Photo from the Road: Jeju’s Lava Tubes

The Hills of Jeju
February 18, 2011
The Independent Spirit of Gwangju
March 2, 2011

Photo from the Road: Jeju’s Lava Tubes

The world’s biggest lava pillar in Manjang-gul lava tube

South Korea’s Jeju Island is known for having some of the best examples of lava tubes anywhere in the world. On nearly my last day in Jeju, after teaching English at a winter camp for children, I was able to visit some of them. Good thing, because I didn’t want to have to tell my friend, an avid global caver, that I visited Jeju and failed to see the lava tubes.

Lava tubes are basically caves that formed as lava flowed through under the ground. First we stopped at one of the lava tubes in Geomunoreum Park. The entrance was closed off but we got a chance to peek inside at ground level.

Following that we headed over to Manjang-jul lava tube. At 7.4 km, it’s one of the longest in the world. At some places its 18 m wide and 23 m high. Only the first 1,000 meters of Manjang-jul is open to the public and lit. Along the way, several formations are pointed out, with the path culminating at the world’s largest lava pillar which stands at 7.6m tall.

Photo and text by Stephen Bugno

The entrance to a lava tube on Jeju Island, South Korea

Inside a lava tube on Jeju Island, South Korea

Lavacicles on the roof of Manjang-gul lava tube

Above the Lava tubes on Jeju Island, South Korea

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Stephen Bugno says:

    @BenT I was thinking of you the whole time. You are my inspiration for anything below ground.

  2. Juno says:

    Didn’t know it is called Lava tube in English. Anyway, yes I remember this place. It was really unique one. Amazing, how one volcano made all these and how people found it.

  3. BenT says:

    Glad to see that you had some time to get into some nice lava tubes while you were there

  4. Laura says:

    Nice photos! I’ve never seen anything quite like this – in fact I wasn’t even familiar with the term until I read this post. 😉 How interesting that you’re able to go inside to see the formations.

  5. Like the entrance photo 🙂

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