For anyone who wants to explore what Korea has to offer, a trip to Jeju island is an absolute must. And like any island, the rules of the mainland don’t always apply in Jeju. That’s why we’ve got a few tips to help you make the most of your Jeju trip without breaking the bank.
You HAVE to Visit the Night Market
Dongmun Market and Seogwipo Market both have night markets specializing in street food style snacks. Pair that with flashing lights and a penchant for spraying water on grease fires… it’s honestly amazing. Like most of Jeju, the night markets are best enjoyed with friends. If only so you can order a wider variety of dishes to try.
The night market starts at 6 PM and runs until 11 PM (depending on the season). Lines can get incredibly long for the more popular booths (grilled lobster with cheese being the worst offender). Most of the other lines have an ebb and a flow, so we recommend taking the dishes one at a time.
Buy your souvenirs at the traditional markets early
Throughout your travels on the island, you’re bound to run into tourist shops. They’ll have cute little tangerine hats, harubang statues, and the signature Jeju chocolates. You might even find them on “sale”. DO NOT BUY THEM.
There are two major traditional markets on Jeju island: Dongmun Market in the north and Seogwipo Olleh Maeil Market in the south. These markets are filled with shops selling almost everything on the island and at far cheaper prices. Our tip: visit a traditional market early and make your purchases then.
For haggling afficionados, most of the prices aren’t coming down. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get more for your money. If you’re spending any more than 30,000 KRW, you should be asking for “service” or freebies. We generally drop +50,000 KRW and end up with a few smaller boxes of chocolates for free.
The traditional markets open for business at 8 AM. And while many stores stay open into the night, quite a few will start to wind down around 5 PM. So if you’re looking to get the full experience, weekends around 4 PM are the best time to visit.
Restaurants and stores close early
Jeju isn’t Seoul. Restaurants will close up around 8 pm and entire villages can be lights out by 9 pm. Bars are open later, but any popular grills and seafood restaurants won’t to be taking in customers.
Make sure to grab some ramen and chips to sate those midnight munchies. Convenience stores on the island are still open 24 hrs a day which means cheap beer and snack food are available all night long.
Skip the Bus, Rent a Car
There is no rail system on the island and the bus system is glacial. That means ridiculously long wait times for buses if there’s even a bus stop nearby. And while we’ve lived in Korea for over 10 years, that didn’t stop local taxis from trying to scam us (and occasionally succeeding).
Renting a car requires an international license or a Korean license, but driving in Jeju is a dream. Jeju City can be congested, but I’ve never felt the freedom of the open road quite like I have here. Best of all, car rentals can be incredibly cheap. Like… 15 USD a day cheap. Even with gas, it’ll be cheaper than taking 50,000 KRW taxi rides across the island. If you’ve got a license, this tip is a no brainer.
I’d recommend KLOOK for cheap prices and definitely look for airport pick-up shuttles.
Roadside fruit stands are always a good idea
Depending on the season, you’ll see small shops on the side of the road selling assorted fruits from tangerines to strawberries. They are always worth the money. We were nervous to stop on our first few trips, but eventually we were too tempted not to try them. We have never been disappointed. If you’re even a little curious, stop at a fruit stand and drop 10,000 or 20,000 KRW for a bag of sweet and tangy happiness.
I will say that hallabong can be an acquired taste. They’re tangy, but not as sweet as normal tangerines or oranges. Locals love them, but tourists have mixed opinions.
That’s it! These are our tips to help you get the most out of your Jeju Island trip. And if you’re looking for any tips on where to eat, check out some of our favorite seafood spots on the island! Happy hunting!
Q: How can I travel to Jeju Island?
A: The airport in Jeju City is CJU. It’s a small airport, so direct flights from Europe or the US aren’t likely. You may have to land in Incheon (ICN) and then transfer ~40 minutes to Gimpo (GMP) to connect to Jeju.
Q: How can I travel in Jeju without a car?
A: Slowly if you’re traveling by bus. And at night, taxis are prone to overcharging or scamming passengers.
Q: How can I travel from Jeju City to Seogwipo?
A: Jeju City is located clear across the island from Seogwipo. There are intercity buses that travel between the cities, but a car or taxi would be faster.
Q: When is a good time to travel to Jeju Island?
A: Early summer around April or May is best. June through August is the rainy season and monsoons cause flight delays and cancellations every year. October and November are also nice, but well outside the summer season.
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