On South Korea’s volcanic Jeju Island, walking the Olle Trail is probably as close as it gets to the real Jeju as the locals know it.
Words: Abby Yao
In the Jeju dialect, olle is a small path connecting the street to one’s doorstep. The Jeju Olle Trail, established in 2007, takes the olle a step further with a series of walking trails that circle the island. There’s much to see along the way, including cliffs, beaches, oreums (volcanic cones), and maybe see the famed haenyeo (women divers).
The 21 main routes and 5 sub-routes spanning over 400km are rated according to difficulty level. Most are medium but there are some easy and hard routes. Each takes between three to eight hours of walking and can be done in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.
Trails are clearly signposted, with arrows, ribbons, and the ganse (Jeju pony) sign indicating the starting point of each route. Trail heads are reachable by public transport and there are guesthouses, shops and toilet facilities along the way.
Walkers can collect stamps on the Jeju Olle Passport for the start, midpoint and finish of each route. Those who complete the three stamps can receive a certificate of completion for the route, while those who finish the entire trail are included in the Hall of Fame.
If you don’t want to walk on your own, a free guided walk is also available on a different route almost every day. Check the schedule here. There is also a popular Jeju Olle Walking Festival every autumn where thousands of walkers take to the trails together and enjoy a cultural programme showcasing local performances, food and products.
BEST TIME TO GO Spring and autumn
WHAT TO WEAR Good walking shoes, comfortable long-sleeved top and long pants,
WHAT TO BRING Raincoat, snacks, water bottle
For more info on the Jeju Olle Trail, visit the official site at www.jejuolle.org.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies to Jeju from Kuala Lumpur from 18 December 2017. For flight info and fares, visit airasia.com.