Where to stay in Jeju first time: Best areas

The best areas to stay on Jeju island for first-timers are Jeju City, Seogwipo, Seongsan, Aewol, Jungmun, and Yongmeori Coast. These are the most popular neighborhoods for tourists that offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.

In this post, I will help you to decide where to stay in Jeju for the first time, without a car, and in winter.

Known as Hawaii of Korea and Honeymoon Island, Jeju island is famous for its sub-tropical climate, white sand beaches, ocean cliff views, picturesque lava rock scenery, tranquil lush vegetation, Mt. Hallasan, and stunning waterfalls. Most of the villages of the island were destroyed during the Korean War but it’s restored today.

Jeju island can be divided into 5 zones including north, south, east, west, and center. Jeju City is the main city on the north side of the island. Seogwipo is the main city in the south side of the island.

Jeju City is the best place to stay in Jeju island for first-timers due to its close proximity to Jeju International Airport, island’s ferry terminal, and the bus terminal. Jeju city center also offers plenty of accommodations, attractions, shopping, dining, and nightlife options.

Seogwipo is the best place to stay in Jeju for nature lovers and to explore the south island including Seongsan Ilchulbong, Udo Island, Jungmun, and Yongmeori Coast.

South Korea is a safe destination for tourists with very low crime rates. Jeju Island is safe for travelers, even for a solo female, but as in any tourist city, you should alway practice common sense and be aware of surroundings.

Jeju island is a year-round destination with breathtaking natural beauty. Winter here is warmer than the rest of South Korea. You can see snow on the Hallasan Mountain, Camellia Hill in full bloom, mandarin picking, and many more. Jeju City and Seogwipo are big cities on the island and the best area to stay in Jeju in winter and all year around.

Getting around the island is easy by hiring a car, scooter,  bicycle, or using public transport. A bus service runs around the island and you can use T-Money Card (Seoul). Taxis can be expensive, and you should avoid them for long distances.

Jeju City and Seogwipo are the best places to stay in Jeju island without a car because they are two big cities on the island with plenty of things to do and see on foot and by buses. Jeju City is the most convenient location close to the island’s airport, port, and main bus station.

💖 Best Area for first-timers: Jeju City
💎 Best luxury hotel:Lotte City Hotel Jeju
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Ramada by Wyndham Jeju City Hall
💰 Best budget hotel:Elin Hotel

Best areas to stay in Jeju island for tourists

1. Jeju City (north), where to stay in Jeju for first-timers

Jeju City is the best area to stay in Jeju island for first-time travelers because it is the capital city and the transport hub of the island, home to the Jeju International Airport, bus terminal, and main ferry terminal. Jeju City offers plenty of accommodations, seafood restaurants, cafes, karaoke bars, and shops.

One of the major attractions is the Mt. Hallasan, South Korea’s highest holy mountain and   UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. There are many hiking trails in the Hallasan National Park but only Gwaneumsa and Seongpanak trails go up to its summit where you can find Baengnokdam Lake.

To the northeast of Hallasan Mountain, you will find Jeolmul Natural Recreation Forest, which has a man-made forest and a natural Japanese cedar forest called Jeolmul Oreum. Hike to the top of the Jeolmul Oreum that offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

You can also check out Jeju Loveland, an outdoor sculpture park based on sensuality and eroticism, opened 2004, created by graduate students from Hongik University. Take a look at the Mysterious Road, Halla Arboretum, and Sumokwon Theme Park nearby.

Jeju is famous for its white sandy, and turquoise, crystal clear waters beaches. Within a short drive from downtown Jeju, you can find numerous beaches. Iho Tewoo Beach is a paradise for leisure sports, known for its red and white horse shaped lighthouse. 

Hamdeok Beach is one of the top three beaches on Jeju island, with excellent facilities, private lodgings, and camping grounds. With its shallow water, it is safe for swimming, as well as collecting the shells and snorkeling.

If you head to the north of Jeju City, you will see Dragon Head Rock, also known as Yongduam.  It is an imposing basalt rock formation by strong winds and waves over thousands of years. There is a story about the dragon stealing jade from Mt. Hallasan was shot down, and fell down to the ocean, and the body became Yongduam Rock.

You can stroll along the Yongduam Coastal Walk along Olle Route 17 from Yongduam Rock to Dodubong Peak. The coast walk is a popular spot for couples.

In the Yongduam neighborhood you can see Yongyeon Pond, Yongyeon Bridge, and women divers, called Haenyeo. If you are lucky, you can spot a sea mermaid dive to catch seaweed, shellfish, and abalones. There are plenty of cafes, bars, and restaurants in the surroundings. 

If you are interested in the island’s history, take a look at Jeju National Museum, Jeju Museum of Art, Arario Museum Tapdong Cinema, and Jeju Folklore & Natural History Museum. 

Other cultural attractions are the Jeju Gwandeokjeong Pavilion and Gwaneumsa Buddhist Temple. Gwandeokjeong Pavilion is the oldest building on the island. Built in 1448 during the reign of King Sejong by Pastor Sin Suk-Cheong as a training ground for soldiers in the Joseon Dynasty.

There are plenty of shopping opportunities in downtown Jeju at Chilseong-ro traditional shopping mall, Jungang Underground Shopping Mall, Dongmun Street Market,Topdong Plaza, Sanjicheon Plaza, Black Pork Street, and Sanjicheon. You can shop at Jeju City Five-Day Market, with 1,000 stalls offering different goods, and only open on certain days of the month. 

Jeju Island is also well-known for its fresh local seafood and abalones. Myeongjin Jeonbok is one of the most popular abalone restaurants on Jeju island. Abalones are marine snails, traditionally caught by haenyeo female divers. Try seafood hotpot, grilled sea bream, abalone porridge, and raw abalone.

Being located only a short drive by car from Jeju International Airport, as well as the island’s port and cruise terminals, and the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal, Jeju city is the best place to stay in Jeju island without a car.

Jeju City offers a wide range of accommodation ranging from luxury 5-star hotels to budget guest houses. You will easily find a place that suits your budget. 

Best places to stay in Jeju City:

2. Seogwipo (south), where to stay in Jeju for nature lovers

Seogwipo is the main city on the south side of Jeju island, located directly south of Hallasan mountain, 30 km away from the Jeju capital city. With incredible natural landscapes, magnifician waterfalls, a beautiful rocky volcanic coastline, and bathing pools, Seogwipo is the best place to stay in Jeju for nature lovers.

Seogwipo is home to three famous waterfalls. Jeongbang Falls is a 23 m waterfall, located on a high cliff, and falls directly into the sea. There is an observatory at the top of the cliff. To the east of Jeongbang Fall lies Sojeongbang Waterfall.

The next waterfall in Seogwipo is Cheonjeyeon Waterfall, or The Pond of God that consists of three falls. In this area, you can find Cheongju Pavilion, and Seonimgyo Bridge with 7 nymphs carved on the side, and in Cheonjeyeon Valley.

The third waterfall is 22 m high and 12 m wide Cheonjiyeon Falls, also known as sky connected with land, which means it is where heaven meets earth. There is a beautiful Chilipiga Bridge, Cheonjiyeon River,  Dampalsu Tree, ticketing booth, and a souvenir shop.

Another must-see in Seogwipo is Seonnyeotang, a natural pool located on Jeju Island’s Hwangwoo Coast, located at the beginning of Olle trail #7. According to legend, fairies used to bathe here.

On the Jeju island’s Olle trail #7, you can visit the 20 m height Oedolgae Rock near the shores of Sammaebon. It is the filming spot of a Korean drama called Lady Dae Jang Geum. The best time to visit the rock is during sunset.

Olle trail #7 is one of the best hiking paths of the Jeju Olle Trail, which consists of more than 20 tracks. Translated as ‘a narrow walkway from the gate of the house to the main road’, Jeju Olle Trail was founded in 2007 by the Jeju Olle Foundation, connecting Jeju’s forests and beaches.

If you love history, take a look at Teddy Bear Museum to see all types of teddy bears, as well as Lee Joong-seop Art Museum & Culture Street, Alive Museum, Jeju Glass Castle, and O’Sulloc Tea Museum for tea lovers.

The Lee Jung-Seop Art Gallery displays work of Lee Jung Seop and other Korean painters. Lee Jung-seop is a famous Korean artist, living as a refugee in Seogwipo with his Japanese wife for a year during the Korean War. Seogwipo city converted his house into the Lee Jung Seop Memorial Hall, and renamed the street nearby into Jungseop-ro street.

You can shop at a traditional Korean market, Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market, grab traditional Korean food such as kimbap, tteokbokki and kimchi pancakes. 

Seogwipo Tourist Port is lined with palm trees and fishing boats. You can take a diving trip and boat trip from the port to the ocean to catch seafood and squid, or take a Seogwipo submarine tour at Seogwipo Munseom Island. You can grab a meal at the waterfront seafood restaurants and enjoy the sunset and views of Saeseom Island.

Being centrally located on the south of Jeju island, Seogwipo is one of the best areas to stay in Jeju island without a car. From here, you can easily reach top tourist attractions on the south bus bus including famous Seongsan Ilchulbong, Udo Island, and Yongmeori Coast

Seogwipo can be easily reached from Jeju City by Intercity buses departing from the intercity bus terminals. Seogwipo has a wide range of accommodations for all budget travelers.

Best places to stay in Jeju in Seogwipo:

3. Seongsan (east), sunrise on Seongsan Ilchulbong and Udo Island

Seongsan is the best place to stay in Jeju if you want to see the sunrise on the famous Seongsan Ilchulbong and take a day trip to Udo Island. Seongsan Ilchulbong and Udo Island are some of the main attractions on Jeju‘s east coast.

Seongsan Ilchulbong is a tuff cone crater, created by a volcanic eruption underneath the sea around thousands of years ago. Known as Sunrise Peak, Seongsan Ilchulbong is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is famous for its spectacular view during the sunrise.

You can climb to the top of the mountain. The slopes of Seongsan Ilchulbong are quite steep, and there are many rest stops and benches along the way. From its top, you can view Udo island and enjoy the stunning sunrise.

There are buses from City Old Bus Terminal, Jeju Airport, and Seogwipo to Seongsan Ilchulbong’s entrance. There is a fee to go in and free parking if you drive a car.

From Seingsan, take a trip to Manjanggul Cave, in Gimnyeong-ri. The cave is one of the finest lava tunnels in the world, created hundreds of thousands of years ago when volcano Geomunoreum erupted. Only 1 km open for the public to visit to see stalagmites, stalactites, stone pillars, bats, and trees. The ticket is  2000 won for children, and 4000 won for adults.

Visitors can take a boat trip from Seongsan Port to the nearby Udon island, a lava plateau 3.8km off the coast of Jeju Island. Cars are not allowed on Udon island except on some special occasions, you can easily get around by bus, scooters, and bicycles.

Udo was inhabited in the Joseon Dynasty, and until 1697 during King Sukjong, a horse ranch was built, and later became a popular spot for tourists.

On Udon island, you can visit numerous beaches such as Seobinbaeksa (Sanho Beach), a beautiful white shell beach, as well as Hagosudong Beach and Geommeolle Beach. There are also the Udo Botanical Garden, Mangru Lighthouse, Biyangdo Island, and Udobong Peak.

Another popular place to visit in Spring is the Seongsan Canola Flower Field. In Spring, you can see  canola flowers, cherry blossoms, plum blossoms, and camellia flowers.

If you head to the south of Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Cone, you will see Seopjikoji, a beautiful coastline established by volcanic activities. You can go horse riding, see the Candy house, lighthouse, amazing rugged coastline, and grab a drink at a cafe nearby. Seopjikoji is the filming location of several Korean dramas.

Within a short ride from Seopjikoji lies Hanwha Aqua Planet Jeju, an extensive aquarium, as well as Sinyang Beach, Jeju Glass House, Yumin Art Nouveau Collection Museum, and Honinji Pond.

Jeju Folk Village is one of the famous attractions on the island. You can learn Jeju island’s history, culture in this 19th century ancient village. You can view Joseon dynasty traditional houses, black pigs, and the Dolharubang statue.

Seongsan has numerous accommodations, you can choose to stay in a local pension or typical hotel for a couple of nightlife to see the sunrise on Seongsan Ilchulbong, and experience the countryside vibe.

Best places to stay in Jeju in Seongsan:

4. Aewol (northwest), best area to stay in Jeju for beaches

Aewol is the best place to stay in Jeju for a beach holiday because it is located only 1 hour from Jeju city, and it is home to numerous Jeju’s best beaches such as Hyeopjae Beach, Gwakji Beach, and Geumneung Beach.

Gwakji Beach is a white sandy beach with crystal clear blue calm waters, attracting many visitors, especially families for children. The beach has facilities such as sun loungers, umbrellas, free toilets, showers, and watersports. The Yongcheonsu Nocheontang, freshwater spring bath house, is located right at the beach.

Connecting Gwakji Beach with Aewol Cafe Street is the 1.2 km Handam Coastal Walk, part of the Jeju Olle Trail. The trail is located close to Handam Beach. The village of Aewol has plenty of stylish cafes and restaurants.

Another popular place to visit in the area is the Hallim Park. This park is located along the ocean, facing the Biyangdo Island. With 100 thousand square meters, the park is home to the Hyeopjaegul, Ssangyonggul, a botanic garden, and amusement park.

Head to the westernmost point of Jejudo Island to see a small oreum called Suwolbong peak. This is a ocean-facing natural formation is home Suwoljeong pavilion that offers stunning views of Chagwido island, Jukdo Island, and Songaksan Mountain. 

Other places of interest in the northwest of the island are the Arte Museum Jeju, the largest immersive art museum in Korea, as well as Gueomri stone salt, and Saebyeol Oreum in Bonseong-ri.

Aewol has lots of mid-range and budget-friendly accommodations. If you are couples and families looking for a beach holiday, Aewol is a place to book your stay.

Best places to stay in Aewol:

5. Jungmun (southwest), where to stay in Jeru for luxury

Jungmun, known as Jungmun Tourist Complex, is one of the best places to stay in Jeju for luxury because it  is considered the largest resort in South Korea with a good selection of luxury hotels with white sandy beaches, and charming natural landscape. Jungmun was designated an International Tour Site in 1971.

If you are a couple on a honeymoon, or families wanting a relaxing holiday, Jungmun is the best choice to book your stay. Apart from its brand hotels such as Shilla, Lotte, and Hyatt, there are beautiful beaches and numerous tourist attractions in the area.

Jungmun Saekdal Beach is a fine sandy beach, surrounded by cliffs. It is a popular place for swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, water skiing and parasailing.  There is a natural sea cave, Haesikgul Cave, on the right side of the beach, which is often used as a location for Korean films and dramas.

To the eastern Jungmun Tourist Complex lies the Daepo Jusangjeolli Cliff. Jusangjeolli are dark gray stone columns on the sea, created by the erosion of the lava from Hallasan Mountain into Jungmun’s ocean. 

Yakcheonsa Temple is easily reached from Jungmun by a short taxi ride. Yakcheonsa is a beautiful buddhist  temple dating back to the early Joseon Dynasty. There is a temple stay program at Yakcheonsa Temple along with Gwangmyeongsa and Cheonjesa temples, which is a unique opportunity to experience Korean Buddhism.

There are several museums to visit in Jungmun. The Alive Museum is located in Jungmun Tourism Complex, attracting children and adults to enjoy digital arts. There are also Teddy Beach Museum, Bonte Museum, and the Ripley’s ‘Believe It or Not’ Museum to visit.

In the complex of Jungmun Resort, you can find Pacific Land Dolphin Show, Chocolate Land  for chocolate lovers, the digital theme park Jeju Play K-pop for k-pop fans, as well as the Yeomiji Botanical Garden, one of the best botanical gardens in Asia.

Other places of interest nearby are the Cheonsang-yeon Falls, Cheonjeyeon Falls with its Seonim Bridge, Camellia Hill Botanical Garden, and the Jeju International Convention Center.

Jungmun is packed with luxurious 5-star hotels. Many hotels offer spacious rooms, with infinite pools,  fitness clubs, kid’s play rooms, saunas, even a golf course, and a casino. Don’t worry if you are on a budget, there are plenty of good quality 3-star and 4-star hotel options.

Best places to stay in Jungmun:

6. Yongmeori Coast, Dragon’s Head Cliff

Yongmeori Coast, also known as Dragon Head Cliff, due to its beach looks like a dragon with its head jumping into the ocean.

Located in the southwest of Jeju island, this rocky coastline with unique cliff formations is where Sanbangsan Mountain stretches into the sea, made of sandstone stacks over millions of years. 

There is the Hamel Castaway Memorial, built by the Netherlands Embassy, on the road down to the seashore. You will meet Haenyeo, women sea-divers selling raw seafood like sea cucumber, sea snails along the coast.

Nearby, you can visit Sanbangsan temples and grottos. Sanbanggulsa Temple, or Sanbang Cave Temple, is set on Mt. Sanbangsan. on the cliffside of Sanbangsan Mountain on the Island.

Other places of interest are the Hwasun Golden Sand Beach or Hwasun Beach Resort, Daejeonghyanggyo Confucian School, and the Marine Park.

Accommodation in Yongmeori Coast are most of 3-star and 4-star hotels and guest houses with all facilities that you will need for your stay such as free wifi, and free car parking.

Best places to stay in Yongmeori Coast:

Where should I stay in Jeju for the first time?

Jeju City is the best area to stay in Jeju island for first-time travelers because it is the most convenient location close to the island’s airport, port, and main bus station. Jeju City also offers plenty of accommodations for all budget travelers, as well as many restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops.

What are the best areas to stay in Jeju?

Jeju City, Seogwipo, Seongsan, Aewol, Jungmun, and Yongmeori Coast are the best areas to stay in Antalya because they are the most popular neighborhoods for tourists that offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.

Where to stay in Jeju without a car?

Jeju city is the best place to stay in Jeju island without a car because it is the transport hub of the island. Jeju city is home to Jeju International Airport, the island’s port, and Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal. You can easily get around the island by bus.

How many days should I stay in Jeju Island?

It’s recommended to stay at least 3-4 days in Jeju Island to fully explore its natural beauty, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities.

Is it better to stay in Jeju City or Seogwipo?

It ultimately depends on what you’re looking for in your trip to Jeju Island. Jeju City offers more city amenities while Seogwipo is closer to natural attractions.

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Overall, Jeju City is the best area to stay in Jeju island for first-timers due to its close proximity to top tourist attractions, as well as many choices of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. So there you have it, where to stay in Seoul for the first time, all you need to do now is to book your hotels, and get ready to go!

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