In 2011, Jeju received high votes and became one of the new 7 wonders of nature, highly acclaimed from people across the globe. With this new title in addition to its conferment as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jeju is definitely a place one would not want to leave out when visiting South Korea. Located south, Jeju Island is well known for its dormant volcano Hallasan, now as a national park for nature lovers and hikers to enjoy the panoramic view from the peak after a climb.
For many who love to travel around Jeju, language and unfamiliarity with the transport system may be huge stumbling blocks. But fear not, Jeju Tourism Organisation has done a great job to ease foreigners’ minds by providing greater convenience to travel about on public transport.
Here, allow me to provide you with useful tips to get around on the island easily! Others who are interested in a different itinerary, such as cafe-hopping in Jeju, may find my other travel post relevant too!
To get to Jeju, one can opt for a 1-hr flight from Seoul. Few Korean airlines provide regular flights to Jeju from Gimpo International Airport and these include Jeju Air, Asiana Airlines and also Korean Air which at times provides direct flight to Jeju from other countries. Alternatively, one can also get to Jeju from Busan by sea or air with Air Busan.
Fun fact: People often plan to visit Jeju and Busan together due to close proximity of locations and convenience.
For accommodations, I would suggest a stay in Seogwipo 서귀포, a city in the south of Jeju Island, as many renowned attraction sites are located in the south. It is also very convenient for one to travel straight to Seogwipo from the airport in the north by the airport limousine bus 600 for a journey of 1hr 40mins. More details about the bus stops and duration of ride can be found in an article by The Jeju Weekly. Ticket prices vary by distance hence it is important that one informs the ticket attendant which stop one will be alighting to pay for the correct amount (e.g. a 1hr 40mins trip from airport to New Kyungnam Tourist Hotel in Seogwipo is 5500KRW).
In Seogwipo, many tourist attractions are within about 1-hr travel time radius. These include the spectacular Cheonjiyeon Falls (천지연 폭포), Jeongbang Falls (정방폭포), Yeomiji Botanical Garden, Jeju International Peace Center, the magnificent Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff (주상절리(대포동지삿개)) and Jongmun Resort where hotels like Shilla Hotel, Lotte Hotel, and the Hyatt Hotel and museums like Teddy Bear Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum congregate in.
From Seogwipo, one has to look out for the ultimate bus to take one to the top three Jeju attraction sites: Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (성산일출봉), Manjanggul Cave (만장굴) and Jeju Folk Village Museum (제주민속촌박물관). That is bus 701, which one can board from the Old Seogwipo Bus Terminal (구 서귀포 버스터미널). There one can approach the staff to purchase ticket or simply use one’s Tmoney card on board.
To note: When one boards 701, please inform the driver the stop one will be alighting before tapping the Tmoney card. The fare is charged upon boarding hence there is no need to tap one’s card before alighting. Drivers may not know English hence it would be best to say the bus stop’s name in Korean or show them the Korean characters.
To get to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (성산일출봉):
Board bus 701 from Old Seogwipo Bus Terminal and alight at Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak Entrance (성산일출봉 입구). The duration is approximately 80mins. After alighting, turn to one’s right and head left up a slope. Follow the slope up and look out for a huge Innisfree shop located at a corner. The entrance is on one’s right, beside Innisfree.
Fun fact: Bus stops are shown on a screen in the front of the vehicle and announced in four languages, Korean, English, Mandarin and Japanese hence do not feel too uptight not knowing when to alight. I have also provided the estimated time of arrival above hence just keep a lookout then. Meanwhile, one can set an alarm to wake up 10-15mins before and enjoy some nap time~
Fun fact: Queen Inhyun’s Man was also filmed at Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (Check out episode 6)
To get to Manjanggul Cave (만장굴):
Board bus 701 from Old Seogwipo Bus Terminal and alight at Manjanggul Cave Entrance (만장굴 입구). The duration is approximately 2hrs, but 40mins if boarding from Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak Entrance. One will be alighting in the middle of a highway with a huge signboard pointing one’s way in. Occasionally, there may be cabs ready to fetch visitors in for 1000KRW per pax. Alternatively, a slow walk in of about 2.5km is just relaxing~
Along the way to Manjanggul, one can also stop by Gimnyeong Maze Park (김녕미로공원) where Daddy-Long-Legs 키다리 아저씨 (2005), featuring Yeon Jung Hoon 연정훈 and Ha Ji Won 하지원, was filmed at.
Fun fact: It is strategic to arrange Manjanggul Cave after a morning on Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak and lunch near the peak’s entrance where one can enjoy a warm pot of seafood stew
To get to Jeju Folk Village Museum (제주민속촌박물관):
Board bus 701 from Old Seogwipo Bus Terminal and alight at Pyoseonri Office (표선리 사무소). The duration is about 40mins. After which head straight down the path and turn right at the first junction. Follow the path all the way to the seaside and from there, one can easily spot signboards leading to the museum.
The site is huge and perhaps would take more than one hour to finish exploring. There, one can get to observe how people used to live on Jeju island. Many dramas have also been filmed here due to the spectacular preservation of the houses and depiction of life in the past. These include Tamra, the Island (2009), The Slave Hunters (2010) and the classic of the classics, Jewel in the Palace (2003).
Fun fact: Enter the little shed to know more about the behind-the-scenes of Jewel in the Palace. There is also a scroll on which the cast and production team signed on.
To get back to Seogwipo, just cross over to the opposite side of the road where one alighted and board the same bus 701 back to Old Seogwipo Bus Terminal (구 서귀포 버스터미널). Now, what’s so difficult to travel around Jeju on public transport instead?
For others who plan to visit Cheonjiyeon Falls (천지연 폭포) and Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff (주상절리(대포동지삿개)), simply board bus 5, 100 or 110 from Jungang Rotary, in front of Paris Baguette. Bus stops are also announced and shown on a monitor. The bus journey to the above two sites takes about 40mins and 1hr respectively. These buses also stop in Jungmun resort for one to visit the various museums around.
Fun fact: It is a great place to catch sunset as the sun sets into the horizon afar~
With the above information on traveling around in Jeju, what’s stopping one to visit Jeju on one’s own? It’s just going to be a fun and safe adventure navigating around oneself~ Others who are interested can also add cafe-hopping in your itinerary. Here’s where you can visit my other travel post on it here.