Ever since visiting South-Korea in 2012 and seeing pictures of Jeju island, I knew I wanted to go there at least once! South-Korea is not that far from Taiwan, which made it the ideal first trip from our temporary home away from home. The island packs it all: mountains, beaches, waterfalls, caves and great food.
Jeju-do is a volcanic island with volcano Hallasan right in the middle, the highest mountain of South-Korea. Besides beautiful nature and pretty beaches it is also famous for the Haenyo, South-Korea’s “sea women”. 17th century literature makes a first mention of these brave free-diving grannies, but the tradition dates back much further. They can hold their breath for up to three minutes while diving to depths of more than 20 metres searching for oysters, sea urchins, abalone, clams and seaweed. Most young girls are not keen to literally jump in the water and continue this tough way to make a living. If you would like to witness the Haenyo in action, I wouldn’t wait too long, because their numbers are rapidly declining and most of them are currently in their 70s or older…
- Hallasan National Park: Hike South Korea’s highest mountain all the way up to the volcanic crater lake. On the way you might spot some deers but you will have no problem encountering fanatic Korean hikers! Bear in mind that hiking mountains in Asia often means climbing lots of stairs, as this is the case during the latter part of the trail.
- Seongsan Ilchulbong: Catch the early sunrise at the peak of the crater and explore the pretty beaches nearby.
- Yongmeori coast: Spend the day here to see the Haenyo mermaids at work. If you’re getting hungry you can always try their – raw – catch of the day.
- Cheonjiyeon waterfalls
- Cheonjeyeon waterfalls: yes, this is a different one ;-)
- Jusangjeolli Cliff: View the cube shaped basalt columns rise from the water. When the sea is a little rough, the waves dramatically smash onto the rocks.
- Hallabong: try the local mandarin oranges.
- Love Land: no, we did not visit this peculiar theme park ;-)
- Driving: The easiest way to explore Jeju island is by car. Therefore you need to bring an International Driving Permit, which is mandatory in South Korea if you want to rent a car as a foreigner. Also remember that they use automatic cars and drive on the left!
- WiFi: We always buy a local SIM-card so we can easily access information and use Google Maps/Waze. On Jeju island we found this particularly helpful since not a lot of people speak English and the GPS is set in Korean as well. If you do not have a local SIM-card, the easiest way to enter your destination in the GPS is via the location’s telephone number. (Which you can normally find in your guide book)
We’re always happy to answer questions or help with your travel itinerary.