Despite being very mountainous, Jeju Island officially only has one mountain, Hallasan and it is the reason as to how the island first came to existence. It is the highest mountain in South Korea and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. You may probably be confused, but all the other mountains you see are actually called ‘Oreums’ (explained later). There are only two routes which will take you to the summit. One is harder (Seongpanak route), steeper, and takes a longer time to climb, but it is very scenic and the views you get are literally stunning. The other is easier (Gwaneumsa), less steep, and takes a shorter time to climb, but it is less scenic and not as beautiful. Luckily both routes meet at the summit so to get the best of both worlds, it is recommended to go up the harder route, and go back down via the easier route. Due to its length of time it takes to hike up and down (about half a day’s worth) you should start early in the morning as you may be turned away by guards after 10am…otherwise you’ll have to hike in pitch darkness! Who knows what lingers in the bushes at night…just sayin’ 😉
Royal Azaleas bloom every spring turning Hallasan a sea of purple flowers making it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Jeju Island. The infamous lake which sits on the crater appears after rainfall makes it a unique icon compared to other mountains in the world. The Hallasan Snow Festival takes place every year where the trees turn in to white crystals and the lake freezes over turning the mountain into a winter wonderland.
Oh and avoid hiking here in the summer unless you want a heat stroke ^_____^
As mentioned before, Hallasan is the only mountain in Jeju Island and the rest are so called ‘Oreums’. Firstly, what the hell is an ‘Oreum’? An Oreum is basically a small hill or slope which can be easily climbed and it is a parasite volcano formed by the eruption of Hallasan (there are about 368 Oreums).
Anyways facts and figures aside, despite Hallasan being the favourable option in cooler conditions, many Koreans enjoy Oreums in the summer as they are usually very easy to climb and the tall trees shelter you from the blistering heat.
Seongsan tuff cone – Also known as “Sunrise Peak”. Despite looking like a death hike up it really isn’t that bad. As the name suggests you can witness the beautiful sunrise from the sea if you get up early enough in the morning. At dusk you can witness the wonderous calm of the sun setting behind Hallasan.
Sanbangsan – Legend says that Sanbangsan used to be the peak of Hallasan before it was torn and tossed away by a huge grandmother (Seolmundae Halmang) so that she can sit comfortable on Hallasan. Well…whether you believe it or not, Sanbangsan is actually an oreum and although it looks beautiful, it is actually illegal to hike (there will even be a guard at the entrance to stop you). However to be honest, you’d rather take a picture with the mountain behind you right? Well, there are plenty of places to do that! (Olle Trail route 10 or climbing up a nearby mountain e.g. Dansan)
Abu Oreum: People and cows can be seen roaming around this oreum. It is known for its circle of pine trees positioned at the center of the crater and it is possible to walk down. This is a very easy peasy hike as it only has a gradual slope.
Yongnuni Oreum: Also known as the ‘Dragon Eye’ Oreum, the front side of the mountain provides picturesque landscapes, lush grass, and natural wild plants. Visitors come here as they feel it gives them a sense of healing.
See the last page for awesome Jeju trails, museums and food!