It's been nearly four years since I came to Jeju Island, and I'm still discovering new places on this ever-changing summer vacation destination.
Let's discover hidden spots around Seogwipo and on Hallasan for a lazy, relaxing day trip.
Follow me around Jeju Island, as I visit hidden places, cafes and generally stay far away from tourist attractions.
On a warm day, as the mid-afternoon sun blazes on, hiding away in a cool and calm renovated barn building is the perfect way to recharge! This cafe has a nice balance between chic and cozy.
Cozy Hidden Cafes of Jeju Island
Jeju Island is famous for its beaches but there's a different charm to be found away from tourist attractions and crowded seaside restaurants. As you travel deeper into the countryside, leave behind the two larger cities on the island and deliver yourself into the hands of Naver Maps, an abundance of little cafes and mom-and-pop-style shops can be found.
This cafe, called "Kiasma", is located just outside of Seogwipo city and best reached by car since there's a bit of an incline to overcome. As mentioned, the building was once a barn - lately, Jeju Island's traditional stone houses and the slightly larger barns have changed hands from farmers to small business owners. What, from the outside, often looks like nothing much, can turn out to be anything from a bakery to an art gallery - so keep your eyes open as you go along!
If you want to visit Kiasma, go here:
Seogwiposi Namwoneup Taeuiro 255 서귀포시 남원읍 태위로 255
Opening hours: 11:00 till 18:00
Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The interior is kept simple, with lots of empty space and hidden nooks. The previous use as a barn makes for an unique layout, with low doors, high ceilings, windows at knee-height...
While Jeju has its fair share of coffee shop chains, the smaller cafes sport unique decor - from handmade to designer furniture - and often have an eclectic mix of styles. Themed cafes were all the rage for a few years, so you can find flower-cafes, dog-cafes, wood-work cafes, photography-atelier-cafes, pottery-cafes... really, pretty much everything. Most cafes then specialize on a few select menu items.
Kiasma doesn't only serve coffee but has an extensive menu card for lunch/brunch, which is available until 3 PM. Since we arrived perfectly full after a day of smoothie bowls and rice cakes, coffee it was.
Coffee Choices in South Korea...
"Americano" coffee can be found in every single cafe in Korea. Before my first visit to Korea, I didn't even know what an Americano was - depending on the cafe, these can turn out incredibly watery and weak, though.
As a vegan, I order them from time to time since they're often the only hot coffee option open to me. Kiasma's Americano is actually really good, if a tad sweet (even though there wasn't any sugar in it yet - it just missed a bit of depth and acidity). It did go well with the espresso we had, though! Good espresso is hard to find! Most Koreans prefer their coffees large, sweet and milky so espresso isn't always on the menu.
I love pretty cups, pottery, porcelain, anything! Kiasma has a combination of dainty silverware and heavy, rustic pottery and I just wanted to take that huge mug with me...
Travel sketchbook time!
It's always nice to have a moment to sit still and just draw whatever inspires me... The interior of Kiasma was perfect for that, with little details and decor
The entrance of Kiasma - it's easy to miss as you drive by since all the buildings nearby spot a similar look. Just keep your eyes open for the hardly readable "Kiasma" sign.
Hallasan Day Trip Edition: High Wetlands
Time to move! You can't just sit in cafes all day (right? ...sure?), so taking a walk instead of going hiking was a nice way to fit the outdoors into an otherwise lazy day.
Hallasan at the center of Jeju Island is more fit for entire days of hiking and picnics, but there are some shorter trails in the lower regions of the volcano.
1100고지 습지 is a wetland region (or, it would be wet if it had rained in recent memory...) at 1100 meters above sea level.
Jeju Island seems to sport at least two seasons at a time. While the south with Seogwipo city was already in a full-on summer mood, the higher regions of the island were still taking baby-steps through spring. Higher up on Hallasan, the last remnants of snow were supposedly still there...
What's better on a lazy day than completely level ground and a trail that doesn't require any hiking-appropriate shoes?
While you can use the wetlands as a starting point for longer hikes around the mid-level regions of Hallasan, we just went for a short walk - barely enough time to finish the drinks we'd brought along.
Temperatures were still mild up on the mountain, and I generally recommend bringing a cardigan with you even in summer when you travel to Jeju Island. All the cafes, restaurants and museums are air-conditioned to resemble the ice age... which has me catch colds more often in summer than winter.
OOTD: Lazy Jeju Islander Edition
I've been pretty much wearing nothing but flowy midi skirts this spring... so comfy and simple, even if they make me look pregnant.
If you travel around South Korea and visit traditional restaurants a lot, you might know how useful long skirts can be! Sitting on the floor while wearing something short can be a challenge...
That's it for my lazy afternoon trip on Jeju Island. If you plan on visiting Seogwipo city, definitely check out the cafes and Bottle & Bowl!
If you're on Jeju Island only for a couple of days but still want to go into nature, I'd recommend the mid-region of Hallasan or one of the countless little "Oreum" volcanic hills for short walks and hikes that don't require fancy gear or lots of time. Or leg muscle work.
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