Top 6 activities on Korea’s tropical island
With easy to access dormant volcanoes, hearty seaside fare and a panoply of hiking trails that redefine contemporary notions of exploration, Jeju Island has much to offer the modern day adventurer seeking challenge, delight and cause to reflect.
Here is our list of recommended destinations and local food that deliver the essential Jeju-do experience.
1. Climb a volcano
Most people complete the steep 182-metre hike in about 25 minutes. Once at the top, grab a seat on the crater ridge, watch the sunrise and ponder the majesty of nature.
2. Walk Olle
Trail lengths vary between seven and 23 kilometres long, each offering an up-close connection with the land and people. Stroll farm roads trimmed by tangerine orchards, zigzag through narrow alleys passing humble homes with straw-thatched roofs and traverse rocky coastlines carved out of black lava rock.
3. Take the Halla Mountain challenge
Though not everyone might be equipped to challenge the 1950m summit via a 9km (five hours one-way) hike, there are less demanding trail options (ranging from 30 minutes to 3.5 hours) that deliver the Halla experience. Expect magnificent foliage, awe inspiring rock formations and hordes of fashionable hikers sporting the absolute latest in alpine gear.
4. Savour the simple fare
Local variations supplement the colour and taste with scrumptious specialties like squash or seaweed. Served with seasonal vegetables and a bowl of rice, it’s eaten for lunch or dinner but even makes a hearty breakfast.
5. Meet Buddha in a cave in Sagae
From the town centre, it’s a 2km walk to the base of Sanbang-san, an enormous rock formation jutting out of the earth, and another 150m up steep stairs that eventually lead to a cave housing a Buddha statue. Up top, fetch a drink from the pool of water, light a stick of incense and admire the view from this very special place.
6. Time travel at Seongup Folk Village
Weave your way through narrow lanes and peek inside restaurants and shops amidst plumes of smoke from wood burning stoves. If time permits, set aside an hour for dinner at Gwandangnae Sikdang, a tiny restaurant outside the main gate; cramped, crowded and convivial, it’s the ultimate rustic Jeju barbecued meat experience.
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