What to do on Jeju Island: 9 attractions
What to do on Jeju Island? We wondered the same thing when we visited South Korea during our world trip and booked a hotel on Jeju Island for eight days. Jeju Island is also called the Hawaii of South Korea, and since we loved Hawaii, we also wanted to visit Jeju Island. Because we have time during our world trip and don’t want to travel too fast, we visited Jeju Island for 8 days and list the best sights for you.
Table of contents
Jeju Island General
You get to Jeju Island by flying from the cities of Seoul or Busan. It is about an hour’s flight from Seoul and Busan. To explore the island, it is best to rent a car. We rented a car through Rentalcars, but paid as much as 100 euros per day. We read on other websites that it can be done for at least half as well, so there should be cheaper companies, where you can rent a car.
We were on Jeju Island for eight days, but that is on the long side. If you go purely for the real highlights, you can see a lot in about three days. Because we traveled with our eight-year-old daughter, we did things in between that you really do for the kids.
By the way, we did find driving very tiring, due to the fact that there are a lot of traffic lights and speedometers on the island and in large stretches you can only drive 30, 40 or 50 kilometers per hour. This also makes you take quite a long time over relatively small distances. In any case, keep this in mind when planning. What we did find a big advantage is that you can actually park anywhere for free.
We encountered very few large supermarkets on the island (in fact, only one) and prices there were no lower than, say, a 7Eleven, which can be found all over the island. We also found that there are few options for vegetarians. It’s mostly a lot of meat and fish. Fruit and vegetables are also quite expensive. For example, you pay about 7 euros for 4 apples this way.
#1 Jeongbong Waterfall
In the south of Jeju Island, you have some beautiful waterfalls to visit. We stayed overnight in the town of Seogwipo and from there you can see many waterfalls in half a day with a rental car. For some of the waterfalls you pay a few euros in admission and for some you pay nothing. At all the waterfalls you can park your rental car for free and there are excellent parking lots.
The hikes to the falls are also well arranged at most of the waterfalls, and you can visit these falls just fine even with kids. Our eight-year-old daughter is not a very big hiker, but she walked to all the waterfalls by herself. We visited waterfalls in a total of five different places and these were our findings.
- Jeongbong Falls: this is a paid waterfall, but a very beautiful one. You can almost stand under the waterfall and the waterfall falls into the sea. The last bit you walk over some rocks. We found this to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island.
- Sejeongbong Falls: this is another beautiful waterfall and this waterfall is free to visit. This waterfall is also only a short walk away and therefore also a waterfall that is great to visit with kids. Again, you can get very close to the waterfall.
- Wonang Falls: this waterfall is also free to visit and here you have to walk down a bit (ten minutes). There are signs everywhere that you are not allowed to swim at this waterfall, and you get pretty close to this one as well. As far as we are concerned, it is also a very beautiful waterfall to visit.
- Eongtto Falls: either we visited the wrong place or there was too little rain, but at Eongtto Falls we did not see a waterfall. We did walk along the trails to the viewing platform, but no waterfall could be seen from there. So you can skip this one just fine.
- Cheongjeyeon Falls: this is another paid waterfall, but then you can visit three different waterfalls in one place. Fine falls, but a bit far away we thought (compared to the first three falls). If you want to see all three waterfalls, you will be hiking for a while (half hour/forty minutes). If you don’t have that much time, the first three waterfalls in this list are the best options as far as we are concerned.
#2 Hamdeok Beach
Do you have to go to Jeju Island for the beaches? We wondered about that, so we visited the island’s five most famous beaches on three different days. We were there in September and the temperature was still between 25 and 30 degrees. If we are very honest, we found the beaches a bit disappointing.
We discuss below the five different beaches we visited.
1. Hamdeok Beach: this is the favorite as far as we are concerned and if you don’t have that much time, we would visit this beach. The beach is not super big and when we were there it was quite crowded with selfie shooting teenagers, but this beach also had the most life. We read in advance that the sand would be super white and the water huge blue.
That first of the sand was true, but we found the sea was not super clear the first time we visited the beach (it was high tide then). The second time when we visited the beach was completely different and it was very clear (it was low tide then, no idea if that had to do with it). Here around the beach you also have most of the amenities. The beach is located in the north of the island.
2. Jungmun Beach: this beach was closest to our hotel in Seogwipo in the south and the beach is near expensive resorts. We actually had pretty high hopes for the beach, but in late September there was hardly anyone on the beach and few amenities. There was a red flag flying, so we didn’t really get to swim in the sea either. To get there you have to walk down a bit, but it’s not a big deal.
3. Woljeong beach: this beach is also located in the north and the beach is somewhat similar to Hamdeok beach. Again, you have several amenities and the beach is also quite white. If you have to choose between the two beaches, we would choose Hamdeok beach.
4. Iho Tewoo Beach: this beach is the closest to the city of Jeju and we read that it had quite a few amenities. We found the facilities a bit disappointing and other than some people taking surf lessons there was little life on the beach. This beach is known for its funny horse-shaped lighthouses.
5. Hyeopjae Beach: this beach is located in the west of the island. This beach is not super big either, but there are some facilities. So you have a hotel with a terrace by the beach and also, for example, a branch of Starbucks on the beach. What we found funny here is that you could rent all kinds of inflatable animals (really mega big unicorns).
#3 Seongsan Sunrise Park
Seongsan Sunrise Park is located in the east of the island and you can take a nice hike to the top of the volcano here. You pay a few euros entrance fee and then you have access to the top of the volcano. The route up here is fine and you walk up in about twenty minutes. Most of the route you walk on stairs.
During the route, you have a nice view of the surrounding area. The view of the volcano above is also beautiful. You can also walk a section toward the sea. In total, you will spend about two hours here if you do it at your leisure. At the bottom of the summit, kids can also take a round of horseback riding for a fee.
#4 Kymnyoung Maze park
The fourth activity you can do on Jeju Island is to visit the Kymnyoung Maze park. This is an activity especially suitable for families with kids, though. The maze is in the shape of the island of Jeju and along the way you have to collect various stamps. How long you spend in this activity depends a bit on how quickly you get out of the maze. We were in the maze for about forty minutes, but by then we had collected all the stamps.
In addition to the maze, it is possible to ride around on crazy bicycles. Our daughter really enjoyed this, but adult Koreans also really enjoyed riding these bicycles. In addition, you have several games and toys for kids. Our daughter spent quite some time here playing in such things as the kitchenettes and the like.
Dozens of cats also roam the complex. You also get a bowl of food for the cats upon entry. Our daughter really enjoyed feeding the various cats at the complex. In all, we spent about three hours here. You can very easily combine this activity with the Manjanggul Cave, which we will talk about later.
#5 Hallasan National Park
Also one of the highlights of Jeju Island is visiting Hallasan National Park. We ourselves did not visit this national park for two reasons. It was not good weather around the volcano most of the time when we were there, and with our eight-year-old daughter, we did not see a hike of several hours as she is not a huge hiker.
We saw from the map we had of Jeju Island that there are five different routes to walk. Two go all the way up to the crater of the volcano and the other three hiking trails go up to somewhere halfway. You have the following trails here:
A. Seongpanak Hiking Trail: 9.6 kilometers, 4 1/2 hours of walking. In terms of difficulty, the route gets three out of five stars and the views on this route are three out of four stars.
B. Gwaneumsa Hiking Trail: 8.7 kilometers, 5 hours of walking. In terms of difficulty, the route gets four out of five stars and the views on this route are four out of four stars.
C. Yeongsil Hiking Trail: 5.8 kilometers, 2 1/2 hours walking. In terms of difficulty, the route gets two out of five stars and the views on this route are three out of four stars.
D. Donnaeko Hiking Trail: 7 kilometers, 3 1/2 hours of walking. In terms of difficulty, the route gets two out of five stars and the views on this route are two out of four stars.
E. Eorimok Hiking Trail: 6.8 kilometers, 3 hours of walking. In terms of difficulty, the route gets three out of five stars and the views on this route are two out of four stars.
So if you like hiking, you can walk as many as five different trails in this national park. So unfortunately we have not walked these routes ourselves, so we cannot share with you our own experiences about this activity either. Note that for the two routes that go to the top of the volcano, you must make reservations in advance. You can do that here.
Other activities on Jeju Island
In addition to the activities described above that you can do on Jeju Island, there are a number of other things you can do. We list them briefly below.
#6 Innisfree Jeju House: if you enjoy visiting a tea plantation, the Innisfree Jeju House is a nice option. You can walk right into the tea fields here and take a picture. Of course, you can also drink and buy a tea here. Don’t expect the tea fields you see in Malaysia at the Cameron Highlands, for example, but are you in the area it’s a fine stop for an hour.
#7 Manjanggul Cave Park: You can also visit a cave on Jeju Island. The Manjanggul Cave is a kilometer-long cave formed by lava. Our visit to the cave took a total of about an hour. Below ground it is a bit on the chilly side, so a jacket is not a luxury. Shoes are also quite handy. We visited the cave itself on flip-flops and there are quite a few puddles of water in the cave, so shoes might have been more convenient,
#8 Shinhwa Amusement Park: this is another fun amusement park to visit if you are with kids. We had a great time there for half a day. The Shinhwa amusement park is located in the east of the island and is free to enter. Of course, you do pay for the attractions, but that ensures that you don’t have to pay full admission for both parents, for example.
You can choose at the box office to pay for one attraction, three attractions or an entire day of unlimited attractions. We chose unlimited for our daughter and one of us also had one unlimited band. We loosened the strap a bit and with this we took turns in the attractions with our daughter.
The amusement park looks super nice and has only 12 rides in total (not super many, that is). It also has a very nice playground, so you can basically visit it for free.
The Shinhwa complex also includes a number of hotels, a shopping mall and a water park. That water park was open with us in September, but only the indoor section. That was a shame because the outside area also looked very cool with many spectacular slides.
#9 Jeju Leportsland: another tip for families with kids visiting Jeju Island. At Jeju Leportsland, you can go go-karting in a two-person cart, you can zipline and go down a mountain in a tire. We carded here for fifteen minutes and then spent another twenty minutes with a band down the mountain. We found this a fun activity for an hour and combined it with a day at Hamdeok Beach.
Hotel on Jeju Island
You have plenty of hotels on Jeju Island, where you can spend the night just fine. We slept with our family at the Casaloma hotel in the south of Jeju Island, which was a perfect location for visiting the island’s sights. The Casaloma hotel is located in the town of Seogwipo. The hotel is very good value for money.
You definitely don’t pay top dollar for the hotel and the rooms have nice beds and a nice hot shower. In addition, the hotel has a rooftop pool with a nice view of the island. We had booked breakfast with it and certainly did not regret it. Breakfast included plenty of different options.
Our daughter is not such an easy eater, but the hotel has sandwiches, omelettes, jam, different fruits and vegetables and different juices. In any case, we found the breakfast tasty. For more information on the Casaloma hotel, take a look here.
The hotel where we stayed is a mid-range hotel. If you are looking for a budget hotel, Jeju Pureun Hotel is a very good option in the same city as the Casaloma hotel. This hotel is rated a generous nine by guests, making it a good option as a budget hotel. For more information on the Jeju Pureun hotel, take a look here.
On the contrary, if you are looking for a more luxurious hotel, the Bayhill Pool & Villa is a cool option. This hotel is also located in Seogwipo, giving you a good starting point to explore Jeju Island. This luxury hotel has a pool and spa, and for more information on the Bayhill Pool & Villa, take a look here.