By Gaya Traveller on December 13, 2019
There is something about the autumn season that makes us want to go for a road-tripping adventure. Promises of golden hues from fall foliage and crisp air are enough to get us frantically searching for a good and affordable destination.
We decided on Jeju Island in South Korea for our quick island getaway. Air Asia X has been offering direct flights four times weekly to Jeju Island since December 2017. The flight between Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) and Jeju Island takes about six hours one way.
Nicknamed the Hawaii of South Korea, Jeju is popular among honeymooners and hikers. We’ve never been to Hawaii, therefore cannot vouch whether the nickname describes the island accurately. We can, however, tell you that Jeju is A LOT like Ireland! Jeju is georgeous; it is filled with interesting natural landscapes and formations that usually comes with volcanic island.
Sadly, we came just a tad too early for the foliage to turn amber. We recommend that travellers should instead visit Jeju in the first week of November because the leaves were still green when we were there in mid-October. How unfortunate!
If you are keen to do road-tripping in Jeju, do read on. We are going to share with you the essence of Jeju. Do stay for at least six days on the island. We stayed for four, which we felt was a bit rushed.
Although Jeju is relatively small (it is only 73km long and 31km wide), do not let this fact fool you – it is actually a bustling island. We were expecting Jeju to be along the lines of Langkawi, but instead, it is more like a complex version of Penang!
What To Do Before Your Flight to Jeju
Driving Tips in Jeju
The role of these hardy ladies (some well in their 80s) in harvesting oysters, abalone, clams, seaweed and other marine life without the aid of breathing apparatus or professional equipment has been around since the 17th century. You can catch these brave ladies demonstrating their vocation at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily (Tel: +82 64 7831135) or visit Haenyeo Museum (Tel: +82 64 7829898).
These are actually large rock statues carved from porous volcanic rock considered to be deities that offer protection and fertility. These carve statues are placed outside the gates, believed to be protectors and guardians to cast away demonic entities. Newly wedded couples who would like to conceive male heirs are encouraged to touch these statues when they are in Jeju.
There are too many attractions available in Jeju, ranging from natural attractions to man-made ones. Don’t forget to obtain the Map of Jeju for Islamic Tourists from Korea House in Kuala Lumpur so you can choose wisely. We find this guide helpful, as there is a comprehensively marked map of Jeju. The following are some of the attractions that appealed to us.
This is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site featuring a hydro volcano towering 180 metres above sea level.
Tel: +82 64 7830959 / +82 64 7107923
Hallasan Mountain, a dormant volcano, is the highest peak of South Korea, standing at 1,950 metres above sea level.
Tel: +82 64 7139950
The Jusangjeolli cliffs have amazing columns similar to honeycombs formed from volcanic lava flows that turned into such shapes as they cooled down, similar to the ones we saw at Giant’s Causeway, Ireland and Black Sand Beach, Iceland.
Tel: +82 64 7381521
Come learn about Jeju green tea as well as other Korean teas. There is a tea gallery and a café here offering yummy desserts! Don’t forget to take a stroll around the plantation.
Tel: +82 64 7945312
Innisfree is a well-known personal care brand that embodies nature. At Innisfree Jeju House, there are plenty of activities that visitors can partake such as making soap and face pack. There is a lovely café here that serves organic menu using fresh local ingredients. Enjoy your meal here while overlooking a tea plantation.
Tel: +82 64 7945351
There are plenty of beautiful beaches around Jeju. We managed to go to three: Hamdeok Beach, Hyeopjae Beach and Woljeongri Beach. We love Woljeongri Beach the most because there are wind turbines nearby that make the landscape unique. Also look out for the colourful chairs by the beach.
Tel: +82 64 7283989 (Hamdeok), +82 64 7966001 (Hyeopjae), +82 64 7406000(Woljeongri).
What makes this traditional market unique is the clear water that runs through the market with plenty of goldfishes swimming in it. Highlights include live seafood, huge vegetables (compared to ours), and of course, ready to eat food!
Tel: +82 64 7621949
This traditional market is open from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., but it also has a night market that starts operating right until midnight. Look out for the various street food peddled at the night market – we spotted a Fish n Chips stall bearing a halal sign that we simply couldn’t resist.
Tel: +82 64 7523001
This is the only waterfall in Asia that flows directly to the sea. Quite a walk down the stairs to reach this waterfall.
Tel: +82 64 7331530
Formed 500 years ago, this village continues its traditional lifestyle and culture to this day. Look out for the black lava rock walls, the straight but curvy alleyways that block the wind, and of course the grandfather (Hareubang) statue. Free tour is available.
Tel: +82 64 7106797
These red and white functional lighthouses that are modelled after Jeju horses add a quirky and fun element to the area, besides being Instagram-worthy.
Tel: +82 64 7406000
Being a volcanic land means Jeju is blessed with fertile soil. Jeju is famous for its oranges and they are delicious. Be sure to eat them in Jeju DO NOT bring them back to Malaysia because oranges belong in the Malaysian Quarantine Inspection Services’ (MAQIS) quarantined list. Instead, purchase orange-based snacks as souvenirs. Some of them are even certified halal!
It would be a crime not to eat fresh seafood when visiting Jeju. This spicy hot pot stew consists of live obunjagi (blue abalone), crab, octopus, prawns, mussels, mushrooms and ramen (noodles) gets more delicious by the minute. We had ours at one of the many seafood restaurants just across the street from Seongsan Ilchulbong’s entrance.
This is probably the most popular milk ever produced in South Korea. Friends who have been to South Korea always rave about this particular milk. Besides banana, there are other flavours available too. Do drop by Yellow Café in the Jungmun Resort, which serves desserts concocted from Binggrae’s iconic Banana Uyu. Tel: 064-739-1140.
We travelled in Jeju as a group of four ladies. Safety-wise, Jeju is safe for lady travellers, as well as solo travellers.
If you do not wish to drive around like we did, the public transportation here is quite extensive. The public bus network covers the whole island. There is also a City Tour Bus that starts the tour from the airport.
English is not widely spoken, especially among the elderly, but the people here are helpful and courteous.
Jeju is indeed a nice place for a vacation. It is lovely, and the food unique and delicious. Café culture is big in South Korea, so Jeju is not spared from this trend. Take time to enjoy unique lattes and cakes at the quaint cafés around the island. We had strawberry, peanut, and even sweet potato lattes during this trip. The coffee is good, too.
Would we repeat visiting Jeju in the future? DEFINITELY, and so should you…