Iconic Landmarks & Sites in Jeju
Jeju Island is a paradise for lovers of both sea and hills. Home to South Korea’s tallest mountain, Hallasan Mountain, you have a breathtaking view of the magnificent shield volcano from wherever you are on the island.
- Iconic Landmarks & Sites in Jeju
Jeju Island is a paradise for lovers of both sea and hills. Home to South Korea’s tallest mountain, Hallasan Mountain, you have a breathtaking view of the magnificent shield volcano from wherever you are on the island. Jeju was born of an underwater volcanic explosion some 2 million years ago, which makes for a very unique landscape.
Massive, rocky mountains and deep foliage exist in the inner parts of the island, while sandy, turquoise beaches, and otherworldly lava formations are scattered around the coast. Here, we have collected some of Jeju’s much loved and revered landmarks that make this island unique and special.
The iconic landmarks and beautiful natural sites on the island are steeped in rich culture, tradition, and folklore. Grandmother Seolmundae, the creator goddess of Jeju Island, is the personification of Hallasan Mountain, and the mountain is said to be her flesh. It is said that she created it by heaping dirt and mud with her skirt, and the dirt that fell through the holes of her skirt became the 368 oreum that we have today.
Even the azaleas that bloom on Hallasan every spring are said to be the tears of her 500 sons upon learning of her death. As you travel around the island, viewing it through the lens of these legends will give you deep insight into the land and its people.
Hallasan Mountain is the pride of Jeju Island, and the most iconic landmark of Jeju’s landscape. The tallest mountain in South Korea, it boasts a height of 1,950m (6,398ft) above sea level, and comprises over 150 km² (59 mi²) of the land of Jeju. Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the unique natural environment has been certified as a national treasure.
There are 5 trails that travel up the mountain, with only 2 reaching Baengnokdam, the crater lake at the summit of Hallasan. The Yeongsil, Eorimok, and Donnaeko Trails take you up Hallasan Mountain to the top of Witse Oreum, the second-highest point on the island. If you’re feeling adventurous, the Gwaneumsa and Seongpanak Trails will take you on a rigorous 5-hour hike up to the very top. Online reservations are required for these 2 trails.
Jeju Island’s landscape is covered with parasitic cones, which are accumulations of volcanic material. Visible all across the island, there are over 360 of these volcanic hills called “oreum” in the Jeju dialect. The elderly of the island say “Hallasan is our mother and the oreum are our sisters”.
They are beloved by locals for their cultural significance and are popular with tourists for the unique hiking experiences they offer. Varying in degrees of difficulty, some oreum are perfect for short, leisurely walks, while others are better suited for hiking and climbing enthusiasts.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Global Geopark, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, or “sunrise peak”, rises 180m above sea level, making it a wonderful place for a quick stop on your travels. The hike up is mainly made up of stairs that are quite steep at times, but it will only take you about 20 minutes to reach the top. Once at the top, you will have a magnificent view of the bowl-shaped crater that makes this site so iconic.
The Olle Trails is a large network of walking trails around the coast of Jeju Island. Inspired by the Camino De Santiago in Europe, these trails travel through over 135 villages and also include routes on 3 smaller islands of Jeju. To make sure you’re going in the right direction, there are signposts located throughout the trails in the form of a blue ganse (“pony” in the Jeju dialect), blue and orange ribbons and arrows, and other distinct markers (http://www.jejuolle.org/trail/eng/)
Gotjawal, a word in the Jeju dialect that means “a forest of thickets”, is defined by the Jeju provincial government as an unmanned forest of trees and bushes. It is pristine forestland that once destroyed, cannot be regenerated. The differentiating factors of Gotjawal from every other forest on the island or in the rest of Korea, is its soilless ground made of volcanic rocks, and over 750 plants that you can only find in this unique environment. Gotjawal forests make up about 6 percent of the area of Jeju, and being an extremely important ecological part of the island, it has been dubbed “the lungs of Jeju”.
Jeju Island is home to some of the nation’s most beautiful beaches, and visiting one of these beaches is a must, regardless of the season. Beaches are officially open for only two months in the summer (July and August), but they are popular all year round for the sights, sounds, and food they have to offer.
One of Jeju’s most popular beaches is the Jungmun Saekdal Beach located in the Jungmun Tourist Complex. This beach has the biggest waves in all of Korea, and it is the best place to go surfing. The calmest waters can be found at Geumneung Euttemwon and Hyeopjae Beaches. These are great for families with small children, as the waters are also quite shallow. If you’re more interested in enjoying a beach view while drinking a cup of coffee and enjoying fancy snacks, Woljeong-ri Beach is the one for you. Lined with cafes and restaurants, this beach has a very trendy vibe.
Sanbangsan Mountain is a large lava dome that juts up from the western coast of Jeju Island that is said to have been the tip of Hallasan Mountain. The folktale says that a hunter misaimed an arrow and shot the great Grandmother Seolmundae by accident, and the goddess became so angry that she tore off the top of Hallasan and threw it into the western sea.
On the side of the mountain is a cave, the Sanbanggulsa Grotto, where a Buddhist statue stands. From the ceiling of the cave drips a steady stream of spring water, and legend has it that it is the tears of Sanbangdeok, the female mountain deity. When her mortal lover was banished by an evil government official who wanted Sanbangdeok to himself, she escaped to the mountain and in her grief, turned into rock. It is said that her tears still run to this day in the cave where she hid.
The Jeju Special Self-Governing Province is made up of Jeju Island, the main island, and a total of 79 islets in the surrounding waters, of which 8 are inhabited. The 3 most traveled smaller islands are Udo Island, Marado Island, and Gapado Island.
Udo Island is located to the east, just 10 minutes by ferry from Seongsan Harbor, and it is the largest of the three. It is famous for its beautiful beaches and locally grown peanuts. Marado Island is the southernmost point of the Korean peninsula, and it is a 25-minute ferry ride from Woonjin Port. Be sure to try their famous black bean noodles with fresh seafood while you’re there! Gapado, famous for its annual Green Barley Festival, is located between Jeju and Marado, and it will only take you about 15 minutes by ferry from Woonjin Port.
- ※ The above information was written on 2022-01-05. Please confirm the information prior to your trip.
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