Predominantly the administrative and population capital of Jeju island, Jeju City is also likely the first and final stop for tourists, playing host to Jeju International Airport as well as the major domestic ferry terminal.
The city is fairly large yet compact, located on the north side of the island and sandwiched between Mt Halla and the coast.
Jeju City has a humid subtropical climate with very warm summers and cool winters. Warmest month is August with average temperature between 24.3 and 29.8°C, and coldest month is January (3.2 ~ 8.3°C). Precipitation is significant throughout the year, but is much wetter in summer. Highest rainfall is in August (262.5mm), with average 13,5 rainy days. Lowest rainfall is December (47.7mm). Best month for swimming is August, with average sea temperature of 26.1°C.
The city consists of the the old downtown (Jungangno 중앙로) to the east and the surrounding areas of Tapdong (답동, a port district north of Jungangno, also romanized as Topdong) and Yongdam (romanized differently on almost every sign: if it helps, there's nowhere else on Jeju with a similar name, the rock seems to be spelled Yongduam -- 영두암 -- and the surrounding suburb Yongdam -- 용담 -- on Naver). The inter city bus terminal lies just south of Jungangno.
Tucked slightly inland to the southwest lies Shin-Jeju: Jeju's new high-rise commercial quarter and where the modern Korean high-rise apartments reside. A humongous traffic intersection in Shin-Jeju acts as a western hub, feeding cars and buses across the entire west side of the island across one of three major highways: one coastal, one interior and the alpine 1100 meter road.
Finally, on the coast both north of Shin-Jeju and west of Jungangno lies Jeju International Airport.
Via Jeju International Airport. See the main Jeju page.
Inter-city buses, and the Airport Limousine (inter-city bus #600) travel frequently between Seogwipo on the south side of Jeju for 3000 won or as low as 1000 won from nearby rural townships. Intercity buses will terminate at the Bus Terminal, but all arriving via the west side of the island will pass by the stop outside Halla Medical Center.
Daily ferries go between Jeju and the mainland. See the main Jeju page.
Jeju City has an inner-city (shin-nae) bus system that is equally as effcient as it is poorly marked for tourists. Bus shelters have lists of stops in Korean only, but the stop names are mostly fairly non-descript and require you to have local knowledge or a map to make any sense out of them. Bus maps are not available from tourism centres, but English station lists can be obtained, the relevant information from which is reproduced below:
If this system was not frustrating enough as it is, you may have to transfer to go most places and the announcements tend to be quieter than on the mainland. Listen out for this when having to transfer between buses. Buses cost 1200 won.
Nothing in downtown Jeju is more than approximately 2 km from anywhere else so whilst not convenient, walking is quite feasible, and sometimes even faster. This includes the areas of Yongdam, Tapdong, Jungangno and the inter-city bus terminal.
Jobs are available as English teachers throughout the year in private institutes (hagwons). However, whilst public school jobs exist via the official EPIK programme , the reality on Jeju is that no more than a couple of positions open per year, as it is by far the most requested and lowest turnover region in the entire country, above both Seoul and Busan. See the main South Korea page.
Dongmun market, some utterly humongous traditional markets exist in Jungangno. As expected, they sell a lot of fish. If you like Sashimi, read-to-eat plates of raw fish with salad and sauce are sold here - KRW10,000-15,000.
Furthermore, modern, Western styled shopping can be found in the underground mall out on the main road.
Department stores such as Lotte and E-Mart exist in Shin-Jeju.
On the outskirts of Shin-Jeju, there is a 5-day market (제주민속오일시장) open every day that ends in 2 or 7 (2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd, 27th). As a very large market, it offers a variety of local products such as seafood, fruits, pastries, clothes, cooking ware, stone hareubang, artworks, etc. There are even places to buy food and eat it at the far end of the market. One can get there by taking the 702 inter-city bus from the Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal (제주 시외 버스터미널). Just tell the bus driver "oh-il-jang" and he will enter the price on the card reader for the destination. At this point, one should scan their charged bus pass (usually T-money card or object, or valid checking card) and wait for the green 'O' to appear with a simultaneous beep (should be less than 2000 won). Should a red 'X' appear, try your card again; it may have simply had trouble reading your card. If your card is short on money, there is a 7/11 across the street where you can recharge your card with the help of the cashier. Once on the bus, take your seat, and listen for the bus stop announcements to tell you when the 5-day market stop is. Request a stop by pressing the stop button nearest to your seat or by telling the bus driver (with a loud voice) should those buttons be unavailable. The ride should take no more than 10 minutes without traffic. Once off the bus, it is about a 5-10 minute walk. As another option, the city buses 36 and 37 go there, and are 1200 won (1150 won with card). It takes longer, but there is no need to talk to the driver. Follow the crowd or your map/GPS and you will get there in no time! Alternatively, from the bus terminal, a taxi ride is less than 10000 won. Once at the market take your time to enjoy the local goods.
Being a seaside town, there are many great seafood restaurants available, so just take your pick.
There are ready-to-eat raw fish plates with salad and sauce sold on Dongmun market.
Although not within actual Jeju City, Geumseong Village, just South of Gwakji Beach, West Coast, is administered by Jeju City. And there you'll find one of the most unique and friendly places to eat and drink on the island. The name is Le Pirate. They specialize in crepes and galettes with cider, and have a lovely restaurant space too. A hidden gem!
Opposite Hotel Impress there is a row of seafood restaurants. The one closest to the sea has very friendly staff and serves a great meal.
Try Hallasan Soju: the local brand of Korean firewater, soju. Expect to pay 3,000 won a bottle in a restaurant, KRW1,000 in a shop. Very strong.
Jjimjilbangs are fairly common across Jeju city. With all of them, expect to pay under KRW10,000 for sauna access, a locker in which to put your stuff, cotton pyjamas or a robe and a patch of heated floor to pass out on.
Hotel Impress - Great seaview with large comfy beds, a PC, TV and a couch. Bar upstairs. Large windows give it plenty of sunshine. KRW50,000 for sea view rooms, KRW40,000 for others.
CF's Motel - A nice, if slightly tacky motel near the seafront. Some rooms have round or heart-shaped beds (ask at the front desk). Some rooms have a small bath. KRW40,000 per room. KRW5,000 for rooms extra for rooms with a PC.
Seogwipo, a more upmarket and tourist oriented city on the south side of the island and home to the Jungmun Tourism Complex.
Alternately, use Jeju City as a base to explore the island's interior and attractions: