Seogwipo (서귀포) is a mistake. Unless your idea of a holiday in Jeju (제주) is to stay in a five-star luxury resort and romp around kinky sex dioramas. Because you had really come here to soak in Jeju’s natural beauty. And that makes Seogwipo a mistake because Jeju’s “upmarket” area also happens to be furthest away from Jeju’s most captivating sights.
For those not intending to drive, it will be more sensible to base yourself in Jeju-si (제주시), the island’s city centre just 4 km east of Jeju International Airport. From Jeju-si, two of Jeju’s highlights are less than an hour away. First up, the Manjanggul (만장굴) is an awe-inspiring 13.4 km-long cave (the world’s longest) carved up by molten volcanic lava thousands of years ago.
After your underground escapade, head further southeast until you see the ocean. Along the coast stands a juggernaut of an extinct volcanic crater – the Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산일출봉). It takes only 20 minutes to scale up the stairs to the best view in the whole of Jeju. And if you’re crazy enough (like me), give Hallasan (한라산) – Jeju’s highest peak at 1,950 metres – a holler! There are five hiking trails to choose from, in order of increasing difficulty: Seongpanak (성판악), Yeongsil (영실), Eorimok (어리목), Donnaeko (돈내고) and Gwaneum-sa (관음사). LS