Jeju Island has a lot going for it.
The island’s beauty literally came out of chaos – it was created two million years ago from volcanic eruptions that formed craters, caves, and cliffs that are unlike anywhere else in the world, creating an island with a slew of spectacular landscapes.
Jeju also enjoys a subtropical climate, which means you get to enjoy warm and bright summers, clear and snowy winters, and a magnificent burst of colors during spring and autumn. Every season gives Jeju a different vibe, which will have you planning your next trip even before you leave the island.
Swimming, hiking, eating, road-tripping – there’s a lot to see and do on this island. It was definitely a challenge to fit the best of it all into a 5-day road trip, but if you enjoy the same things I do – a scenic road trip, gorgeous views, lazy beach days, pleasant hikes, and delicious food – you’ll find this itinerary a helpful guide to planning your holiday.
Tell us: What are you most excited about your trip to Jeju?
Little Holidays Guide to Jeju, South Korea
- How to spend 5 days on Jeju Island
- Map – essential landmarks
- Best things to do in Jeju
- Tours and day trips
- What to eat and where
- Planning your trip
- Beyond Jeju – where to go next
- Download the PDF guide
This itinerary is best done as a road trip. Driving around the island will give you plenty of time to explore Jeju. I’d also recommend having two bases for this trip – spend the first half in Seogwipo, then the second half in Jeju City.
My recommended itinerary will give you lots of time to enjoy each destination, but it will be difficult to fit everything if you’re going by public transportation. If you don’t plan to drive a rental car, I’d recommend chartering a private car with a driver to see as much of the island as possible. You can stay in Jeju City and explore the whole island from there.
Day 1 – As soon as you arrive in Jeju, pick up your rental car, and make the scenic drive south to Seogwipo. If you have a couple of daylight hours, drive to the coast and check out Oedolgae and the Jeongbang waterfalls. Head to the Chilsimni Food Street for that much-anticipated seafood dinner, then pop over to a café and ease into Seogwipo’s rustic island vibe.
Day 2 – Head west and start the day’s adventures with tea at the O’sulloc Green Tea Field. Then continue to the west coast and drive along the seaside for some of Jeju Island’s most beautiful sights – from Suweobong hill to Sanbang mountain, Cheonjeyeon falls, and Jusangjeolli cliff. End the day with a delicious black pork BBQ feast.
Day 3 – Pack your bags and say bye to Seogwipo. Then drive east past gorgeous floral fields and walk up the Seongsan Ilchulbong. Ride the ferry to Udo and hike or bike around the island. Afterward, head to Manjanggul Cave before finally driving northwest to Jeju City.
Day 4 – After 3 full days of driving, it’s time for a hike! Go up Mt. Hallasan and choose your own adventure – from the easy 1.3-km Eoseungsaengak trail to the 9.6-km Seongpanak trail. Back in Jeju City, reward yourself with an evening at the spa and a hearty bowl of noodles.
Day 5 – Take it easy on your last day and make it a beach day! Drive west to Hyeopjae and Gumneung and enjoy crystal-clear waters and white-sand beaches. Take a stroll around the lush Hallim Park, then end the day with one last amazing sunset.
Use this Google map to plan your holiday in Jeju. I added all the important landmarks, the best places to visit, and the best areas and hotels to stay in.
Day 1 – Seogwipo and South Jeju
Whether you’re coming to Jeju Island by plane or ferry, you’ll be arriving at the northern tip of the island. Get your rental car (make sure to reserve online in advance) and begin the scenic drive down south to Seogwipo.
I recommend Seogwipo as your base for the first part of your holiday in Jeju (the first 2 nights for this 5-day itinerary – but you can definitely extend your stay if you want to enjoy the southern hiking trails and beaches a bit more). There’s a lot to see in the south half of the island and driving down from Jeju City every day can take up a lot of your sightseeing time. The vibe in Seogwipo is also a lot more rustic and chilled than that of Jeju City, so it’s definitely worth soaking up the atmosphere here for a couple of days.
The drive from Jeju City to Seogwipo can take around 1-2 hours, depending on the traffic. If you’re arriving on a morning flight or ferry, you’ll have a bit of time to explore the southern coast after checking in to your hotel in Seogwipo.
First of many natural landscapes to see in Jeju: the Oedolgae Rock.
The 20 m-tall lone rock pillar was formed after a volcanic eruption, but the legends it inspired are a lot more dramatic. One story says that it was a grandmother who was transformed into a rock after waiting in vain for her husband to return from fishing. Another legend says that at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, General Choi Young dressed up the rock to look like an enormous soldier, scaring away the people of Mokho who wanted to conquer Jeju Island. Its most recent claim to fame, though, was as one of the film locations in “Dae Jang Geum,” a popular Korean TV series.
But even without the legends, it’s worth a stop, especially if you want to get your sea views ASAP. You can stretch your legs after your long drive with a stroll along the walkway near the Oedolgae.
A short drive away is the Jeongbang Waterfall, which is quite a sight as it falls directly into the sea. Try to make it here in time for sunset for amazing views and, hopefully, a thinner crowd.
Chilsimni Food Street
Now it’s time for your first dinner in Jeju! Head to the Chilsimni Food Street and tuck into a seafood dinner or a black pork BBQ feast.
You can easily walk along Chilsimni and follow your nose, but if you want a quick suggestion, try the abalone soup at Jeju Halmang Ttukbaegi Restaurant.
After dinner, walk along the harbor or pop into one of the many downtown cafés and soak up the Seogwipo vibe.
Day 2 – West Jeju
On your second day, explore the west and southwest coasts of the island. But make a pit stop at the O’Sulloc green tea fields for an energizing start to your day.
O’Sulloc Green Tea Field
Green tea is one of South Korea’s prized products, and you’ll certainly find a lot of green tea plantations in Jeju. If you’re a green tea aficionado, make sure to check out these green tea fields you can visit all over the island. But even if you’re just a casual tea drinker, a stop at the O’Sulloc green tea fields is a great way to start a full day of driving.
While you’re there, drop by the Innisfree Jeju House next door. They have a more extensive café and restaurant that’s perfect for a bigger brunch.
Continue your drive west towards the coast and make your way to Suweolbong Peak – the westernmost point of Jeju Island. It’s an excellent spot for a walk along the coast and for views from the observatory.
Sanbangsan and Yongmeori Coast
From Suweolbong, drive south following the coast and make your way to Sanbangsan and Yongmeori Coast. While it’s a short 30-minute drive, the views are spectacular along the way, so you’ll want to make frequent photo-taking stops.
Walk along the trail that begins in the Yongmeori Coast to see beautiful rock formations, views of the Sanbangsan mountain and the sea, and, if you’re coming from mid-March through April, vibrant yellow canola fields all around. It’s certainly the postcard-perfect Jeju scenery.
You can also walk up to the Sanbanggulsa grotto and take a break at one of the cafés at the foot of the mountain. A cruise around the geopark gives you amazing views of Songaksan Volcano and Marado Island. If you have some extra time or want a relaxing alternative to walking, dip into the Sanbangsan hot springs.
Head next to Cheonjeyeon waterfalls, one of Jeju Island’s most beautiful waterfalls.
(Note: Cheonjeyeon is inside the Jungmun Complex – see Google map above. There is also a Cheonjiyeon waterfall nearer to Jeongbang falls near the Seogwipo downtown.)
The Cheonjeyeon is a three-tier waterfall nestled within a forest. Its pools are some of the clearest and deepest blues you’ll see.
The forest around Cheonjeyeon is designated as a natural monument as it’s home to rare plant species.
You’ll also come across the Seonigmyo Bridge, which is also called Chilseonyeogyo or Seven Nymphs Bridge. Legend has it that seven fairies serving the Emperor of Heaven would descend from the heavens every night and bathe in the waterfall’s pond. You’ll see the seven nymphs carved on both sides of the bridge. On clear days, you can see all three falls from the bridge.
Jungmun Tourist Area
There’s a lot more to see around the Jungmun Tourist Area – like the Teddy Bear Museum, Pacific Land, and the Yeomiji Botanical Garden. You can consider these sights as rainy-day alternatives, or if you’re keen on visiting them, you can add an extra day to your stay.
Last spot for this packed road trip day – the Jusangjeolli cliff. It’s a short 3-km drive from the Jungmun Tourist Complex.
The hexagonal volcanic columns were formed from lava from the Hallasan mountain erupting into the Jungmun sea. During high tide, the waves crashing into the cliff makes for some pretty dramatic landscape pictures.
From Jusangjeolli, it’s a quick 20-minute drive back to Seogwipo. If you haven’t yet, treat yourself to a black pork BBQ dinner – my absolute favorite place is Jeju Hukdon Saesang Suragan (제주흑돈세상수라간 – click to navigate to on Waze) in Seogwipo, but Hayoung in the Jungmun Tourist Complex is great, too.
Day 3 – East Jeju
So far, we’ve seen the best of the west and south coasts. Now, we’re going eastward!
This is going to be a much longer drive (the first stop is about an hour’s drive from Seogwipo), and the last stop is much closer to Jeju City. For this day, I’d recommend that you plan to check out of your Seogwipo hotel in the morning and move to Jeju City at the end of the day. The destinations for days 4 and 5 are closer to Jeju City as well, so this is the perfect time to switch bases.
Start the day early and drive northeast to Seongsan Port. If you’re coming to Jeju in early May, you’ll see fields of late-blooming canola along the way. From the Seongsan Port, it’s a 15-minute ferry ride to Udo Island. You can then go around the island in a day by bike, on foot, or on a tour bus.
Udo is a perfect compact version of Jeju that’s a breeze to explore. In a day, you’ll get to explore white sand, black sand, and rocky beaches, scenic peaks and romantic lighthouses, and vast fields of flowers.
The Jeju Olle Trail 01-1 goes around Udo Island past all the key landmarks and is a great way to explore the island. The route covers 11.3 km and takes about 4-5 hours. You can find more information about the Olle trail here, and my full Udo itinerary here.
(Note: When I first made this road trip in 2016, they still allowed rental cars to be ferried from Jeju’s main island to Udo Island. However, they’ve since imposed restrictions and now only allow local cars and rental cars carrying passengers who fulfill these exceptions (with proof):
- someone born before 1954 (ID card)
- a pregnant woman (diagnosis paper of pregnancy)
- a disabled person using a wheelchair
- a child under 6 (Family Relation Certificate, Copy of Resident Registration, or medical insurance card)
- if you have accommodation in Udo booked in advance (booking confirmation)
You’ll need to bring documents to prove that you qualify for these exceptions. Please contact the Jeju Tourist Information Center for the most recent updates to these rules.)
Back on Jeju’s main island, make a short drive to Seongsan Ilchulbong.
The name literally translates to “sunrise castle hill” as Seongsan Ilchulbong’s location and elevation make it one of the best spots for watching sunrises and sunsets. It’s also a big deal in geological circles as its features as an archetypal tuff cone sheds light on the processes of hydromagmatic volcanoes.
If all that jargon is lost on you, though, let this suffice: the view at the top is absolutely breathtaking.
If you can, watch the sunset from the peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong.
If you’re not in a hurry to make it to Manjanggul Cave, driving 20 minutes north along the coast will bring you to Myeongjin Jeonbok. This is one of the best places on the island to eat abalone dishes.
If you managed to blitz through the island’s eastern sights and have time for one more, stop by Manjanggul Cave. It’s halfway between Seongsan Ilchulbong and Jeju City. The last admission is at 5 PM, though, so I really wouldn’t advise that you rush through the other sights. Going through the cave takes about an hour.
But if you manage to make it by sunrise to Seongsan Ilchulbong or decide to skip Udo Island, then you’ll have plenty of time for Manjanggul Cave.
If you think you’ve seen all the possible volcanic relics on the island, wait for it – Jeju’s got more for you. Manjanggul Cave is one of the finest lava tunnels in the world. Lava tunnels form when underground molten lava begins to slow and solidify, creating tunnel-like caves lined with various lava formations. Manjanggul houses the world’s tallest lava column as well as the “Stone Turtle” shaped like Jeju Island.
From Manjanggul Cave, it takes less than an hour’s drive west to Jeju City. Check in to your hotel and get ready for the second half of this road trip itinerary.
Day 4 – Hiking in Mt. Hallasan
After 3 full days of driving, it’s time for a change of pace. You’ve explored the coasts, now it’s time to get up close and personal with Mt. Hallasan.
Mt. Hallasan is South Korea’s tallest mountain with a height of 1,950 meters above sea level. It’s a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve important for its vibrant ecosystem as well as the 368 parasitic volcanoes around the main mountain. For us hobby hikers, it’s also relatively easy to hike with lots of well-maintained trails ranging from 1.3 km to 9.6 km in length.
You can find more information about the trails here but here are quick recommendations:
- The Seongpanak and Gwaneumsa trails go all the way to the top. If you can handle 18.4 km in a day, going up by Seongpanak (easier uphill) and down by Gwaneumsa (steeper but more picturesque) is one of the most recommended hikes in Hallasan.
- The 4.7-km Yeongsil trail is beautiful during autumn.
- The 3.7-km Eorimok trail is the best option if you want something easy but with rewarding views.
While the stunning views and the benefits of forest bathing make the hike all worthwhile, make sure to reward yourself with a treat once you’re back in Jeju City! Whether it’s relaxing in a jjimjilbang or wolfing down a bowl of noodles (check the map for recommendations), end the day with a dose of self-love.
Day 5 – Beach day
We’re saving the best for last!
You can’t leave Jeju without at least dipping your toes into the island’s white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. While days 1-3 had plenty of beach opportunities all over the island, now we’re heading to Jeju’s best beaches to chill and bum all day.
From Jeju City, head west towards the beaches of Hyeopjae and Geumneung. Look forward to a day of lounging, swimming, and walks on the beach. While you’re there, hop over to the nearby Hallim Park for a relaxing stroll. End the day with one last amazing Jeju sunset.
If you’re flying out on this day, make sure to plan for at least an hour’s drive back to Jeju City!
Going on a road trip is definitely the best way to see Jeju Island, but if you don’t plan to drive, don’t fret! There are many ways to explore Jeju and you’ll still be able to see the best of the island.
Using public transportation is certainly an option (read more about getting around the island here) but if you want to experience as much of Jeju as possible, I’d recommend joining day tours. You’ll still reap the benefits of an efficient means of going around without having to drive yourself – plus you’ll never have to worry about navigating and parking.
This tour is a wonderful opportunity to explore some of Jeju’s best UNESCO-listed sites. You can either go south, hike up Mt. Halla, and visit the Jusangjeolli cliff and Cheonjiyeon falls. Or take the east route, hike up Seongsan Sunrise Peak and visit the Manjanggul Cave and Woljeongri Beach. This tour includes entrance fees, lunch, and a hotel pick-up service, so you can simply relax and enjoy your Jeju experience!
Relax and enjoy a luxurious cruise across the emerald waters of Gimnyeong. This is a perfect trip for all ages, and you may even get a chance to see some dolphins in their natural habitat.
If you’re traveling with a group or want to customize your Jeju holiday, the best way to go is to book a customized private full-day tour. You’ll get to design your own tour schedule and get a fluent English-speaking guide and a van all for your group.
I peppered this 5-day itinerary with food and restaurant suggestions, but if you need a quick checklist of must-eat foods in Jeju, here it is!
At the top of my list is Jeju black pork. We had grilled black pork for dinner almost every night and it’s one of the biggest reasons I crave a holiday in Jeju every so often. The Jeju black pig is native to the island and the meat is prepared by smoking it over hay, giving the pork a distinct and delicious flavor. If you’re in Seogwipo, go to Jeju Hukdon Saesang Suragan; in Jeju City, to Neulbom Heukdwaeji; and in Jungmun, to Hayoung.
The next must-try is haemultang or seafood hot pot. A steaming stew of fresh shellfish, abalone, scallops, crabs, and octopus is exactly the kind of meal you’d want to have in an island destination. Nowhere else can you have it this fresh and cheap and with such a satisfying spice and heat – you’ll definitely leave with a warm and happy belly. Go to Samseonghyeol Haemultang in Jeju City.
Other special mentions are:
- abalone porridge – Myeongjin Jeonbok near the northeast coast is the best restaurant to have abalone in the island
- hweh (thinly sliced raw fish similar to Japanese sashimi) – plenty of great options along the Chilsimni Food Street in Seogwipo, Friendship Sashimi Restaurant in Jeju City, and seaside tents all over Jeju
- guksu – try the pork noodle soup at Ollae Guksu and Sisters Noodles in Jeju City
Flying – Jeju Island has its own international airport, with plenty of connections from Seoul and Busan as well. You can find the most convenient flights to Jeju here.
Ferry – You can also reach Jeju from the main island by ferry from various points. If you want to ferry to Jeju with a car, you’ll have to go by the car ferry from Busan (this journey takes 12 hours) or Wando (the direct ferries take 2 hours and 40 minutes). Check Jeju-Wando ferry schedules here.
From the airport to your hotel – From the international airport and the ferry terminal (both of which are in the northern coast of the island), downtown Jeju City is about a 20-minute drive, while Seogwipo City and the Jungmun Tourist District are both a bit over an hour’s drive.
If you’re not driving, you can ride the Jeju Airport Limousine 600 – it goes every 15 minutes from the airport to Jungmun resort and Seogwipo. You’ll find the bus stop in front of Gate 5 and you can pay using cash or a T-money card.
You can also book a private transfer from the airport to your hotel in Jeju City.
Renting a car – Jeju Island is best explored by car and this itinerary works best if you’re going to drive.
You’ll need to book your rental car online in advance. I also highly recommend getting an unlimited data eSim so you can use Waze to navigate the island. Using the GPS (especially if it’s Korean) can be a bit tricky, so an online GPS app like Waze is definitely handy during rush hour on the island (I do have a Korean GPS guide if you want a fallback!).
On arrival at the airport, look for the rental car counters near Gate 2 and present your booking confirmation and documents to the staff. They’ll then give you instructions on how to pick up your car – you’ll have to ride a shuttle bus to their car depot.
Here’s a complete guide to renting a car and driving in South Korea – make sure to read it for a smooth-sailing road trip adventure in Jeju!
Car charter with driver – If you don’t want to drive, a private car with a knowledgeable guide and driver is the next best thing! At least you won’t have to worry about navigating and parking.
Best places to stay in Jeju
For this 5-day itinerary, I’d recommend splitting your time up between Seogwipo (for the first 2 nights) and Jeju City (last 3 nights).
Seogwipo is an excellent base for exploring the western and southern coasts of Jeju Island. It’s got a pleasant rustic and slow-paced vibe, good restaurants and cafés, and it’s close to a lot of natural landscapes. Hotel Bridge Seogwipo and The Grand Sumorum are great hotel options.
Jeju City is best for exploring the northern parts and for shopping and cultural sightseeing. It’s also the best base to get around the island if you don’t plan to drive. Hotel Leo is a comfortable and convenient option.
Jungmun Tourist Area is a great base for a totally relaxing and laidback vacation. If you’re planning to take it slow and spend most of your time lounging in white sand beaches and strolling through lush forests, Jungmun is your base. You’ll also find the most luxurious resorts here – The Seaes Resort is the best example of that world-class hospitality.
Top tips for travel to Jeju
Languages spoken: Korean, a bit of English in tourist landmarks
- Hello – annyeonghaseyo / 안녕하세요
- Thank you – gomabseubnida / 고맙습니다
- Cheers! – geonbae! / 건배!
Money: Korean won (KRW 10,000 ~ USD 9 ~ EUR 8)
- Accommodations – A night’s stay in a luxurious resort (like The Seaes Resort) can cost from KRW 250,000 (USD 215) per night. A nice mid-range hotel in a central location (like Hotel Leo) can cost from KRW 80,000 per night (USD 70). You can also find budget hotels (like Gudeok Guesthouse), which costs about KRW 36,500 (USD 30) per night.
- Food – Large meals at the local restaurants cost about KRW 20,000-30,000 (USD 20-25) per dish. Servings are huge, though, so plan to share some of the dishes.
- Transportation – Driving for 5 days (including rental car and gas) can cost you KRW 350,000 to 470,000 (USD 300-400).
Tipping: Tipping is not expected in South Korea. This applies to cab drivers, local restaurants, as well as hotels.
Weather and best times to go: Jeju is a year-round destination and every season has its own charms.
Spring (from mid-March to April) is the ideal time to go if you’re looking for that postcard-perfect shot of Jeju – blue skies, mild weather, and fields of flowers will be abloom all over the island. These are busy months in Jeju, so make sure to book your hotels, cars, and tours early!
Summer (from July to August) is the hottest time in Jeju and is the ideal time to visit if you want to swim in the sea and lounge at the beach.
Autumn (from September to November) is absolutely gorgeous as the island’s forests transform to autumn’s blazing colors. It’s a great time to hike with generally mild weather and stunning landscapes.
Winter (from November to February) is a time for snowy hikes up Mt. Hallasan. You’ll have clear and dry days, fewer tourist crowds until December, and much better hotel rates than the rest of the year.
Staying connected: It’s really convenient to have an eSim with unlimited data while road tripping in Jeju. It will save you lots of hassle and disagreements with your car’s built-in (usually Korean) GPS.
Continue your adventures in South Korea and neighboring countries.
If you can’t get enough of Jeju’s subtropical charms, hop over to Busan. It’s the perfect mix of a seaside holiday and a city break with lots of sightseeing, shopping, and food-tripping opportunities. You can also take a side trip to Gyeongju, South Korea’s ancient capital.
Already daydreaming about your next beach vacation and can’t wait for the next summer season? Head south to the Philippines, where it’s always beach weather. Coron in Palawan will spoil you with its sugar-white beaches, deep blue lakes, colorful reefs, and historic wrecks.
Another hot destination for you: Penang. The island is a delicious mix of history, art, tropical landscapes, and – most exciting of all – food.
- More road trips in South Korea
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I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Jeju. It’s a really fantastic destination with lots to see, lots to do, and loads to eat! Hopefully, this guide helps you sort out your itinerary and makes you more excited for your upcoming trip.
Make sure to download the PDF guide and use it to plan and book your trip. If you need more information or need to clarify some details, get in touch, and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Thanks for reading and happy travels to South Korea!
First published – 14 January 2020
Last updated – 20 May 2022 – updated information on hotels and tours, added trip-planning information and tips