[UPDATED 5 Oct 2019]
When someone mentions Jeju, images of its gorgeous beaches in summer and beautiful flowers in spring immediately comes to mind. But what if we tell you this Korean island is also a sight to behold in winter?
Yes, we’re totally not kidding! Known for its wonderful respite from the bustling city life, Jeju Island is breathtaking all-year-round ?
Credit: @neollene on Instagram
But in winter, the island embodies a certain charm and is a world away from home. Plus, with direct flights from KL with AirAsia, travelling to Jeju Island has never been easier.
So, if you’ve never thought of heading to Jeju Island for a winter holiday, here are 5 reasons why you need to make it your destination for your year-end vacation.
1. Non-peak season
Although there’s no distinction between high and low season in Jeju as it’s a popular destination all year round, the winter months (November to March) usually see fewer crowds. With so many other destinations filled with tourists, Jeju’s definitely a good break from the crowds back home.
Cheaper airfares and accommodation
Lesser crowds can only mean one thing – cheaper airfares and accommodation! Flight prices and accommodation generally tend to be cheaper in winter as compared to double the price during peak season.
Plus, with AirAsia’s promotion to Jeju Island, it will cost you ONLY RM349 to travel direct from Kuala Lumpur (from 6 Aug – 31 Dec 2018). Book your flights from now to 31 Aug 2018! [Sorry, this promo has ended]
Credit: @neollene on Instagram
P.S. If you’re worried about not getting enough sleep on your flight, book the AirAsia Award Winning Premium Flatbed for just RM899! [Sorry, this promo has ended]
#HHWT Tip: To save even more on flight tickets and hotel rooms, plan your trip on weekdays rather than Friday and the weekends.
Mild winter weather
While most cities in Korea are freezing towards the end of the year, Jeju island has milder winter weather as compared to mainland Korea. And this is all thanks to its coastal climate which makes it warmer than the rest of Korea during winter. You can expect temperatures to be around 5 to 7 degrees, and it rarely falls below 0 degrees ☺️
That means you can be outside most of the time and engage in outdoor activities – perfect for those of you who want to experience winter but can’t stand extreme temperatures. But having said that, the island does experience regular strong winds so it’s still wise to still bring thick clothing.
P.S. Wondering what you should do in Jeju this 2019? Check out these 10 exciting things to do!
2. Fully experience the outdoors during winter
If there’s a better time to be outdoors, it has to be winter. Yes, the weather can be chilly at times and Jeju is known for having strong winds, but that’s better than sweating it out in the humid weather back home, right?
Hike up snow-capped Hallasan
Did you know that Jeju is home to South Korea’s tallest mountain, Hallasan? In winter, the 1950-metre mountain is blanketed in a layer of snow and that makes the experience of climbing it magical ?
Credit: @chan.bang on Instagram
It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be hiking while marvelling at snow-covered trees. Once you’ve reached the summit, you’ll be greeted with this jaw-dropping view of Mt Halla’s frozen crater lake – definitely a reward after the arduous climb!
Credit: Hike Korea on Facebook
There are 5 hiking trails at Mt Halla but only 2 will take you to the summit - Seongpanak (9.7km) and Gwaneumsa (8.7km). While Seongpanak is longer, it’s also less steep and easier to climb. Plus, the start trail is better served by public transport.
#HHWT Tip: Do note that the park administration has a cut-off time for when you can start your climb as well as when you need to leave the summit. This is so that you won’t head back to base when night falls. Check out the Hallasan official website for more information and the opening times for the trails.
Seongpanak Trail starting point - 1865 516-ro, Jochon-eup, 조천읍 Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
Gwaneumsa Trail starting point - Sallokbuk-ro, Odeung-dong, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
Opening hours: 5.30am (Spring - Mar/Apr & Autumn - Sep/Oct), 5am (Summer - May to Aug), 6am (Winter - Nov to Feb)
Cut-off time to start: 12.30pm (Spring/Autumn), 1pm (Summer), 12pm (Winter)
Cut-off time to leave summit: 2pm (Spring/Autumn), 2.30pm (Summer), 1.30pm (Winter)
Go horse-riding through the snow
If you’ve always wanted to ride a horse but never felt convinced to do so, this will definitely win you over. Riding a horse while taking in the picturesque sights of snowy trees – who can say no to that? If you’re lucky, you might even get to ride the Hallama, a horse breed native to Jeju.
Although it’s usually seen as a summer activity, horse-riding in winter is an experience not to be missed and we can totally see why! There are different courses ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours so don’t worry, there’s something for everyone.
Address: 152-1 Nokgome-gil, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do, South Korea
Opening hours: 9am – 10pm
Price: KRW30,000 to KRW100,000
Go camping or glamping
Usually seen as a summer activity, now who says camping or glamping can’t be done in the cold? In Jeju, there are many camping sites or glamping resorts for travellers in winter, depending on your level of ruggedness. If you’ve always wanted to go camping but are turned off by the humidity back home, this is your perfect chance. Plus, in winter, camping sites are less crowded as compared to summertime ?
Don’t miss out on the chance to spend a romantic time under the stars or sit by the campfire. If you want to rough it out and prepare your own camping equipment, head over to Jocheon Gyulbit or Jeju Dolhareubang Camping Site. But if you want to be outdoors and still enjoy comfortable facilities, we recommend glamping spots like Aewol Ecohill or Jocheon Best Hill – both of which are highly rated.
P.S. If you’re afraid that you can’t take camping out in the cold, glamping would be perfect in autumn too. Imagine the backdrop of the gorgeous brown and yellow leaves as you enjoy the outdoors ?
3. Bask in Jeju’s pretty winter scenery
Take picture-perfect shots at Camellia Hill
In Jeju, every season is greeted with lovely flowers and in winter, Camellias take centre stage. These graceful petals flourish in winter and make for a picture-perfect backdrop. If you’re in Jeju between November and the beginning of March, Camellia Hill is a must-see attraction.
Credit: @neollene on Instagram
Don’t forget to plan your winter outfits and strike a pose with these gorgeous flowers. If you’re with your partner, better still! Camellias are known to be a romantic flower so this is definitely the place to take some memorable photos with your loved one ?
Camellia Hill is also a short drive away from WE Hotel which has a designated prayer space so you can conveniently head over once you’re done snapping photos. The prayer room is well equipped with prayer mats too!
Address: 166, Byeongak-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Opening hours: Sep-Nov, 8.30am – 5.30pm, Dec-Feb, 8.30am-5pm (last admission 1 hour before closing)
Price: KRW8,000 (Adult), KRW5,000 (Children)
Contact No: +82-64-792-0088
Hike up Seongsan Ilchulbong
No visit to Jeju is complete without visiting one of Jeju’s must-see destinations - Seongsan Ilchulbong or Seongsan Sunrise Peak. This crater was formed after an undersea volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. The best part about this stunning crater is that you can enjoy it any time of the year!
Admiring this natural wonder from below is not enough. To fully experience it, you have to hike up to its peak. Rest assured, the hike up only takes 20-30 minutes and there are proper stairs to help you up. And when you’ve made it all the way up, you’ll be treated to a truly remarkable view ?
#HHWT Tip: It might get a little chilly on the way up due to strong winds, so do bring along a scarf to keep you warm.
Address: 284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Opening hours: 7.30am – 6pm (in winter)
Price: KRW2,000 (Adult), KRW1,000 (Children)
Contact No: +82-64-710-7923
Take in breathtaking views at Seopjikoji
If there’s another spot you shouldn’t miss while in Jeju, it has to be Seopjikoji. This scenic cliff area has some of the best views of Jeju’s coastline plus some incredible volcanic formations.
Take a stroll along the cliff and listen to the sound of waves crashing – this is probably the best way to clear your mind. Seopjikoji is also known as a romantic spot for couples, so if you’re still deciding where to go with your partner for the year-end vacation, time to add Jeju to the list!
#HHWT Tip: Climb all the way up to the lighthouse to get the best view of the cliff.
Address: 107, Seopjikoji-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
4. Exciting experiences to enjoy during winter
Pick Jeju tangerines
Anyone who’s been to Jeju will tell you that their tangerines are one of the best! Sweet, sour and juicy, these tangerines are not to be missed. And if you’re in Jeju during autumn or winter, be sure to do some tangerine picking as that’s when rows of tangerine trees flourish with fruits ?
There are two types of yummy tangerines – gamgyul and hallabong. Gamgyul is smaller and resemble mandarin oranges while hallabong has a significant bump on top.
Both of them are popular in winter as that’s when they are sweet and juicy. Head over to one of the many citrus farms around the island and start picking your own tangerines.
Enjoy winter-themed activities at Jeju Winter Festival
Usually held from mid-December to January, the Jeju Winter Festival is the island’s way of welcoming the season. Whether you’re in Jeju with family, as a couple or on your own, everyone is welcome to join in the celebrations ?
You can expect many outdoor activities during the festival such as snow sledging, snow bumper cars and even chances to build snowmen. There’ll also be winter-themed installations around the city area plus lots of performances to grace the occasion.
Have a relaxing foot bath experience
If there’s anything new that you should try while in Jeju, it’s having a foot bath experience at Siwadream Foot Bath Cafe! This is the place to pamper yourselves especially after a few days of walking. We’re pretty sure you’ll be tired from all the walking on your trip.
Credit: @rosie_929 on Instagram
Soaking your feet in warm water is not only relaxing but also good for blood circulation. Plus, you can also experience traditional Korean body heating treatment and drink healthy fermented teas. Not to mention that this will be comforting after a long day outside in the cold ?
Address: 57 Jeoji 4-gil, Hangyeong-myeon, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
Opening hours: 9am – 10pm
Contact No: +82 64-773-0008
5. Take photos at Insta-worthy spots
Besides the magical winter scenery of Jeju, there are many other gorgeous attractions in Jeju where you’ll absolutely want to snap a photo for the ‘gram. From European-themed villages to art installations and wall murals, you’d want to dress up in your winter wear and snap photos at these spots!
Alice Into The Rabbit Hole Exhibition
As the weather's getting colder, you'd most likely won't mind going indoors for a bit to escape the cold. If you're looking for one place that's indoors and Instagrammable, head over to Alice Into The Rabbit Hole exhibition!
Credit: @uuyeon on Instagram
Love fairytales and all-things quirky? Then step into the world of Alice in Wonderland where you'd be able to follow Alice through her adventures to 23 different galleries.
Credit: @wonderland_tw on Instagram
Whether it's the rabbit hole, pool of tears or the mad tea party, you'll definitely have a whale of a time snapping photos as you relive your childhood.
#HHWT Tip: For a more hassle-free experience, get your tickets on Klook!
Address: 1878 Jungsanganseo-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo, Jeju-do (media hall of Soingook Theme Park)
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, daily (last admission is at 5:00pm), closed on Mondays of the second and fourth weeks of the month
Jeju Swiss Village
Stepping into the Swiss village in Wasan-ri, you’d definitely feel as though you’ve been transported to a village in Europe.
Credit: Akmar Kamal on Facebook
The village’s brightly painted houses mainly in red, yellow and orange, lined on a hilly street are perfect for a leisurely afternoon stroll. You’ll find a cluster of cafes and small artisanal shops here too. So, why not head into one of the many cafes here and just watch the world go by? The plus point is that the village doesn't see many tourists too, so it’s the best place to go to escape the crowds.
Credit: @lulutrip on Instagram
Besides the vibrant houses, the village also has some wall art depicting Swiss flowers!
#HHWT Tip: If you’d like to spend the night in “Switzerland”, the Jeju Swiss Village also has accommodations that you can book.
Address: 1345 Wasan-ri, Jochon-eup, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
Opening hours: Open 24h
Combining the best of landscape and architecture, the Bonte Museum has both traditional and contemporary works.
Credit: @yooneun84 on Instagram
The whole museum is designed by award-winning Tadao Ando and the space consists of 4 art galleries, and an outdoor sculpture garden where you can roam around and find nooks and crannies to take photos!
Credit: @from.seraphicday on Instagram
You can spot famous works by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama like the Infinity Mirrored Room and The Pumpkin. Once you step into the Infinity Mirrored Room, you’ll step into a dark room with dotted lights and a galaxy of lights which change their colours. Definitely an immersive experience if you ask us!
Note: The exhibits that are currently ongoing at Bonte Museum will be till 31 Dec 2020. Do check out their website for updates on their exhibitions.
Address: 380-5 Sangcheon-ri, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo, Jeju-do, South Korea
Opening hours: 10am-6pm daily
Admission fee: KRW20000 (Adult), KRW14000 (Teen), KRW12000 (Child/Senior)
Contact No: +82 64-792-8108
6. Indulge in Muslim-friendly authentic Korean food
Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not difficult to find halal food in Jeju, if you know where to find them. For one, the island’s tourism board has a list of Muslim-friendly eateries you can refer to. HHWT has also made a few trips to Jeju and you can check out the Muslim-friendly eateries we uncovered here.
Note: Although the eateries listed here are Muslim-friendly, do note that most eateries in Jeju serve alcohol, so please dine at your own discretion!
Sip on seafood stews to keep you warm
As Jeju is known for their fresh seafood, it’ll be a waste not to indulge in their seafood stews, especially when the weather is cold. The Abalone Stew at Uribong Sikdang is a must-try, with generous portions of abalone, crab, mussels, prawns and tofu. All these for just KRW15,000 ? The seafood broth is flavourful yet light on the palate. Trust us, one sip will instantly warm your heart!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re heading to Seongsan Ilchulbong, make sure you head over to Uribong Sikdang before or after your hike as it’s just a 5-minute walk away.
What’s great about Uribong Sikdang is that you can also do your prayers here. The prayer room is also equipped with prayer mats and even a Quran. In fact, most Muslim-friendly restaurants in Jeju have prayer rooms so you can conveniently perform your prayers after having your meal ?
P.S. Did you know that Jeju has more than 10 prayer spaces for Muslims? You can find more of them here.
Address: 157-1 Seongsan-ri, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo, Jeju-do, South Korea
Opening hours: 8am – 10pm daily
Contact No: +82 64-782-0032
Halal status: Muslim-friendly, seafood available, alcohol is served in establishment, prayer room in establishment
Savour halal shabu-shabu
One way to keep your body warm during winter is to keep your tummy full – and a halal shabu-shabu buffet at Cheonhaecheon is just what you need. This all-you-can-eat buffet (KRW34,000 per person) serves halal meat certified by the Jeju Islamic Cultural Center, with different cuts of halal beef.
Now who would’ve thought that you could enjoy some halal beef in Jeju? There’s also a wide range of seafood available, like abalone, crayfish, prawns and crabs so you can eat to your heart’s content.
#HHWT Tip: If you need to do your prayers after having that hearty meal, just inform the staff at Cheonhaecheon and they will bring you to the prayer room. They are prayer mats and the Quran here too.
Address: 25 Halladaehang-ro, Nohyeong-dong, Cheju, Jeju-do, South Korea
Opening hours: 11am – 11pm daily
Contact No: +82 64-742-1101
Halal status: Muslim-friendly, halal meat available, alcohol is served in establishment, prayer room in establishment
Munch on Muslim-friendly winter snacks
What’s a trip to Korea without eating their local street snacks? And Jeju is no different. In winter, there are two mouthwatering snacks which every Muslim traveller needs to try, and you can find them at any traditional market in Jeju.
The first one is Pulbbang – a type of fried bread typically filled with red bean paste or hallabong citrus. The interesting thing about this snack is that it comes in different shapes and sizes, according to the mould of a particular stall vendor – from fish to flower shapes ?
Credit: @queenskensington on Instagram
The next snack that’s perfect in winter is Hotteok – a flat fried dough pancake with sweet filling which is usually brown sugar and some nuts or even cinnamon. This yummy pancake is crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside, just the comfort food you need on a cold winter’s day ?
7. Have fun at family-friendly attractions
What's great about Jeju is that it's perfect if you're travelling with family too! Here are some exciting family-friendly attractions you can check out:
Teddy Bear Museum
One of Jeju's main tourist attractions, this unique museum first opened its doors in 2001, much to the delight of toy fans everywhere.
Credit: @yoon_ay92 on Instagram
Though it's not the only teddy bear museum in the world, not every museum has a GIGANTIC bear guarding the entrance!
Credit: @laumincen on Instagram
The moment you step into the museum, you'll see dozens of handcrafted teddy bears in various costumes, sizes and poses being displayed. Needless to say, the museum is ideal for the young and even the young at heart!
Address: 31, Jungmungwangwang-ro110beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Opening hours: 9am-7pm (last admission is an hour before closing time)
Admission fees: KRW10,000 (Adults), KRW9,000 (Teenagers), KRW8,000 (Child)
Jeju Maze Land
Here's another place that you'd enjoy with your family or kids - Jeju Maze Land!
Step into its 3 mazes for the perfect bonding activity! Did you know that the popular Korean variety show Running Man was also filmed here?
The 3 mazes here represent Jeju's "samda" culture which describes the 3 things abundant on Jeju island - rocks, wind and women. On our trip to Jeju last year, we tried the wind maze and the whinstone maze. It wasn't as clear-cut as we thought it'd be but it was really fun going through the corners of the maze to find our way out ? Fun fact: The whinstone maze is actually the world's longest stone maze, measuring 5.3 km.
#HHWT Tip: There's a lookout point in the middle of the 3 mazes so you can plan your route before stepping into the maze, or if you prefer getting lost, you could just go in and have fun?
Address:2134-47, Bijarim-ro, Gujwa-eup, Jeju, Jeju Island 63351, South Korea
Admission fees: KRW9000
Ecoland Theme Park
Even if you're not climbing Mt Halla in winter, here's your chance to experience the volcanic mountain's forested areas called "gotjawal". The whole area is covered with snow at the end of the year, making it a winter wonderland ?
Credit: Raymywaterman Chan on Facebook
One of the things you must do at Ecoland is to hop on a Baldwin train which resembles a British train in the 1800s. The ride will take you around the scenic nature of the park and with the snow blanketing the forest grounds, it'll be a magical experience!
Credit: Ace Tang on Facebook
What's more, you can also have as much fun playing with the snow and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones.
Address: 1278-169, Beonyeong-ro, Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Opening hours: 8.30am-5.30pm (Summer), 8.40am-4pm (Winter)
Adults (ages over 19) - KRW14,000
Youths (ages 13-18) - KRW13,200
Children (ages 25 months-12) - KRW10,000
We hope these 7 reasons have convinced you to plan your Jeju trip for the year-end vacation. With fewer crowds and cheaper airfares, plus a gorgeous winter backdrop, there’s no reason why Jeju shouldn’t be on your list! Not to mention the variety of winter activities and yummy local halal food that is waiting for you. So, wait no further – call your travel buddies and plan that Jeju adventure now!
P.S. AirAsia travels direct from Kuala Lumpur to Jeju. Book your trip now for JUST RM399 (RM899 for flatbed) for travel period between 6 Aug to 31 Dec 2018. Promotion ends 31 Aug 2018! [Sorry, this promo has ended]
This is article is brought to you by AirAsia.