providing us with deep insights into the island’s culture.

The park is based on the legend of Seolmundae Halmang, the grandmother who, according to mythology, created Jeju Island. This legend is the centerpiece of the park and is reflected in the sculptures that symbolize the identity and culture of Jeju.

The Jeju Stone Museum is extensive, offering a variety of exhibits showcasing the island’s stone culture. We take our time exploring the exhibitions at our own pace.

The outdoor area is particularly impressive. Here, 48 Dol Hareubang statues stand – the famous stone grandfathers – along with a stone pagoda for warding off evil forces and misfortune, Jeongjuseok, which were once used as house doors in Jeju, and Dongjaseok, placed around graves to alleviate the sorrow of the deceased. These stone sculptures provide a fascinating glimpse into the traditional culture and mythological beliefs of the islanders.

The park is a place where the history and culture of Jeju come to life. We enjoy the stunning stone landscape and learn a lot about the island’s rich traditions and myths. It’s an enriching experience that gives us a deeper understanding of Jeju’s unique culture.

The Qube Resort

From our visit to the Jeju Stone Park and Museum, we make our way to our new hotel, The Qube Resort*, located in the Jeju Healing Town Complex. Upon entering, we are impressed by the size and style of our room, which exceeds our expectations.

We were assigned room A313, which was simply fantastic – spacious, well-equipped, and with a magnificent view. We liked it so much that we spontaneously decided to extend our stay for another night.

Tip: If you want to add breakfast, it’s best to do it the day before or during check-in. This way, you’ll get a small discount, and breakfast will cost 14,000 Won per person instead of 15,000 Won.

More Highlights:

If you have more time and want to take more walks and stops, we recommend visiting the following attractions and cafes:

  • Bijarim Forest
  • Abu Oreum (Walk)
  • Secret Forest
  • Snoopy Garden
  • Lucy’s Lemonade
  • Baekyaki Oreum Volcanic Cone
  • Ttarabi Oreum
  • Sangumburi Crater
  • Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest
  • Mount Hallasan
  • Hueree Nature Life Park
  • Si Oreum (UNESCO)

Conclusion of our adventure on Jeju Island

Our time on Jeju Island has been filled with unforgettable experiences and breathtaking landscapes so far. From the impressive ascent to Seongsan Ilchulbang and exploring Udo Island to the captivating views and discoveries at Geomun Oreum and Jeju Stone Park – each day brought new adventures and impressions.

The beauty and diversity of Jeju Island have captivated us, and we look forward to discovering more of this wonderful island.

In our next blog, our journey continues as we explore the stunning southern and western coasts of Jeju Island. Get ready for exciting experiences, beautiful beaches, and further insights into the cultural treasures of the island. Stay tuned and join us on our next leg of the journey

* Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Puttering around the World!

Leave a Reply