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Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders

Did you know Jeju is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site? This article will explore the three locations central to this accreditation: Hallasan Mountain, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, and Geomun Oreum.

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UNESCO World Natural Heritage: Volcanic Island and Lava CavesWhere to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders

biosphere reserve, a World Natural Heritage site, and a Global Geopark. The three places that inspired the World Natural Heritage designation are Hallasan National Park, Geomun Oreum Volcanic Cone, and Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. These attractions are known for their natural beauty and geological importance, making them highlights of any Jeju trip. This article will explore what makes the locations unique and how to plan a trip to each one.

Seven Routes Around Korea’s Highest PeakHallasan National Park

Hallasan National Park is the designated area around Hallasan Mountain, the 1,950-meter tall peak that stands in the center of Jeju. UNESCO highlighted the area’s rock formations, columnar jointed cliffs, and Baengnokdam Crater as reasons for its inclusion on the World Natural Heritage list. But that’s not all that makes Hallasan special. The mountain is the tallest in Korea. It’s also covered in thick forest and is home to diverse animal and plant life: keep an eye out for roe deer that dash in front of you while hiking. The highlights of the national park for tourists are the trails that help you explore the area. There are seven routes around the mountain, including two that head to the summit. The Seongpanak trail is considered to be the easiest route to the top. It’s 9.6 kilometers long and takes around 4 hours 30 minutes each way. The path is well defined, which makes the climb easier than it would otherwise be. The Gwaneumsa trail is shorter but steeper, and it takes around 5 hours to reach the summit. A popular way to experience all the mountain has to offer is to climb via one route and descend via the other. Whichever route you take, once you reach the top and see the view out over the rest of the island, you’re sure to be happy that you made the trip. To avoid overcrowding on the trails, you must reserve a spot in advance if you plan to hike to the summit. You can book a date up to the last day of the month following the current date at the link below. If you’d rather not make a reservation, or you just want a shorter course and don’t mind not reaching the summit, then try one of the other trails. For example, the Eoseungsaengak path is 1.3 kilometers long and takes around 30-minutes to complete.


Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Dramatic Tuff Cone Rising From the SeaSeongsan Ilchulbong Peak


Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Jeju. It’s a vast tuff cone that rises out of the water on the island’s easternmost point. The rock sediment found in the dramatic cliffs makes them an exceptional location for understanding the type of volcanic activity that formed them. For those wanting to explore, the cliffs are also the only way to the peak’s summit. The good news is that steps go all the way to the top, making it a manageable journey. At 182 meters, the peak is relatively low—at least compared to Hallasan Mountain—and you can reach the top in around 20 to 30 minutes. The exact time it takes will depend on your fitness, how busy the trail is, and the amount of time you spend admiring the panoramic view of the island on the way up. The peak’s location on the east of Jeju makes it well-known as a spot to watch the sunrise over the sea. In fact, the name “Ilchulbong” translates to “Sunrise Peak.” There are plenty of hotels and guest houses in the surrounding area if you decide to get up early to watch the daybreak. 


Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Geologically Important Volcanic Cone Geomun Oreum Lava Tube System


Geomun Oreum is a beautiful volcanic hill on the east of the island. The hill made the UNESCO list due to its extensive underground lava tube system. But for visitors to the island, the beauty above land is more relevant. The hill is covered in thick gotjawal, a type of forest common on Jeju where trees and plants grow around the volcanic bedrock. The area is also home to diverse wildlife such as migratory birds and salamanders. Geomun Oreum is 456 meters above sea level. However, it’s just 112 meters to the summit from the entrance at the bottom. The volcanic hill is home to three hiking paths that take hikers around the area. The trails are well-maintained, with steps in steeper places. The trail to the summit is just 1.8 kilometers long and you get views out over the surrounding countryside. You can see Hallasan Mountain and the coast on clear days. While walking, keep an eye out for the remains of caves built by the Japanese military and the disused charcoal kilns used by past residents of the area. The area’s geological importance means a limited number of people can visit every day, so you must reserve a place in advance. You can make reservations for the following day or two days in advance if after 5 p.m. at the website listed below.


Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
One Kilometer Long Path Through a Lava TubeManjanggul Cave


Manjanggul Cave is the best place to see the island’s famous lava tubes. The tube itself is around 7.4 kilometers long, and visitors can traverse along around 1 kilometer of it. Walking down the cave, you’ll see many rock formations. Keep an eye out for stalactites, stalagmites, and a lava raft. The fully intact 7.6-meter high lava column at the end of the walk comes down from the cave ceiling and is the highlight of the course. The trip takes around 40 to 50 minutes. There’s a big car park making it an easy spot for tourists to visit. You don’t need to make a reservation in advance to enjoy the attraction.


Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
Where to Experience Jeju's UNESCO Accredited Natural Wonders
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※ The above information was written on 2021-05-07. Please confirm the information prior to your trip.
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