The charms of Jeju Island are one of the captivating features of Korea. As a result, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization selected twelve destinations on Jeju Island, including Hallasan Mountain, its Geo Trails, and Udo Island, for a campaign titled “2017 ~ 2018 Korea Tourism 100 Selected Sites”.
Walk through the culture and history of a global geovillage
1. Geotrails ★
There are many beautiful paths to explore in Jeju, but the island’s geotrails have a geological history that is globally recognized as a unique and precious resource. The geotrails combine the unique geological resources of each region and their various backstories — including their history, culture, myths and daily village life. They have been brought together under the UNESCO-recognized Global Geoparks Network brand. Currently, there are four geotrails in Jeju: the Sanbangsan-Yongmeori Coastal Geotrail, Gimnyeong-Woljeong Geotrail, Seongsan-Ojo Geotrail, and the Suwolbong Geotrail.
The area along the Sanbangan-Yongmeori Coastal Geotrail has an 800,000 year history which can be explored, along with local villages at Sagye, Hwasun and Deoksu. The Suwolbong Geotrail leads up to Suwolbong Peak, Dangsanbong Peak and Chagwido Islet. Of particular note is Suwolbong, a 77-meter-high coastal hill. It is composed of various volcanic sedimentary structures and a Global Geoparks Network Geosite. In addition, the Gimnyeong-Woljeong and Seongsan-Ojo Geotrails attract visitors for their history and rich maritime culture.
A Jeju Treasure Recognized by UNESCO
2. Hallasan Mountain ★★★
Hallasan Mountain, one of the representative tourist sites in Korea, has been honored as such for six consecutive years. In winter, people come for its ice-tipped flowers, the spring and summer azaleas, the thick green foliage of summer, and its colorful autumn hues. In particular, the mountain in winter attracts large crowds of hikers who want to experience its special snow-covered scenery.
The mountain, which is a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve and a national park, is the southernmost and highest mountain in Korea, towering 1,950 meters above sea level. It is of scientific importance as a habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals.
Of the five climbing courses, which are strictly monitored to preserve the natural habitat, there is the Yeongsil Course (5.8km), Eorimok Course (6.8km), Seongpanak Course (9.6km), Gwaneumsa Course (8.7km) and Donnaeko Course (7km) to choose from
Where we greet the rising sun
3. Seongsan Ilchulbong ★★
There is a certain feeling you get when you greet the newly rising sun… On the 180-meter-tall Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone, visitors might first find its height to be daunting, but actually you can climb it within 30 minutes. The site is extremely popular with visitors from around the world. It’s a Top 10 provincial destination and many who climbed it consider the scenery they witnessed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Seongsan Ilchulbong (Natural Monument No. 420) was listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage in 2007 and certified as a Global Geopark site in 2010.
A rustic story of Jeju
4. Olle Walking Trails ★★★
In Jeju, the word Olle means “a very narrow alley way leading to the house from the street to the gate.” For centuries, islanders have depended on these small paths as they travelled across the Jeju’s rough terrain. The word Olle thus is very evocative for walkers here. As people travel around Jejudo — Chujado, Udo and Gapado islands included — they can use the 21 routes beginning with No. 1 at Siheung Elementary School right through to Jongdal Beach on the return journey. Olle walkers get to enjoy the natural beauty of Jeju while also learning more about the island’s history and people.
A healing spot in nature
5. Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest ★
This cedar forest is a perfect place to take in nature in all its majesty. Visitors can cool themselves in the shade of the dense canopy, or experience the dreamy atmosphere of the forest on a rainy, foggy day. Jeolmul Oreum, Keun Daena Oreum and Jokeun Daena Oreum are hikes beloved by many. Their gentle inclines make them easy to climb for people of all ages.
An island with personality
6. Udo Island ★★★
With white and black sandy beaches and transparent emerald ocean views, Udo Island’s mystique and natural wonders make it truly an “island within an island”. It’s small but there’s plenty to explore on this 3.8-kilometer island off the northeast coast of Jeju. You can visit its small villages, lighthouse and peak. Udo is famous for its seaweed, abalone, and its peanut crop, which locals transform into ice cream treats savored by happy visitors. You can get to Udo by ferry either from ports at Seongsan or Jindal.
A mysterious forest pond where the sea and freshwater meet
7. Soesokkak ★★
This place as named for its mysterious pond in the forest where seawater and freshwater meet. Hyodong Stream feeds the pond and is so clear and transparent that the bottom can be seen. The atmosphere at Soesokkak is added to by the the surrounding rocky valleys and thick vegetation of its evergreen and pine trees. Once you experience it, you will not forget it.
The area of Hahyo-dong is full of mandarin orange groves and in spring is awash in fragrant citrus blossoms in spring and oranges in autumn. It is said to be warmer than other places in winter. The famous Jeju Olle Walking Trail courses 5 and 6 run through the area.
An atmospheric walk along the coast
8. Seopjikoji ★★
This is a peaceful place with green meadows, blue sea and coastal cliffs. Seopjikoji’s reputation as a splendid place of beauty has been reinforced as the filming location for popular TV dramas like “All In” (2003) and “Boys Over Flowers” (2009). When it comes to the beauty of Jeju Island, this spot has it all: white sand at Sinyang Beach, yellow and green canola fields on the plains on the hillside, Jeju ponies, and its legendary coastal cliffs and sun-drenched scenes. Unlike other rocky volcanic areas, Seopjikoji has a red ash hue rather than dark black basalt, which the sea has sculpted in interesting ways.
Enjoy interacting with locals
9. Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market ★
When traveling, one thing about visiting a traditional market is that you can get a glimpse into the lives of the local people. If you are on Jeju Island’s south side, the Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market is just such a place. There are about 300 shops — Seogwipo’s largest market arcade — selling a wide range of products, including black pork, omegi rice cakes, and cheonhyehyang orange juice… all of which are only found on Jeju Island. The market’s outdoor venues are from time to time the sites of a variety of performances as well.
A forest of youth
10. Bijarim and Saryeoni Forest ★★
They say that as you walk through this Jeju forest, its fragrance frees your body and mind. The Bijarim is a dense forest of 2,800 nutmeg trees which are between 500 and 800 years old. It is an old-growth island forest and the largest single-species nutmeg forest in the world. It was designated National Monument No. 374 and is carefully protected and managed. In addition, it is the site of the oldest nutmeg tree on the island — which is affectionately known as the “Thousand Year-old Nutmeg”. There are two entrances to the forest with one course taking 40 minutes while the other takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The Bijarim forest path leads you past Mulchat Oreum volcanic cone, an expansive, dense cedar forest and Saryeoni Oreum. The path alternates from a rocky surface to a path made up of soft, smooth soil. It is about 500 to 600 meters above sea level, so the air is cool and fresh.
“Saryeoni” means “sacred forest” or “wrapped in a bundle so as not to scatter”. As you walk through it, you’ll get the sense of having being enveloped in fresh cedar essence. It’s also a place which is welcoming at any time of the year and in any weather.
A theme park featuring Jeju’s creation story
11. Jeju Stone Park ★
Though Jeju is a volcanic, rocky island, this commonly found material is anything but commonplace or undervalued. Stones have a very significant place in Jeju life. You can see this for yourself at the Jeju Stone Park, a theme park dedicated to the story of Jeju’s creation and culture. The park has three viewing courses: the first is its “Myth Garden” a with a “Path of Legends” along which you can stroll past an array of beautiful natural boulders arranged aesthetically. The second course takes you through the park’s Stone Culture Exhibition Hall in the main building. This is followed by a path through an example of a traditional thatched-roof village. Jeju Stone Park is also the site of an annual festival which celebrates the goddess Seolmundae Grandmother, who legend has it created the island.
Travel by electric train through the Gotjawal Forest
12. Ecoland Theme Park ★
Around Jeju Island are parts of its natural volcanic forest ecosystem known as “Gotjawal”. Ecoland Theme Park is a nearly 1 million square meter park which visitors can explore on foot and by electric train (on 4.5 kilometers of track). Each train station and park area has a different theme. There are lakes, observation areas, various gardens and pastures, windmills and picturesque scenery throughout. The park features a Kids’ Town, a Gotjawal Forest Route, as well as a European garden of lavender, roses, and green tea.
★ denotes designation as one of the “100 Best Sightseeing in Korea” sites in 2013, 2015 and 2017, respectively.
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