The island of Jeju sits off the southern most tip of the Korean Peninsula and was created through five massive volcanic eruptions one million years ago. These eruptions left a stunning landscape and natural formations that has led to 10% of Jeju being listed as a UNESCO Natural Heritage site.
What to see and do
Jeju’s semi-tropical climate with its palm trees, sandy beaches, magnificent scenery and UNESCO listing has made the island a favourite holiday destination.
Just a short ride from Jeju City is the UNESCO Natural World Heritage site of Hallasan National Park with its lake formed from the crater of an extinct volcano and, it is estimated, 2000 different plant species, giving it the nickname of the “Galapagos of Korea”.
Another Natural World Heritage site is Seongsan Ilchulbong. Rising 180m from the sea, this is another extinct volcano which is a final contender for a New Natural Seven Wonders of the World listing. For more information and to vote for this spectacular site visit www.gokorea.co.uk
The Manjanggul and Geomunoreum lava tube system is another NWH listing. Formed 100,000 years ago when surface lava cooled and hardened and molten lava continued to flow beneath the surface creating the world’s longest lava tube tunnels into which it is now possible to enter.
Other natural attractions include numerous waterfalls, including those at Cheeonjiyeon which is home to rare plants and black eels.
Jeju’s attractions are not all formed by nature – The Spirited Garden contains 4,000 bonsai trees; shop for Jeju specialities such as chocolate flavoured with mandarin at Jeju Shopping Mall and for local produce at Dongmun market; amusement can be found at the adult only theme park of Love Land.
As one would expect from an island, locally caught seafood and seafood restaurants are plentiful with many situated along the shoreline with views of the ocean. Evening diners have the pleasure of seeing the sea lit by the lights of the fishing boats.
Where to eat
There are plenty of places to eat on the island, among them Badaga Gohyang, in Jeju City, which serves locally caught raw fish including cutlass and mackerel. The U.F.O. Restaurant has the best view of the Jeju coastal road and is in a beautiful spot with great views of the ocean. Come at night when you can spot the boats catching squid and bringing their catch in. At Baram Observation Platform, in the heart of a purpose-built tourist village, you can look down at beautiful scenes of Dangpo Village and Pyoseonri Beach. Plenty to do here including viewing traditional culture and sampling the fish you caught whilst on the fishing boat trip.
Solaui Castle is a traditional restaurant located amidst wonderful scenery between Paradise Hotel and Jeongbang waterfall. It specialises in sea food chowder, sea food bowl, fried tilefish, abalone porridge, broiled squid,
Where to drink
The main concentration of bars and clubs are in Jeju City. They include the Bull’s Dart Bar, an underground spot nestled among a cluster of flashy neon lights in the heart of City Hall area. The bar was originally set up to get more women playing darts! The Modern Time Brew pub is one of the few places where you can sample locally brewed beer. Gecko’s Bar and Restaurant offers Western-style food, one of the few local places to do so. In terms of nightlife the top spot is the Jeju Aroma Superdrome Nightclub. Spread over four floors it is one of the flashiest and biggest nightclubs on the island.
Where to stay
Located in Yeon-dong just five minutes from the airport, Diamond Hotel is aimed at the business traveler and has 35 rooms with internet access. The Seaes Hotel & Resort, in the Jeju Jungmun Resort Complex, has 26 private villas with seven types of rooms including Korean-style rooms, spa and sauna. It caters for families. Nearby attractions worth a visit are the Yeomiji Botanical Garden, Jungmun Beach and Teddy Bear Museum, which are within walking distance (or a short taxi ride).
Jeju Fact File
- Population 600,000
- 64kms south of Korean Peninsula
- Climate: mild with temperatures rarely dropping below zero