It is not uncommon for Koreans to refer to the island of Jeju as the “Hawaii of Korea,” and while the island makes for a nice getaway from Seoul, it is a far cry from islands of the central Pacific.
A short one hour flight from Seoul lands you in Jeju City, the capital and most populated city on the island. While friendly and relatively clean, it is also a terrible bore. Teeming with Chinese tourists, the only real attraction of Jeju City are the numerous nightclubs and room salons.
The southern coast of Jeju is where the real beauty of the island can be found and one of the best places to stay is the Hyatt Hotel. Located near Jungmun Beach (one of the better beaches on the island), the Hyatt provides for outstanding views and a more relaxing environment. Most families stay at the Lotte Hotel with its small amusement park and waterslides.
Nearby the Hyatt is the Teddy Bear Museum. One of the better museums on Jeju, it is replete with countless numbers of teddy bears dressed up as famous movie stars, politicians and sports figures. The gift shop is very good too.
Jeju is famous for Black Pig (heuk-doe-ji). The pork is smoked over burning hay which allows the smoke to penetrate the meat juices resulting in a flavor much different from regular pork.
One of the best ways to see Jeju is by renting a car – this will allow you to bounce between numerous museums and tourists sites like Halla Mountain or the many waterfalls.
One of the must-see sites on Jeju is the sex museum. If you can stand being approached by seedy-looking niteclub promoters at the front gate, you will find inside that the sex museum is both hilarious and fun.
If you are the adventurous type, you can explore some of the coastal villages along the eastern coast of Jeju Island. There you will find some fantastic seafood restaurants and pristine views uninterrupted by large crowds of tourists.
What makes Jeju Island so alluring is the ease with which a person can escape from the daily grind of Seoul to the solitude of a tranquil island. Casinos, good food, clean air and beaches, and above all, the friendly and relaxed people of Jeju Island who stand in stark contrast to their mainland counterparts.