Farmboy and I visited Jeju Island over the Chuseok holiday here in Korea (September 2014). This was our second trip to Jeju (click here for info on our first trip) and we enjoyed it just as much as the first time. The first time we travelled by public transport, waiting for buses and taking taxis, and this time we decided to hire a car and camp for the 3 nights we were there. We went with two friends which really brought the costs of the car hire down and it worked out to be incredibly cheap.
You may be thinking of heading there soon (or sometime in the future) so to help you plan your trip, I have put together a rough budget, as well as some tips from our stay.
Getting to Jeju Island
There are lots of airlines that fly to Jeju from a number of different cities in Korea. This can work out very reasonable if you book far enough in advance. It's a quick 45min flight and prices range from anywhere between W50 000 and W250 000 per person. Click here for flight bookings.
There are 4 ports from mainland Korea that you can take a ferry from to Jeju:
Click here for the ferry schedules for all of the ports.
We drove our car to Mokpo and left it at the ferry terminal parked in a side alley. You can also take the bus/train to Mokpo. We had a Korean coworker phone and book our tickets for us (+82-61-243-1927 for the Sea World Express Ferry). Our tickets cost W31 000 each way and we were booked into a large room, with about 25 other passengers.
I'm not sure why, but we were told we wouldn't be able to take our car with us on the ferry, I think something was lost in translation when our co-worker explained the reasoning that it was high season. But, we were able to very easily book a hired car on Jeju before our arrival.
Hiring a Car on Jeju Island
We hired a car through KT (Kimho) Car Hire which has branches all over Korea. Their website is in English and was super easy to navigate. For 4 days, including full coverage insurance, one of their smallest cars (a Kia RAY pictured above) cost us W200 000. Split that 4 ways and it was extremely cost effective. The rental car comes with an English GPS and a full tank of fuel. You need to return the car with a full tank again. We only had to fill the car up once, and we drove around the entire island during our 4 days. By registering on their website (for free) you automatically get up to 50% discount off your rental. Isn't that nice?!
The rental location is about a 10 minute drive from the Ferry Port (make sure to keep in mind traffic). We caught a taxi from the port to the office and were stuck in terrible traffic.
We camped at three different spots during our stay on Jeju. From the research I had done it seemed that you are able to camp anywhere in Korea, as long as you clean up after yourself when you leave. Obviously it's more comfortable if you camp somewhere with toilet facilities nearby, but often the designated camping grounds are really just a concrete parking lot filled to the brim with Korean families who like to set up camp right on top of one another.
Hyeopjae Beach (협재해변)
Our first night was spent on the beautiful Hyeopjae Beach on the west coast of Jeju. We had been warned that it can get pretty packed so we made sure to get there as early as could (our ferry arrived at 3pm and then it took us another hour to collect our car and be on our way. There are toilet, shower and washing up facilities, as well as a number of convenience stores selling snacks, beers and mosquito repellant. The beach itself was beautiful, white sand and blue waters. It was definitely one of the highlights of our stay.
Sunrise Peak (a flat field for the night)
For our second night we decided to find a place suitable that was close to the base of Sunrise Peak or Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (성산일출봉). We wanted to be close enough to the base so that we could make the walk up the mountain for sunrise. All the beaches we drove past looked rocky and pretty miserable, so we settled on a field in front of a bird conservation area in a small little village near the peak.
Our last night was spent on Udo Island. Udo is a small ferry ride from Jeju on the East coats (it took about 25 minutes) and we were able to take our car with us. You can hire scooters and bicycles when you land on Udo which makes getting around very easy.
Udo is famous for it's peanut ice-cream (we weren't particularly blown away by it) but it did make very pretty pictures. Also, this is where you can spot a lot of the lady divers who live on the island and dive unassisted (no snorkels or air tanks) to ridiculous depths in search of various sea treasures.
What to do on Jeju Island
There is so much to do on Jeju island, but if you only have a few days like we did, then here are some suggestions based on how we spent our time.
Have a coffee and a light meal meal at Maybe Seogwipo
Swim in the crystal clear rocks pools near Donoko Resort
Hike up Sunrise Peak at sunrise (or sunset!)
The following is a cost breakdown for 2 people (a couple) based on 4 people sharing costs equally. I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect if planning a 4 day trip to Jeju Island.
Have you been to Jeju Island before? Do you have any tips for places to stay or things to do? Please share in the comments below!