When we told people that we were going to South Korea for one leg of our RTW trip, almost everyone who was familiar with SK told us that we had to visit Jeju Island. They waxed poetic about the natural beauty of “honeymoon island” so we decided to check it out.
Jeju is a small tropical island off the tip of South Korea and with airfares under $100 USD and a flight time of about 1 hour from Seoul, it’s great for a long weekend or a short side-trip. We spent 3 nights on Jeju Island and I’m proud to say that we ate most of the dishes that the island is known for. I’ll get into that later.
In SK, Jeju is known as honeymoon island since it’s a great place to spend some sexy time with your special someone. Jeju is surrounded by clear blue waters so you can show off your beach body, there’s great hiking around the island and on Mt. Halla, and the waterfalls aren’t too shabby either. If I don’t sound too excited about the natural beauty of Jeju, it’s probably because I’ve seen better in Hawaii and some Caribbean islands. Jeju is still a lovely place to visit but I wouldn’t go there exclusively for the natural beauty.
I would, however, return for the awesome food. One of Jeju’s most famous food items is black pork which can be prepared any number of ways, but BBQing at your table is probably the most delicious way to eat it. They even leave some stubble on the pig skin so you know you’re getting the real deal. Nevermind that it’s a tad unappetizing to see dark black hairs sticking out of your dinner meat. There’s a tiny strip called Black Pork Street in the heart of Jeju City where you can get an excellent black pork meal. The black pig is native to the island and is prized for its delicious flavor. It’s hard to describe the flavor but you can definitely taste the difference between this pork and the common “pink” pork that is found everywhere else in the world. It’s a must try while on the island.
Any respectable island must also have the freshest seafood and Jeju does not disappoint. Some of the dishes that really stood out for us were the broiled mackerel, the raw fish noodle with greens, the hairtail fish stew and the grilled eel. These dishes were so fresh and delicious that I would make a special trip back to Jeju just to have them again. Jeju is also known for sea urchin and brown seaweed soup and sea urchin noodle soup. Both were very tasty but I still prefer my sea urchin raw.
More drool worthy Jeju Island pictures here.
Tips for Jeju Island:
– Book your flight with one of the regional airlines for the best fares. Jeju Air, Tway, JinAir are the big three.
– Get an International Driver’s Permit and rent a car. It’s a great way to see more of the island and allows greater flexibility. There are car rental kiosks in the airport. The cars also come with a big ass GPS that works like a charm.
– Eat hallabong! You can get it at any vendor along the side of the road or at the Dongmun Market. Prices vary depending on size and presentation.
Restaurant: Dongbok-ri Haenyeo-chon
Address: 1506 Dongbok-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju, Jeju-do, South Korea
Note: This is where we ate sashimi noodles and sea urchin noodle soup. This place is famous and usually quite busy, but we went at an odd time between lunch and dinner so we had no problem getting a table even though there were plenty of people there.