Jeju-do’s Manjanggul Cave is about 8 kilometers long. Also known as Manjanggul lava-tube, it used to be a gigantic tube where lava passed through around 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. The lava created a system of tunnels that total to 13 kilometers in length. Tunnels and caves always tickle man’s imagination and curiosity, especially the deep and long ones like Manjanggul. It was declared a National Nature Monument in 1962.
Tours going in and out this leading tourist attraction take about 40 minutes. It’s a bit cold inside the cave, about 18-15° C, with humidity from 87 to 100 percent. The cave is truly thrilling and mysterious, as it is dangerous, which is why tourists are only allowed to access about a kilometer deep. Inside the cave are interesting rock formations, including the “Stone Turtle” that is interestingly shaped like Jeju Island, and a huge 23-meter lava column, the largest known lava column in the world. It is because of this massive lava column that the cave was designated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
Manjanggul is also considered one of the finest lava tubes in the world, not only for its eerie tunnels, unique lava formations and spectacular lava columns, but also for the bats and rare animals that live inside. Cave researchers and enthusiasts frequently visit here.
There are hundreds of caves and lava tunnels all over Jeju-do since this is a volcanic island. Thousands of years ago, the island’s interior burned with flowing lava until they were spewed out and burst, and cooled off for millennia. Jeju-do or Jeju Island is easily the most popular island in South Korea. Many compare it with Hawaii, although it is much colder here in winter since it snows on the northern part of the island. This premier Korean island-destination is referred to as “Island of the Gods” and is the top choice of honeymooners. Other than its amazing landforms and diverse flora and fauna, the island is also known for its friendly people, fun festivals and exotic cuisine. Visitors are treated (and challenged) to a dish of sea urchins, black pork or horse meat.
While the best time to visit Jeju-do is in autumn, the most popular months to visit Manjanggul Cave are the months of March, April, May, August, October and November, but expect the area to be crowded at times. During the peak season, about 50,000 people come to the cave every day. It is open to tourists daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in summer and only up to 5:00 p.m. in winter. Admission is 2,000 won for adults and 1,000 won for children, with discounts for families and group tours.
To get there from Jeju City, the island’s capital, tourists take the Donghoe Line Inter-city Bus that goes all the way to the Manjanggul Cave parking lot. The trip takes about an hour and 20 minutes. From the parking lot, visitors still need to take a 20-minute hike to the cave entrance. Parking is free.