Jeju Island (제주도,濟州島 and formerly romanized as Cheju) is an island off the southern coast of South Korea in the Korea Strait. Korea's largest island and a popular vacation spot and honeymoon destination for Koreans and Chinese, it is crowded with tourists all-year round. The main town and capital is Jeju City.
Jeju island's northern district, including the capital Jeju City.
Jeju island's southern district, including Seogwipo, a large tourist town on the south coast.
|Hallasan National Park |
South Korea's highest mountain and popular hiking destination.
|Marado Island |
The southernmost point of South Korea.
|Udo Island |
Small island off the east coast of Jeju that is a popular with day-trippers.
|Chujado Island (추자도) |
Remote islands half way between Jeju and the mainland.
Jeju Island has two major settlements:
- 1 Jeju City – the largest and capital city of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, South Korea. the capital and location of the international airport. The city does not have many tourist attractions, although it has a few bars and restaurants.
- 2 Seogwipo – large town in the south and close to a wide range of the island's tourist sites. Home to a World Cup Stadium and the Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex.
Smaller villages dot the coastline and eastern and western interior. Roughly clockwise from Jeju City:
- 1 Gimnyeong – village closest to the Manjanggul Lava Tube and adjacent Gimnyoung Maze.
- 2 Seongsan – village in the east of the island, close for Udo Island and Seongsan Ilchulbong, a volcanic crater. The village has a number of interesting seafood restaurants and can make for a pleasant overnight stay, but there are no nightlife options (apart from a disproportionate number of marts for the size of the village).
- 3 Gangjeong – small coastal village just west out of central Seogwipo. Unnoteworthy if not for the fact that it is the proposed site and thus ground zero for the battle over keeping naval bases off Jeju.
- 4 Hallim – also romanized as Hanrim. Close to many inland theme parks and golf courses but in an area generally poorly serviced by inter-city buses.
15 million people visit each year an island of 700,000 residents, and Seoul-Jeju is the most-used flight route in the world. The island offers visitors a wide range of activities including hiking on Halla-san (South Korea's highest peak), catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, horse riding, visiting the sets of Korean television drama or just lying around on the sandy beaches. Geographically it lies southwest of Jeollanam-do Province of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946. In 2006, it was granted self-government as South Korea's only Special Autonomous Province. Jeju has its own English language magazine created by foreign residents on the island – Jeju Life.
South Korean nationals were not allowed to travel internationally without government permission until the late 1980s and, therefore, Jeju island was heavily developed as a domestic vacation destination. It has also been traditional for Koreans to spend their honeymoon there (look out for couples wearing the same clothes). The island also happens to be South Korea's main location for unusual theme parks and niche commercial attractions with eccentric museums for sex, glass and teddy bears.
The name Jeju means “a huge village across the sea”, reflecting its location from Korean mainland among southern Korean tip, notably Mokpo, Kyusu of Japan and southern China. Its original and beloved nickname is Tamna (탐라) with a meaning of “island nation”, which supposedly lasted till its complete seizure in 12th century. Consisting of 8 inhabited islands and 82 uninhabited islands (as of 2010), Jeju has a sub-tropical to temperate climate, inarguably top tourist destinations in South Korea, attracting more than 8 million tourists worldwide every year. (Korea Tourism Organization) Thanks to increasing low-cost airliners, more tourists can easily have accessibility around the coast.
Prehistoric relics from Tamna (in Hangul: 탐라국, in Hanja: 耽羅國), when Jeju was an independent entity, date from early as 38 BC. The island enjoyed sea-route trades with Baekje, Silla and far-northern Goguryeo of Three Kingdoms of Korea. When Baekje collapsed after the alliance of Tang-Silla, Tamna maintained independent trade routes, connecting Chinese Tang, Korean kingdoms and Japanese people and also diplomacy as a tributary states with Imperial China.
In the early 12th century of Sukjong of Goryeo (1105), Tamna lost its independent status, and was brought under mainland control under the name Jeju later. During invasion of Yuan Mongolia, Jeju functioned as the last outpost for anti-Yuan protests. However, Yuan thwarted further resistance, controlling the mountainous island with a view to breeding horses for its planned invasion to Japanese archipelago. (At this time, the huge forests area of Hallasan Mountain (300-800 m) became transformed into savanna.) From Joseon Dynasty, (1392-1910) Jeju was largely used as the place of exiles.
Depending on its strategic location, Japanese colonialists took advantage of Jeju island as a military base, recruiting Jeju people into forced labor and building underground tunnels in case America attacked. Some of the tunnels can be visited on the island (Sanbangsan, Geomeunoreum, etc.) Right after independence, in the Jeju Uprising of 1948-1949, communist rebels rose against the US-backed government and the separation of Korea as two countries. 14,000-30,000 people (10% of the population) were killed as government forces massacred entire villages, and rebels forced villagers to move to mountain caves to hide from the police. In 2006, the government apologized and now endorses Jeju as 'the island of peace'. Yearly commemorations take place on April 3 (date of the start of the uprising) at the 4.3 peace park in Bonggae-dong, Jeju City.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Jeju Island is on the border between the temperate and subtropical zones, with average daily highs ranging from 3°C in January to 30°C in August. The climate is milder than that of the Korean mainland owing to the surrounding warm currents, although the island experiences a good deal of wind throughout the year. Rainfall is heaviest between June and September.
The name Samdado (in Hangul:삼다도, 三多島) characterizes its uniqueness, which incorporates three principal features: women, rocks and wind. Actually, its foundation myth is featured in a goddess. The local traditional culture stands in stark contrast to the mainland (and much of Asia) as being matriarchal. Along the coast of Jeju you can still observe the "haenyeo" who are professional female divers gathering seafood throughout the year, and who have a well deserved reputation for strength and stamina.
Even more iconic, the "dol hareubang" or "grandfather statues" are part of Jeju's distinct shamanistic tradition with being carved from the local basalt rock, often seen outside restaurants and anywhere else on the island. Different from most urban sceneries of South Korean cities, anyone easily finds out stone-piled brick walls. These walls made of rocks have been conserved throughout the coastline with its presumed length of 36,000 km. Since it is prone to tropical typhoons with massive wind powers, Jeju is famous for its wind, and it is one of the highest wind energy congested areas in South Korea.
The population of Jeju Island exceeded 700,000 in 2022. This is the first time in nine years since the population exceeded 600,000 in 2013. There were 679,016 Koreans and 21,067 foreigners, up 2,607 from the end of last year. By administrative city, Jeju City has 507,945 people and Seogwipo City has 192,138 people, with 72.6% of the total population concentrated in Jeju City.
The population in Jeju Island exceeded 500,000 in 1992 based on the statistics of the resident registered population, before exceeding 600,000 in 2013 and 700,000 this year. Jeju Island said the entry time of the total population of 700,000 in Jeju Island is seven years earlier than 2029, the time predicted by the National Statistical Office through the "Future Population Estimation" in 2020.
The increase in the population in Jeju Island is deeply related to the large-scale development projects due to the development of Jeju English education cities, the settlement of innovative cities and naval bases, and the booming tourism industry. As Jeju's life boom rose, more than 1,000 people once flowed in a month.
The population increase raised the brand value of Jeju Island and had a positive effect, but it also assigned tasks to improve the quality of life of residents and respond to changes in population structure.
The people of Jeju island spoke a (now sadly moribund) dialect of Korean that is different in both vocabulary and accent compared to the Korean spoken on the mainland, which is classified by some linguists as a separate language in the Korean language family, and was difficult for mainland Korean speakers to understand. These days, the Jeju dialect is primarily spoken by the elderly, and most younger locals cannot speak it, the exception being those who were raised by their grandparents.
Korean is the standard language on Jeju island, spoken with a distinctive accent. For example, the most common greeting in Korean is Annyeonghase-yo (안녕하세요), while the counterpart in Jeju dialect is Honjeo opseo-ye (혼저옵서예), with a clear difference. The local dialect of Korean is nearly incomprehensible to Koreans from other provinces, though all locals are able to speak standard Korean as well.
The island's long history as a domestic holiday destination means that the majority of service and tourist industry workers can still only speak Korean. More visitors are coming from China and Japan, and therefore tourist services are becoming more available in Japanese and Mandarin. English is not widely spoken, although as elsewhere in South Korea it is part of the education system.
Since September 2022 Jeju has implemented the Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) requirement for travelers from visa-waiver nations. Eligible travelers must apply for a K-ETA within 72 hours of departure, even if flying directly to Jeju without stopping on the South Korea mainland. The electronic travel authorization costs ₩10,000 and is valid for two years. If you enter Jeju without requiring a K-ETA and subsequently leave for the mainland, you will need to have a valid visa for the rest of South Korea. If admission is approved, one may stay in Jeju for a maximum of 30 days.
1 Jeju International Airport (제주 국제공항). It is the main gateway to the island. The vast majority of flights to Jeju are from Gimpo (Seoul's domestic airport) and Busan's Gimhae International Airport. Most Korean domestic airports have scheduled flights to Jeju. The Jeju-Seoul route is the busiest air route in the world as measured by passenger numbers. (CJU IATA)
You can fly the main airlines, Korean Air and Asiana to Jeju, although many budget options are available such as Eastar Jet, Air Busan and Jeju Air.
Upon leaving the terminal, you will see taxis as well as two bus stands. One is for the inner-city Jeju City bus services and one for the Airport Limousine service to Seogwipo. (more information about this service below)
Jeju airport has seen rapidly rising passenger numbers throughout the 2000s and 2010s and there are plans to build a second airport near Seogwipo with a planned opening date in the mid-2020s.
Jeju Island has more tourists visiting than locals living there. Therefore, if you visit Jeju Island, you will use a rental car rather than your own car. You can find out how to rent a car through more than 50 rental car sites.
Ferry access from the mainland is also available, although the increasingly low price of flying means that fewer people are using this. Services are comparatively infrequent and slow but are reasonable value after factoring in accommodation savings made on overnight ferries. There are daily services from a number of ports:
- Mokpo Daily ferries, 5 hours duration. Economy tickets cost around ₩25,000 one way. These tickets are just for a floor space. Follow the lead of the Korean Ajumas and bring a blanket and a picnic. For busier journeys (weekends/summer), the boat is a large liner, and has many amenities like a restaurant, convenience store and café. However, off-peak, the smaller ship is a lot more basic. Seated areas cost around ₩50,000 won one way. There's a free shuttle bus service from Gwangju at 06:30, but you should probably ask a Korean for help booking it.
- Wando 3 hours
- Nolyeogdo (노력도) runs a boat twice a day between Jangheung county and Seongsan in Jeju island. It takes 2 hours to connect both cities and the cost is ₩31,000 one way.
- The car ferry from Yeosu to Jeju island. The journey takes 5 hours and travels every day except Monday.
By intercity bus
The route classification of Jeju buses is as follows. You can roughly tell by looking at the front of the bus number.
Front seat 1 refers to express bus, 2 refers to general bus, 3 refers to Jeju trunk bus, 4 refers to Jeju branch bus, 5 refers to Seogwipo branch bus, 6 refers to Seogwipo branch bus, 7 refers to Eup and Myeon branch bus, 810 and 820 refers to tourist circulation bus, and other airport limousines.
Nothing in downtown Jeju is more than approximately 2 km from anywhere else so whilst not convenient, walking is quite feasible, and sometimes even faster. This includes the areas of Yongdam, Tapdong, Jungangno and the inter-city bus terminal.
Buses and taxis are the main method of public transportation. Some locals prefer bicycles to cars especially in areas outside of the Jeju-city metropolitan area. There are places that rent bikes. If you want to walk, you can take Jeju Olle Trail with 21 distinctive courses available with gaining its wide popularity. See here.
Depending on where you want to go, it's possible, and also may be more enjoyable, to cover many distances on foot.
- Jeju Olle Trail course – There are 27 Jeju Olle Trail courses, which are 437 kilometers long. The Olle Trail completion course has 23 courses in Jeju Island, and if the Udo, Gapado, and Chujado courses are included, there will be a total of 27 courses. This is the Dulle-gil of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province managed by the Jeju Olle Corporation. For the purpose of "walking travel," it is really good for walking as it consists of various roads such as village roads, coastal roads, and forest trails.
Jeju Bus Information System's website offers information about the available lines in Jeju Island. It is important to note that all buses on Jeju utilize Seoul's T-money transportation cards, however they do not (apparently) accept cards from other Korean cities.
Bus maps are not available from tourism centers, but English station lists can be obtained, the relevant information from which is reproduced below:
|Jeju bus stops||Bus numbers|
|Jeju International Airport||36, 37, 100, 200, 300, 500|
|Jeju Ferry Terminal||92|
|Inter-city Bus Terminal||26, 31, 63, 100, 200, 300, 502|
|Halla Arboretum||63, 300|
|National Jeju Museum||100|
|Culture and Art Center||300|
|Yongdam Junction||36, 37, 63, 300, 500|
|Fifth-day Folk Market||36, 37, 63|
|Jungangno||36, 37, 92, 100, 500|
|Dongmun Market||100, 300|
|Shin-jeju Junction||26, 31, 36, 37, 92, 100, 200, 300, 500, 502|
|Halla Hospital (Medical Center)||26, 31, 37, 92, 200, 300, 500, 502|
There are four major bus networks on the island:
- A good network of inner-city (shi-nae) buses run around Jeju City for a flat fee.
- Similarly, a second network of inner-city buses run in Seogwipo, spanning out to some of the surrounding tourist locations on the southern end of the island, such as Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex.
- Furthermore, an extensive series of inter-city (shi-wei) buses run between the inter-city bus terminals of Jeju City and Seogwipo by one of a number of different routes. All buses servicing western Jeju pass by Halla Medical Center in Jeju City and most by Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex in Seogwipo making these alternate departure points. Prices for the bus vary by distance between ₩1000 for a short trip and ₩3,000 to go between the two end points. The ones cutting the center of the island (primarily feeding the start points of the Hallasan hiking trails) tend to cease operation around sundown, but the coastal routes run until late. As such it is easy to jump on and off, although the cost can mount up. Note that the English information on the island often erroneously translate shi-wei buses as "local bus" so don't be too concerned if you're directed to the "local bus terminal" when traversing the island end to end.
- The Airport Limousine (route #600) bus runs every 18-20 minutes between Seogwipo and the airport in Jeju City express, stopping only at a few select stops, including Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex (and International Convention Center), World Cup Stadium and terminating at the Seogwipo KAL Hotel.
Jeju provincial office has been operating Jeju global taxi brand with English, Chinese and Japanese services. Call 1899-4314+1 (English). While the taxi rates are reasonable, the island is large enough that the fares can add up. The initial meter charge is at ₩2,800. Hiring a taxi for the day will cost around ₩100,000. The driver will likely not speak much English, so you should have the hotel write down the itinerary ahead of time.
You can hire a car from the airport with either local or international car hire firms. This is a good option to see the island's many sights if you don't want to be in an organized tour and want to see as much as possible. Insurance is offered as an optional extra with the local companies. They can also rent out a Korean-speaking GPS unit.
Outside Jeju city traffic is very quiet. There are many traffic lights on the island, and you will notice that local drivers tend to just drive through red lights. (In the evening the lights change to a flashing amber, which basically means 'use your own judgement'.)
Despite the frequent high winds and heavy precipitation, many people enjoy getting around the island by motorcycle. There are a number of places that offer this, including Mr Lee's bike shop, although the legalities of a foreigner driving a motorcycle on Jeju are unclear (in theory, an international driving license for car should be enough to rent a motorcycle of limited power). In Seogwipo, there is a motorbike rental shop (perhaps also part of Mr Lee's empire) on the same road as the Little France Hotel (exit the hotel and turn right).
Since Jeju is equipped with 182-km-long coastal roads, it is quite popular among Korean university students to rent a bike. When the weather is adequate, you can ride around on a bike in Jeju much easier than you could in the rest of South Korea. There is less traffic, wider roads and it is possible to travel the island entirely by bicycle.
- Lava tubes and other volcanic sights. Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the "nature" category. Mount Halla (Hallasan) dominating the island is a dormant volcano and there are underground caves with lava tubes to explore on Geomeunoreum. Seongsan Ilchulbong is a tuff cone crater in Seogwipo. All three are very popular attractions and accessible.
- Jeju Old Government Offices. A comparably nice set of Joseon-era historical buildings in central downtown Jeju City. What's unusual is the existence of a nicely landscaped square pond in the complex, and its tumultuous history of getting built in lieu of a well, destroyed due to an irrational hatred of noisy frogs and then rebuilt.
- 1 Manjanggul Cave (만장굴). Manjanggul Cave, a famous place in Jeju, is a UNESCO-listed world natural heritage site that many people from all over the world visit as well as Koreans. There are numerous lava caves all over the world, but it is said that it is difficult to find a place like Manjanggul Cave that has well-preserved shape and topography even though it was created hundreds of thousands of years ago. Therefore, Manjanggul Cave is very valuable in both academic and conservative aspects. The interior, which looks like an underground palace, has a magnificent and profound atmosphere, especially stone turtles like elaborate sculptures, which are popular with tourists because they look like Jeju Island. As such, the inside of the cave is accompanied by lava stalactites on the ceiling and lava wings on the wall, creating the mystery of the underground world. The 7.6-meter-high lava stone pillar at the end of the open section is the largest in the world. The closed section is not visible to tourists, but it is known that bats, landfills, crayfish worms, farm-footed spiders, and oyster little spiders live there. Manjanggul Cave is protected as a natural monument along with Gimnyeong Cave, which is nearby. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the theme of Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Cave along with Geomun Oreum, Bengdaigul Cave, Manjang Cave, Gimnyeong Cave, Yongcheon Cave, and Dangsan Ilchulbong Peak.
- 2 Suwolbong Peak (수월봉). A view peak in the western part of Jeju, 77 m above sea level, and the scenery from the top cools the chest. In particular, the coastal cliff of Suwolbong Peak, which seems to be carved, extends up to 2 km to the east. This coastal cliff is called "Ungal," and spring water rises throughout the cliff, and it is widely known as a mineral spring called "melting water." Under Suwolbong Peak, there is a geological trail along the coastline. The majestic appearance of volcanic deposits piled up along the coastal cliff is beyond reach. At the top of Suwolbong Peak, there is Suwoljeong Pavilion, a hexagonal pavilion where a rain ritual was held, and an alpine weather table stands tall next to Suwoljeong Pavilion. It is a weather station in the westernmost part of Korea's southwest coast, where almost all weather observations are made. On the fifth floor, there is an observatory that is open to the public. The sunset falling to Chagwido Island while sitting on Suwoljeong Pavilion is one of the most beautiful sunset in Jeju Island.
- 3 Kimnyeong Miro Park (김녕 미로공원). Next to Manjanggul Cave as the starting point of Jeju's east trip. It is Korea's first maze park built since 1987 to help visitors feel fun, immersion, and joy using the theme of "Maze." Created by American Professor F.H. Dustin, the park is Asia's first symbolic maze park consisting of seven symbols symbolizing the history and geography of Jeju Island, and is widely loved as a nature-friendly park consisting of green Ralandi trees and Jeju pine trees in all four seasons. It is also widely known as Korea's first cat park because about 50 cats live freely in Gimnyeong Miro Park.
- 4 Jeju Stone Culture Park (제주 돌문화공원). A museum and ecological park that shows the whole body and systematic stone culture of Jeju Island, the hometown of stones. It is so large that all the stone statues of Jeju Island are displayed, and the entire park is built under the theme of Seolmundae Halmang and 500 General, the birth myth of Jeju Island, so it is a perfect place to feel the quiet atmosphere of Jeju mountains. Jeju Island has developed and distributed "smart education applications" for free so that visitors to Jeju Stone Culture Park can enjoy it more.
"Olle" is the Jeju-dialect word for the pathway connecting a house to the road, and is used as somewhat of an invitation to explore the island.
Continually undergoing extension, the Olle hiking trails [formerly dead link] are a set of 18 trails that roughly follow the coast in a clockwise fashion (plus a handful of "bonus" trails on outlying islets).
The first trail starts at Malmi Oreum in the northeast (near the famed Seongsan Ilchulbong) and the final terminates in Jocheon, a village just east of Jeju city. Trail length is mostly in the 4- to 6-hour range so one can be comfortably covered in a day, perhaps two for experienced hikers. Some trails, such as Olle-7, require hikers to traverse the island's extremely rocky coastline. It is beautiful, but be prepared with good shoes or boots. Olle-10 in particular is very popular and runs around a pretty peninsula in the south-west of the island.
The trails are well marked: blue arrows point in the forward direction and orange point the reverse (anticlockwise). Blue ganse symbols (like a little wireframe pony) face the forward direction in other places.
Extensive tourism information, directions and maps of the Olle trails (including details of any which are temporarily off-limits) in all the usual-suspect languages can be found at the airport or tourism information centers such as the one at Jungmun.
There are many hiking trails in the Hallasan National Park.
- 1 Iho Tewoo Beach (이호테우 해변). is close to Jeju Airport, and it is enough distance to ride a bicycle. There are white and red pony lighthouses, the slope of the beach is gentle, and there is a pine forest nearby, so it is a good place to enjoy the scenery and take a walk.
- 2 Songaksan Mountain (송악산). It is a good path to walk while looking at the scenery as the mountains and the sea are harmonized. You can see "Brothers Island, Gapado Island, and Marado Island" the closest, and it is a great place to walk along the promenade while enjoying rape flowers in spring and reeds in autumn. The slope of the road is gentle, and there is also an artificial cave, which can lead to interesting steps.
- 3 Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산 일출봉). It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Jeju Island and is a good place to climb. It also gives a similar feeling to Hallasan Baeknokdam. It lies at the end of Seongsan Peninsula, which protrudes to the east of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province. Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak is a water-based volcano created by magma erupting from the water, unlike other oreum on Jeju Island. As the hot magma emitted during volcanic activity met with cold seawater, volcanic ash contained a lot of moisture and became sticky, and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak was piled up in layers.
In Jeju, there are mainly three temples operating temple stay program for foreigners. Buddhism culture has also unique features in Jeju, mainly owing to its geographical isolation and mixture with other strands of religious and shamanistic characteristics. Temple stay program normally involves in meditation, Korean tea ceremony and lantern designs. Visit here.
Throughout the regions, there are variety of festivals:
- 4 Seogwipo Winter Sea International Penguin Swimming Competition (서귀포 겨울바다 국제 펭귄 수영대회). January 1, 2023. Every January, half-naked swimmers dive into local beaches. The upcoming 23rd Seogwipo Winter Sea International Penguin Swimming Competition will be held at Jungmun Saekdal Beach.
- 5 Jeongwol Daeboreum Festival (정월대보름 들불 축제). March 9~12, 2023. It is originated from fire, the source of the formation of volcanic island Jeju. The festival began in 1997, and it originated from the wisdom of ancestors who set fire to cattle and horses' grazing areas to remove pests such as mites and made fertile land with burnt ash. Next year's festival is expected to be meaningful as it will be held four years after COVID-19.
- 6 Jeju Canola Festival (제주 유채꽃 축제). In the middle of April every year. When spring comes, yellow rape flowers bloom all over Jeju Island. The rape flower festival, designed to praise the beauty of rape flowers, combines the three colors of Jeju's blue sea, stone walls next to the road, and yellow rape flowers to deliver love to lovers and dreams to families.
- 7 Bangeo Festival (최남단 방어 축제). November 26~December 25, 2022. It is a local specialty festival with the theme of defense held in Moseulpo Port, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do. Raw fish is provided free of charge, and you can participate in the fishing event according to the schedule.
Watch the local football team (Jeju United FC) at the Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo.
Previously, cash was mainly used, and card use is now useful. However, there may still be many places that use cash, so it's good to take it.
In Seogwipo, there's a BK Star bank, East of Jeunghang Rotary which accepts foreign cards. Most Family Mart convenience stores which have an ATM inside work with foreign cards too.
- One Jeju specialty is brown colored clothing. These have been dyed via juice from the persimmon fruit, which is the traditional way of dying clothing.
- The iconic stone statues, usually in pairs, are called grandfather statues and are for protection. Many places sell small stone replicas of them made of Jeju basalt (volcanic stone). If aircraft weight restrictions are a concern, check the back of the statue for vugs (cavities) as it's entirely possible to find the odd one as light as a feather.
- Citrus fruit (hallabong and mandarines). The specialty citrus of Jeju is the hallabong (dekopon in Japanese) something akin to an over sized tangerine which has a very distinctive plump bulge on its top. Its fame comes from its sweet taste and peelability. Do not be at all surprised if, when arriving back on the mainland, your bag pops into the baggage claim tucked between many crates of hallabong. Mandarin oranges are also a major Jeju product.
- Jeju hallabong chocolate. These come in varieties. The first is a plain flat chocolate with a layer of hallabong flavor sandwiched in the middle. The second however is shaped like a little grandfather statue and is primarily the "flavor" component of the first with a tiny slither of chocolate on the back. The latter tend to be a little less flavorsome (ironically) but are cute enough to make nice gifts. If hallabongs aren't your thing, fear not, for they also come in orange, kiwi, green tea and purple cactus fruit (somewhat a mixed berry flavor) varieties. There are crunch chocolates too, less unique but very tasty.
- Jeju kamgyul (citrus) wine. Similar to Japanese sake but with a fresh citrus finish. At only ₩5,000 for an entire 750-mL bottle though, honestly, you can't complain even if it isn't quite your thing.
- Green tea. Although perhaps not as famed as Boseong, the entire Western end tip of the island is littered with tea plantations.
- Ganse dolls. A souvenir of the Olle hiking coastal trails, they are cute little (15 cm) plush ponies on mobile phone straps handmade out of used clothing (and thus individually unique) by the women of Jeju. Profits go to developing and maintaining the island's hiking trails and they're available from tourist information centers and many budget accommodation. ₩15,000.
- Shop at Jeju Folk Arts Complex. This place is practically a big gift shop of beautiful traditional art. Prices of items at the Jeju Folk Arts Complex are cheaper than those you find elsewhere.
Souvenir shops, craft stores and fruit stands exist almost everywhere on the island, but if you are looking for more mundane daily goods, your best bet is to head into Jeju City or Seogwipoi which have the usual array of Korean conveniences including some Lottes and an unusually high proportion of E-marts (both of which also contain large souvenir shops).
The people of Jeju have evolved various lifestyles, depending on whether they live in fishing villages, farm villages, or mountain villages so specialties vary within the region. Life in the farm villages was centered on farming, as it did around fishing or diving fishery in fishing villages, and did around dry-field farming or mushroom/mountain-green gathering in the mountain areas. As for agriculture, the production of rice is little. Instead, beans, barley, millets, buckwheat, and dry-field (upland) rice are the major items.
The most well-known fruit is the hallabong. It has been grown here as early as the era of the Three Kingdoms, and were offered as presents to kings along with abalone as special products of Jeju. Grilled pork from black-haired pigs is also a local specialty.
Foods from Jeju mainly made with saltwater fish, vegetables, and seaweed, and are usually seasoned with soybean paste. Salt water fish is used to make soups and gruels, and pork and chicken are used to make pyeonyuk (sliced boiled meat). The number of dishes set on a table is small and few seasonings are used. And usually, small numbers of ingredients are required to make dishes native to Jeju.
The key to making Jeju-style foods is to keep the ingredient's natural flavor. The taste of the food is generally a bit salty, probably because foods are easily spoiled due to the warm temperature. In Jeju, there is no need to prepare Kimchi for the winter as in mainland Korea. It is quite warm during the winter and Chinese cabbages are left in the field. When they do prepare Kimchi for the winter, they tend to make few kinds and small amounts.
Restaurants are scattered across the entire island, usually near highway intersections, but the majority naturally lie around the coast and particularly in the urban centers of Jeju City and Jungmun/Seogwipo.
For non-Korean dining, the best option is Gecko's near Seogwipo (see details in the drinking section). In Jeju city there are some options. There is a Mexican restaurant near City Hall/Sinsan Park named El Paso that apparently serves up mediocre but passable Mexican fare. In Shin-jeju there is also an Indian restaurant named Rajmahal that serves up quality spicy Indian dishes. There is also another place with Pakistani/Indian cuisine called Baghdad Cafe around the City Hall/Sinsan Park area.
Insam ramyun (인삼라면). Korean dish of ramyun with ginseng and a variety of coastal ingredients such as clams, shrimp, squid and abalone.
Jeju black pig stir-fried spicy pork (제주흑돼지 제육볶음)
Grilled Cutlassfish (제주갈치구이). Cutlassfish is one of the best-known coastal ingredients which were sent to the royal palace during Joseon dynasty.
Gogi guksu. Jeju-style pork noodle in deep essence. The dish has been served in village gatherings and local festivals.
The representative food you have to eat in Jeju Island:
- Jeju black pork (흑돼지) is as a result of a survey of Jeju tourists' preference for traditional Jeju food, the food culture using black pork is representative of Jeju.
- Umu pudding (우무 푸딩) is a pudding made by boiling agar for a long time, not gelatin. Agar, which is used as a raw material for agar, is rich in dietary fiber and low in calories, so it is also good as a well-being health food. The texture is somewhat watery, and it is not as dense as regular pudding, so you can drink it.
- Silver hairtail (은갈치) is very famous in Jeju Island. Jeju silver hairtail is caught by fishing, so the silver color of hairtail is not damaged. The freshness is very good and the price is on the high side.
- Jeju citrus (제주 감귤) refers to all citrus fruits, a specialty of Jeju Island. It can be largely divided into Jeju Island traditional citrus fruits and Jeju Island cultivated citrus fruits. Jeju Island has held the "Jeju Tangerine Festival" since 1981 to promote the excellence of Jeju tangerines to create demand, inspire farmers' motivation to produce, and provide a venue for harmony among residents.
- Jeju Hallabong (한라봉) has been cultivated in Jeju Island in earnest since the 1990s, and it has established itself as a representative specialty of Jeju Island, and in 2015, "Jeju Hallabong" was registered in the geographical labeling system. It is so sweet and refreshing that it is called a honeyed orange. The texture of the pulp is a little hard like an orange, but it is more watery than a tangerine, so it is very cool if you eat it cold.
Some other dishes worth trying:
- Jaradom Mulhoe (자라돔 물회) is Jeju-style cold fish soup. Traditionally, it has been a summer specialty in Jeju.
- Seongge guk (성게국) is mustard soup which is served in the ancestral ceremony or to welcome guests.
- Bangeo Hoe (방어회) is a raw fish dish of yellowtail fish. Every November, the Bangeo Festival is held.
The local specialty soju is named Hallasan Soju and runs from ₩1,000 to ₩3,000 a bottle.
Except for Gecko's in the South, there aren't any other genuine Western pubs on the island, but there are some good options. In Jeju City, all the real partying establishments are in Shin-Jeju, about a ₩5,000 taxi ride from Jeju city proper. Some of the establishments in this area rumored to be worthwhile are La Vie, Boris Brewery, Modern Time, Blue Agave, and GP.
There is also Led Zeppelin, a vinyl bar which as the name suggests is focused on album-oriented rock, and has a massive selection of records, CDs, tapes, and DVDs. Song requests are the main pastime and the sound-system rules. Off the main drag in Shin-jeju next to the Indian restaurant.
If you are not looking for luxury, minbak (guesthouses) abound on Jeju, and due to its reputation as a honeymoon getaway, there is a wide variety of other accommodation. Outside of the peak tourist seasons (such as Korean national holidays and July-August summer holiday season), and as long as all you're looking for is a clean affordable room, don't be afraid to come to Jeju and find accommodation as you travel. In Jeju City, Seogwipo and the smaller towns there is an abundance of rooms in small guesthouses with character.
There are several motels next to the bus terminal in Jeju City at around ₩30,000 a night. They are fairly obvious to find as all three are in a row with lit signs and the ubiquitous motel logo of South Korea and are called You-cheong, Oh-cheon, and Nam-san.
For larger hotels, the majority are in the urban centers of Jeju City and Seogwipo with the most luxurious 5-star options on the entire island within Seogwipo's Jungmun Tourist Resort Complex. Refer to the individual city pages for listings.
For budget travellers, jjimjillbangs are pretty ubiquitous in Jeju City but outside of the capital city's limits, the only other jjimjillbang options exist under the World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo.
There are a total of 13 five-star hotels in Jeju Island.
Examples include Grand Hyatt Jeju, Maison Glad Jeju, Ramada Plaza Jeju, Haevichi Hotel & Resort Jeju, Marriott Hall Jeju Shinhwa World Hotel & Resort, Howard Johnson Jeju Hotel, Sweet Hotel Jeju, Jeju Sun Hotel & Casino(postponement of reopening), Lotte Hotel Jeju, Jeju Shilla Hotel, Grand Chosun Jeju, CS Hotel & Resort, and Lotte Jeju Resort Art Villas.
- See the main South Korean article for more information
Jobs are available as English teachers throughout the year in private institutes (hagwons). However, whilst public school jobs exist via the official EPIK programme, the reality on Jeju is that no more than a couple of positions open per year, as it is by far the most requested and lowest turnover region in the entire country, above both Seoul and Busan.
While South Korea in general is a remarkably safe country, the crime rate on Jeju is even lower. Jeju has the lowest crime rate in the whole country. Violent crime is almost non-existent, although just like in all tourist hubs, there are a number of pickpockets, so you should still remain vigilant.
Other parts around the south coast, even near Jungmun are rockfall regions. The signs are often not in English, so if you're near a cliff or cave and see an obvious Korean warning sign, this is a fair assumption as to what it says.
- South Korea – flights to most major cities. Within South Korea there are also ferries to and from Jeju; the nearest is Mokpo, a serene medium-size port city
- Japan – flights to Fukuoka (the nearest), Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya
- China – flights to Shanghai (the nearest), Beijing, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Dalian, Yangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Harbin, Ningbo, Xi'an, Changsha, and Changchun