When to Visit Jeju Island, South Korea

Dear GoMad Nomad,

My friends and I are planning to visit Jeju Island in South Korea in March 2012. But I forgot that it is the end of winter! Is it a bad time? My friends and I love beach hopping, so our main goal is to swim. Is this a bad time? We would also love to visit Mount Halla and see the flowers and plants. Will the winter “spoil” the scenery? Is it better to wait for summer (perhaps April)? Thank you very much and looking forward to your response.

-Jo

When to Visit Jeju Island, South Korea

Visiting Gimnyeong Beach on the northeast coast of Jeju Island in February.

 

Dear Jo,

I don’t think March is a bad time; however it’s less than ideal for swimming. Although tourists visit Jeju Island year-round, March is still a slower tourist season than the summer (when beachgoers flock to Jeju) and autumn (when newlywed usually visit). However, there are always advantages to visiting places in the off-season (think cheaper accommodation and fewer tourists).

It would take a very hardy soul (Jeju’s women divers, for example), or a wetsuit to swim in Jeju’s waters in March. It might be pleasant enough to sit on the beach. The average high temperature in March is 13°C (55°F).

I taught English on Jeju island in January and February of this year and it was quite cold, mostly due to the strong winds that batter the north side of the island. The southern shore is more protected from the cruel winds and rain.

I certainly wouldn’t say that the scenery is “spoiled” in winter. It is arguably more beautiful, with snow dusting Mt. Halla, creating a truly serene atmosphere. But it’s unlikely you’ll see plants and flowers. I climbed Mt. Halla in February and trudged through some deep snow to get to the top. Despite the fact that it was winter, there were still a lot of hikers, but it was, nevertheless, an unforgettable experience.

As a Korean friend of mine is very quick to point out, there is more to see in Jeju than Mt. Halla. Be sure to visit some of the oreum of Jeju. There are plenty of tourist traps and kitsch on the island, but Jeju is a legitimate cultural and geologic treasure of Korea. I also wouldn’t leave the island without checking out some of the best examples of lava tubes on earth.

See good deals on Jeju hotels now.

If you’re still curious to research more things to see and do on Jeju-do, read my “South Korea” archive on my personal travel blog: Bohemian Traveler.

 

 

 

-Stephen

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