Jeju Island: Lava Tubes, Stone Statues, and Mazes

CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTINE BRUNS

On a recent trip to Jeju my family spent some time exploring a few of the attractions on the north side of the island. Before we checked into our hotel, we stopped along the way to visit Dolharbang Park so we could learn about Jeju’s famous Stone Grandfather statues, take a bunch of pictures, and stretch our travel-weary legs a bit.

park

The Dolharbang (돌하르방) are statues carved from the volcanic rock found on Jeju and they are considered to be very important guardians. They can be found in all manner of sizes all over the island, but have the same key features – a man with rounded eyes, large nose, thin lips, a hat, and two hands (usually placed on his stomach).

statues

They are believed to provide both comfort and ward of danger. They can also be made for very specific purposes, such as for fertility or warning off sickness. We took a lot of photos and then headed back to our mosquito free car (tip: bring and use bug spray – this park is a bit swampy in nature).

The next day we braved the rainy sky and headed north to the Manjanggul Lava Tube.

cave

We descended into the cave, leaving humid warmth, and immediately felt the cool dampness of the 7.4 km lava tube.

stairs

It’s a pretty good walk, rocky in nature, with a number of lit areas and translated signs describing the rock formations and unique elements within the tube. There is one feature known as Turtle Rock; it’s famous due to its strong resemblance to the shape of Jeju Island, complete with Mt. Halla in the center. At the end of the open portion of the tube is a large 7.6 meter lava column (the largest in the world).

column

After we trekked back to the opening of the cave, wiped off the condensation from our fogged up glasses, and stopped for a quick lunch of bibimbap at the nearby restaurant, we headed just a few meters down the road to a maze park. The roads were lined with beautiful flowers throughout our trip, but I especially loved the blooming hydrangeas.

map

Our visit to Kimnyong Maze Park was brief but fun. I made the “mistake” of letting a certain small guy navigate our way through the maze, so we ended up waving at my husband a number of times from afar, since he miraculously found the way out way before us. But we did eventually find our way to the bell at the end of the maze.

maze

There are a TON of attractions for tourists on Jeju, including more lava tubes, museums, waterfalls, hiking trails, you name it! These were just a few of them.

You can get to Jeju Island by plane or boat. There are numerous companies that offer guided tours to areas on the island; we opted to rent a car and explore on our own. You will need an international or USFK driver’s license, as well as your passport, to rent a car. We found our accommodations using agoda.com.

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