Five days in Jeju is enough time to see a good amount of the island and having a good Jeju itinerary is a great way to make sure you see as much as you can.
You can rent a car and really see a ton, but we opted to explore the island by bus, which is still incredibly easy to do and super affordable like most public transportation in Korea.
Jeju was our first stop on this whirlwind adventure after leaving our teaching jobs on the mainland of Korea.
It was a time to devour our favorite Korean treats, taste the last of any soju (thankfully) and practice speaking Korean one last time.
I thought five days was the perfect amount of time.
Jeju is big, but not that big.
It’s easy to get around thanks to the buses running throughout the day and it’s one of the easiest places in the country to navigate without any language skills needed, making it a great place to experience a bit of Korean culture without the barriers you’d come across on the mainland.
We spent five days there and they went a little something like this.
Getting to Jeju
We flew to Jeju from Gimpo airport, which is actually much closer to Seoul than the larger Incheon airport.
If you are arriving to Korea and going straight to Jeju, you can take a train or a taxi. If you aren’t in a huge rush, the train is the more affordable and easier option if you don’t speak any Korean.
Follow signs for the AREX train. The train itself takes you into the center of Seoul, but Gimpo airport is one of the stops.
If you are trying to connect and you need to get to the airport quickly, head for the taxi rank and tell them you want to go to Gimpo airport.
If you are already in Seoul and want to get yourself to Gimpo Airport, you can simply take the metro. Gimpo airport metro station is on both lines 5 and 9.
Several airlines fly between Gimpo and Jeju including Korean Air, Jeju Air, Asiana, and Jin Air. You can book directly through their websites, or check for the cheapest flights on Skyscanner.
Where to Stay in Jeju
We arrived in Jeju in the evening, just in time to watch the sunset over the sea.
We stayed in Jeju City for the entire five days we spent in Jeju. It was a small hostel and guesthouse that unfortunately no longer exists, but there are still tons of great inexpensive spots to book in Jeju City.
There is a bus from the Jeju airport straight into Jeju City and if you have Google maps, you can simply follow your location on the bus and get off when you are close to your hotel.
The reason I recommend staying in Jeju is that it’s the best-connected part of the island. If you don’t plan to rent a car, then this is where you’ll want to base yourself so that you can take buses to different areas throughout your Jeju itinerary.
For a gorgeous luxury experience, the Maison Glad Jeju is about as good as it gets on the island. It’s not on the beach, but you won’t even notice as you swim in the infinity pool, relax in your luxury room, or take in one of the spa treatments.
It is in such a peaceful location and the customer service here is beyond top-notch. Rooms start at $100 per night. Book a stay at the Maison Glad Jeju here.
For mid-range hotels, I recommend the Whistle Lark Hotel. For less than $60 per night, you can stay in what feels like a high-end hotel with views of the beach. There’s a huge pool, an indoor gym, and the rooms are clean and modern.
There’s a buffet breakfast that looks amazing and you can also opt to enjoy their dinner options there as well. Book a stay at Whistle Lark Hotel here.
For those on a budget, be sure to check out You & I Guesthouse. This was the second place on my list when I was planning my trip to Jeju and it’s the perfect place for backpackers traveling on a budget.
Beds at You&I Guesthouse start at less than $15 per night and you can get your own private room for about $30 a night, which is a great deal if you are traveling as a couple or pair. Book a stay at You & I Guesthouse Here.
Weather in Jeju
The weather in Jeju is not at all what I was expecting.
While we were living in Korea, everyone raved about Korea’s tropical paradise.
To me, tropical means it’s hot year-round.
That is not the case in Jeju. The weather really isn’t much different to that of Busan, to be completely honest.
It perhaps doesn’t get quite as cold during the winter, I was not wearing my bathing suit when I visited in April.
During the winter months, especially in December and January, the temperature is usually about 45 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celcius).
When we visited in April, we were wearing coats with a thin layer underneath them. It wasn’t quite cold enough for scarves and hats, but average temperatures during the day were about 62 degrees Fahrenheit (17 Celcius) and at night it dropped back into the 50’s (13-15 degrees Celcius).
The warmest months to visit Jeju are during the summer months. In July and August, the averages highs are around 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celcius).
Day 1 of the Jeju Itinerary
After a huge breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, yogurt and Brazilian coffee (which we proceeded to have every morning), our host drove us down the center of the island past Mt. Halla before turning East down Cherry Blossom Street.
I highly recommend, if you can organize it through your hotel or guesthouse, to get a driver for the day to really explore the far reaches of the island.
It was great to have this on our first day of exploring Jeju because we got to know the island better and our guide was very knowledgable as he was born and raised in Jeju. It was rapeseed flower season while we were there and the colorful yellow fields were everywhere.
If you are staying in a hostel, try to gather a few people who want to explore the island this way. It’s definitely more convenient and with a few people, more affordable than renting a car or traveling by bus.
We were about a week too late for the pretty pink cherry blossoms, but the road shortly turned into Rapeseed Lane, for which we were right on time. These tiny yellow petals were everywhere.
We stopped at Seopjikoji Beach and Seongsan-Ilchulbong, or Sunrise Peak.
We carried on along the coast heading north stopping at a few of the beaches along the way until we finally made it to Manjang cave.
Manjang Cave is the longest lava tube in Asia and is home to some pretty incredible structures.
The long lava tube ends with the largest gest ever discovered. A gest is a lava column and this one is 7 meters tall! It was pretty cool and definitely worth the long walk to the end.
They lit this one up in true Korean fashion – with neon lights.
Day 2 of the Jeju Itinerary – The West Coast
On our second day in Jeju we looked at our map of the island and chose a random point along the west coast that looked like it would have lots to see.
My only requirement was that we were next to the ocean. While I loved living in Korea in a small inland town near Seoul, I missed the beach so much.
This trip to Jeju was all about seeing the ocean and exploring the different beaches. Although, as I mentioned in the weather section above, this was not the tropical paradise I had been promised by all of my Korean friends.
That didn’t change the fact that it’s home to the most beautiful rugged coastline and there’s no better place to see it than along the west coast of the island.
We started by taking the bus to Hyeopjae Beach.
From here we got out and walked south past several small parks and a shrine.
We stopped for a while at the Wollyeong-ri cactus grove, which doesn’t really look like much at all from the outside.
But once we got inside I was so glad we stumbled upon it.
It was a stunning boardwalk that wound along the coast, monochromatic blues on one side and bright green cacti on the other.
After walking a little bit more along the stunning coastline, it started to rain, so we headed back to the bus stop. It’s worth noting that there are not actually many buses per day to and from this part of the island, so make sure you check the schedule before you leave the terminal in Jeju.
We hopped back on a bus to the city along this road and in the evening ate our body weight in fried chicken.
Day 3 Jeju Itinerary – South to Seogwipo
On day three, we went to the part of the island that we’d heard was full of natural beauty (although truly the whole island is stunning).
We hopped on bus 780 all the way to Seogwipo.
We asked the bus driver to let us know when we needed to get off for Jeongbang waterfall.
We weren’t traveling with a data plan at this point, so I couldn’t track where we were on Google Maps. I do recommend, especially if you don’t speak or read any Korean, to get a SIM card so that you can use Google Translate and Google Maps during your trip to Jeju.
Luckily it was only a short walk once we realized we’d gone too far. From there we visited nearby Sojeongbang and Cheonjiyeon waterfalls.
Then we continued on Olle 6 trail towards Oedolgae, a rock stack along the coast.
The Olle trails in Jeju are a really amazing network of paths that are kept up by the local government. Really it’s one long trail, but there are 20 numbered parts which in turn become their own sort of trails to follow for simpler day trips.
They are well sign-posted and take you around seriously stunning landscapes. Head to any of the tourist information centers in Jeju to pick up a map of the different Olle trails.
This part of the island was my favorite place that we visited on this whole trip. There are vendors selling fresh Jeju orange juice, stony cliffs with mossy green tops jutting out of electric blue seas.
The sound of the waves crashing against the shore carried across the whole park.
You can grab several different buses back, simply ask if it’s heading to Jeju City. Alternatively, you can retrace your steps to where you got dropped off and pick up the bus heading back in the other direction.
Day 4 – Loveland
It’s a completely unnecessary stop on a tour of Jeju, but Luke and I always had it on our list of must-sees.
It’s completely over the top, cringe-worthy, and naughty in so many ways.
We giggled, we took lots of photos, we watched other people’s reactions and giggled some more.
There are sculptures and mosaics, paintings and water features. There’s even a gift shop.
Buses don’t run that frequently down this road, so be sure to check the times for both directions so you’re not waiting for ages for the next one.
Day 5 Jeju Itinerary – Jungmun Village and Resort
On our last day in Jeju, we hopped on a bus to Jungmun Village.
Jungmun Village is really just a local resort, but we’d been told there were some beautiful waterfalls to check out.
The whole little resort-city is packed with snack stores, souvenir shops, different hotels and villas, and just an overall feel that you’re in a sort of bad version of Disney World.
But it was still pretty fun to check out.
We got off the bus just outside the entrance to Cheonjeyeon waterfall (not to be confused with Cheonjiyeon). We walked through the parking lot to the entrance of the waterfalls.
The crystal clear pool at the top of the stream drains into two dramatic falls. We walked on the wooden path that takes you past both. There are a lot of steps to climb, so wear comfy shoes.
The path goes on for a while and includes tons of natural beauty to see along the way in addition to the waterfall.
What Could We Have Done Better?
Five days felt like enough time, although we could definitely have filled another day or two if we had them.
There are so many parks, small towns, beaches and hikes to explore around the island. We didn’t even scratch the surface of the Olle trails.
If our budget allowed for it, I would have rented a car. Although the island is well connected, you have to time your day around when the buses run and you don’t just get to get on and off wherever you fancy.
If you’re looking to do the same, be sure to bring an international license.
I wish we had been in at least decent shape to climb Hallasan. We were both pretty upset to have left without reaching that famous peak we’d seen photos of all year.
If you want to climb Mt. Halla, check out Lauren and Ben’s Guide to hiking the mountain, bring plenty of warm layers, and be prepared for an 8-10 hour up and down hike.
I wish we had visited in the warmer months. Or at least done some research and learned that it’s not actually warm all year round.
April was rainy, overcast and cool. The positives? It meant there weren’t many tourists, we had a lot of places to ourselves or with very few people around.
But if you want to enjoy the beaches and climb Mt. Halla without a winter coat and wooly hat, then come in the summer.