Hiking is a great way to introduce your children to the realities of the world. It allows you to develop their survival skills, physical fitness, and environmental awareness. At the same time, you get to teach your children the value of other cultures and how to embrace diversity.

Hiking trips to culture-rich regions such as Asia can expand your kids’ perception. They can also develop a wider world view than most adults. Hiking with your kids in Asia is more than a family vacation. It is an investment in the future.

This article highlights everything you need to know about hiking with your kids to Jeju in South Korea. It takes you on a step-by-step journey beginning with the various ways to get in and out of Jeju. It also touches on Jeju’s main attractions with special attention to the history and culture of the region. The article will also feature some of the most popular hiking trails in Jeju.

Since this article is designed to help parents who are hiking with their kids, all the advice and guidelines here are family-friendly. The hiking trails are easy and safe yet exciting enough to keep both you and your kids entertained. The cultural and historical attractions are also kid-friendly and bound to capture their interests.

Introduction To Jeju

Located 449 Km south of Seoul, South Korea, Jeju City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Korea. The air route between Jeju International Airport and Gimpo International Airport in Seoul topped the charts in 2017 and 2018 as the busiest air route in the world. This air route transported a record of 13,460,306 passengers in 2017 and 14,107,414 passengers in 2018. 

The interesting fact is that the total population of Jeju Island is only about 692,032 people according to the 2018 records. Jeju City is home to only 501,791 people. In effect, tourism is the main contributor to Jeju’s economy. Despite all the attention it draws, Jeju Island is only about 41 km wide and 73 km long. A seasoned hiker can cross the Island in less than two days.

The island’s administrative centre is Jeju City. It is the technological and transport hub of the island. It was built around the island’s largest seaport and is Jeju’s main gateway to the world. Jeju city has an advanced road network that connects all the major parts of the island by bus. It also has world-class hotels and facilities.

This has made Jeju City eligible to host a wide variety of international conferences and events including some of the 2002 FIFA World cup games. In 2009, Jeju City was selected to be the Test-bed for South Korea’s new smart grid. This was a major step to make the country more energy-efficient and reduce carbon emissions. 

Captivating History

Jeju is a modest island with a rich history. Jeju Island is believed to have been formed about 2 million years ago when volcanic activity launched the Hallasan Mountain from the sea. As such, the whole island is considered to be part of the mountain.

In addition, as an isolated community, the people of Jeju developed a unique culture and language that is distinctly different from the Korean. Unlike the mainland, Jeju has a primarily matriarchal family structure where the women controlled the family income.

Jeju Island was previously known as Tamna. Legend has it that the Jeju people came to being when three demi-gods came up from Samseong on the slopes of Mount Halla. These demigods, Ryang eul na, GO eul na and Samsog hyeol, became the progenitors of all Jeju people.

As the Jeju legend goes, one day a box came floating to them on the North Sea. The box was from Japan and contained three things of immense value to the demigods. The first were three beautiful princesses, the second was farm animals and the third was five crops. The demi-gods married the princesses and began rearing the animals as well as cultivating the crops. This was the beginning of the Jeju society.

Olle Trail 1

Unique Attractions Your Kids Can Enjoy in Jeju

Jeju Island is a touristic gem with a perfect blend of modern technology and pristine natural features. Its natural features include mountains, valleys, forests, waterfalls, botanical gardens, and amazing volcanic lava tubes. It is also full of several hiking trails that your kids can enjoy.

In 2007, Jeju Island was classified as Korea’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. This classification was granted based on the existence of three unique features that caught the world’s attention. These were Jeju’s extensive network of lava tubes, numerous small volcanic hills or oreum and a wide variety of endangered plant and animal species.

Jeju Island was also voted in as one of the New 7 wonders of the modern world in 2011. This article features some of the main attractions you can enjoy with your kids while hiking in Jeju.

Hallasan (Image by Visit Korea)

1.   Mount Hallasan

Jeju Island is home to South Korea’s highest mountain, Mount Halla or Hallasan. Its peak stands at 1,950 metres above sea level. The origin of Jeju Island is mainly attributed to the series of volcanic eruptions that culminated in the formation of Mount Halla. The mountain also has about 360 satellite peaks formed by violent subsequent volcanic eruptions. Yet, Mount Hallasan is considered to be safe since it has not had any eruptive activity for about 5,000 years.

Mount Hallasan has five hiking trails to choose from. The shortest is a 3.7 Km route known as the Yeongsil Trail and the longest is the 9.6 Km long Seongpanak Trail. You can choose one of the five trails based on your kid’s ages and hiking abilities.

Iconic Lava Tubes

2.     Iconic Lava Tubes

While hiking with your kinds in Jeju, you can veer off the beaten trail and explore the underground lateral lava tubes. These tubes developed as conduits for volcanic magma during the formation of the island.

The lava tubes are now empty lie as some of the largest caves in the world. They are not only visited by tourists but also by scientists and researchers from all over the world.

One of the most popular lava tubes on Jeju is known as the Geomunoreum lava tube system. It extends for about 36 kilometers and includes about 20 caves. The tube and caves within it have amazing unforgettable features. Carved by hot molten lava, the walks and trails in the cave are unique works of art. The caves also feature some of the best-preserved stalactites, stalagmites, and cave corals.

Bunjae Botanical Garden

4.     Bunjae Artpia Botanical Garden

If you enjoy greenery or having picnics in open fields, then you and your kids will love the Bunjae Artpia Botanical Garden. Spanning about 39,700 m2, the Bunjae Artpia is one of the largest botanical gardens in Asia.

If you spend part of your visit exploring the Bunjae Artpis gardens with your kids, you can your mind of a wide variety of tensions. It can also help you find new ways to relax with your kids. The vast contrast in colours, shapes and fragrances of plants can stimulate your mind.

Olle Trail 15

5.    Hike the Olle Trails

One of the most engaging ways to explore Jeju is on foot. The Island’s topography is ideal even for novice hikers to enjoy. Hiking with your kids brings you up close to all the features you may be interested in. it also allows you to create your schedule without any external pressure.

The word Olle is derived from the local Jeju language and refers to the narrow pathway between your house and the street. In 2007, a former journalist from Jeju got the idea to develop hiking routes in the region after visiting the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Since then, the Olle has developed into one intricate long-distance footpath. It consists of 21 distinct routes and 5 sub-routes. Each route has an average of 16 Km. the network comprises of about 422 km.

Seongup Folk Village entrance

6.    Seongup Folk Village

Apart from the numerous physical features that captivate any visitors to the island, there are some social sites to visit. Seong Folk Village is a fully functional village that has been preserved in its traditional design. The village showcases the traditional Jeju architecture and lifestyle.

The most interesting aspect of the Seongup Folk Village is that people live in it to this day. the residents you come across while touring the village are permanent residents in it. These residents are extremely friendly and welcoming to tourists. They even volunteer free guided tours with information about the village and its history.

Statues of Haenyeo

7.    Haenyeo – The Last of The Korean Mermaids

Haenyeo is a local Jeju word that means “Sea Women”. This name became popular in the 1960s to describe the groups of highly effective women divers who dominated the abalone and urchin fishing industry. They have also been referred to as Korean Mermaids in mainstream media channels.

Despite Jeju Island’s touristic appeal, it has not always relied on tourism as a major source of income. The island has traditionally depended on income generated from fishing and agriculture. The prime fishing products in Jeju were abalones that were best obtained from deep diving.

The diving culture in Jeju dates as far back as 434 A. D. with only men involved in the activity. Abalones were prime commodities and fetched good incomes or their families.

However, women divers began taking to diving in the 17th Century and by the 18th century, Jeju had more women divers than men. This was mainly attributed to the massive loss of male lives to war and disease. At several points in the 1960s, the Haenyeo were directly responsible for about 60% of the fish in Jejus fisheries.

Modern culture has widened the gap between the existing and next generation of Haeneyos. Younger women prefer to work in the tourism industry than in deep-sea diving.

Although many of the Haenyeos are well into their 60s, a few of them still go diving. It is thrilling to see a team of 60-year-old women still fit enough to go deep-sea diving without any gear. Exposing your children to the Haenyeo can inspire them to believe in themselves.

Round-up

Jeju is more than just a fun vacation spot to visit with your kids. It exposes them to the world and expands their world view. Yet, if you are not ready to answer challenging questions from your kids, you should actively avoid the Loveland theme park. It is a park dedicated to exhibiting the prowess of sexual activity in the region.

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