Plan an Escape to the Hawaii of South Korea

by Michelle Li

Get away from the busy lifestyle that are the cities of South Korea, visiting Jeju Island is the perfect place to relax and take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city. Jeju Island is known as South Korea’s Hawaii because of this. As it’s a renowned tourist destination, there’s plenty of tourist attractions that you may be shocked to hear about! Even though we can’t visit Jeju Island in person, we thought we would give you a virtual tour of the beautiful Jeju Island 🌄

The very first thing to greet you at Jeju, will be the rock statues called 'dol hareubang.' 'Dol' means 'rock', and 'hareubang' is a Jeju dialect of 'halabuhji' meaning 'grandfather.' They are the symbol of protection and fertility. To protect the people when they leave and enter, these statues are often placed in front of gates to fight off demons. Jeju myth goes that if a pregnant women touches the nose of a dol hareubang, they'll have a baby boy! If anyone finds these statues particularly fasinating, there's even a Dol Hareubang Park in Bukchon, Jeju. If there are two things that dominate Jeju gift shops, it'll be crafts shaped like either the dol hareubang or Hallabong, the Jeju mandarins 🍊


Jeju Island’s countless tourist attractions mean there’s one for everyone whether you're more adventurous or prefer to just chill, this Island offers it all! For our adventurous ones, venture out to Korea’s highest mountain, Mount Hallassan. It’s a must-go destination for our hikers. Despite its high altitude, it’s actually quite easy to climb with many tourists making it to the peak and back down in a day. Once you reach the top, you’ll see a picturesque aerial view of Jeju Island. For those who want to see all the beautiful nature that Mount Hallasan has to offer but aren’t willing to hike up, don’t worry because there are plenty of trails less than 10km long. Here you will find over 6000 species of plants and animals as you wander through the seven different hiking trails 🐿️ 🌺 


Want something more peaceful? The waterfalls are a place that has spectacular views for the best place to chill out. Jeju Island has two waterfalls, Jeongbang Waterfall and Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls for you to have a chance to absorb the sounds of nature and just relax. If you are visiting the Cheonjeyeon Waterfall, don’t forget to enter the cave as here you will see the Seonim Bridge also named Chilseonhyeogyo (Seven Nymphs Bridge). These seven nymphs are carved into the bridge which symbolizes the Korean legend where seven nymphs descent from heaven at night to take a dip in the waterfall. 


Wondered how people of Jeju would have lived in the 19th century? There’s a place just for that, the Jeju Folk Village. There are people of Jeju who still live in these villages so they can give you a little bit of insight into the history of Jeju Island while you take a visit too. There are more than 100 traditional houses separated into four different villages here; mountain village, hill-country village, fishing village, and shamanism village, each showcasing different aspects of how these types of villages differed from one another 🛖 A perfect opportunity to take many photos that are unique to Jeju.  


And of course, we can’t forget about all the different museums that Jeju Island has to offer. From the Teddy Bear Museum, where handmade bears are made into versions of artworks like the Mona Lisa, to the Chocolate Museum or even an Optical Illusion Museum. There’s so much to see in Jeju Island that there will never be a dull moment.


For our foodies, Jeju Island is the place to go to for seafood! Once you're near the coastal locations of the island, you will probably see countless divers to help serve us the various kinds of seafood. Women learned to dive for all types of seafood like octopus, abalone, and squid when their husbands went away - hence why there are a lot of older ladies working as divers for a living in Jeju! You can still see the so-called “‘haenyeo”s (literally translated as “women of the sea”) at work in the sea wearing black swimsuits. Try Jeju’s seafood specialties like jeonbok (abalone), galchi (hairtail fish), or try a bit of everything with Jeju’s famous Haemultang (Seafood Hot Pot) 🍲 But here’s a tip. The places that ALL Koreans go for in Jeju for some good seafood are small and old restaurants right by the beach side. Must-eats are their instant noodles with fresh seafood thrown in, that they picked up from the sea JUST that morning!

There are also foods that can only be found in Jeju Island like (Heuk Dwaeji (Black Pork), known as the Wagyu of pork. It’s so popular that there’s an entire street dedicated to it, in downtown Jeju City named Heukdwaeji Geori (Black Pork Street) where all restaurants are lined up to serve the melt in your mouth Black Pork. The black pork barbeque always come with a sauce at Jeju, called Myeolchi Jeotgal (salted anchovies) - aka. ‘meljeot’ in Jeju dialect. If you haven’t had meljeot with your barbeque, you need to go back right now and try it again with it. A simple sauce takes the whole meal to the top level.

There’s so much more to see and do in Jeju Island, it’s worth visiting for a couple of days to get the most out of what the island has to offer. It’s a place to relax but also a destination that can satisfy all the adventurous ones. Hopefully, we can all visit Jeju Island and escape for a few days to re-charge soon 🔋! 

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