Cycling Around Jeju


Cycling around Jeju has been on the top of my things-to-do list since I moved here in July 2013. I’ve always wanted to cycle and camp around the island because it’s a very exciting and achievable activity considering the island’s geography, climate, and infrastructure.


This past Chuseok holiday (Korean Autumn Harvest Festival), which ran from September 26th-30th, six friends and I spent three days cycling and two nights camping around Jeju.

Jeju Island is only 73 km from east to west and 31 km from north to south, and the circumference is roughly 200 km. As for cycling around the island, it depends on which route you take, and whether you cycle any of the islands (add up to 80 km for those), but in general we are talking +/- 200 km.

Our route was just over 200 km. Here is a quick Google map I made and the basic logistics from the ride:

Day 1: From Shin Jeju to Jungmun Resort (camp on Jungmun Beach) – about 88 km.

Day 2: From Jungmun Resort to Seongsan Ilchulbong (stops in Seogwipo and Pyoseon, camp on beach across from Seongsan) – about 75 km

Day 3: From Seongsan Ilchulbong to Jeju City (stops at Woljeong and Hamdeok Beach) – about 52 km


I’ll give a brief rundown of my equipment as well:

  • I was riding a used Specialized Allez Sport 58″ frame road bike. I don’t know much about bikes, but I know this bike is a beast. It cruises on the road and never feels like it’s dragging you down, even on inclines.
  • I clipped on a small camera bag on the front of the bike which included my Canon 6D body with two lenses; Canon 24-105L f/4 and Canon prime 50m f/1.4.
  • I attached a small first aid kid to my camera bag in the front.
  • A Cannondale seat bag kept my Energizer bike lights, bike tools, sunscreen, tire repair kit, Leatherman multi-tool, a headlamp, and almonds (for a quick snack).
  • Obviously, bike helmet and water bottle are essential, and biking gloves are, well, handy.
  • I don’t have a bike back rack so I had to carry a backpack (it gave my back and shoulders a lot of pain on day 3), which I did manage to keep lightweight. A change of clothes (including long underwear and a light sweater), a sleeping bag, a raingear top, a towel, mosquito spray, a small gorillapod tripod, small toiletries, etc. It wasn’t heavy but I would definitely recommend using a back rack and/or panniers if you can.
  • A tent! I was lucky enough that my fellow cyclist Ben kindly carried our tent on his bike’s back rack. I certainly would have needed a back rack if I had to carry my own tent.
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Only took a camera phone photo of my bike with gear. It’s amazing how much I didn’t care about photos while cycling.


Now before I get into the specifics (by that I mean many photos with captions) of my journey, I’ll share some practical websites with more information which you can use in case you are considering cycling around Jeju:







  • *Bonus* During my research for this post, I discovered there is a short documentary about cycling around Jeju. It’s called Jeju: A Bicycle Adventure in South Korea and I’m definitely adding it to my growing list of things to watch.  It’s a 24-minute travel documentary about one family’s cycling journey on Jeju Island.


Hopefully you can get some good information from the above links. Read on to get some specifics from the journey.




Day 1 Cycle – Shin Jeju to Jungmun Resort

Cycling Around Jeju

Please excuse the handwriting – I made this map on my phone.


Nice introduction and all, but here is where I’ll admit that I’ve fibbed a bit. Only five members of our cycling crew completed the whole cycle; two of us did about 70%. One was me.

Because Chuseok is a Korean holiday and all (a bit similar to American Thanksgiving), I had to spend some time with my wife’s Korean family who lives in Seogwipo. Therefore, I missed the first day of cycling along the (some say most) beautiful coastal roads on the west side of the island.

As you can see from the map above, while my friends were in the midst of a mostly pleasant 70 km trek from Jeju to Jungmun (blue line), I was driving my wife and baby along the winding and scenic 1131 mountain road from Jeju to Seogwipo (green line). They started at about 9 am, whereas I started driving at 3 pm and cycling at about 4:30 pm (red line).

To say the least, they were tired when I met up with them at the 7/11 near the Lotte Hotel in Jungmun Resort. I wasn’t. I greeted my fellow cyclists and kindly accepted an unearned beer.

Cycling around Jeju

Dan and his girlfriend Larkin got a bit lost trying to find the 7/11 but honestly, they were always optimistic and pleasant even when exhausted.


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Cyclist Tom Brown says that having two beers after exercise is equivalent to having two glasses of water. Any beers after that have a negative effect though. Pinch of salt, pinch of salt…


Throughout the trip, I used the S Health app on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to track most of my routes and give me detailed stats from each workout. It’s a very nifty little tool on a great phone.


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My first leg of the journey,  only 15.7 km from Seogwipo to Jungmun Resort.

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Very informative app.

Soon after my arrival, more friends who did not cycle arrived smelling good and looking stylish. They opted to skip out on the cycling bit of our cycling and camping trip and just do the camping. Fair play to them. They never looked to be in physical agony, yet us cyclists always felt like we earned our food and beers, and we had a special bond because of our shared pain.  

Once we were ready to go, we locked our bikes up, bought water, snacks, and beer, and headed down to the far west end of Jungmun Beach to set up camp.

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The cycling and camping crew congregate at 7/11. We locked our bikes here.

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Bahareh surely wouldn’t consider herself a cyclist, but she pushed on and was ever the optimist during our journey.

We walked along a path just to the left of the entrance to the Hyatt hotel to get down to the western most end of Jungmun Beach. Because there was an unanticipated beautiful sunset, it was then that I started focusing on photography. I’ll let the photos highlight the rest of the evening now.

*I’d like to note here that while I was cycling around Jeju there were countless times when I wanted to stop to capture a scene or a person, but I just couldn’t be bothered stopping my momentum, getting out my camera, contemplating an image, slowing down my other cycling friends, etc. It just wasn’t plausible while cycling.

I regret it now, and the lack of photos I have while actually on the road suggest that regret (this is a photography site after all); however, I intend to make this cycle a yearly adventure. Next year I will take it slower and focus more on capturing more of Jeju’s essence while on the road.   


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A wide-angle look out at Jungmun beach. If you look closely at the far left, you can see where our campsite will be.


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View of the Hyatt hotel. The sunset was pure gold that evening. This was just the start.


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Jungmun beach consistently has the biggest waves on Jeju. It’s always fun to get thrown around by the ocean. Check out our great camping location.


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The non-cycling camping crew members setting up their large tent. The cycling crew were already in the ocean by now.


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The cycling crew feeling refreshed. Watch how the sky changes in the progression of photos below.


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Tom B enjoyed playing in the waves.


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Ben gets ready to jump into a wave. The red hues in the clouds were just beginning to appear…


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Larkin emerges from the water. Red hues almost in full force. These are the sunsets that excite photographers.


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Most people in the water now, while I’m scrabbling around trying to get a good shot.


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And then, the clouds are immersed with red, a wave nearly topples me, and I get a photo which satisfies. (Click to make bigger, handheld ISO 1600, 24mm f/4.0 at 1/400th sec).


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After the last photo, I ran to get my gorillapod because it was getting too dark to handhold my camera. The red hues were gone by then. I asked Ashley, Larkin, and Bahareh to pose anyways.

I went swimming shortly after taking this last photo (the water is lovely in September), and then helped get our tent set up. Darkness crept up on us quickly, but since it was the night before the super moon, it remained quite light throughout the night.



Night 1 Camp – Jungmun Beach



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Setting up camp.

Camping on a beach in Jeju is an amazing experience. I don’t think there are many other places in the world with such awesome beaches where you can set up multiple tents, make a huge fire, go swimming whenever, be as loud as you want, and not be disturbed at all throughout the night or in the morning.

Our first night camp on Jungmun beach didn’t disappoint. The only problem we faced was deciding about where and what to eat. We finally decided to check the east end of the beach and see what restaurants were there. It worked out perfectly in the end; there was a 30,000 won ($26) buffet for the starving cyclists and an a la carte menu for the others ($8-$12 meals).

Because I’m more a photographer than writer, I’ll skip the specifics of the night and just let you check out the gallery of the shots I took during and after dinner, at our campfire on the beach, and in the morning when everyone was waking up.

Click on any photo to open the lightbox gallery.



As you can see from the photos, we had a good time. Most of the cyclists went to bed around 11 or 12, but some of the others stayed up until 3 am playing Contact, which is an excellent campfire word game.

When everybody was up by about 8:30 am, we extinguished and buried the fire, packed up our stuff, cleaned up our mess, and headed back to 7/11 to eat breakfast and get our bikes.  Cycling around Jeju day 2 was commencing…



Day 2 Morning Cycle – Jungmun to Seogwipo

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I can’t believe how few photos I have from that morning and afternoon. Anyways, WATER is key when cycling long distances!

The plan for Day 2 was to get to Seogwipo sometime before noon so that I could meet up with my wife’s family and have a nice Chuseok lunch. Everything went to plan until the end of that lunch. More on that later.


Once we eventually got from the beach to our bikes, we had a bountiful breakfast at 7/11 consisting of bananas, hardboiled eggs, trail mix, coffee and sports drinks. Everyone humorously took their turn in the bathroom and then we were off to Seogwipo.


This coastal route is about 5 km longer (19.5 km total) than the more northern route along the 1132 road (which I took the previous day), but it’s much more pleasant and scenic. There are some demanding inclines near Oedolgae though.

We took the scenic route through the small towns between Seogwipo and Jungmun. The most notable town along this route is Gangjeong Village, which is unfortunately home to the highly controversial and soon-to-be opened US Naval Base. An excerpt from the Jeju Naval Base Wikipedia:


“By 2011, construction had been halted seven times by protesters concerned about the base’s environmental impact and who see it as a US-driven project aimed at China, rather than enhancing South Korean defense. In July 2012, the South Korean Supreme Court upheld the base’s construction. It is expected to host up to 20 military vessels and occasional civilian cruise ships when it is completed in 2015.”

Visit Save Jeju Now (slogan – “No War Base on the Island of Peace”) to read more about the events and stories about Gangjeong.

I don’t want to delve too much into my personal opinions about the topic (especially since I am an American), but I am a person who would always take the side of peace and protecting our environment over war, greed, and the destruction of our planet. To me, this seems to be another sad story about the US military industrial complex, and the outcome will not be a positive one in the end. There’s always hope though, and the persistence and dedication of the protestors and villagers over the years has been remarkable.

(Another article from the World Post with more details: Pave Paradise, Put Up a Naval Base: South Korean Activists’ Extraordinary Struggle to Save Jeju Island)



Back to topic, not far from Gangjeong is Oedolgae, an amazing little stretch of coastline near Seogwipo full of massive jutting volcanic rocks and crashing waves. The other cyclists stopped there while I headed off to lunch.


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Here is a not great photo of Oedolgae. The rock formations are impression and it’s a nice area to walk around.


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Here’s a better telephoto shot taken from Oedolgae of one of the islands just off Seogwipo. I believe those tourists are not supposed to be there, but they do add some interest to the image.


At one point after we completed a really steep incline near Oedolgae, I had time to get my camera out and take a few shots. Here they are in all their glory.


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Dan is a stylish cyclist.


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Dan and Larkin together are extremely stylish cyclists (btw, they swear that their biking gear was a gift. We may have been laughing at them on Day 1, but by Day 3 I know I was jealous of their biking shorts)


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I, on the other hand, am not a stylish cyclist. I do represent the Jeju Islanders hockey team though! (yes we have ball hockey on Jeju)


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Jenkins and Bahareh were hurting after that hill


Okay, I’m going to end Part 1 there. Stay tuned for a more photography related post in Part 2 of Cycling around Jeju…



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First photo of Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) after we arrived (I used a rock as a tripod). Better photos to come…


  • Megan IndoeOctober 15, 2015 - 11:33 pm

    We haven’t done Jeju yet, but my god do you make us want to do it this way!!! Scott’s friend did a bike trip from Seoul to Busan and thought it would be fun to do that….I would much rather bike around Jeju! I heard it’s kind of hard to get around the island if you don’t have a car, so the bikes would be perfect! What an awesome idea! Thanks for sharing and inspiring us with this post!

  • RafiquaOctober 16, 2015 - 3:31 pm

    Very interesting “challenge” you took upon yourself. Jeju is much bigger than it seems, but those coastal roads were probably so beautiful! I have friends from Korea who cycled around jeju for Chuseok too and they loved it!

  • CharisseOctober 17, 2015 - 6:25 am

    I love your photos! High quality photos and definitely professional grade. The biking/camping trip looks like a lot of fun! Have you ever attempted to bring your young child to any of your trips? I understand why you would opt to leave her with grandparents or babysitter for the bike portion, but have you gone camping with her? I have a 2 1/2 year old and we love to go camping and plan on taking my son on our next camping trip. Thanks for sharing your post.

  • EricOctober 17, 2015 - 11:36 pm

    Thanks Charisse! I have recently bought a 3-4 person tent and I’ve used it to just relax at the beach during the day, but I have yet to ‘camp’ with my baby. She’s only 11 months old, so I think next summer I will definitely try it out.

  • NadineOctober 19, 2015 - 2:32 pm

    This makes me want to bike and camp. I love biking but I’ve never considered biking around an island. There’s a nervous excitement I get just thinking about it. However, thanks for all the extra details as I feel like I would be better prepared (if i ever plan on doing it).

  • LindaOctober 20, 2015 - 2:48 pm

    That’s such an awesome itinerary! I’m so down to do it! Thanks for sharing everything! It’s amazing!

  • TomApril 2, 2016 - 6:17 am

    Well I am about to do what you guys did….but in early May which may be a little on the cool side, but there is always Airbnb instead of camping, if need be 🙂
    The pics are really inspiring and because I’m doing the trip solo this time (at least I think I am) I will probably stop a lot more often than I should to take in the scenery.
    Thanks for the post, it looks like it will be an awesome trip!

  • EricApril 4, 2016 - 10:09 am

    Great idea Tom, actually May should be a fine time to cycle the island. I think May and September are the months with the best temperatures anyways. If you need any help/advice send me an email or message, good luck!

  • AlJanuary 7, 2017 - 7:50 am

    4 of us plan to go the the winter olympics in 2018. We thought about using a week prior to the olys to go to Jeju. I see that temperatures range from highs of 5 to 13 degrees C. Has anyone got any advice about cycling there in the first week of February. Cool temps don’t bother us too much as we’re Canadians and it’s 28 degrees below outside of my house now.

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