With K-Beauty and K-Pop taking over our social media feeds like wildfire, it’s no wonder tourism in South Korea is spiking. Data collected showed that tourism increased by 33 percent in 2016 alone!
Looking for an exotic vacation with amazing food, fun attractions and tropical views? (Not to mention, all the K-Beauty you can get your hands on?) Then Jeju Island is for you.
Jeju Island is a volcanic island south of mainland Korea that has been a secret gem of South Korea for years. From visiting the Jeju folk village to exploring natural wonders like the Jeongbang falls, when you visit Jeju, you won’t have a single dull day. Read on to learn about the top destinations you don’t want to miss.
Jeju Island Points of Interest
Hallasan Mountain: Unlike fast-paced Seoul, you’ll be able to find a balance of nature and attractions here. For outdoorsy adventurers, it’s truly a dream destination. Hallasan mountain is the highest mountain in all of Korea (and a dormant volcano!). In one day, you can hike the whole thing to check out breathtaking nature and wildlife.
Lava rock formations: Thanks to ancient volcanic activity on this island, there are awesome rock formations to check out. Manjanggul cave is a lava tube you can explore that stretches for miles underground. Claustrophobic? Try visiting the popular Sunrise Peak, (called Seongsan Ilchulbong by the locals) a rocky peak formed by a volcano eruption that gives you an amazing view of, you guessed it, the sunrise.
Jungmun beach: If you’re looking for something more low-key, visit Jungmun beach, where you can soak up the sun surrounded by dramatic cliffs. It’s not called the ‘Hawaii of Korea’ for no reason!
Traditional dining: When you’re exhausted from the great outdoors, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a hot meal. (Lucky for you, there’s tons of delicious food in Korea, Jeju not excluded.) Seafood in Jeju is always fresh, so check out their tourism website for the best traditional Korean restaurants. The Jeju Dongmun market is a night market with tons of vendors who have been mastering their dishes for years. If you want a diverse taste of island food, this is the place for you!
Museums galore: If you visit during the rainy season, there are still plenty of things to do in Jeju Island indoors. The Alive Museum is full of optical illusions to get a great photo op, or check out the Teddy Bear Museum, a family-friendly and adorable way to spend a chilly afternoon. If you want to explore Korean culture and sip a warm drink, the Osulloc Tea Museum is for you. You can learn about the evolution of tea production and be taught the proper way to make the perfect cup of tea.
Jeju Island’s Famous Destinations
Cheonjeyeon Falls: Nicknamed the “Pond of God”, these falls are a super popular destination for tourists. It’s actually a set of three waterfalls, surrounded by lush plant life and an intricately-carved bridge. Not only can you enjoy the outdoors and get a great photo, but you can learn about the Korean mythology behind the destination, too!
Loveland Park: Looking for a more, er, adult experience? The Loveland park is popular for the swarms of honeymooners that visit the island. It’s a theme park filled with erotic-themes statues, art exhibits and souvenirs. (Yeah, I was surprised by this one, too.)
Haeneyo divers: One of the most unique things to do in Jeju is visit the Jeju women divers, called haeneyo, who put on free-diving shows to catch seafood. These women, who are often over the age of 50, dive in the ocean to gather fish and shellfish with their bare hands. This tradition is dying in Jeju, so you should take the opportunity to eat fresh seafood from these extraordinary women in their haeneyo restaurant.
Black pork BBQ: One of the most popular dishes in Jeju is black pork BBQ. There’s even a street named after this famous dish, and for good reason. The Korean Black Pig is only found in Jeju, and Koreans have been killing the BBQ game for centuries, so if you’re a meat-lover, you’re in for a treat.
Step into a K-Drama: Love K-Dramas? Jeju Island is packed with filming locations from countless dramas. It’s no wonder when every beach is scenic and there’s park after park of natural and curated plants. Hunting down these iconic places is one of the most fun things to do in Jeju island.
Innisfree Jeju House: For all the beauty junkies out there, the Innisfree Jeju House is the perfect place to explore. Innisfree uses many ingredients grown on the island to make their products, so you can visit their gardens, make your own face pack, and learn a few things about the making of cosmetics (Uh, yes please.)
Living on Jeju Island
Work abroad: Although it’s a small island, Jeju is far from boring. Expats who want to live in Jeju can find jobs as English teachers or translators and enjoy the island life at the same time.
Embrace adventure: You’ll find there are plenty of things to do in Jeju island. Stretch yourself and learn to surf or ride the native horses. Take peaceful walks through Bijarim forest, which is gorgeous year-round, or explore Stone Park, where you can view natural rock formations and ancient Korean carvings. Either way, it will never be dull in Jeju.
Meet the locals: Most locals won’t be fluent in English, but learning a few key phrases in Korean will help you make friends with Jeju islanders. The expat community is tight-knit, so it won’t be hard to make English-speaking friends if you get a little homesick.
All in all, Jeju is a small island that packs a big punch. If you love nature, history, food, or beauty, there’s an experience for you at this beautiful getaway. Whatever you’re looking for in your next vacation, you’re sure to find it in Jeju.