Fancy a holiday where you’ll be able to hop from one gorgeous beach to the next, visit all kinds of quirky museums, and see stunning natural landscapes? South Korea’s “island of the gods” – Jeju Island – is the perfect destination for you.
Whether you’re staying for 3 days or a week in this beautiful subtropical paradise, you’ll never run out of things to do. But what most first-time visitors are surprised to find out is that Jeju is huge. Even with a rental car, you can’t go around the whole island in one day. This is why you need to make sure you know exactly where to stay in Jeju, depending on what you’re in the mood to see and do.
This quick and easy guide to Jeju’s best hotels and accommodations will help you decide where to stay. Whether you’re in the mood for an exciting road trip, tons of shopping and food crawls, or barefoot luxury, we’ve got the best of the island for you.
Where to stay in Jeju – a quick guide to finding your perfect place to stay
Here are quick recommendations to help you choose your base in Jeju.
- If you’re only staying for a night or two, stay in Jeju City. This is the main entry point to the island and a great place to do some shopping, historic sightseeing, and food-tripping. You can also see a lot of the island’s natural landscapes without having to drive all the way to the island’s southern area. You can visit several gorgeous beaches and go hiking, all in a couple of days. This is also an ideal base if you don’t plan to drive and plan to join day tours instead.
- If you’re staying for more than three nights, break up your stay. Stay one to two nights in Jeju City, then move south to Seogwipo City. This way, you’ll be able to explore more of the island without having to drive long distances each day, and you’ll get to reach more of the island’s beautiful landmarks. Seogwipo also has a more rustic and laidback vibe to it that island-lovers will certainly enjoy.
- If you’re looking for a really relaxing and laidback vacation, stay in the Jungmun Tourist Area. You’ll find most of the tourist attractions in this area, and you’ll be able to spend your vacation just lounging and relaxing by the beach. This is also ideal for big groups and holiday-goers who like to take it slow. Some hotels in this area can arrange for an airport/ferry pick-up and all-in tours, so you can spend all your time enjoying your vacation.
Map – essential landmarks in Jeju, South Korea
Use this Google map to plan your trip and get around in Jeju. Take note that Google maps won’t give you driving routes – you’ll have to use an alternative map like Naver or Waze (read more about driving in South Korea here).
Whether you’re coming to the island by air or sea, you’ll be passing by Jeju City, the island’s northern and main city. The city houses the island’s airport and main ferry which connects it to South Korea’s mainland. Fun fact: the Seoul-Jeju air route is the busiest in the world, with 76,460 flights traveled in 2018!
Jeju City is an excellent base if you love to shop and eat. You’ll also be near natural landscapes like Manjanggul Cave and Mount Hallasan.
If you plan to explore the island using public transportation, Jeju City is also a great base as you’ll always be within walking distance of a bus terminal. Just note that going from one end of the island to the other via bus can take hours, so make sure to factor that in when making your plans.
Best hotels in Jeju City
★Top Pick: Hotel Leo is one of Jeju’s best hotels and our top pick in the city. Give your holiday a great start with comfortable and spacious rooms, an art gallery and restaurant, plus a great central location. Stay here for 1-2 days and explore the city and surrounding attractions easily. Double rooms start at USD 80.
For larger groups, check out holiday rentals around Jeju City. Sky Tary is just a short drive from Jeju City center where you can enjoy spacious apartments and the sea right at your doorstep. Apartments start at USD 130.
If you’re on a budget, check out Mir Guesthouse. You’ll enjoy bright rooms and modern amenities, plus an observation deck and an in-house restaurant. Beds start at USD 20.
Quick tips for exploring Jeju City
What to see and do: Shop! If you’re driving, park at Lotte Duty Free Shop (Navigate: 64-747-0283). If you like hiking, check out the Jeju Olle trails. Get on and off the Jeju Golden Bus and make your way around the city. You can also visit Udo Island as a fun day trip.
Where to eat: When in Jeju, you have to eat seafood. Check out Haejin Hoetjip Seafood Restaurant (Navigate: 64-722-4584) and Myeongjin Jeonbok Abalone Restaurant (Navigate: 64-782-9944). If you’re in the mood for traditional noodle soup, head to Olrae Guksu (Navigate: 64-742-7355).
For that rustic island vibe, head to Seogwipo City.
This is Jeju Island’s second-largest city, right in the middle of the island’s beautiful natural landscapes. The Seogwipo city center is a great base to explore the southern area – from the volcanic cone or “oreum” of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak to the east to the gorgeous waterfalls and parks to the west.
If you’re arriving to Jeju Island on a morning flight or ferry, I suggest you go straight to Seogwipo. From Jeju City, this is about a 2-hour drive. Look into one of the recommended hotels in Seogwipo and use that as a base to explore the southern parts of Jeju.
Best hotels in Seogwipo
★Top Pick: Chason Hotel The Smile is a great place to stay in Seogwipo if you want a nice mix of city adventures, food tripping, and sightseeing. They have spacious, bright rooms and hotel amenities, and their location brings you close to Seogwipo’s cafes and restaurants. Twin rooms start at USD 50.
Quick tips for exploring Seogwipo City
What to see and do: You’ll be very near to most of Jeju Island’s tourist destinations. Be sure to hop over to the Jungmun Tourist Area to check out the waterfalls and the quirky museums. Allot one day to go to Udo Island and trek up the Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. Go on a yacht sightseeing tour.
Where to eat: Personally, I loved the food options in Seogwipo City a lot more than those in Jeju City. One of our favorites was a restaurant specializing in black pork meat, which happens to be Jeju’s specialty. Make sure to pay a visit to Jeju Hukdon Saesang Suragan (Navigate: 64-762-8588) for one of the best BBQ experiences in South Korea. Try also the abalone soup in Jeju Halmang Ttukbaegi Restaurant along the Chilsimni Food Street (Navigate: 64-733-9934). While you’re in Chilsimni, explore the other restaurants for more seafood options.
For a totally relaxing and leisurely stay in Jeju, stay within the Jungmun Tourist Area. You almost won’t need to go anywhere else during your stay here, as there are lots of attractions within the tourist complex.
You’ll also find the best, high-end resorts in this area providing the perfect getaway from the city. You can spend your holiday lounging at the beach and eating fresh seafood, or pamper yourself in the hotels’ in-house spas and wellness centers. You won’t need to drive yourself around either, as the hotels offer great tour packages.
All this luxury comes at a price, of course, so if you’d rather stay at a more affordable location, check the hotels in Seogwipo City downtown on the previous section. If you don’t mind occasionally splurging though – maybe you’re celebrating something special? – read on for Jeju’s best luxury hotels.
Best luxury hotels in Jeju – Jungmun Tourist Area
★Top Pick: The Seaes Resort will give you the most luxurious experience in Jeju Island. With beautiful rooms displaying the best of traditional Korean architecture and design and hotel grounds that harmoniously blend with the island’s natural landscapes, a couple of nights’ stay here is guaranteed to give you the best holiday. Double rooms start at USD 350.
The Shilla Jeju is also a great option. It’s a 10-minute walk from the beautiful Jungmun Beach and a short drive to the island’s southern sights and natural landscapes. Of course, The Shilla pampers you with gorgeous rooms and luxury amenities, so you’re definitely in for a treat, island-style. Double rooms start at USD 460.
Quick tips for exploring Jeju’s Jungmun Tourist Area
What to see and do: Make the most of your luxury accommodations! Then check out the Yeomiji Botanical Garden and the Cheonjeyeon Falls. Complete your stay with a luxury yacht sailing trip that will bring you to Jeju’s beautiful coastlines – you may even spot some dolphins!
Where to eat: Definitely try Jeju’s specialty, the black pork. For a BBQ with a view, check out Hayeong, a hilltop Korean restaurant serving great food and stunning views. (Navigation: 64-738-6011).
Tell us: What are you most excited about your trip to Jeju?
Top tips for your holiday in Jeju
Booking a hotel – If you’re staying only for 2-3 days, stay either in Jeju City or in the Jungmun Tourist Area. Both bases are great for exploring either the northern part of the city (Jeju City) or the southern parts (Jungmun Tourist Area).
If you’re staying for more than 3 days, though, you can break up your stay and spend half your stay in Jeju City, and the other half in Seogwipo. You’ll get to see more of the island without having to drive long distances each day.
Getting around – Driving with a rental car is the best way to get around Jeju Island. You’ll get to see more sights than if you used the buses that go around the island, plus the whole island makes for a pretty scenic road trip. Here’s my guide to driving in South Korea and here’s where you can reserve a rental car online in advance (highly recommended – book at least a month in advance).
Recommended day tours around Jeju Island – Another way you can get to Jeju’s best sights is by joining these day tours around the island. If you plan to explore the island this way, it’s best to choose a hotel in Jeju City as that’s where tour operators will pick you up from. Here are the tours that will give you the best experience in Jeju.
- Eastern Jeju – This tour will bring you to Seongeup Folk Village, the Manjang Cave, and the Seongsan Peak through the island’s beautiful scenery.
- Western Jeju – This brings you to Hallim Park, up Suweolbong, to Cheonjeyeon Waterfall, and to the Teddy Bear Museum.
- Southern Jeju – This rounds up Jeju’s top sights with a visit to the Mysterious Road, Mt. Halla, Jeongbang Falls, Jusangjeolli Cliff, and Yakcheon Temple.
Staying connected – It’s convenient to get a mobile Wi-Fi while in Jeju, especially if you want to plan on the go. This will help you stay connected with your travel buddies and let you navigate Jeju Island easily.
(If you’re entering South Korea via the airports in Seoul or Busan, here’s where you can get your mobile Wi-Fi instead.)
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I hope this quick and handy guide helps you choose where to stay in Jeju! Get ready for a fun little holiday filled with breathtaking natural landscapes, quirky attractions, and lots of sun and sand.
If you have any questions about your trip to Jeju, get in touch, and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Happy travels to South Korea!
First published – 23 May 2017
Last updated – 29 July 2019 – updated information on hotels and sights, added travel-planning tips