About Cheonjeyeon Falls (cheonjeyeon pokpo [천제연폭포])
Cheonjeyeon Falls (Cheonjeyeon Pokpo [천제연폭포]) was a series of three waterfalls each spilling into colorful blue ponds.
The name of the falls translates to “The Pond of God”, and as the name suggests, these ponds are what distinguish this waterfall from others we’ve been to, especially on Korea’s Jeju Island.
Of course, the waterfalls themselves were no slouches, and they were the very reason why we came here in the first place.
The first waterfall is said to be 22m tall dropping into a plunge pool said to be 21m deep, but this waterfall apparently only flows after heavy rain (it wasn’t flowing on our late June 2023 visit).
The second waterfall was probably the most attractive and notable one, and it’s said to have a 30m drop with a width that makes it appear to have a more classical rectangular shape.
It’s no surprise that this was by far the most popular waterfall of the Cheonjeyeon Falls ensemble though it made me wonder how the first waterfall could be so dry while the second waterfall was so reliable.
I suspect the main reason is that most of the water on the Jungmuncheon Stream emerges from the deep plunge pool below the first waterfall as a spring.
So there has to be a lot of water in order for water to flow over the cliff responsible for that first waterfall.
Anyways, the third waterfall required the most effort to reach as well as the smallest of the three.
However, it also has reliable flow along with an attractively large plunge pool (much like the second waterfall).
A visit to these waterfalls also allowed us to go on the Seonimgyo Bridge, which not only allowed us to see the waterfalls from a distance (in high flow though), but it also let us glimpse the sea looking downstream.
Since this was one of Jeju Island’s more popular places to visit, it made sense that they charge for admission and have opening and closing hours.
During our late June 2023 visit, we paid about 2500 won per adult and our daughter’s ticket was 1350 won.
A sign here indicated that the opening hours were from 9am to 7pm, but the ticket office window closes an hour before closing (keep in mind that these were Summer hours, and they may change the times outside of this season).
Experiencing The Cheonjeyeon Falls
From the car park, which seemed like a former basketball court (see directions below), we walked to the southern end where there was the ticket kiosk.
After paying for and securing out tickets, we then went past a ticket check kiosk before going right on the well-signed and well-developed walk that goes to all of the Cheonjeyeon Waterfalls.
Barely 100m past the ticket check kiosk, there were steps leading down to a lookout for the first waterfall.
Unfortunately, during our late June 2023 visit, that lookout was closed so we couldn’t get a good look at the falls (which was dry anyway).
Nonetheless, we did catch glimpses of a nicely colored plunge pool, but it was a shame that the closure of the lookout kept us from seeing it properly.
By the way, there’s no swimming at any of the plunge pools, which is clear from the way that railings were set up along with the ubiquitous CCTV surveillance cameras (which are all over Korea).
About 200m downstream from the first waterfall’s spur was another short spur trail that descended to a large lookout fronting the second waterfall.
This was by far the busiest of the lookouts, and the size of the viewing deck certainly accommodated a few dozen people though the choice views were still limited to the front of this platform.
After having our fill of the second Cheonjeyeon Falls, we then hiked 200m back up out of the gorge and onto the road, where it seemed like an older trail that stayed within the gorge was closed off (likely due to rockfall and gorge stability issues).
So after going for maybe 50m along the road, we then reached one side of the Seonimgyo Bridge, where there was a lookout to get a closer look at some of the bridge’s 7 nymphs (though I’m not sure what their significance is).
On top of the bridge, we were able to look upstream towards the first Cheonjeyeon Falls while looking downstream yielded interesting seaside views beyond the well-forested jungle below.
The other side of the bridge led to the Jungwon Tourist Complex (where there were a lot of high end hotels and restaurants), and there was a separate paid entrance over there.
There might also be more lookouts on the other side of the bridge though we didn’t go all the way across and explore that part on our visit.
Finally, at about 300m beyond the bridge, the trail reached another signed junction where we then went another 150m or so (descending several steps) before reaching the lookout for the third of the Cheonjeyeon Falls.
Although space was more limited at this lookout, there weren’t nearly as many people pursuing this waterfall as compared to the second waterfall.
After having our fill of this third waterfall, we pretty much went back the way we came to the car park (but staying on the road all the way to the cafes and drink shops to cool off) going about 700m to get there.
It’s worth noting that the main trail continued beyond the spur to the third waterfall, and apparently this trail goes by a couple of temples as well as ultimately links up with the Jungmunsang-ro (the very same road we drove on to park the car earlier).
We can’t say more about that route since we didn’t do it, but as far as amenities were concerned, it was definitely more forested and less developed that way.
Overall, we spent a little less than 90 minutes away from the car, but we did pause quite a bit to take pictures as well as have some cold drinks on the way back to the car (so I’m sure you can do this easily in less than an hour).
Lastly, there’s another waterfall called Cheonjiyeon Falls, which is NOT the same as this waterfall despite the single letter change in the romanization of its name.
Cheonjeyeon Falls resides by the Jungmun Tourist Complex in Seogwipo, Jeju-do Province, South Korea. It is administered by the local authorities in Seogwipo. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website for leads.
Rather than confuse you with a bunch of turn-by-turn directions that won’t mean anything to you, I’ll just tell you that it’s best to use a Korean routing software on a phone that’s hooked up to a Korean Network (as Google Maps doesn’t work in Korea).
We prefer using a SIM card with an unlimited data plan for this purpose so we shouldn’t be running out of data while routing (while also allowing us to use that phone as a hot spot).
Regardless of what your current location is (and South Korea is as well-connected of a country as I had ever seen), use Kakao Map app to navigate your way through all the city streets, interchanges, and local rural roads.
It even tells you the whereabouts of speed bumps, school zones, speed cameras, and all the particulars about which lane to take when there’s a decision point with multiple lanes involved.
The only catch to using Kakao Map (or any other Korean routing app) is that you’ll need to at least learn how to put your place names in Hangeul (the Korean writing system).
That’s because using romanized words and expecting the app to find it doesn’t always work, but placenames in Hangeul almost always can be found in the app.
Anyways, in our example, we were coming from the rental car garage near the Jeju-si Airport (제주오케이렌터카) so with that as our starting point (출발), we set up 천제연폭포 주차장 (Cheonjeyeon Falls Parking Lot) as the destination (도착).
This route took us about an hour to go the 38km distance.
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