March on Jeju Island brings with it the scent of spring, something that can fill your heart with anticipation. The fragrance of blossoming flowers is everywhere. Here are 10 things you can enjoy on Jeju as spring truly springs to life.
If you have a specific hope or dream you’d like to achieve this year, then you can express that wish during the annual Jeju Fire Festival. Just like the people who lived on the island in centuries past, you can take part in an unforgettable Jeju night of fire-related rituals that include sending burning embers of hope into the sky so that the gods can hear your prayers.
The modern Jeju Fire Festival is based on the unique Jeju custom called Banggae, in which farmers’ fields are set alight in the late winter and early spring to rid the soil of excess grass and pests in preparation for the next season’s crops. Scheduled from March 1 to March 4, this year there are plenty of family-friend events and activities like fireworks and kite flying, a wide range of food, artisanal shopping, and much more.
During the festival, you can make use of free shuttle buses and convenient public transportation to get to the venue at Saebyeol Oreum. Enjoy the celebration!
With the popular TV show Gang’s Restaurant set here, the sound of laughter in the narrow streets of Wolryeong-ri, which is home to Korea's only natural palm cactus habitat, can be heard. But even in the warm spring weather, you have to remark at the sad history which lies just under the surface of this place.
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Jeju April 3rd Incident, an internice conflict that sparked after the Japanese occupation of Korea and the end of World War 2. Years later, the wounds remain to some degree unhealed. One woman who was wounded by a bullet to the jaw during the fighting and who could not speak after this lived the rest of her life in this area. She passed away in 2004, but Grandmother Jin Ah-young (who is known by the name Mu Myeong-cheon)’s legacy and strength of will can be felt as you walk these narrow pathways. Please think of her when you visit here.
Jeju's old downtown area is filled with the history, culture, and people of Jeju. From Jeju City, which was the center of island life from the time of the Tamna Kingdom to the Joseon era, the island was governed from Jeju Mokgwana, the site of the old provincial government building, and Gwandeokjeong Pavilion, a military training facility.
The area along the north shore of the city has many venerable buildings and narrow, rustic streets that brim with history. You can experience all sorts of interesting sights and get a sense of Jeju life, culture, art, food and more. Naturally, springtime is the perfect backdrop for this kind of exploration. On March 30 and 31, there will be a cultural event at Jeju Mokgwana called the Mokgwana Moonlight Concert, with special performances of Korean traditional music, pop music, jazz and more. The past and present fuse into a night of family-friendly fun.
On a warm weekend this season, how about introducing your children to some very special friends. In a verdant ecological observatory that is home to more than 200 wild Jeju deer, the Roe Deer Observation Center is set up to give kids an up close and personal look at these marvelous creatures. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, you can even get the opportunity to feed the deer yourself.
The path around the observation center grounds is a pleasant walk for people of all ages. Nearby is Geochin volcanic cone, Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest, and Saryeoni Forest Path, so the whole family can make a day of seeing Jeju’s wildlife and enjoy time outdoors in the surrounding forest and comfortable spring weather.
Traveling to Jeju’s tourist sites is always interesting, but be sure to make time to experience its raw beauty as well. From the area around Sanbangsan Mountain in Seogwipo, for instance, there is a remarkable region where wild flowers thrive. Magnolias, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and many more flowers accompany you as you explore the natural beauty of the area and enjoy its various cafes, parks, art galleries and other cultural and culinary destinations.
Another spot where you can take in Jeju’s flowers with all five senses is at a cafe in Haengwon-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju City. Cafe Jeju Story has literally encorporated its homegrown flowers into its abalone rice menu item, so you can see, smell, and taste Jeju’s floral beauty. They also offer perfume making classes using dried wild flowers from the area. Best of all, it’s located near Jeju City and is easy to find.
There is a museum that beautifully captures the spirit of spring in the flowers and birds depicted on the canvases that hang on its walls. The unique appearance of the Walchong Art Museum, which was designed by Swiss architect David Maccuio, takes to heart the works of artist Lee Wal Chong, which are housed within its walls.
In the museum exhibition areas, you’ll find Jeju’s nature depicted by Lee in a unique style, one which truly captivates the eye. You can enjoy Lee’s idealized and faithful reproductions of Jeju flowers, birds and island scenes of spring. In the rooftop garden of the museum, you can take photos of the wide vistas of beautiful Seogwipo scenery for yourself.
The Jeju Museum of Contemporary Art, located in Geoji-ri, Hangyeong-myeon, Jeju City, benefits from its beautiful surroundings in the Gotjawal Forest. In the annex, there is a "Sounds of Nature" exhibition by Park Gwang-jin, who has been studying and depicting Jeju's nature for over 50 years. Among these works, stunning canola blossoms seem to burst off the canvas. This is a perfect opportunity to compare the real life beauty of the spring flowers found on the museum grounds and in the Gotjawal forest, with those of the artists’ imaginations.
They say that Seogwipo is where Jeju first greets spring, and nowhere is this more true than Gogeunsan. The verdant cedar and cypress trees exude a thick forest fragrance which is refreshing and unforgettable.
The only volcanic cone in the Seogwipo City area, Gogeunsan, nicknamed 'Lonely Mountain', is a marvellous hike that takes just 30 minutes roundtrip. From the top you can breath in the fresh air while taking in the stunning vista of the Seogwipo ocean to the south and Hallasan Mountain to the north. Needless to say, this is a great place for photography.
Also in the area is a Dullegil eco-trail that traverses the south side of Hallasan Mountain. So you can experience the beautiful views and natural energy of Seogwipo’s natural environment in spring. What could be better that that?
Sometimes you’ll encounter a photo posted to social media that just makes you stop in your tracks. Take, for example, a shot at Morning Smile Farm under a blue sky. It’s a place that seems to be the perfect stop to spend springtime with a friend or loved one. A place with cute chairs and indian-style tents that add to the overall charm.
The village of Myeongwol-ri, located in Hallim-eup, Jeju City, is a photogenic spot with the spring foliage of its hackberry trees and pretty landscape.
Jeju Swiss Village, which is located on the other side of the island at Jocheon-eup, is noticeable even from a distance because the buildings that make up this community are painted bright red, yellow, and green. The unique architecture, small artisanal and handicraft outlets, various cafes, and picturesque photo zones are all excellent places to capture in your photography.
The fragrance of tulips hangs in the spring breeze in Yeongcheon-dong, Seogwipo. From March 1 to April 8, the Sanghyowon Tulip Festival features a variety of tulips covering roughly 2,000 square meters of flower beds. Note that there is meaning inherent in the colors of the tulip petals. For example, red tulips stand for passionate love, while purple tulips represent eternal love. If you’re on the north side of the island at Hallim Park, Jeju City, there is also a celebration of tulips which runs from the end of March through to the middle of April. Catch the full splendor of these Jeju tulips and make many happy spring memories with your family and friends.
Fragrant spring vegetables are an excellent way to enliven and entice your taste buds. If you’re a connoisseur of Korean barbeque, then you’ll have to check out the Seomun Traditional Market, just a 10-minute drive from the airport in Jeju City. Jeju Island is famous for its black pork and Hanwoo beef — so if you’re traveling to the island this is something you won’t want to miss. The way the market works is you purchase the fresh, reasonably priced meat directly from one of the butcher shops at the market. Then you bring your order to a restaurant of your choice to cook yourself. There you will be charged a small fee for the table and side dishes the proprietor provides. This unique culinary experience is something you’re to remember fondly from your Jeju journey.