Koreans adore Jeju Island for a reason. Home to some of the top natural sites in the country, Jeju Island, Korea is home to the most beautiful beaches in the Korea, such as Sagye Beach and more hidden beaches, as well as the highest point of Korea, Hallasan Mountain. The stunning volcanic landscape of Jeju Island, Korea has lead to the creation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. The crater of Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong), a Jeju Korea landmark and one of the sites included in the UNESCO listing, tops most lists of things to do in Jeju Island. And, as a crater that emerged from the depths of the ocean during a volcanic eruption a mere 100,000 or so years ago, with striking deep blue ocean views, vibrant greenery coating majestic black lava rock, and world-famous Haenyeo divers—it’s no wonder why. In fact, the beauty of Seongsan Ilchulbong is attracting so many tourists (over 3 million in 2015 alone), that the Jeju Provincial Government will start requiring advanced bookings to climb Sunrise Peak starting in the second half of 2017 in an attempt to preserve the site’s natural beauty.
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In our years teaching English abroad on Jeju Island, Korea, we’ve learned everything you need to know about climbing Sunrise Peak, known locally as Seongsan Ilchulbong. We’ve even scouted out one of the best budget hotels in Jeju Island to stay close to Sunrise Peak so you can catch the sunrise.Whether you’re hoping to climb the famous Jeju Island crater to watch the sunrise over the ocean, or you’re aiming for an afternoon climb around the time the Haenyeo divers will be working, our guide will help you make the most out of your visit to this stunning landmark. If you’re looking for the top things to do in Jeju Island, Korea, Sunrise Peak will not disappoint!
Here’s our guide to climbing Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong) on Jeju Island, Korea!
- 1 Sunrise Peak: An Icon of Jeju Island, Korea
- 2 Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Seongsan Ilchulbong
- 3 Black Sand Jeju Beach at Sunrise Peak
- 4 Haenyeo Divers at the Black Sand Jeju Beach
- 5 Korea’s Most Famous Sunrise
- 6 Watching the Sunrise from Sunrise Peak Jeju
- 7 When to Visit Sunrise Peak?
- 8 How to Get to Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong)
- 9 Hotels in Jeju Island Near Seongsan Ilchulbong
- 10 Like this post?
- 11 You Might Also Appreciate…
- 12 Where is your favorite place to watch the sunrise?
Sunrise Peak: An Icon of Jeju Island, Korea
Shots of the magnificent green-coated crater of Sunrise Peak have come to epitomize Jeju Island itself. This 182-meter high tuff cone is one of the best-preserved of its kind in the world. In fact, there are are no other known cones of this type in the world with such a perfect structure so close to the ocean. The 600-meter diameter crater of Seongsan Ilchulbong, said to resemble a crown, has been perfectly preserved, leading to its UNESCO designation and status as an icon of Jeju Island, Korea.
Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Seongsan Ilchulbong
As such a well-known attraction on Jeju Island, Korea, Sunrise Peak has been well-developed for tourism. The path to the top consists mostly of steep stairs, but it is not a very difficult climb. It is only about a 20-minute walk from the park entrance to the top. On your way up you can take in beautiful views of Jeju’s coastline, Hallasan, and numerous small oreums (small volcanoes) that dot Jeju’s eastern side.
Top of Sunrise Peak
The top of Sunrise Peak has a wide seating area where you can watch the sunrise or simply marvel at the amazing view before you. With the perfect Jeju Island weather in spring or fall, you’ll have a majestic scene to view at the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong!
Black Sand Jeju Beach at Sunrise Peak
A the base of the beautifully rugged cliff of Sunrise Peak is a fantastic black-sand beach. This beach is one of the best places to enjoy the view of Sunrise Peak from up close, and one of our favorite things to do in Jeju Island, Korea. At Seongsan Ilchulbong’s black sand beach, you can sample fresh-caught seafood right there on the rocks after it is plucked from the sea by haenyeo divers. Wash down that sea cucumber with a stiff soju, if you need to! (Or head over to the craft beer Magpie Brewery for some unique Korean beer!)
Haenyeo Divers at the Black Sand Jeju Beach
At the black sand beach at Sunrise Peak’s base, you can also watch a performance of Jeju Island haenyeo, (sea women), who dive into the sea without tanks to collect the bounty of the sea.
Haenyeo diving takes place at Sunrise Peak’s black sand beach at 1:30 pm and 3 pm.
Famous throughout Korea, these elderly women divers are representative of Jeju’s matriarchal past. In the past, women held important roles as heads of families, and it is fascinating to watch the members of this fast-dwindling tradition.
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Korea’s Most Famous Sunrise
The peak of Seongsan Ilchulbong is heralded as one of the most spectacular places in all of Korea to view the sunrise, and certainly one of the top things to do in Jeju Island, Korea. Thousands of people visit Sunrise Peak on Cheju-do (Jeju Island) each year to behold the sun making its glorious entrance over the misty east sea.
Watching the Sunrise from Sunrise Peak Jeju
If you want to see the sunrise from Sunrise Peak, you’ll probably need to spend the night in the town of Seongsan-ri at the foot of the peak. This small town has numerous hotels and restaurants catering to the 3 million people who visit Sunrise Peak each year. For a budget option, we recommend the Yellow Submarine Guesthouse right near the base of Seongsan Ilchulbong. The entrance to Sunrise Peak Park is a quick 5-minute walk from the town center. After your climb, you can sample local delicacies including Jeju black pork and jeonbukjuk (abalone porridge), as well as other essential South Korean foods to try or even a delicious Seongsan-ri Fish and Chips restaurant.
When to Visit Sunrise Peak?
While Sunrise Peak is beautiful year-round, we can’ really recommend a visit in the winter. Even though the Jeju weather in the winter is milder than mainland Korea, the peak will still be brown, and the weather will be cold and often cloudy and windy.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Sunrise Peak, with the best Jeju Island weather. If you visit in spring, you can see Sunrise Peak with fields of yellow canola flowers, which makes quite a spectacle, and the mild Jeju weather will be a refreshing complement to the view. Very close to Sunrise Peak is the ferry port to go to Udo Island, which is one of our top suggested spring things to do in Jeju Island, and together they can make a lovely day trip! It can get quite hot if you climb up in the humid heat of summer.
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How to Get to Sunrise Peak (Seongsan Ilchulbong)
From Jeju Intercity Bus Terminal: Take the 710 bus to the Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) Entrance stop (1 hr 40 minutes). Every 20-25 minutes from 6:15 AM to 9PM.
From Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal: Take the eastbound 701 bus to the Ilchulbong Entrance Stop (2 hrs 12 minutes). Every 15-20 minutes from 5:40 AM to 8:50 PM.
We’ve listed the Jeju bus routes you can use to get to Seongsan Ilchulbong. However, we highly recommend renting a car as Jeju Island is quite big, and the bus can be slow and tedious (it can take up to 2 hours to go from one side of the island to the other when taking the bus). Find the cheapest Jeju rental cars!
Hotels in Jeju Island Near Seongsan Ilchulbong
If you’re not planning on seeing the sunrise at Sunrise Peak, you may find it more convenient to stay in Jeju City, and drive a rental car to the crater. Here are the best deals on hotels in Jeju Island, Korea!
Sunrise Peak, one of Jeju Island’s true icons, is a must-see for your Jeju Island Korea itinerary. Come marvel at one of the world’s most well-preserved tuff rings in some marvelous Jeju Island weather! Even if you don’t watch the sunrise, the natural wonder of Seongsan Ilchulbong is still an amazing place to visit, with scenic views in all directions.
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Where is your favorite place to watch the sunrise?
Tell us in a comment below!