Jeju Island is South Korea’s biggest Island lying off the southern coast in the Korea Strait.
For Koreans, Jeju Island is a very popular vacation spot and it is also known as the "Island of the Gods’’. Despite popularity among Koreans for Westerner traveler, Jeju Island is still very unknown. Most travelers who come to South-Korea, only stay around Seoul, but in this post, we will show you Korea has more to offer than only the highly populated and polluted capital.
Around Jeju Island offers visitors a wide range of activities: from hiking on Halla-san (South Korea's highest peak), cycling down the routes of Olle-gil, 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. Jeju Island has it all.
Sleeping Most of the time we went around looking for the cheapest sleeping places. If you are not looking for luxury, minbak (guesthouses) are a very good outcome. Most of the time Elderly Koreans are renting out some rooms. So don’t be surprised if you’re walking down the street and some gang of elderly people comes by and tries to rent out a room to you.
Overall, these Minbak rooms are very clean and good accommodation as you travel. In Jeju City, Seogwipo and the smaller towns there is an abundance of these small rooms with character.
Transportation As adventurous as we were we wanted to Cycle around Jeju, 270 Kilometers in total spread over 4 days. Jeju Island by bike is in our opinion the best way to get around. Along the way, there is a lot of sightseeing to do and almost every part of the road is along the beautiful coastal scenery. Also cycling around Jeju Island is pretty safe many of the roads have sufficient room to ride along the edge, and some even have special bike lanes. Sometimes just watch out for herbs and seeds on the road, as many local residents use the bike lanes to dry these.
Along the way, there is plenty of shops available where you can buy food and drinks for your trip. Be sure that if you want to cycle, bring enough water. The temperature can rise up very high in the afternoon.
Cycling around Jeju Island is relatively popular among Korean tourist and bike rental companies can be found mostly in Jeju City.Besides cycling around Jeju Island, there is plenty of other transportation which brings you around the island. You can book tour buses or rent a car, companies which provide these services can be found all over the Island.
How to get there There are two ways to get to Jeju Island. One way is by flying and the other way is by one of the many ferries which daily departure
On our trip to Jeju Island, we flew from Seoul. Flights are very easy to book and cheap (single tickets around € 15,- on www.skyscanner.com) since Jeju International Airport has several flights daily via Korean Air and Asiana to Seoul, Busan and other bigger cities in South Korea.
Ferry On our way back to the mainland of Korea, we took a ferry. Ferries are also very easy to book, it can be done by the internet (www.aferry.com) or buy tickets at the counter in the main harbor of Jeju Island. Depending on your destination ferry trips can take between 2,5 and 8 hours with several stop-overs.
Food and Drinks Besides tourism, Jeju’s main industries are fishing and agriculture. Fresh fish, squid, octopus, sea cucumber, and various other creatures can be easily bought in markets, restaurants, and even right on the beach. Jeju's tropical weather and high precipitation are perfect for growing pineapples and tangerines. The island is also famous for its Shiitake mushrooms and cactus plants. Honey made from local flowers have a special taste.
Overall food is expensive in Korea and especially on Jeju Island in comparison to other Asian countries. As a budget backpacker going out for dinner every night is a no-go as prices rise quickly above 20 euros per person. The best way to gain your calories is to buy your food in one of the many supermarkets around. In most of the Minbaks or motels is a kitchen available so you can cook your own meals.
Local traditions A very rare local tradition on Jeju Island is the tradition of the Haenyeo, which means literally: ‘’Sea Women’’. Haenyeo is female divers which only live on the Island of Jeju. Known for their independent spirit, iron will and determination, the haenyeo are representative of the semi-matriarchal family structure of Jeju. This community of women from which some are in their 80s, dive up to 10 meters under the sea surface to gather shellfish, such as abalone or sea urchins for a living. All of this without the help of oxygen masks and lots of knowledge about the sea and marine life. The Hanyeo harvest for up to seven hours a day, 90 days of the year holding their breath for just several minutes every dive.