Jeju is one of the most impressive places to visit in Korea. There is a reason why Jeju is the main honeymoon destination for Korean couples. Whether you’re looking for a three day Jeju itinerary, a five day Jeju itinerary, or even longer, this post has got you covered!
Let’s go over the basics and then get into some awesome Jeju itineraries.
Getting to Jeju
There are several different methods for getting to Jeju. Here are some quick options:
Flight from Mainland Korea: Flights from Seoul or Busan are generally cheap (sometimes as low as $30-40) and take 1-2 hours. However, the cheaper flights tend to book out *very* quickly around Korean holidays. Chuseok and Seollal (Korean New Years) are the biggest offenders.
If you’re coming around these times you’re going to need to book several months ahead unless you want your tickets to cost $200+ more than usual. The best sites for these flights are going to be Jeju Air and Busan Air – they have fantastic cancellation and transfer policies.
Flight from Outside of Korea: While most places are going to have transfers only through Seoul (which generally adds several hours to your travel time) there are direct flights from Singapore and Hong Kong. Prices are generally around $300 for a roundtrip ticket.
Ferry from Mainland Korea: A fun but longer trip, you can take a ferry from Mokpo (a highly underrated destination in Korea). You can buy combo tickets that will take you from Seoul to Mokpo and Mokpo to Jeju. They are generally under $100, and takes about 8 hours for the total trip, 4.5 hours for the ferry itself.
For booking, I recommend 12Go for some things like the ferry package. You *can* book your own Ko-rail tickets, but the site is frequently glitchy and tickets may not email properly. They also aren’t e-tickets. I generally find the prices pretty reasonable, but I do receive a commission if you book through my link so if that skeeves you out just use the Korean sites 🙂
Transportation Around Jeju
Unlike most of Korea, renting a car will definitely open up the possibilities for exploring Jeju. On the mainland, there are not too many places where a car is necessary.
But public transportation in Jeju is limited to buses and taxis. There are no trains and no subways – and things are surprisingly spread out. Most of the things to see in Jeju are around an hour apart by bus.
When I was going to Jeju, all of my Korean friends and coworkers were surprised that I was going to be taking public transportation. I misjudged what they were trying to tell me – I thought they were talking about the time it would take. Nope!
It turns out in Jeju some buses just…don’t show up. Or they come hours after they are meant to. How a bus can get so delayed running around an island that takes five hours to circle is beyond me, and yet. Apparently Island Time is real, even in Korea!
So, while public transport around Jeju can be done, expect it to be confusing, take a lot longer, and not necessarily take you to where you want to go. At one point we were stuck precariously on the side of a highway, praying for the next bus that came 45 minutes late.
If you have a group of 3-4 people, consider hiring a taxi for the day if you want to see multiple sites. This can be pretty cost effective, starting at around 150,000 a day.
How Jeju is Laid Out
Jeju is most easily described by its four quadrants, and its center.
North Jeju is where Jeju City is, as well as the airport and the ferry docking station. So, almost every Jeju itinerary begins here.
East Jeju is home to many natural sites, such as the Lava Tubes, Udo Island, and Ilchulbong cliffs.
South Jeju is where Seogwipo City is, along with many waterfalls and the famous lava rock formations. There are also some gorgeous temples in this quadrant.
West Jeju is home to cafe-hopping, the green tea fields, and several amusement parks. There is also a beautiful Buddhist Grotto.
Central Jeju is primarily home to Hallasan, the famous volcano and hiking destination. There are tons of different hiking options, from summitting to cones with picturesque ponds inside them.
With this in mind, let’s look at some Jeju Itineraries!
Three Day Jeju Itinerary
With flights taking just under an hour from Busan, a three day Jeju itinerary is the perfect way to get a feel for Jeju.
Day 1: Eastern Jeju – Three Day Jeju Itinerary
As Eastern Jeju is, in my opinion, the best area on the island to explore, it is where this three day Jeju itinerary will be concentrated. Verdant green foliage creeps over lava rock to set the scene – it’s lush, beautiful – a Korean paradise.
Start out by arriving in Jeju City. You can choose to stay in Jeju City if you like, and take buses or drive to the other areas. There are significantly cheaper places to stay in the main cities of Jeju City and Seogwipo than elsewhere.
However, there are some gorgeous accommodation options from Airbnb that are closer to things on the eastern side if that is your preference. Look for areas near Ilchulbong for some of the best options.
All the Things to Explore in Eastern Jeju
Next, take the immediate bus or car from Jeju City out to one of the attractions. Your best options are the Jeju Rail Bike, the Mazes, or the Jeju Stone Park. All three of these attractions are outdoors, so it’s best to visit them in the morning before the burning summer sun descends.
- The Maze is a fun experience with friends or children, and it’s a bit shaded so it’s not too bad for the most blinding of days. The full name is the Jeju Kimnyeong Maze Park (김녕미로공원). Tickets are around 11,000krw each, with some discounts for younger individuals.
- Rail Bikes are something of a Korean tradition. You get to have your views while also getting a slight workout! These rail bikes are covered, so again, you’ll get a little shade. The Jeju Rail Bike (제주 레일 바이쿠) costs around $8 per trip.
- The Jeju Stone Park is one of the most well-known places to visit in Jeju. It displays a lot of the native Jeju people’s heritage. The culture of Jeju has been quite distinct from the mainland up until recently. Some people here even speak their own language! This is a great place to see some cool stone statues, and learn a little bit.
There are decent cafes dotted around each of these places so pick one of them for lunch to keep yourself energized.
UNESCO Sites in Jeju
Once you’re finished with the above activities, it’s time to head to the highlight for the day:
Lava Tubes. The Lava Tubes are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and are *incredibly* impressive. There’s no claustrophobia to be had in these massive tunnels, as your mind begins whirling with all sorts of thoughts.
Could cave people have lived here? What other places such as this could be hiding beneath our feet, unsuspecting?
The tunnels are quite cold, and soothing for sunburned skin. For just 8,000krw you get to wander the length of the tube, tripping and stumbling in the dim light (apparently tourist safety standards haven’t made their way here yet) beholding the gashes in the wall from large boulders, and the final spill at the end.
After exploring, it’s a nice idea to end your day at a beach. Woljeongri beach has all the hallmarks of a great Jeju beach, with fantastic views, in a smaller town with several cafes and restaurants, and lava rock dotting the sand.
Day 2: Eastern Jeju – Udo Island
One of the most fun activities you can have in Jeju is to take a trip to Udo Island. Udo is an island just off the coast of Jeju, that can be reached via a 20 minute ferry.
Udo Island is quite small, and it is easily traversed in just a few hours. There are several ways to do this, and I recommend either by bike or by the tourist bus that circles the island, depending on the weather. For further information, check out my post on Jeju’s Hidden Gem – Udo Island Daytrip.
Back to the Mainland…
After you return to the main island, stop in for dinner at Wallawa Fish and Chips. Not only is this the best fish to be had in Jeju, I personally think it’s the best in all of Korea. I even ranked it on my Best Restaurants in Korea list!
Trained in the UK, the chef masterfully mixes fantastic technique with local Korean fish and a fascinating breading. It’s delicious, Korean at its heart, and perfect after your seaside adventures.
Finally, finish off your day by hiking at least part of Ilchulbong. While it’s famous for its sunrises, I preferred the stunning pink hues the cliffs took on in the evening.
Be aware – you do not need to pay anything unless you’re planning to summit Ilchulbong. Don’t pay 5,000krw by accident like I did! Simply turn left instead of right after the gates and you will be on the free path.
Day 3: Southern Jeju and Jeju City
The south is famous for its waterfalls and rock formations. The city of Seogwipo is also in this area, which has the better cafes and restaurants on the island.
Start out with the Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls (천제연폭포) before heading down to the Jusangjeolidae (주상절리대) lava formations. These amazing hexagonal shaped columns of lava rock look unreal! If you’ve heard or the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, or a similar site in Iceland, these are the same type of very cool rocks.
Keep heading east towards Seogwipo proper and you’ll find two more waterfalls right next to each other, Jeongbang (정방폭포) and Sojeongbang (소정방폭포). These are a fantastic way too cool off in the summer, but be aware that the rocks can be *extremely* slippery. I definitely nearly twisted an ankle!
Where to Eat in Jeju City
And that’s about all you’ll have time for. Stay for lunch in Seogwipo and then head back to Jeju City. In Jeju City you can treat yourself to some famed Black Pork BBQ. If you’re willing to spend a little more you can have it at Dombedon, a Michelin starred restaurant. I actually found the prices pretty comparable, at around 20-30,000krw each.
Of course, this itinerary only covers about half the island and doesn’t include the famed Hallasan. Keep reading for how to extend your trip with a five day Jeju Itinerary
Five Day Jeju Itinerary
The five day Jeju Itinerary will give you the chance to see Hallasan and explore a little bit into Western Jeju. The third day of this trip will see you firmly ensconced in the south.
Day 3: Southern Jeju
Instead of heading back to Jeju City, finish up your day and spend the night in Seogwipo City. Get a good night’s sleep, because you’re going hiking in the morning!
Day 4: Hallasan
Hallasan is the main mountain for hiking in Jeju. There are several different options, with some small options only taking an hour or two on little paths along the base.
Four hour hikes will take you to some of the parasitic cones and other volcanic sites.
A full 6-8 hour trip will see you summiting Hallasan. Look for the Seongpanak trail which is the longest Hallasan trail at around 9.7km to go up, and look for the Gwanemusa trail for the way down at around 8.7km. This way you’re not getting repeat views!
I’m going to be totally honest here and say that I did not hike Hallasan. Anything that takes 8 hours is not going to be a priority for me on pretty much any trip! However, I do believe that Hallasan is one of the most worthwhile hikes in Korea.
So many Korean hikes will consist of stairs, stairs, and trees. And the reward is generally minimal (normally more trees). Hallasan, however, has gorgeous things to see along the way and at the top from what friends tell me. The only other hike I thought was worth it (and I actually did it) was the hiking in Seoraksan near Suwon.
Day 5: Western Jeju and Jeju City
Western Jeju is generally the less interesting part of Jeju, in my humble opinion. There are some great gems but they’re a little bit more spread out and don’t pack the punches like lava tubes or waterfalls.
Be that as it may, if you want to see the famous O’Sulloc green tea fields and spend some time at beachside cafes, this is the area for you. Gwaki Beach is generally ranked as people’s favorite beach in Jeju, with its clean white sand and calm waters.
My favorite place in western Jeju, however, is definitely Sanbanggulsa Grotto. Perched on a dome-like mountain the climb is all stairs but leads to a beautiful Buddha statue carved into the rock. The temple at the base of the mountain affords some of the best views out towards the ocean on the entire island.
There is a cactus village, which is cool but pretty barren other than the cacti – not much to do and there aren’t even cactus themed cafes or events. Seems like a missed opportunity!
More Island Hopping in Jeju
And, if you enjoyed your time on Udo Island, there is another easy-to-reach mini island off the coast, called Mara-do. It has some amazing ocean views and look-backs towards Jeju. It’s a great way to get a big impression of the island.
As you can see, if you only have time for four days and you’re not a fan of hiking, it is easy to remove that day. Or, if you’re planning on of the half-day hikes, you can squeeze in some of Western Jeju in that day.
Finish off in Jeju City
Don’t forget that famed black pork BBQ before you hop on your plane to your next destination!
Having the pieces of Jeju laid out as they are in quadrants can help you easily piece together the best Jeju Itinerary for you.