When planning our itinerary, we decided to head east first because we wanted to make sure we saw the sunrise. We had several options and places to go between the airport in Jeju City and our hotel near Seungsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak), but this was one of the most unique options.
Manjang-gul Cave is a UNESCO World Heritage location. It is actually one of the few lava tubes in the world. Only 1km of the 13,422m of the lava tube is open to tourist. Source
As you can see in the pictures above, it is no doubt a cave. It looks dark (you might not want to come here if you’re afraid of the dark), but at least there are lights along the walk way. It is suggested that you bring a flashlight with you. It was not easy capturing what the cave was really like, so please bare with my limited photography skills.
Although the 1km walk is not very long, we made sure to put on some comfy shoes for this walk. The ground is a actually very bumpy and slippery. Even with our good shoes, I can still feel the bumpy terrain. I really can’t imagine trying to walk through this lava tube with heels on. It was almost eery hearing high heels clacking through the lava tube ahead of us. Of course we caught up to her to see her slowly making her way down the path (I wonder if she even made it to the end of the lava tube?). I found that that was kind of a trend in South Korea, lots of girls strutting down the streets (and in this case, a cave) in their heels. I don’t know how they do it.
There were several passages with lower ceilings, and that is when we really get to see what the inner walls of the lava tube are like. Although the ceilings are much lower, we did not feel claustrophobic because it was well let. Whats interesting is that the ceiling looks just like the ground. Kind of like when you slide down one of these tube slides; just that its a lot rougher (and probably not ideal for sliding).
And some parts were obviously not possible to walk on. Bridges and path ways have been built for us to walk on. These were moments were I seriously felt as though I was at Disneyland waiting in line for a ride.
As for the rest of the lava tube, it was huge. We couldn’t even see the ceiling (unless they set the lights up for us to see) because it was so high and dark. There are benches throughout the lave tube for people to take breaks.
We only stopped for a few moments to take a couple pictures and continued to make our way to the end. I was definitely close to tripping a couple times, so be careful (and maybe slow down). I kept thinking that the end better be worth it!
I think it was worth it! A platform has been built right in front of this lava column, and is well lit by colorful lighting. It is one of the largest lava columns in the world and was created from lava flowing through a hole in the ceiling creating this formation. It really looks like it is holding the tunnel up for us.
Can you imagine how much lava had to flow through here to create this?
According to the signs I read, the entrance we went through is one of several entrances to the lava tube but this is the only one open to tourists. It is actually an opening created when the ceiling of the lava tube collapsed (a long long time ago).
You can actually see that the entrance is just a big hole. The view looking up from the bottom of the entrance was just as magnificent. The trees create a canopy over the hole, and lets a limited amount of sun rays through between its leaves and branches. Tree roots have formed along the edges. I think I can just sit there in the shade all day.
You can definitely feel the difference in temperature from the the bottom of the cave and when we are above ground. My camera even fogged up as we left the lava tube. It could get as cold as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celcius) down there. I believe it was about 80 degrees Fahrenheit when were in Jeju, that’s a pretty big difference.
It was not a lot long walk, but a little more challenging then I though because of the ground. I can imagine it being a great destination on a hot summer day, just be aware of water drops from the ceiling (bring a wind breaker for the water and the cool temperatures).
Within the next couple of days, we found that there are a LOT of stairs. I guess I should have stepped on that stair master at the gym a couple more times. Otherwise you will be passed up by seasoned Korean hikers!
Tickets: Adults: 2,000 won. Youth/Children: 1,000 won