(Last updated on: 02/04/2020)
Looking for the perfect Jeju itinerary? Travelling to Jeju with kids? I have it all covered in this post!
Jeju Island, often referred to as the Hawaii of South Korea, is the country’s most popular honeymoon destination. Known for its kitschy museums, erotica and spectacular volcanic scenery, it perhaps isn’t the first place that comes to mind when travelling as a family. However, we thought Jeju with kids was brilliant! Here is our 5 day Jeju itinerary along with plenty of travel tips for those planning a trip to Jeju Island!
Why did we visit Jeju with kids?
You may not have heard of Jeju (I certainly hadn’t before moving to China), but it’s pretty well known in Asia. In fact, in 2017 there were a whopping 64,991 flights between South Korea’s capital, Seoul, and the island, and a total of 178 flights every day. Just south of the mainland of South Korea, Jeju was declared one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in a 2011 global poll. Jeju was the most visited Asian cruise port in 2016. So there you have it- whilst most Europeans have never heard of this beautiful volcanic island, the Asians most certainly have!
It didn’t take long after we moved to Hangzhou, China, to hear about Jeju Island. Many fellow expats quickly filled us in on their travel adventures, recommending that we visit this wonderful island on our travels. With a direct flight from we were lived and the prospect of spectacular scenery, plenty of things to do and a bit of well need R&R, it was a no-brainer. Jeju with kids would be our first travel adventure from China. This video by Expedia, pretty much sums up all of the reasons why we chose to visit Jeju…
Getting around Jeju with kids
Now that we travel as a family, we love hiring a car. Living in China we miss the freedom of being able to hop in the car and go anywhere we please, any time we like! So we were thrilled to see that Jeju Island was the perfect destination to explore by road.
Hiring a car in Jeju requires a little more paperwork than most places we’ve travelled. You must have a driving license and an international driving permit. You can get this easily in the Post Office if you’re from the UK, although you do need to be able to go in in person or have somebody who can go on your behalf.
Car hire is pretty reasonably priced and it is easy to drive in Jeju- the traffic is calm and the roads are quiet. I usually book all of my car hire through Europe Car, but on this occasion we selected a car hire company on arrival (which was much cheaper). However, in peak periods the cars may all be fully booked so it is worth booking ahead if you can.
You can also get around the island by bus or taxi. As we were travelling with a toddler and a baby, however, we wanted to have the flexibility to determine our own schedules. If you want to read some of our tips for hiring a car, you can take a look at this post- Tips for hiring a car abroad. And don’t forget to bring your travel car seat!
Where to stay in Jeju with kids
Jeju Island is really small. You can drive from north to south in about an hour and from east to west in about 3 hours. We found that there were lots of accommodation options on the west side of the island, but we actually wanted to see things all over the island, so we wanted to place ourselves a bit more centrally.
On our first and last nights we stayed close to the airport. We had a late and an early flight and didn’t want the hassle of driving in the dark in an unknown place. We stayed in the Shilla Stay Jeju, which was conveniently only 10 minutes from the airport. It was nice and clean and spacious with great breakfast- exactly what you want after a long flight and a great way to start and end our Jeju itinerary!
For the rest of our trip we stayed in an Airbnb. I love Airbnb’s when we travel as a family. It’s so much easier to have separate bedrooms and the self-catering options that come with staying in an Airbnb. In fact, I love Airbnb so much that I’ve written a whole post about it (it has a cheeky discount code for you to use too!). You can find this here- Why I love Airbnb.
I selected an Airbnb in the south of the island, this provided us with the perfect base for our Jeju itinerary, enabling us to travel to all of the areas that we wanted to visit without enduring too many hours in the car (essential with young children!). The furthest we travelled was a 45 minute drive.
However, if doing your own washing up and sweeping the floor after dinner (I have two kids-there is ALWAYS mess on the floor!) isn’t your thing, then there are also plenty of hotels on the island. You can use the search bar to see what’s available on your travel dates.
Our Jeju itinerary
We had five full days to explore Jeju Island with the kids, which was a great amount of time. Unfortunately though, we were hit by a typhoon on our arrival and there were torrential rains and hazardous driving conditions for the first couple of days. This meant that we didn’t manage to get everything done that we had hoped, so we could have done with a couple of extra days. Also, if you want to explore all of Jeju’s quirky museums then you might want to allow some extra time. For most people though, I think that 5 days is enough for the perfect Jeju itinerary.
Here are the things that we included in our 5 day Jeju itinerary, followed by some of the things that we wished we had had time for (maybe next time!).
1- Explore the many waterfalls
One of the reasons that Jeju with kids is such a great choice for family travel is because of all the natural attractions that there are to explore. We selected 2-3 things that we wanted to see each day and planned the order based on driving distance between each of the areas. This was really easy to do by car, but public transport would slow you down a bit. If you don’t have a car then you might want to consider booking a pre-organised or custom made tour, such as this one.
Luckily, the waterfalls are relatively close together. Whilst we chose to spread them out over two days (we didn’t want waterfall overload!), you could do them all in a day. The main waterfalls to visit are:
- Jeongbang Falls
- Cheonjeyeon Falls
- Cheonjiyeon Falls
- Sojeongbang Falls
All of the waterfalls are in close proximity to the Seogwipo area, which is conveniently where many tourists also choose to stay; making them very accessible.
Cheonjiyeon Waterfall is in a very central location, with lots of amenities (shops, restaurants etc) around it. This waterfall is nice, but I personally found it a little underwhelming. For me, it was a bit too touristy. The paths were well made and lined with shops and it was a very busy place. We spent around an hour here, but that was mainly because Isla was feeding the fish (there are some impressive Koi Carp here). If we visited sans children I think our visit would have been shorter.
Jeongbang Falls are close by, although we didn’t actually make it here (I blame the typhoon-waterfalls in torrential rain probably aren’t the best of ideas…). Jeongbang falls look impressive and include a bit of a climb to see them up close. I’ve read that you should allow about half an hour to visit.
Similarly, Sojeongbang Falls are supposed to be quite pretty and worth a quick visit. Only a few minutes drive from Jeongbang Falls, they are a popular tourist attraction. However, be warned that these Falls do get very busy in the peak summer season!
Cheonjeyeon Falls were my favourite. A short drive out of Seogwipo, this series of three large waterfalls felt much more natural and less touristy to me. Yes, there were some gift shops and fruit sellers in the car park, but the walk to the falls felt much more scenic and serene than Cheonjiyeon (yes, the names are so similar-it’s rather confusing).
You will need to allow longer to visit Cheonjeyeon Falls than the other two, because there are three waterfalls here. There is a short walk to reach each waterfall. There is also a temple, a large, picturesque bridge, and some fountains that you can go and see. We spent a couple of hours here in total. Isla loved looking for spiders whilst walking down to the falls and throwing coins into the fountain whilst making lots of wishes. Saya also loved taking in all of the sights and sounds from her Tula carrier.
2- Hike up Sunrise Peak
Sunrise Peak, or Seongsan Ilchulbong as it is officially named, is a must-see on any Jeju itinerary, kids or no kids!
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of Jeju Island’s most famous geographical features, and there is no question as to why. Set on the south east side of the island, this volcanic crater offers spectacular views of Jeju. Tourists can take the short hike up and enjoy the views from the top.
Whilst the climb might look challenging when you’re at the bottom, it really isn’t! It takes around half an hour to climb to the top and is doable for anyone with moderate fitness levels. I did it whilst carrying the children in tandem AND Isla was throwing herself around having a toddler tantrum (yep- the terrible twos were here in full force!). So if I can do it, anyone can!
3- Climb Mount Hallasan
Mount Hallasan is the highest point on Jeju Island, peaking at 6398ft. Whilst it’s no Mount Kilimanjaro (did I tell you I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro!?), if you’re into hiking then it should definitely be included on your Jeju itinerary.
Unfortunately, we didn’t feel that we were able to do the full Mount Hallasan hike in Jeju with kids. It is a full day of hiking (like 8-10 hours) and we didn’t think that Isla would be happy to be carried for that length of time.
So instead, we opted to take a shorter route, that still allowed us to get up high and hike in the clouds (this was a pretty cool experience for Isla- how many two year olds can say that they have walked through clouds?). There are five trails that you can choose from, only two of which summit Mount Hallasan.
We were really short on time so we opted for the shortest hike which took the Eoseungsaengak Trail. This trail took around 30 minutes to climb to the top, where you can see beautiful views of the island and the peak of Hallasan on a clear day (all we saw were clouds).
Whilst I was a bit disappointed not have been able to do the full hike, I know not doing the full day hiking was the right decision for the kids. At least this gives me an excuse to go back to Jeju another time!
If you’re interested in hiking Mount Hallasan you can do it independently or as part of an organised tour.
4- Explore the Manjanggul Lava Tubes
Whether you are travelling Jeju with kids or not, you will be amazed by the Manjanggul Cave! I know what you’re thinking- ‘ok, I’ve seen caves before, what makes this one so special?’. These were my exact thoughts. But I was pleasantly surprised and I would absolutely recommend a visit to the Manjanggul Lava Tubes as an additional to any Jeju itinerary!
You see, the Manjanggul Lava Cave is no ordinary cave! It is in fact one long tube that was created by lava. This is very different from other caves that I have visited on my travels. The shape, the rock formations and the sheer size were totally different from a normal cave.
We spent a couple of hours at the Manjanggul Cave, exploring the tunnel and splashing in the puddles. Tip- don’t forget to pack your umbrella, because it’s very wet inside! This was the first time I had ever needed to use an umbrella INSIDE…!
5- Relax at the beach
Jeju is known as the Hawaii of South Korea. Well, this did lead me to expect many beautiful beaches, which was not exactly what we found. Apparently there are many beautiful beaches, which I suspect are largely on the west side of the island, where we didn’t go. We did, however, have a couple of trips down to Pyoseon Beach, which was only a couple of minutes drive from our Airbnb.
Whilst there was no lounging in the sun drinking cocktails (did I mention that we were in a TYPHOON!?), it was nice to have some rest time, aka play time (rest time with two young children, what’s that!?), on the beach. The girls enjoyed playing and it was the first time I had let baby Saya loose in the sand, which is great for baby sensory and all that, but man did it take me a long time to get her cleaned up afterwards!
6- Get lost at in a maze
There honestly is no shortage of things to do in Jeju, even if it is raining! Whilst I had planned to go hiking or sit on a beach, these weren’t exactly the best activities during a typhoon. So we spent an afternoon at the Maze Park instead.
Ok, so the mazes are still outside. But as long as it’s not torrential, rain doesn’t take away from the fun too much. Maze Land is the main theme park to visit if you’re into mazes. Maze Land has the largest stone maze in the world and it has several mazes and maze-related activities.
We actually went to Maze Park, simply because we stumbled upon it on route one day. Maze Park has only one maze and a small play park. Oh, and it has lots of cats, and I mean lots. So many that it’s actually kind of creepy….
7- Hike the Olle trails
Did I mention that Jeju is a GREAT place to go if you enjoy hiking? The island’s well-known Olle Trails are a must for anyone who enjoys spending time in the scenic, fresh air.
There are a total of 26 routes, consisting of 21 main routes and five sub-routes. Each route differs in length and difficulty. This is great for people travelling Jeju with kids, elderly people or those with physical impairments, because it means that you do not have to commit to long hikes if you don’t want to. The duration of routes ranges from as little as an hour to as much as eight hours. The trails pass through various landscapes along the way, including small villages, beaches, farms and forests.
Isla loved going out walking on the island. She would search for crabs or bird watch and we would sing her favourite nursery rhymes as we walked.
If you are interested in hiking but are not sure where to start, there are some brilliant tours available that take you off-the beaten path. Tours range from epic 7 day hiking adventures to day tours.
8- Visit some of Jeju’s quirky museums
My husband and I typically avoid museums on our travels. We are not fans of reading scripts though glass and the kids definitely get bored unless there is some kind of game type activity. However, even we were intrigued by the array of unusual and quirky museums that Jeju Island has to offer!
Despite its small size, Jeju Island has almost 100 museums! Wow! Here is a list of some of the most popular museums:
- Chocolate Museum
- Hello Kitty Island
- Jeju Glass Castle
- Jeju Love Land
- Psyche World
- Teddy bear museum
- Maze Park
- Trick Art Museum
- World Automobile Museum
- Dak Paper Doll Museum
- PLAY KPOP!
- Alive Museum
- The Museum of Sex and Health
- Hallim Park
- Spirited Garden
- Jeju Folklore and Natural Museum
- Haenyeo Museum
- Jeju National Museum
- Jeju Folk Village
- Teseum Jeju
- Angel and Woodcutter Museum
9- Drive down the ‘mysterious road’
The mysterious road in Jeju is pretty cool, and we ended up here entirely by accident! It’s basically a road that appears to defy gravity. There is a start and a finish line and cars line up to take turn rolling UP the road!
I won’t pretend to know how it works, but it was very interesting to see all of these cars rolling up the hill with their hazard lights on. I took a short video of our experience so you can see what is was like.
If you have the opportunity, I would recommend that you include a drive down the mysterious road on your Jeju itinerary!
10- Search for crabs in the lava fields
Jeju with kids can be such great fun. Not because of the theme parks or the children meals in restaurants. Not because there are playgrounds everywhere or because the hotel rooms come with cots or baby baths. Jeju is great for kids because of the nature!
There is so much fun (and learning) to be had in Jeju. Isla loved looking for crabs on the Olle trails, feeding the fish at the waterfalls and running in and out of the waves on the beach (despite the rain!). Travel really can be the best education and it’s so great that she doesn’t ask for Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol, she is just totally and utterly engrossed and intrigued by the nature all around her.
As you can see, we had an action-packed Jeju itinerary! We spent five busy days on Jeju with kids and I feel like we could have easily stayed another 5 days, because there is so much to do! Whether you’re heading to Jeju on your honeymoon, on a group tour, a solo traveller or exploring Jeju with kids, there really is something for everyone!
If you have any questions about travelling in Jeju or about family travel in general, feel free to leave a comment or follow our travels on social media!
What’s on your Jeju itinerary? Leave your comments below!