Udo island and Seongsan Ilchulbong – where the sun rises (part 1)

Jeju island is the largest island of Korea located in South sea. It was formed 2 million years ago by a volcano eruption. The island has only one volcano, which is no longer active, but which previous activity is the main factor for Jeju’s fertile soil. After the volcano’s activity had ceased, the existing weather condition and erosion helped shape the island. Nowadays, Jeju island possesses a flourishing nature for which it long has been regarded as the “Hawaii” of Korea. Every year Jeju is visited by multiple tourists both Koreans and foreigners. Among the famous sightseeing almost turned into a must visited are Udo island and Seongsan Ilchulbong. Located on the east side of Jeju, both were formed due to the volcanic activity on the island.

Seongsan Ilchulbong – the sunrise cone

Seongsan Ilchulbong is a tuff cone rising around 180 meters above the sea level. It was formed 5 000 years ago due to hydrovolcanic eruption upon a shallow seabed. Originally, the tuff cone was a separate island but later it was connected with the mainland by a build-up of sand and soil.

If viewed from the air the Seongsan Ilchulbong has a bowl-like shape. The unique shape is a consequence of a moist and sticky conditions in which the magma erupted as well as the continuance of the eruption. That’s why the first part of the cone’s name “Seongsan” (성산) bears the meaning of “a hill in the shape of a castle”.

Located in easternmost point of Jeju island and rising approximately 180 meters above the sea level, Seongsan Ilchulbong is a popular place for viewing the sunrise. And here the second part of the name “Ilchulbong” (일출봉) bears the meaning of “a high point with a beautiful view of the sunrise”.

Walking to the summit

Going up to the peak is not difficult at all. It takes around 30~40 minutes depending on the walking speed and the frequency of your stops for pictures. During summertime it could be little bit challenging because of the heat, but there are several rest places with benches along the way. While walking up don’t forget to turn your back from time to time to take a glimpse of the surrounding area. The view changes with every step and every time is breathtaking.

Also, the whole climbing path is surrounded by differently shaped rocks. You can let your fancy roam and compare them to different objects.

As soon as I saw this one I likened it to a lions head. It even has a mane. What do you think? Does it look like a lion’s head?

After reaching the peak, you will be able to see the inside shape of the bowl-like cone. The crater has 600m wide diameter and is 90m deep.

The summit is a popular place for viewing the sunrise. Moreover, it is a tradition for Koreans to welcome the first sunrise of the year here. The summit presents not only a beautiful view of the sunrise, but also of the located nearby Udo island.

the way down

The paths for going up and down are separated, which makes it more convenient when there are many tourists.

Recognized for its outstanding landscape and geological value Seongsan Ilchulbong is part of UNESCO World Heritage since 2007.

Working hours & Admission:

The cone is open for tourists everyday: 7:30 – 19:30 with the exception of the first Monday of every month.

Adults(ages 25-64): 5,000 won

Teenagers(ages 13-24) & Children(ages 7-12): 2,500 won

* Free admission: Senior citizens (ages 65 and older), preschoolers (ages 6 and younger)

How to get there

The most convenient way to reach Seongsan Ilchulbong is by car. There is a free parking lot.

Address: 284-12, Ilchul-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do / 제주특별자치도 서귀포시 성산읍 일출로 284-12

For the people entirely depending on the public transportation during their trip in Jeju, there are two ways. One from Jeju bus terminal and one from Seogwipo bus terminal. The ride from Jeju bus terminal to the entrance takes around 2 hours.

  • Blue buses: 201, 211, 212
  • Red buses: 111, 112

When catching a bus from the terminal, make sure that you are not waiting on the bus stop in front of the terminal where the big street is. You have to get to the other side of the terminal where a lot of buses are resting. The interval of arrival for these buses is 10~15 minutes.

For the people traveling from Seogwipo city to Seongsan Ilchulbong, again you can catch a bus from the bus terminal in Seogwipo. Only blue bus 201 can take you there and the ride is approximately 2 hours.

What more to know

  • Climbing the tuff cone might not be difficult, but still for the safety of your feet wearing closed comfortable shoes is strongly advised.
  • Did you know that there is actually a free path too? The left path from the ticket booth is free but it just gives an observing view of the area.
  • You can experience riding a hourse there. Exciting, isn’t it? At the right side of the ticket booth you can have that experience for 5,000 won. The ride lasts around 5 minutes.

Check out: Udo island and Seongsan Ilchulbong (part 2)

🇧🇬 Dilyana Dimitrova

Bulgarian student who is following her dreams in South Korea. Open-minded person, passionate traveler and avid reader. Instagram: dilly.scorpy