South Korea’s Jeju Island has become a hotspot for domestic tourists as well as travellers from around Asia.
Aside from checking out the famous Korean drama filming locations that draw fervent fans, take a walk on the less-trampled side of the island frequented by the island’s residents.
Lesser known than Yakchunsa Temple, Gwaneumsa is a special place to the local Buddhist population. Located one bus stop away from the Gwaneumsa Hiking Course that takes you to Hallasan mountain’s summit, this complex – built during the Tamra Dynasty Era (BC 476 – 1005 AD) – consists of a main shrine, a bell tower and a pavilion. Stroll the temple complex and surrounding forests, and look out for the Jeju Roe Deer, which is known to roam the area. Guests can choose to spend a night at the temple, during which they can take part in meditation sessions.
NEXT: Seogwipo Arts Center →
Situated at Namseong Village within walking distance of the popular Cheonjiyeon Waterfall and downtown area, this 8,481 sqm space is where you can catch free exhibitions and performances, which usually take place on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Its 802-seater main auditorium is the perfect spot for catching a chamber music concert featuring local talent.
NEXT: Take 5 Jazz Club →
As more Koreans from the mainland move to Jeju to escape the hectic urban lifestyle, they bring with them the city’s vibrant cultural and entertainment scene. Take 5 Jazz Club is an excellent recent addition to Jeju’s nightlife sphere, dishing out great live music performances, food and drinks.
NEXT: Rose Marine’s →
If you find yourself in Seogwipo City, grab a table for an evening of makkgeoli (rice liquor) and kimchi jeon (pancake) with friends at Rose Marine’s (Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Seogwipo City Male Middle Road 13, tel: 064 762 2808). Nestled between Saeyeongyo Bridge and the popular Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, this eclectic pub buzzes with a largely local crowd.
NEXT: Seogwipo Art and Flea Market →
Just downhill from the Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market is Lee Jung-Seop Street. At weekends, artisan vendors and local buskers fill the pedestrian-only road to make for a bustling shopping experience. If you’d like an authentic Jeju souvenir, stroll through the makeshift market to find everything from handcrafted leather-bound journals and jewellery to secondhand clothing.
NEXT: Saryeoni Forest Trail →
If you’re looking for an encounter with nature that’s less arduous than climbing Hallasan mountain, enjoy a walk through the 550m-long Saryeoni Forest Trail. It snakes through dense cedar forest, which is serene with its Japanese oak, birch and cypress trees, and imbued with a certain restorative quality. In early summer, it is blanketed with blushing pink rhododendrons.
NEXT: Sanbangsan Mountain Tansan Hot Springs →
Steaming on the southwestern side of the island, this rare carbon hot spring – the first public hot spring on Jeju – offers respite after a long day of hiking. Soaking in carbon hot springs is said to improve blood circulation, among other health benefits. Featuring a co-ed outdoor bath (clothing required,) an indoor sauna, a jjimjilbang and a restaurant, this facility has everything you need to for some re-charging, with a view of the mountains.
NEXT: Gwaneumsa Temple →
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