The eastern half of Jeju is wonderfully unspoilt – the coast is dotted with unhurried fishing villages, while inland you can see evidence of Jeju’s turbulent creation in the form of lava tubes and volcanic craters. Buses to the region leave Jeju City with merciful swiftness, passing between the sea and lush green fields, the latter bordered by stacks of batdam. Seongsan, on the island’s eastern tip, is the most attractive of Jeju’s many small villages, crowned by the majestic caldera of Ilchulbong.
Just offshore is Udo, a bucolic island whose sedentary pace tempts many a visitor to hole up for a few days. A cluster of natural attractions can be found south of the port village of Gimnyeong, most notably Manjanggul, which are some of the world’s longest underground lava tubes. Further south again, Route 97 heads southeast from Jeju City across the island’s interior, running past Sangumburi, a large, forested volcanic crater, and two rewarding folk villages: one a working community with a patchwork of traditional thatch-roofed houses, the other an open-air museum which – though devoid of inhabitants – provides a little more instruction on traditional Jeju life.