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By: Julio Moreno (Entrance to Mt. Halla: FREE; To the Lava Tubes in Manjang Cave: $2 [2000 KWN])

From the top of Mt. Halla. This is the famous Crater Lake that forms every year from melting snow.

Simple “how to” [get there] quick walk though:

1) To Mt. Halla

Take a flight or from wherever to Jeju, Korea (important flight note below). From here, it is cheaper and more convenient to stay in Jeju City (which is on the north end of the island, near the airport). Take a cab from right outside the airport to wherever you’re staying (but the hotel recommended below is in a prime location). Most cabs offer free translation if you don’t speak Korean, or know enough English to get you to a hotel. The recommended hotel is walking distance to the bus stop of the bus that goes to Mt. Halla and is a $7 cab ride from the airport (google map below). If not, make sure to have a map, or take a cab to the intersection of Roads 1132 and 1131 (but anywhere along road 1131 near City hall will do). Look for the bus stop that says to “Seongpanak” as this is the name of the trail that reaches the top of Mt. Halla. While there are 5 total trails in Mt. Halla (Yeongsil, Eorimok, Donnaeko, Gwaneumsa, and Seongpanak), only the last two reach the summit which is the point of climbing Mt. Halla (a lesson I learned the hard way). When you’re done take the same bus back to Jeju City.

Note: YOU MUST START THIS HIKE EARLY!!! It is a 4.5 hr hike up and you must reach the 3/4 point before 1PM. Also you must leave the top by 2:30PM and these rules are STRICTLY ENFORCED.

Skeezy Tip#1: Make sure to stop by the information desk in the airport as they have TONS of information on Jeju, way too much to cover here. There will surely be stuff you might be interested in. Jeju, though “small” has enough to keep you occupied for a month.

Skeezy Tip #2: Get a map in the airport information booth. Actually get 2 or 3 maps…as you will need them and for the experienced traveler, you know maps rip easily!

Skeezy Tip #3: While you can get around in buses, time is often more precious than money, and if the difference isn’t much, why waste time. Cab fares can add up. An alternative is to rent a motor scooter (Vespa-like). Be warned MOST places require you to have an INTERNATIONAL LICENCE, but some will let you slide (wink wink): [more options if you ask the info booth in the airport]

Mr Lee’s Bike Shop: (Ask for Lee Sang Jin) [Scooters as low as $23 (25,000 KWN) a day]

Cell: 011-699-8562 Office: 064-758-5296, jejubike@gmail.com, http://www.jejubike.co.kr (while the site might not be in English, Mr. Lee speaks English pretty well.)

RESERVATIONS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

On the climb from the Yeongsil Trail. Although it doesn't reach the summit, it does have better views on the climb itself.

2) To the Lava Tubes in Manjang Cave:

Once you are settled in a hotel in Jeju city, you have to go along road 1132. Using a map or better yet, a phone with GPS would help if you are driving there by scooter or car. However if you want to take the public bus route, head to jeju city bus depot (near the recommended hotel below). Buses run constantly, but given most of these activities are nature based, the earlier the better. Here is a google maps showing A: The depot and B: The Lava Tubes.

Map of JEJU Island (Si means CITY in Korean)

Story: Jeju Island is a Volcanic Island which was formed primarily from the formation of the Halla Volcano in the center of the island. Mt. Halla last erupted over a millennium ago, in 1007 and is considered permanently dormant. The volcano was fed by fast moving lava tubes, underground networks of flowing magma. What is left of this incredibly well preserved phenomena are now Mt. Halla and the Geomunoreum Lava Tube Network (if you see the map above). Mount Halla has lots of flora and fauna, some indigenous to Jeju, and uniquely found only here. The summit is called the “Baekrokdam” which literally means “White Deer Lake”, a nod to the lake that forms on the top every year due to rainfall that attracts many wild white deer. The deer were visible on all of the hikes we did and was assured that sightings are rather common. Minks and Vipers are also found while hiking Mt. Halla, but they pose little threat to hikers.

The side of the Mt. Halla Crater, South Wall

Cool Eerie looking scene looking down the trail of the Yeongsil Course. Fog often covers the top of Hallasan.

Mid way Through the Manjang Lava Tube

Given the limited amount of land that there is in South Korea, Jeju is surprisingly very raw in its nature and a perfect getaway from the rustle bustle of every day Seoul. It is the perfect destination for nature lovers anywhere and is truly worth the trip out to Korea.

Beautiful but strange flower on Mt. Halla

Bees buzzing around this strange plant.

Logistics:

Airplane: Use eStarJet.com, Busan Air, Jeju Air or other cheap korean domestic alternatives.  While Korean Air and Asiana are the best known Korean Airlines, they are rarely the cheapest.

Lodging:

1) The Gold Motel (골드 모텔), $27 [30,000 KWN high season] Tel: (064)-723-8887, Cell: 010-4626-8881

It is recommended you make a reservation but given the lady who runs this cheap joint doesn’t speak a word of English, that might be hard. If you have a Korean friend, great! if not, just show up and if there are no vacancies, the area has TONS of cheap motels. This is also conveniently close to Mr. Lees Bike Shop.

Address: Seogwang-ro sageo-ri Bukjjokbanghyang 30M; In Korean: 서광로 사거리 북쪽방향 30M

2) Use either Hostelbookers or Hostelworld hostel search engines

3) Couchsurfing.org

Other things to do in the area:

1) Beaches (However this will be the main topic of Jeju part 2)

Sinyang Beach

2) Maze Museum: $2.50 [2500 KWN]

Jeju must have like 100 museums, most of which I am not that interested in. However the Maze museum (Miro Land in korean) is a maze made out of bushes just like the 4th Harry Potter movie. Its actually super fun, and walking distance from the Manjang Cave lava tube. Just walk north from the parking lot (on the only road) and you will see it.

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