Jeju just has everything – a mini Korea but with topical delights! It’s hard to narrow this post down to only the top 10 things to do in Jeju!
It’s like it’s own country, which explains the unique language (Jeju), the special visa policies, and…interesting public transport situation! Unlike the rest of Korea, I highly, highly recommend renting a car. Buses do exist, but they never come on time and sometimes never come at all! If you’re looking for more details on logistics, check out my 3 Day Jeju Itinerary and Guide!
Visit Udo Island
Absolutely my favorite activity on Jeju, it deserves it’s own post (so check out Jeju Island’s Hidden Secret: Udo Island). But to keep it brief, this is a small island just off the east coast of Jeju. It requires taking a quick 15 minute ferry.
It’s a small island that’s easy to traverse via bicycle, and slightly less easy to traverse via the tourist bus. There are little shops, cafes, water adventures, restaurants, and beautiful beach-y sites.
See All the Waterfalls – Things to Do in Jeju
Jeju is home to several gorgeous waterfalls (known as Pokpo in Korean). The area with the most is in Southern Jeju, with at least two easily walkable from Seogwipo City. Sojeongbang Pokpo, Jeongbang Pokpo each cost around 2,000krw to visit. Beware of the incredibly slippery rocks though! Sojeongbang was my favorite, although that may have been due to the absolutely insane Korean family we people watched for 30 minutes – they were hilarious!
Cheonjiyeon Pokpo is also in the same area, although it’s a little smaller. And of course, you can see them throughout the island around some of the other stops on this list.
Enjoy Crazy Volcanic Cliffs
Don’t have time to go to Ireland? Well you can see the Giant’s Causeway right here in Korea at Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff! The same volcanic formation of the basalt hexagonal columns is available for viewing right here in southern Jeju. As a warning, this area is not easily accessed via bus so it’s recommended to take a taxi if you aren’t renting a car.
I could have stayed here for hours watching the ocean waves crash against the alien-like rock formations. There is another small waterfall in this area as well called Gaedari Pokpo (if you don’t get completely waterfall-ed out at this point in your trip!).
Experience the Ancient Lava Tunnels
Without a doubt one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. Wander through the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site of Manjanggul Lava Tubes and cool off from the blazing heat. These tunnels are huge and somehow the lack of OSHA regulations make the experience so much better. There’s hardly any lighting or walking ramps. So you’re literally walking along with just enough light to see where you’re going, stepping in cave puddles, and walking on lava.
This is not a great option for anyone who has walking or seeing difficulty! But it is an incredible experience because the sheer scale of these tunnels, made by rocks being rushed along with a river of lava, is something you have to see to believe.
Sample Some Local Green Tea
Some of Korea’s best known tea comes from Jeju island, where it’s heat keeps the tea relatively happy. These are not the most beautiful tea fields to visit in Korea (that honor goes to Korea’s Boseong Tea Fields) but it is a fun excursion and something Jeju is famous for. The Osulloc Tea Museum gives you the chance to sample many tea related products and visit the fields. Their tea blends are generally quite delicious, blending many of the local ingredients Jeju is known for, such as tangerines and camellias.
However, I will note that I personally don’t find the pure tea from Jeju to be all that good, the fields are primarily laid out flat with no elevation and no shade. When I wandered though the fields I noticed several burnt leaves, so it’s not the greatest situation for the bushes! If you want the best quality tea Korea has to offer, head to Hadong: Korea’s Tea Paradise.
Explore Historical Jeju City – Things to do in Jeju
Jeju City is, admittedly, not the most amazing city in Korea. However, it is where many people will be staying on their Jeju adventure, so it’s worth giving a brief guide. This city has a very laid back, beach-y vibe, with great restaurants and beaches. Jeju is known for it’s black pork BBQ, and in Jeju City you can get the Michelin starred black pork experience at Dombedon. It’s pretty reasonably priced at around 30k won per person, but be aware that you’ll be doing most of the cooking your self.
Also known for Guksu, a type of pork noodle soup, you can have your choice of the many excellent guksu restaurants in Jeju. Jamae Guksu is one of the most famous but don’t hold yourself back from any of the options you see in the city, they’re all generally good.
The Gwandeokjeong Pavilion and Jeju-mok are right next to each other. Jeju-mok is the old city government building which, together with the pavilion, have been in that same spot for 600 years. While not as stunning as some of the Palaces in Seoul or the incredible Historical Gyeongju, these are some beautiful buildings worth taking a few minutes to explore.
Hike Ilchulbong – Things to do in Jeju
If you’re a hiker or want the full Korean experience, one of the most popular things to do in Jeju is the sunrise hike of Ilchulbong Peak. With absolutely stunning views of the ocean, and reasonable-ish incline, this hike isn’t too strenuous.
However, if you’re not a hiker (or an early riser), the views from below are frankly just as stunning in my opinion. Be aware that you do not have to purchase a ticket unless you intend to hike the peak. If you just want to walk around the base, that’s totally free.
You can also view some interesting diving shows at the little inlet to the left of Ilchulbong. The Haenyeo (diving women) are famous in Korea, preserving the ancient tradition of women harvesting food from the sea.
Have Fun with Mazes and Rail Bikes
Since most of these points have been places to look at, it’s time to list a few of the activities available on Jeju. Starting with the Kimnyoung Maze Park, located just a few minutes away from the lava tubes, this is a great way to stay in the shade. Puzzle your way through the maze in about 30 minutes and then finish with an ice cream from the nearby shop.
Railbikes are also an option, one of Korea’s favorite tourist-y things to do. What could be better than working up a light sweat while looking at some amazing views? There are several options on the island so do your research to find the views you want!
Finally, the Jeju Stone Park also known as “Yeon-dong Stone Park,” is a unique outdoor sculpture park. This park showcases an impressive collection of stone sculptures and formations, showcasing the volcanic geology and cultural heritage of Jeju Island. It’s a great spot to explore Korean folklore that’s otherwise difficult to learn about in Korea!
Hike Mt. Hallasan
Mount Hallasan is a dormant volcano and the highest peak in South Korea, standing at 6,400 feet. The mountain is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, including lush forests, diverse flora and fauna, and stunning panoramic views. Hiking to the summit allows you to immerse yourself in this pristine environment and enjoy the scenic landscapes that Jeju Island has to offer. The crater lake is one of the most photographed spots in Jeju, but it should be noted that almost everyone is using a drone to achieve those instagram shots.
Be aware that the hike to the crater lake is one of the most arduous hikes available on Jeju. Expect to take 4-6 hours to reach the lake, depending on the path you take. There are some shorter hikes that at least get you into the nature and you can visit some of the parasitic cones if you don’t want your whole day to be eaten up by the hike.
Visit Some Beautiful Temples
While not as well known for its Buddhism as other parts of Korea, they do have some beautiful options. Expect temples to be built into the side of the volcanic mountains that dot the island. Bomunsa Temple has some of the most glorious views of the southern sea of Jeju. The temple itself may not be the most impressive, but the views certainly are!
You’ll need to pass through Bomunsa to get to the real gem, Sanbanggulsa. This temple is best described by Korea’s resident temple expert, but I can at least remark on the tropical hike it takes to get to the grotto. It feels like an unexpected pilgrimage, winding along the stone steps to the top of the mountain. Here, there is very little architecture, instead the natural formations form the scene. A buddha, tucked in a grotto with a commanding view o the island and next to ancient carvings in the rock, is certainly worth a visit. I generally dislike hiking in Korea because frequently you’re reward is…more trees. This hike has the perfect reward of a fantastic view, history, and beautiful sculpture.
Honorable Mentions – Things to do in Jeju
Seasonally available fresh fruit picking is a highlight for any trip! I was never able to do this, but if I ever go back to Jeju I will be timing it to tangerine picking time. This YouTuber has a beautiful video on the experience.
The Museum of Sex and Health. I don’t really get this museum but everyone else seems to absolutely love it, so if you’re into wacky museums this is the one for you! Affectionately known as the penis museum by tourists, there are a lot of fun sculptures and photo opportunities. And it is an option to stay a bit cooler on a summer Jeju vacation!
Cactus Village. If you really want to see all four corners of Jeju, the cactus village will take you to the west. There are a lot of cacti here, and some cute murals, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to come here. It’s generally pretty empty and doesn’t feel ready for tourists yet. I can’t believe they don’t even have a specialty cactus ice cream here!