Jeju Island: The Pros & Cons Of Visiting The Hawaii of Korea
After six years in Korea, I finally made it down south to experience the beauty of Jeju Island. Called the “Hawaii of Korea” by some and boasting waterfalls, beaches and the tallest mountain in Korea, it’s a wonder I waited so long.
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While the island has enough natural beauty to spend the better part of a week experiencing, it seems some people have had the bright idea to try to turn the island into somewhat of a huge amusement park. When I started looking into what I would want to experience on the island and trying to compromise with my sister-in-law who would have two small children in tow, the idea of visiting a teddy bear museum, a miniature museum, a Greek mythology museum, or the like seemed ridiculously unnecessary. Why would anyone go to a Korean island to see an African Art museum I wondered?
Compromises were made, and in the end my husband and I rented a separate car so I could see the Yakcheonsa Temple while his sister’s family went to a children’s park and we met up at the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the sea and saw a beach in the afternoon. We climbed Mt. Halla while they saw an elephant show and sat on horses. I suppose there are really two trips to be had on Jeju Island. One can experience the natural beauty the island offers and walk the trails that have been lovingly made across the island or take a more kitschy trip and visit the museums that showcase odds and ends from all over the world.
In general, I’d have to say the island was breathtaking and I want to go back and experience more. Three and a half days was not enough time to see everything and I look forward to another holiday on the calendar that will allow us the chance to visit again soon. It was enough time to hike up the tallest mountain in Korea, Halla Mountain. And visiting other sites like the gorgeous grottos of Sanbang Mountain as well as taking a trip out to Gapa Island and eating up a handmade noodle dish.
Jeju Island Pros:
1. Signs everywhere are in multiple languages.
2. Renting cars, bikes and scooters is super easy. (Also necessary to really get around.)
3. Locals on the road seem used to tourists stopping and going and driving slightly confused and just go around as opposed to honking and getting all agitated.
4. Very tourist friendly.
5. The views CAN be spectacular if you are able to get to them.
6. The island locals are really nice and hospitable and will go out of their way to help if they can.
Jeju Island Cons:
1. You need a car or scooter to get around easily, renting is a must unless with a tour group.
2. Restaurants in general seemed unclean, though they still get plenty of tourists to eat. Maybe it is just because they’re always busy.
3. You’ll never be the only tourist or one of a few on the island. It’s a hot spot all year round. Get used to following tourist buses all over the place.
4. It’s easy to get duped into tourist traps as they are all over the island.
Are you going to Jeju and want to know where to stay? Check out The Shilla Jeju, Ocean Palace Hotel or Kensington Jeju Hotel for an amazing stay on this amazing island in Korea.
There are numerous sites that are so worth visiting though. If you visit Jeju Island, some of the must sees include:
The natural wonder of the island really is overwhelming. Plan to rent a car and then take lots of trips and drives to see as much of the beauty as you can!