Formed through a volcanic activity that began 1.8 million years ago, Jeju has a dramatic landscape consisting of volcanic craters, lava tubes, and pristine white sand beaches. The idyllic island’s sheer beauty attracts a constant stream of tourists, becoming Korea’s top holiday destination among domestic travelers.
It’s easy to get smitten with Jeju’s wide-open spaces and relaxed island vibe, a nice change of pace from the bustling cities of the mainland. Marvel at the island’s unique culture, from special Jeju horses to the mysterious dol hareubang statues all around the island to the awe-inspiring haenyo, women free diving into treacherous depths to hunt for seafood.
How to Get to Jeju Island
Looking at a map, travelers may think twice about making the trip to the faraway Jeju Island, but it’s actually not a long journey at all and only takes an hour on a plane from Seoul.
Get to the island by flying to Jeju International Airport from Seoul, Busan, or Daegu. Ferry services are also available from Busan, Haenam, Goheung, Mokpo, Wando, and Yeosu. Many travelers choose to stay in Jeju City or the northern part of the island, others opt to stay closer to most tourist spots in the southern area.
Best Time to Visit Jeju Island
With the island’s year-round temperate climate, travelers can visit Jeju anytime, depending on what they want to see and do.
For instance, November to February is perfect for travelers who are looking for crisp, cool weather. Most areas of Jeju Island only experience mild winter, but Hallasan Mountain sees snow and transforms into a stunning white winter wonderland starting late November.
Spring is also a fantastic time to visit the island with pleasant weather and flowers in full bloom. Mid-March to May is considered some of the best months to go to Jeju Island, while the months of June to September are usually the rainiest season in the island.
History of Jeju Island
Despite being isolated from the rest of the country, Jeju Island has always been a significant part of the history of Korea. It used to be known as Tamna, an independent kingdom with a settlement dating back to the third century B.C. Eventually, it was absorbed as part of Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty and Tamna became Jeju.
For all of Jeju Island’s beauty, its history is marred with one of the worst tragedies in Korea’s modern history, an event known as the Jeju Uprising and massacre. In 1948, rebels opposing an election that will mark the split of the Korean peninsula attacked and killed a number of police officers. To quell the unrest, the government established military rule and began violently suppressing the rebellion, killing about 30,000 people—10 percent of the island’s population—in the process.
Now, many historical sites in Jeju Island commemorate the tragic event, most notably the April 3rd Peace Park.
Best Things to Do in Jeju Island
Jeju Island is truly a destination for everyone. Adventure lovers can explore ancient rock formations, volcanic crags, and lava tubes to their heart’s content, while beach bummers can spend endless days lounging by sandy shores. Foodies will be especially happy feasting on Jeju’s famously tasty seafood and juicy black pork.
Eastern Jeju Island Day Tour
Start by exploring the eastern part of Jeju Island for one of the island’s most famous attractions: Seongsan Ilchulbong. The stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site is a tuff cone crater formed by a volcanic eruption under the ocean 5,000 years ago. It’s dubbed as the “Sunrise Peak” as it’s said to have the best view of sunrises in the entire island.
Book a guided tour of Eastern Jeju Island to visit Seongsan Ilchulbong as well as experience the well-preserved Seongeup Folk Village and a jaw-dropping show by a group of haenyo.
Western Jeju Island Day Tour
Embark to the natural wilderness of Jeju Island, including the incredible white sand Hyupjae Beach and the botanical haven Hallim Park. The island’s western region is ideal for adventure seekers who can trek the massive body of lava now called Mt. Sanbang, then take a dip at the healing waters of Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls, known as “the pond of God.”
Cap off this KKday guided Western Jeju Island tour with a visit to the Teddy Bear Museum and a Korean-style buffet meal.
Southern Jeju Island Tour
Head south to see the highest peak in South Korea, Hallasan. While it’s visible from most places on Jeju Island, travelers can climb this shield volcano to enjoy jaw-dropping views at the summit. Spot all kinds of flora and fauna as you trek the Eoseungsaengak trail, which only takes about 30 minutes. After completing the trek, visit the twin falls of Jeongbang.