Here’s a Jeju Island Travel Guide, which is billed as the Hawaii of Korea. A couple weeks ago, we took a trip to Korea and spent the first half of it in Jeju and the second half of it in Seoul. I wanted to share our itinerary with you and give you some recommendations on what to do in Jeju!
First of all, here’s our rating system.
5/5 – For food, would travel to eat again. For sights, would definitely see again.
4/5 – For food, would eat again if there. For sights, would definitely recommend.
3/5 – For food and sights, glad we did it. Probably wouldn’t do it again.
2/5 – Actively regret doing it.
1/5 – Would campaign against it.
Monday: We landed at 3 in Incheon and originally had a flight to Jeju Island from the other airport Gimpo at 8:30. The train ride to Gimpo was very easy and we ended up getting there super early. Luckily Eastar was very nice and moved our flight up, which was good because we were worried about the rental car place being closed. Sam got a International Driver’s License from AAA so he was the one driving the entire time. We made sure to get a GPS with our rental, but even though it spoke English, the writing was in Korean. To make matters worse, our first one didn’t work! So we drove around for a bit (and found out that blinking yellow lights and roundabouts are terrifying) before heading back to the rental car place and getting a new GPS. It took about 45 minutes to get to the Hyatt Regency where we had the creepy Diamond status in-room check-in experience… and promptly went to sleep.
Koi pond at the Hyatt
Tuesday: We woke up super early (before sunrise!) and discovered our hotel was right on the beach and our room had a balcony with the view below.
We had breakfast at the Hyatt, which was actually really tasty! They had congee, all sorts of toasts, bacon, fruit, eggs and cereal. Then we were off and on our way to Mt. Halla, the volcanic center of Jeju. It was super foggy, so it ended up being a little underwhelming. There were also about 1,000,000 stairs to the checkpoint (3 hours round trip, rather than 8 hours round trip all the way to the top). We’d probably give it a 3/5 (might recommend if you like hiking for the sake of it or it’s a clear day).
After Mt. Halla, we went back to hotel and got recommendations for food. We went to a restaurant that had cutlass fish, which was an experience. The fish was pretty good, but had a ton of bones. We originally wanted to get abalone, but the owner steered us away from it. Lunch was definitely a 3/5… don’t regret, wouldn’t do it again.
After lunch, we headed to the estuary, which had clear bottomed kayaks. The wait was an hour, so we wandered around for a bit and checked out some lighthouses, and got some tangerine treats (juice for me, ice cream for Sam.) The tangerines seemed to be a Jeju specialty.
The kayaks were awesome! It was a lot of fun to paddle up the estuary and see the rocks through the kayak. Definitely worth the wait. 4/5.
After the kayaks, we decided we wanted to get foot massages. We found a place near the Hyatt, but the wait was an hour, so we headed out to some nearby waterfalls first. There was also a pretty temple right near the waterfalls. Definitely worth it! 4/5
Next we went and got our foot massages, which were awesome. After that, it was dinner time! The Hyatt recommended some black pork bbq, which is another Jeju specialty. It was delicious! The pieces with fat were definitely the best. At least 4/5!
Tuesday: We woke up at sunrise again, and Sam was nice enough to go out onto the beach and take some sunrise photos with me.
We had breakfast at the Hyatt again before heading to the Manjanggul Lava Tube. The lava tube was super cool! There was water dripping from the ceilings everywhere and lanterns lighting the way. 4/5
After the lava tube, we headed to Udo, which is a small island off of Jeju. The ferry there has a room in the middle where you can sit down on the mats. There are walkways between the mats where everyone leaves their shoes.
We had some yummy pork wraps for lunch on Udo. 3.5/5
After that, we went and rented a little car to tour the island with. 35,000 won for two hours! Good thing Sam had his International Driver’s License 😉 4.5/5
We stopped along the way to check out the coast and also get Sam some peanut ice cream (an Udo specialty… gross, but Sam liked it!)
There was also a gorgeous cave that we went down and explored.
Two hours for the car ride was just about perfect. I was getting a little carsick from the bumpiness by the end of it, so we headed back to Jeju. Right near the ferry, there’s Sunrise Peak, so we hiked up that. Korea has SO MANY STAIRS. But it’s nice in a way. They are really into hiking, so all the paths are very well maintained. 4/5
At the bottom of the hike, we got our first bingsu (shave ice). We didn’t know this at the time, but it was not very good bingsu! The ice chunks were very big. The whole thing was HUGE. The two of us ate it all, but we were both freezing by the time we were done. 3/5
After that, we drove back to the Hyatt and got recommendations for another place for dinner. We wanted to have some abalone, so the guy recommended a seafood place with some abalone bibimbap. The seafood was pretty good, but the sides were the best! There was delicious, unlimited tonkatsu and shrimp tempura. Yum! We also discovered neither of us is a fan of conch. 3.5/5
Wednesday: It was rainy in the morning, but we still went to look for some cliffs that were supposed to be near the Hyatt. We didn’t really find anything that looked like cliffs. We did see our hotel though! It’s that little building in the middle (the farthest back).
From there, we went to the National Forest, which was gorgeous. It had a ton of really straight green trees. 4/5
Next, we headed back towards the airport and had black pork bbq again. This place wasn’t quite as good as the first place. It was a lot more DIY. 3.5/5
We originally booked our flights for 9:30PM, but luckily, Eastar was awesome again and pushed us up to 5:00PM. Jeju Airport security is really fast and the airport in general is super crowded. There were some people who were holding up the escalator for what felt like a good five minutes because they were too scared to get on! Also, people are really pushy, so you kind of just have to go for it.
Hope you enjoyed this Jeju Island travel guide. Overall, I would absolutely recommend Eastar if you’re flying to Jeju. They are cheap (flights were $67 roundtrip) and they are super accommodating. Two and half days is pretty much all you need to explore Jeju + Udo. If the weather was nicer, we probably would have spent a little more time on the beach, but since it was so hazy, we were definitely ready to go back to Seoul. Getting a car on Jeju is highly recommended! There are buses that take you everywhere, but we really enjoyed the flexibility of having our own car. Overall, people spoke English well enough to communicate with us, but they sometimes had difficulty interpreting what we wanted. Google translate was not as helpful as I thought it would be, so we relied pretty heavily on recommendations from the concierge desk at the Hyatt.
iPhone photos credit to Sam with some of my big camera + Fuji camera photos thrown in! I’m planning on writing a blog post about how to document your vacation as well, so look out for that! If you enjoyed this post, you might also like our Big Sur Vacation Guide
or the Las Vegas Vacation Guide