Here's Why Jeju Island Is The Perfect Holiday Destination To Experience Winter

Bye bye Malaysian heat, hello cooling holiday!

Cover image via Jeju Tourism Organization

Here are some things you need to know before visiting Jeju Island:

Image via Tenor

1. Where is Jeju Island?
Jeju Island (a.k.a Jeju-do) is a volcanic island located just off the south coast of Korea. It's about 455km from Seoul and is accessible by plane or ferry.

2. What makes it special?
Nicknamed 'Island of the Gods', Jeju Island is most known for its picturesque scenery, supply of high quality fresh seafood, and home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The charming little island is a popular holiday destination for both locals and tourists alike; it's especially popular as a top honeymoon destination for Korean newlyweds.

3. When is a good time to visit?
During winter which is approximately from December to March. While there isn't really an off-peak season for Jeju Island, the winter months usually have fewer crowds as well as cheaper travel and accommodation fares.

And you don't have to worry about it being too cold. Thanks to its mild coastal climate and constant circulation of warm currents throughout the island, Jeju-do is actually warmer than the rest of Korea. Even during winter, the weather generally remains mild and the temperature rarely drops below 0 degrees Celsius. But certain regions do see some snowfall and the island is known for being very windy throughout the year.

4. Anything else I should know?
Even if you're fluent in or have basic knowledge of the Korean language, you may find it difficult to communicate with Jeju-do natives as they speak their own dialect there. Even Koreans from other parts of Korea can have a difficult time understanding the Jeju dialect.

Here are some simple terms you should know:
- Honjeo obsseoye = Welcome
- Annyeong hasukkwa = Hello
- Jalipsseo = Goodbye
- Matjo sundagye = It’s delicious
- Gomabsuda = Thank you
- Igeo eoleumsseo = How much is this?
- Hosseol kkakajubsseo = Please give me a discount

For an amazing winter holiday in Jeju-do, add these things to your travel itinerary:

1. Go winter hiking at Hallasan

At a height of 1,950m above sea level, Hallasan is the highest mountain in Korea and one of Korea's three spirit mountains. It is listed as both a Natural Monument of Korea as well as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The young volcanic mountain is famed for the gorgeous view from its peak and is said to be especially beautiful during winter.

There are six hiking trails, each of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. Out of these, only two go all the way to the top: the Seongpanak Trail and the Gwaneumsa Trail. The shortest and most beginner friendly trails are the Yeongsil Trail and the Eorimok Trail.

Location: 2070-61, 1100-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

2. Ride a horse through a winter wonderland

Horse riding is usually considered a summer activity but in Jeju-do many actually prefer to go horse riding in winter when the weather is cooler. Also, it's a great way to take in even more of Jeju-do's gorgeous winter landscapes.

The Jeju Horse Riding Park is over 1 million square meters, making it the biggest horse riding park in Korea. Beginners can opt for the guided tracks while more experienced riders can choose to explore one of the island’s volcanic cones on horseback.

Location: 152-1, Nokgome-gil, Aewol-eup, Jeju City

3. Relax and unwind at trendy cafés facing the beach

Image via Alec Kim

The Monsant Café

If you're a K-pop fan you definitely need to go to The Monsant Café 'cause it's owned by Big Bang's leader, G-Dragon! Maybe you'll get to see him there if you're lucky ;)

Even if you're not a fan though, The Monsant Café  is still worth a visit for their coffee. Plus, the modern and stylish interior makes for great Instagram photos. But its best feature is definitely the wall of huge glass windows that guarantee a gorgeous view of the beach, especially during sunset.

Location:  56-1 Aewolbukseo-gil, Aewol-eup, Cheju, Jeju-do

Image via Visit Jeju

Hey Brother Café

The simple but modern Hey Brother Café is the perfect place to just kick back and relax. Head up to the rooftop to grab yourself seats with the best view. And don't forget to try one of their signature drinks: Lemonicano (Americano with lemon), Summer Latte (latte with Häagen-Dazs ice cream). Or you could opt for one of the 26 types of beer they have on offer. Pair it with a serving of their popular fish and chips or coconut shrimp.

Location: 72, Hyeongjehaean-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

Image via Visit Jeju

The Jjokkeullak Café

The Jjokkeullak Café gained popularity on Instagram thanks to their iconic colourful and layered lattes that are almost too pretty to drink. The green tea with latte and Jeju orange with latte are the most popular picks. Give their desserts a try too, there's a particular ooey-gooey chocolate brownie making its rounds on Instagram that looks absolutely divine!

Location: 21, Gimnyeong-ro 21-gil, Gimnyeong-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

4. Handpick special sweet and juicy Jeju tangerines

Jeju-do is famous for two varieties of sweet and delicious tangerines: gamgyul and hallabong. Gamgyul are smaller and similar to mandarin oranges while hallabong are larger and have a characteristic bump on the top. Both are winter favourites as that's when they're at their sweetest and juiciest. They're also said to be good for keeping colds away.

You'll see trees bearing these citrus fruits practically everywhere in Jeju-do but please do not randomly pluck them without permission as each tree usually has its own caretaker and/or owner. Instead, head to one of the many citrus farms around or to the Jeju Agriculture Ecology Park where you'll be able to pick and eat tangerines to your heart's content for a small fee.

Location: Jeju Agriculture Ecology Park, Jungsangandongno 7413, Namwon-eup, Seogwipo City

5. Check out some awe-inspiring natural wonders

Seongsan Ilchulbong

Seongsan Ilchulbong
is a tuff cone that was formed after a volcanic eruption caused it to rise up out of the sea over 100,000 years ago. At its peak is a huge crater surrounded by sharp rocks, making it look like a giant crown. This UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site is known for its magnificent view at sunrise, earning it the nickname 'Sunrise Peak'.

In winter you won't be able to see the signature bright yellow canola flowers surrounded by green grass but you'll get to enjoy the cooling weather and the sight of the brilliant blue ocean. And the misty and cloudy sunrise view you can only see during winter is said to be quite mystically beautiful.

Location: 284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

Image via Diveprice

Geomunoreum Lava Tube System

Created by volcanic activities between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago, the Geomunoreum Lava Tube System is yet another UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site on Jeju Island. The flow of lava along the coastal slope caused the formation of several lava caves, each with its own unique geographical features.

Only one, the Manjanggul Lava Tube is open to the public. It does get colder the further in you go, but the temperature remains warmer than the outside even during winter. Some even describe it as cosy so you don't have to worry about feeling too cold or too hot.

Location: 182, Manjanggul-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

6. Be one of the first to visit YG Town

Image via WiffleGif

Set to open in November 2017, YG Town will be a K-pop lover's paradise, especially if you're a YG bias. It will be part of the brand new Jeju Shinhwa World, one of South Korea’s largest integrated resorts.

The attractions of YG Town include trendy shops, an outdoor theatre, a space for DJ parties, performances and concerts, a bowling alley, and a café/lounge pub.

Not only is G-Dragon the official brand ambassador for Jeju Shinhwa World as a whole, he was actually personally involved in the developing the overall concept and design of YG Town's bowling alley and the café/lounge pub.

Location: 139 Sinhwayeoksa-ro 304 beon-gil, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

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