Jeju Olle Trails have been the highlight of my last two years. With international travel being limited, I looked inwards to get my travel fix and was not disappointed. The Olle Trails quickly became hands down my favorite thing to do in Korea. Now having finished all 26 trails, I can finally compare them to each other and tell you which are the best. I’ll try to say enough to get you interested but not give away too much. And of course, this is just my opinion, and yours may differ.
#5 – Olle Trail 2
Olle Trail 2 is really the one that set the tone to what I love about the Jeju Olle. You start in Gwangchigi Beach, one of the most crowded spots in all of Jeju. 10 minutes into your hike and you’re in an abandoned fish farm without a soul in sight. The calm lake reflects like a perfect mirror which leads to stunning pictures. There are plenty of surprises from view points to nice villages along the way. Make sure not to miss the fantastic Vietnamese restaurant “Tot Tot” at the end.
#4 – Olle Trail 6
Trail 6 is a great mix of city and nature. On one end is old Seogwipo city, combing through its charming streets and crossing the best marketplace on the island. Then, you’re back to walking along the ocean and catching a glimpse of the female divers, “Haenyeo” doing their thing. The trail is stunning with plenty of picnic opportunities and yummy food options along the way. However, the connection to the Terracotta Army of Xi’an, China, was one thing I definitely did not expect. Olle Trail 6 also ends at Olle HQ, which is a restaurant, a bar, a hostel, and where you have your completion ceremony if you do indeed finish all 26 trails.
#3 – Olle Trail 18
Trail 18 holds a special place for being the last trail I did to complete the set of 26. I also think I went during the perfect spring season, so caught a nice glimpse of cheery blossoms on the mountains. While the nature is great, the murals in the old Jeju City take the show. Countless paintings for kilometers on end would satisfy any street art aficionado. If you approach this trail in the reverse direction, you will finish off at the heart of the old town in Jeju Olle’s very own “Ganse Lounge” serving a number of dishes and beers brewed right on site.
#2 – Olle Trail 12
Trail 12 along with the #1 entry below share a unique characteristic that few other Olle Trails have. They both are also part of the Geo Trails, which are geologically significant parts of Jeju. Trail 12 starts in a farm in the middle of nowhere. We happened to be there during the harvest, which was quite interesting to see. After a small oreum you come across an abandoned building that is both spooky and fascinating at the same time. This trail has it all and it ends its last few kilometers with what I believe to be the most visually stunning part of the entire island of Jeju.
#1 – Olle Trail 8
Olle Trail 8 has it all. If you like beaches, temples, ports, restaurants, mountains, you name it, Trail 8 has got it. A fair warning that this trail is quite long and if you add the site hike to the hexagon columns (highly recommended), it spans over 20km, so you may be best splitting it into two days. If there is a single Olle you do in your trip to Jeju, make it Trail 8.
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4 thoughts on “The Definite Top 5 Olle Trails: Hiking on Jeju Island”
Olle Trail #12 includes (bottom right) Suwolbong, which to your description includes one of “most visually stunning part of the entire island of Jeju”. Not sure if you knew this, but Suwolbong was/is a planned extension of Jeju’s WHS . In fact, in 2018 Korea submitted a boundary modification to “Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes”, but only part of the additional components were approved by IUCN. The Advisory Body recommendation informed the Korean government that to include Suwolbong and other components around the island (there are up to 5 additional volcanic sites seeking inclusion), a new extension nomination would have to be submitted, not simply a boundary modification. Korea is in the process of updating their Tentative List for 2022-2023. Perhaps there will be an extension to the natural Jeju WHS and a new nomination called “Jeju Stone Culture” which focuses on the islanders use and adaptation of volcanic rock in agriculture/fishing, property boundary walls, Haenyo Bulteok, and Dol hareubang.
What a coincidence, I was just snooping around your profile on worldheritagesite.org!
I actually didn’t know that it was up for consideration but that would be great because it is one of my favorite spots and it fits perfectly. I actually debated a lot whether to have it at #1 or not.
How would that work? Would the “Jeju Volcanic…” site be renamed and changed to a mixed site? Or could this be a completely different site? I really hope they preserve the Haenyo Bulteok because they are often in the middle of nowhere.
BTW where you do find out this information about the tentative list updates and news?
In 2021 Korea ICOMOS did an in-depth evaluation of potential sites for inclusion on their Tentative List.
2021 UNESCO World Heritage New Provisional List (Research Report)
– ICOMOS Korea
– Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea
Recommendation for Inclusion on Tentative List
1 Sorok-do Rehabilitation Center
2 Jeju Stone Culture
3 Port City Incheon
4 Modern Protestant Missionary Base (Seoul, Daegu, Gwangju, Cheongju, Gongju, Jeonju, Suncheon, Mokpo)
5 Yongsan Base
7 Han River Estuary Wetland
8 Ulleungdo and Dokdo
Not Analyzed in Report
*Yangju Hoeamsa Temple Site (previously approved, awaiting publication)
*Busan Provisional Capital (previously approved, awaiting publication)
1 Jukmak-dong Ancient Maritime Relics
2 Jeongjo Cultural Heritage: Hwaseong New Town
3 Landscape Korean Garden (Nujeong Culture)
4 Mudeungsan National Park
What this likely means is up to 14 new Tentative Nominations to be added to Korea’s Tentative List (over the next few years). However, I would only expect some of the more advanced stage nominations to be approved and officially published by January 2023.
Korea ICOMOS and CHA seem keen on the idea of modern heritage representation on their new tentative list. I posted morea about this on worldheritagesite.org
That is fascinating. And just when I had finished everything in the official WHS list and the Tentative list too!
Julio Moreno recently posted…The Definite Top 5 Olle Trails: Hiking on Jeju Island