Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise trek in east Jeju - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise trek in east Jeju

Seongsan Ilchulbong is a popular viewpoint in east Jeju where people visit for enjoying great sunrise. When we came to know about this attraction, we decided to visit the next morning.

Initial check online suggested that 6.47 AM is the sunrise time and we should aim to reach viewpoint before that. It is said to be 40 minutes trek uphill, so we should aim to be at trek starting point by say 5.45 AM latest.

Google map showed that Seongsan Ilchulbong is over 2.5 hours by bus from our hostel in Jeju city hall area. 

We assessed while taxi would be faster, it is still better to keep 2 hour travel time and start very early-say 3.30 AM from Jeju city. It was a bad decision. We got out of hostel, got into a taxi at around 3.45 AM and the taxi driver promptly dropped us at the trek starting point in about 40-45 minutes flat. So we were in the deserted town which was yet to wake up, as early as 4.30 AM, still an hour to go before trek can start. Just one shop was open in the area at that time and that too not yet open for business (shop owner was preparing for the day)

With no other option, we sat in front of a shop and waited for about an hour. By 5.30 AM cars started coming in and people started to appear. So we watched what they do.

If you wish to avoid early morning commute, you can stay overnight in the neighborhood- one night hostel will cost same as early morning taxi expense.

Apparently there are two trails- one free trail by the left side and the main trail is ticketed. However ticket counter would open only by 7.30 AM. The free trail had nothing much to offer. We waited and watched what others are doing- everyone were jumping the barricade and taking the paid trail to the cliff. Looks like the paid trail is free for sunrise trek.

So we joined the group of people hiking uphill. There is one restroom on the trail and one more near the ticket counter. The trail was relatively easy (compared to Hallasan) with well paved steps. We climbed up in time, a fairly large observation deck with seating is built on top of the hill so that visitors can sit and enjoy the sunrise. I took a seat and started waiting for the sunrise.

Sunrise started and luckily the sky was clear. Below are some photos of the sunrise.

Two different exposure settings for same sunrise and the 100x zoom
An overexposed and under exposed pic of the sunrise at the same spot
Below is how the valley looks without sunrise blocking the camera view.

View of the town from the cliff

We started walking down. Nice set of steps are maintained so it is an easy walk. 

Once down, we walked around a bit- the free trail area was giving some good views of the ocean. There was an option to go down to the beach. A show where women dive without oxygen mask and catch shellfish. But this show happens only at 1.30 PM, 3 PM, so we couldn't afford to wait till then.

As we came back, the shops were all fully open now. We had a potato swirl (4000 KRW each) and some tea at Starbucks. Shopping is a bad idea here- fridge magnets that I bought 4 for 10000 at Seoul were selling for 4000-5000 KRW each at Seongsan Ilchulbong gift shops.

View of the Seongsan Ilchulbong cliff from further south, Seopjikoji trail area.

Overall it was a great early morning exercise climbing up the hill and enjoying sunset.

Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise trek summary:

  • Where is it? Eastern extreme of Jeju island, some 25 kms from Jeju city
  • Why go there? To enjoy sunrise, early morning hike
  • Complexity: Easy
  • Timing: Check sunrise timing for the day of your visit. From Jeju city 1 hour by taxi and another hour to hike comfortably to viewpoint. Plan accordingly
  • Fees: None for sunrise, 1000 KRW ticket applies post 7.30 AM
  • Facilities available: Restrooms, restaurants at the base
  • Public transport: Available, timing will be tricky if you are aiming for sunrise and bit of walking needed
  • Nearby: Seopjikoji trail and Manjanggul Lava Tube
  • Other things to keep in mind: Check temperature, weather and plan accordingly. Shoe recommended

Related: South Korea trip expense & summary * Orange plucking in Jeju *

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