Jeju’s western side, though strikingly beautiful, is somewhat wilder and less hospitable than the region east of Hallasan National Park, with its sights generally harder to reach – if you have no transport you may have to resort to the occasional spot of hitchhiking. However, this remoteness is very much part of the appeal, and those who’ve been drawn to the island by promises of empty roads, bucolic villages and unspoilt terrain should look no further – to many, this is quintessential Jeju. The sights are grouped into three main clusters; it’s possible to complete any of these within a day, even after factoring in transport to and from Jeju City (commuting from Seogwipo is also possible, but will require a little extra patience).
Jeju’s windswept southwestern corner boasts a collection of sights, three of them within walking distance of each other around the mountain of Sangbangsan and accessible on a single ticket. Sangbanggulsa is a temple hewn out of the peak itself, which looks down on Yongmeori, a jagged and highly photogenic coastline pounded mercilessly by waves; adjacent to this sits a replica of a Dutch vessel which came a cropper near these crags. In the distance lie the wind- and wave-punished islets of Gapado and Marado, the latter being Korea’s southernmost point.
Just north of Sangbangsan are a couple of arty attractions – contemporary fans may appreciate the large outdoor sculpture park, while traditionalists should head to the former exile site of Chusa, one of Korea’s foremost calligraphers. Further inland, in a remote area hard to penetrate without your own transport but well worth the effort, are a tea plantation, a bonsai park and the underground tunnels and rusty munitions of a peace museum.