Jeju Island in 3 Days

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Jeju Island

“Hawaii of Korea”? Does Jeju Island live up to its nickname?

I’ve noticed that Koreans like to make comparisons between their landmarks and other parts of the world.

Gamcheon Village, a colorful neighborhood in Busan, is often called “The Cinque Terre of Korea”. Having been to both, I can assure you that they are about as similar as a watermelon is to a grape. Sure, they are both round fruits, but the similarities end there. 

Likewise, Jeju Island is referred to proudly as “The Hawaii of Korea”. While both are volcanic islands, the comparison between the two is a bit misleading.

Watermelons and grapes.

Jeju is gorgeous on its own accord, and doesn’t need a tagline to justify its beauty. 

Jeju Island

Thinking of planning a trip to Jeju?

We’ve put together this Jeju itinerary with our best advice and itinerary suggestions to help you start planning your every own vacation to Jeju island. But before you pack your bags and book your flights, don’t forget to do this… you’ll thank us later. 

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Ferry Ride to Jeju

Jeju Ferry

Our 3-day trip to Jeju was over a holiday weekend, so flights were hard to come by. In fact, we were only able to get a return flight and had to get there by ferry.

This was no cruise ship. I mean, when we saw the ferry in the harbor, Ben’s first words were, “I think it’s sagging in the middle.” Not something you want to hear minutes before you board a ship for the night.

The common areas seemed as though they were decorated in the mid-eighties and hadn’t been altered (or thoroughly cleaned) since.

But truthfully, it wasn’t all that bad. We each had our own (semi) comfortable bed, and fell asleep quickly to the purring of the ship’s engine.

Jeju Ferry
Ferry To Jeju Korea

The worst part (or most humorous part, depending on how you look at it) was when our sleep was interrupted with 70’s pop music blaring from rattling speakers above our bunks. The sun hadn’t yet risen, but for some reason the music continued to play for three excruciating hours until we made it to shore. 

Use the official Korean Tourism website as a resource in booking the ferry. Also reach out to your Korean friends or co-teachers to help you book on the Korean version of the booking site. 

Tips for taking the ferry to Jeju: Bring your own food and alcohol (if you want a really good time!) on board. There is only one little convenience store, and you’re pretty much limited to cup noodles and soju. Also, if you book the cheapest room option, you will be on the floor fighting for space with ajummas. It could be a memorable experience, but you likely won’t get much sleep.

Love Land

DSC_3119.jpg
 

This famed park of erotic statues was our first stop of the day. We all agreed that the 9,000 won admission was pretty steep, but we had a good time gawking at the ridiculous sculptures. 

Our consensus: If you are in the area and looking for a way to kill a couple hours, it’s not a bad place to go. But don’t go out of your way to make it fit into your trip.

How to get there: Take a taxi from the airport or intercity bus terminal. It is only a 10-15 minute ride for about 6,000 won. You could also take the bus headed for Chuksanjinheungwon and hop off at Dokkabi Road. Bus takes about 20-25 minutes and is 1,200 won per person.

Admission: 9,000 won

Manjanggul Lava Tube

Jeju Manjanggul Lava Tube

Jeju Manjanggul Lava Tube
Jeju Manjanggul Lava Tube

Formed from a volcanic eruption, this lava tunnel is a noted UNESCO World Heritage Site and is celebrated as one of the finest of its kind in the world. Lava tunnels run like veins through a large section of Jeju, but only 1 kilometer is open to the public.

Tip: Bring a light sweater because the temperatures tend to be chilly, even on a hot day. The lava tube is relatively well-lit and easy to navigate, so people of all abilities can explore.

How to get there: We traveled by taxi from Love Land to the Manjanggul Lava Tube. It took 45 minutes and cost 25,000 won (split 4 ways is not bad). You could also take Bus 701 heading east from the Jeju Intercity bus terminal. Then transfer to Bus 990 and get off at the lava tube parking lot. Total trip will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes by bus.

Admission: 2,000 won

Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak

Jeje Sunrise Peak Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Jeje Sunrise Peak Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak

Known as “Sunrise Peak” the image of this bowl-like crater is often used as a symbol of Jeju. We booked a guesthouse near the peak, planning to make it there by sunrise. Unfortunately for us, the weather was not cooperating. Instead of hiking through rain in the dark, we opted to catch a few more hours of z’s and started the hike around 9 a.m. 

It’s not so much a hike as it is 40 minutes of climbing stairs (not uncommon in Korea). The walk is punctuated with picturesque views of the sea and town below. Although the weather wasn’t ideal, the fog rolling in cloaked the basin in a mysterious beauty.

The view from the top was quite different than the famous ariel shot. We sat there for a while, perched on the edge of the lush crater, and tried to absorb our surroundings.

And then it came. A mist so heavy that we couldn’t see much in front of us. Thankfully we had already taken pictures, so we scurried back down the steps before the fog became too thick.

How to get here: From the main street in Seongsan, walk east uphill towards the peak. The entrance is at the base of the crater. 

Admission:  2,000 won

Jeje Sunrise Peak Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Jeje Sunrise Peak Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Jeje Sunrise Peak Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak

When we reached the bottom of the stairs, we saw a small, black sand beach that was begging to be explored. This beach is known for the ajumma free divers. Referred to as haenyeo (literally “sea women”) they make their living by collecting sea creatures without using a breathing apparatus.

Though this used to be a popular profession, the numbers are now dwindling, and the majority are over 50 years of age – some well into their seventies. Pretty badass if you ask me. 

Tip: If you aren’t pressed for time, the divers have a “performance” each day at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Jeongbang Waterfall

Jeju Jeongbang Waterfall
Jeongbang Waterfall Jeju Korea
Jeongbang waterfall Jeju Korea

This waterfall flows straight into the ocean and is a pretty spectacular sight. We hopped from rock to rock, and dodged selfie sticks to get up close and in the mist.  

How to get there: Travel to Seogwipo by Bus 701 and get off at Dongmun Ro Teo Ri 동문로터리 (it is the stop right before the first roundabout). The bus from Seongsan to Seogwipo costs 3,300 won. Walk south until you hit the coast and then turn left. Follow the signs, you can’t miss it. From the bus stop, it is about 1 km walk. 

Admission: 2,000 won

Tip: If you have time, stop by the nearby Cheonjiyeon Falls. It is about a 40 minute walk west of Jeongbang Falls along the Jeju Olle Trail. Admission is also 2,000 won.

Jungmun Lava Columns

Jungman Lava Columns Jeju Korea
Jungman Lava Columns Jeju Korea

Sure, lava is destructive, but it also makes some pretty rad formations. These hexagonal columns made when the hot lava cooled… okay, I really don’t know how exactly they formed, but they were insanely cool to see. And the water – that turquoise water – made me weak in the knees. I think this was my favorite thing we saw on Jeju. And I guess it helped that the weather was gorgeous while we were there. 

Jungmun palmtree Jeju Korea
Jungmun Grandfather statue Jeju Korea
Jungmun Flowers Jeju Korea

How to get there: From Seogwipo, travel by Bus 110 west towards the city of Jungmun. The bus should travel through Jungmun and pass by the large Jeju International Convention Center. Get off right in front of the ICC and walk towards the coast. The entrance is next to the large parking lot south of the ICC. 

Admission: 2,000 won

Natural Swimming Pool

Natural Swimming Pool Jeju Korea Near Oedolgae Rock

I found a picture of this idyllic lagoon a few months prior to our trip and became adamant that we had to find it. This little cove is still somewhat hidden and is hard to find information online. Thankfully, the owners of our guesthouse seemed to know where it was and pointed us in the right direction. 

When we arrived, there were hardly any people there. The water was pretty icy, but we jumped in anyway and were applauded by the small audience that had gathered.

We didn’t last long in the water, but one man told us in the a month’s time, it will be as warm as a bathtub. He also pointed to the rocks to show us how high the water gets at high tide, and told us it is a hot spot for cliff diving when the conditions are right. 

If you’re lucky enough to make it here during one of the summer months, do a dive for me!

Natural Swimming Pool Jeju Korea Near Oedolgae Rock
Natural Swimming Pool Jeju Korea Near Oedolgae Rock

How to get there: It is about a 16 minute bus ride from Seogwipo’s main roundabout. Hop on Bus 615-2 or 615-1 and get off at 외돌개 (Oedolge) Rock bus stop. Head down the main path and stay to the left at the fork. Follow the path around a small peninsula (getting good glimpses at the Oedolgae cliff) and look for stairs heading down on your right. Those stairs will lead to the pool. 

Admission: free!

What we missed on our Jeju travels

Mount Hallasan

Though we saw it from a distance, we didn’t have the chance to get up close and personal with this famous mountain. Being that it takes a whole day to hike to the summit, we couldn’t fit it into our short weekend on Jeju. We’ve heard great things, so add this hike to your list if you have the time.

Where to Stay on Jeju Island:

Kim’s Cabin Guesthouse

Kim Cabin Jeju Korea
Kims Cabin Breakfast Seafood Porridge Jeju Korea
The owners were very friendly and even drove us into town to do the “Sunrise Peak” hike. The room we stayed in was large and clean and reminded us of a log cabin – pine smells and all! Be aware that the included breakfast is Jeju’s well-known seafood porridge and homemade kimchee radishes. It’s not bad, but as we were expecting a Western breakfast, we were a little disappointed.

How to get there: From Seongsan town, you will need to take a taxi to the guesthouse. It should be between 5,000 – 6,000 won. It is conveniently located right on Route 1 of the Jeju Olle Trail.

Check out some other great places to stay near Seongsan here.

Doldam Guesthouse

Doldam Guesthouse Jeju Island

I would say this is without a doubt the best guesthouse I’ve experienced in Korea. With sweeping ocean views, a gigantic balcony, comfortable beds, and an included breakfast of homemade bread and jam, I have no complaints.

Getting to Doldam can be a bit tricky without a car, but the small town in which it’s located is worth the journey. The tiny village is made up of garlic fields and on a breezy day, you’ll catch a whiff of the fragrant produce. 

Doldam Guesthouse Jeju Island
Doldam Guesthouse Jeju Island

How to get there: Catch Bus 120 from the main rotary in Seogwipo. Get off at the last stop 대평리 (the bus will turn around and prepare to travel back to Seogwipo). From the bus stop, walk north just a bit and turn left at the pizza shop. Follow this narrow road, past many garlic fields, for about half a kilometer. The guesthouse will be on your right. 

Browse through affordable hotels that are steps away from the beach in Jungmun.

Getting around on this Jeju Itinerary

Garlic Field Near Doldam Guesthouse Jeju Korea

Jeju is an eclectic mix of Korea and the West. The juxtaposition of typical Korean neighborhoods next to 6-lane highways is different than anything you’ll find on the mainland.

Many visitors prefer to rent cars while visiting Jeju, and I don’t blame them. While the bus system isn’t all that hard to figure out, the timing is what can get tricky. There are many routes that only run once every hour, so it can be a hassle to navigate when you only have a few days to explore. 

That being said, it is totally possible to get around Jeju island using only public transportation. We made it work just fine. Since there were four of us traveling together, we found that much of the time, it was faster and not much more expensive to take taxis between destinations. 


Are you planning a trip to South Korea?

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Jeju island in 3 days
Jeju island in 3 days

We want to hear from you!

Have you been to Jeju? What did think of our Jeju Itinerary? We would love to hear about your travels in Jeju below!

Comments (53) on “Jeju Island in 3 Days

  1. markvale2@gmail.com says:

    Hi Katie,
    Some nice photos and also great information about how to get by using the bus. The waterfalls in Jeju were really nice and natural. I would like to also add that if you visit Sunrise Peak again, you can also easily visit Seopjikoji 섭지코지 and Hanwha Aqua Planet Jeju 아쿠아플라넷 제주 as they are also right next to each other. From the airport a stop at Hamdeok Beach 함덕 해수욕장 is also a good option. Lastly I found Jeju Traditional Market 동문재래시장 to be great for eating and buying souvenirs. If you find yourself renting a car next time I can recommend the perfect driving course over 3 days and 2 nights: http://boundforbusan.com/?p=1094

    Look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

  2. glo2989@gmail.com says:

    Hi Katie and Ben! Amazing blog 🙂
    With regard to booking an overnight ferry from Busan to Jeju, will it be sufficient to do it a couple of days in advance? Or does it frequently get booked out?

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Gloria! I’m not too sure on this, it was a pretty big boat so I wouldn’t assume it would fully book out. Maybe certain cabins in the ferry. However, it will depend on the weekend you are going, because if it is during a Korean holiday weekend, it will fill up a lot faster and you should book ahead. Hope this helps! Cheers!

  3. steven.nofer@gmail.com says:

    Great itinerary! I am thinking of doing one like it. Can you tell the order, and how many nights you stayed at each of the guest houses you mentioned? Thanks!

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hey Steve, we basically went in order of the article, more or less clockwise around Jeju island. We spent our first night on the east side and the the other nights in the south. Hope this helps!

  4. humatesting27@gmail.com says:

    Hi. Did you go on May? Were you fortunate enough to see the Canola flowers around the island? I’m planning to go on early May. I’m still not losing hope lol. Can you confirm?

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Huma, Yes we did go in May over Buddha’s Birthday, but we never went to see the canola flowers. It seems like they bloom throughout April so you might be able to still see them.

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Yeoh, if you take a look at Ferry Ride to Jeju section of the article, there is a link to the tourism site and if you follow those directions you can book it. However, everything on the booking site is in Korean so you might have to ask a Korean friend to help you book the ferry to Jeju.

  5. oliviahelentanuel12@gmail.com says:

    Hi Katie, I’m going to Jeju next month. Are sure that the bus to that natural pool is no 8? Because I cant find any information about no8 bus in Jeju. Thanks

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hey Olivia. The buses in Jeju have changed their numbers. From Seogwipo roundabout, you can take 615-1 or 615-2 to get to the natural pool drop off. I have updated the article. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. wa_zhi@hotmail.com says:

    Hi Katie.. i’m going jeju soon and i wish to ask you on how do you know what time are the next bus coming and plan your journey?

  7. emon36@gmail.com says:

    Hello! Katie….How much approx cost you for travel in Jeju (food+transport+hotel).
    Thanks in advance.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Emon. We had about 3 days in Jeju and spent a little over $300 for the two of us. We usually try to stick to tight budget and it can get tempting to spend more in Jeju , but I think we did a good job for that weekend.

  8. Luiza says:

    Hello! Thanks for the post, it is really helpful! I would like to know when you went there. I am planning on going around the middle of June (13-15) and don’t know if it is already warm enough for swimming. What do you think?

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Luiza, That will be a great trip! We were in Jeju in mid-May and it was pretty dang cold, but we went for a swim anyway! (When in Jeju! haha) We heard that it warms up mid-June, so hopefully it’ll be warm enough when you’re there. The water temperature still may be a little cool, since it hasn’t been exposed to the heat for too long. By July/August, we heard that the natural pool we went to is like a warm bath. Maybe we’ll have to go back during that time to give it a try!

  9. thetravelingblondie@gmail.com says:

    Great blog post! We just landed in Jeju and I’m so happy to have an idea of what sights to see, thank you! Do you have any dining suggestions?!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Nichole, So fun that you’re in Jeju! I can’t remember any restaurants exactly that stands out, but definitely have some suggestions of food to try (that are specific to Jeju):

      -Jeju Black Pork BBQ

      There are lots of things to try if you like seafood:
      -Abalones
      -Sea urchin soup
      -seafood porridge
      -fresh/raw seafood from the female divers (haenyeo)

      Hope this is a good list to get you started. Find more amazing Korean foods to try in the rest of the country by searching for our article here.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Oh good question, Jessica. I’d say whichever you feel most comfortable in would be best. Renting a scooter might be a little cheaper, but harder to get your luggage around (unless you’re backpacking), and if it’s rainy or cold, it wouldn’t be as comfortable. But if those things aren’t a problem for you, I’d say the scooter would be more adventurous. Driving on Jeju (for the most part) seemed more relaxed than in many other parts of Korea.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Lou, great question! It is possible to visit Jeju in just 2 days, but I would definitely recommend renting a car for your short time. It will be so much easier to get around and seeing everything you want to! Plus, you won’t waste any time waiting on public transportation. Good luck planning and have a great trip!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Jan! I’m happy to hear this is helpful! Let us know if you have any more questions as you continue to plan your trip!

  10. jessolo79@gmail.com says:

    Great post! We’re planning on going to Jeju at the end of August with our 3 year old son…I guess Love Land wont be included in our trip! 😉 Do you know anything about renting cars from the airport?

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Jessica, I’m so glad this is helpful! Haha, I think that’s a good call to skip Love Land (although weirdly we did see more than a few children there…). We took buses and taxis when we were in Jeju, but since you’ll be traveling with a child, I would definitely recommend renting a car. It will be so much more convenient, and from what we’ve heard from friends, it is pretty easy and relatively inexpensive.

      Have you ever used RentalCars.com? It’s kind of like how Kayak compares airlines – but instead, it compares car rentals. You might want to start searching with that. I hope this helps!

      Also, just another thing to note: We rented a car another time in Korea, and I do know you need an international driver’s license. But other than that, we didn’t need anything!

      Good luck planning and have a great time in Jeju. Let us know how you like it!

      • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

        That’s awesome, Rey! It’ll be so easy for you to get around the island with your driver’s license. Have fun!

  11. Ali Johar says:

    I expect that this post will help me alot to have good time at JEJU Island. I will move to jeju on 3rd july (My birthday) for 4 days trip and have selected to visit some of your suggested places. I will go to natural swimming pool. Thanks for sharing Katie

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      That’s awesome to hear, Ali! What a great way to spend your birthday! And it will be a perfect time of year to take a dip in the natural swimming pools. When we went it was absolutely freezing! Enjoy 🙂

  12. Megan Indoe says:

    This post is very helpful! We are planning a Jeju trip at the end of our contract in about 2 months! We are planning on spending a week- do you think that is too much time? You guys did a great write up and I really look forward to the lava columns! Thanks for sharing your awesome experience!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Megan! That will be a perfect time of year to be in Jeju! We only had 3 days (since it was in the middle of our contract, and I’m sure you know how tricky days off can be!)… We thought 5 days would be ideal. a whole week will give you some time to relax though and maybe even lay at the beach (something we didn’t have time or hot enough weather for)! Take a dip for me at the natural swimming pool if you get a chance. I think the water will be much warmer than when we were there! And yes, the lava columns are pretty sweet!

  13. Natalie says:

    Your write up provided me with so much insights about Jeju Island which came in handy for my upcoming trip in August! Thank you so much 🙂

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Natalie! I’m so glad this post was helpful to you! Have a great time in Jeju. August will be a nice time to be there. Maybe you can even take a dip in the Natural Swimming pool 🙂 Let us know how it goes. Cheers!

      Katie and Ben

  14. Jess says:

    Great read, easily one of the better guides out there online. I especially like the honest recommendations, looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Thanks so much – I’m glad it’s helpful! Are you planning to visit Jeju soon? Spring and early summer is a lovely time on the island 🙂 Enjoy!

  15. nuraini@tripovo.com says:

    Cool blog post with detailed information and lots of beautiful pictures too. Definitely worth the read. And we wrote something about Jeju Island too but on a different perspective. Do have a look. 🙂

  16. camille.plb@gmail.com says:

    Nice write-up. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by Jeju when I went… There are some cool things to see and it might be unique in Asia, but maybe a bit overrated on the international scale!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Camille! I know exactly what you mean about Jeju. There is so much hype about it in Korea. While I loved my time there, it took me a while to really get the feel of it. I think Korea’s islands in general aren’t exactly what I picture as a "beach vacation". (I think the Philippines has ruined me for all other islands!) Now that I know what to expect of Korean beaches though, I feel like I’m able to enjoy my time without being disappointed.

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