First off, if you don’t know anything about Jeju-do Island it’s totally OK. I didn’t know a single thing about it before landing in Korea. Jeju-do is the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, known for its beach resorts and volcanic landscape of craters and cave like lava tubes. Jeju-do (or simply Jeju) is also on the New 7 Wonders Of Nature list, and is even called ‘the Hawaii of Korea,’ making it a hot honeymoon destination spot.
Any place being compared to Hawaii I would assume is extremely expensive, and completely out of my budget travel lifestyle. Thankfully I did a bit more research before writing it off, and found that I could make it work on a small budget fairly easily!
Flights Are Cheap
If you are already in Korea (or really Asia for that matter) flights to Jeju-do are very cheap. If you book ahead you can get roundtrip tickets for less than $50. I am awful at booking ahead and I still got a roundtrip flight for under $70 when I booked my tickets, from Seoul, the night before.
Jeju-do Is Inexpensive – Even Lodging
Once you are on the island it continues to be an inexpensive (and easy to plan) destination, and accommodations are ridiculously inexpensive. The island is known for its tourism so there are plenty of accommodation options on every part of the island which keeps costs low. I stayed next to the Jeju-do Bus Terminal so that I could keep transport costs extremely low, but if you want a nicer hotel they have truly amazing Vegas style hotels in the southern part of the island.
Transportation Is Cheap & Convenient
The transportation was my favorite part. Like I said I stayed near the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal because this is where every bus leaves from to go to anywhere on the island. Plus the bus system covers the entire island including every sight you will want to see. For reference on how cheap it is, the longest bus ride to the opposite side of the island (about a 2 hour ride) was $3 each way!
The Sights Are Insane & Will Blow Your Mind
The sights are world-class and some of them are even on the UNESCO world heritage list. I couldn’t get over how much there was to see and each one I visited was better than the one before. The waterfalls were so well maintained and had nice large paths leading to and from the attraction. Sunrise Peak was my personal favorite (even though I didn’t visit at sunrise). The hike to the top is just a series of stairs and was fairly easy. There were even locals doing it with babies on their backs. Each of the main sights has an entrance fee of only $2!
The crown jewel of Jeju and one of the most photographed lakes in the world that resides in the peak of the Hallasan Mountain. It is the highest mountain in South Korea and the whole mountain is a national park which makes for incredible views. Important to know: a hike to the top takes all day and requires waking up early.
There are also trails called “Olle Trails” that circle the entire island. Not only are these free to use and well maintained, but your jaw will literally drop around every single turn. I used this website jejuolletrailguide.net to help decide which trail I wanted to do. I did trail 7 and 8, but I was told by everyone that any trail is amazing and will be a fantastic time full of amazing sights, and honestly I believe them. This island is just that good.
Food Is Cheap
Food ranges from cheap takeout to mid-priced extensive buffets (and all the way up to fancy dinners if budget travel isn’t for you). I ate each night for around $5 and packed lunches of either sandwiches or stuff from the popular chain Paris Baguette. Also, mandarin oranges are Jeju’s main export and are sold roadside all around the island. Most vendors are selling them by the bucket full for about $5 but I would usually buy 2 or 3 small oranges to snack on. Each vendors price was different but I usually paid around 10 cents. Yes – 3 oranges – 10 cents.
People Are Friendly
The people on Jeju-do Island are ridiculously friendly. Many people visit here for their honeymoon, but don’t let that hold you back from traveling alone! I was approached multiple times by couples just wanting to chat about the island, its vast history and where I was from.
So Many Weird Museums
Obviously most of the things to do on the island requires it to be great weather. While it barely rains in Jeju-do you may encounter some if luck isn’t on your side. Luckily there are also a ton of cool kitchy museums to explore including the well-known Love Museum. Other cool museums to check out include: Maze Land, the Greek Mythology Museum or the Jeju Folk Museum.
Jeju-do Is Doable As A Weekend Trip
Do I wish I spent 10 days exploring Jeju-do? Totally! But that just wasn’t feasible for me and is not feasible many other travelers. I saw so much in Jeju-do – waterfalls, beautiful mountains, rugged coast lines, and jagged cliffs – and I was only there for a total of 45 hours! Jeju-do is small which means if you want to get the most bang for your buck it is totally feasible to make it a quick trip.
If I had known about Jeju-do Island before touching down in Korea it would definitely have been at the top of my list to visit regardless of location. It surprised me at every turn. I hope I’ve convinced you to visit Jeju-do on your next trip to Asia!
Have you been to Jeju-do Island? Please share your experience in the comments below!