Camping is the retreat of choice for many South Koreans. Whether it is backpacking or glamping, the camping culture means the country boasts of numerous camping sites. The laws in South Korea also give a lot of relief to campers, thus increasing its popularity. Planning a camping trip isn’t that hard; you just need to know about the best camping spots, the laws, and what to pack.
Types of Camping You Can Do in South Korea
There are a lot of camping sites all over the country. Some of these are private, but most of them are owned by the government. The Korean National Park Service operates about 34 camping sites. You have to register a spot, and they give you a plot of land you can pitch your tent on.
So, what camping sites are better, public, or private?
The best thing about government camping sites is that they sit in the most ideal locations. You can find them on river banks, beaches, mountains, hillsides, and they have a scenic view as well. On the other hand, private camping sites make their own rules. Private camping sites usually give you access to clean water, and toilets, however, they have the right to refuse you as well. This does not happen usually but when the occupancy is full or the private camping sites are not satisfied with the items you are carrying, they could deny you the entrance.
The government camping sites come equipped with toilets, barbeque spots, showers, and sinks. Things like Wi-Fi and electrical outlets are also available. Camping sites also have amazing trails for hiking, which are a good place to both work out and sightseeing.
To go camping in Korea, make sure to book your spot in advance. By the time the camping season arrives, the good spots are fully booked. However, government camping spots have some rules you need to follow. You cannot have any open fires or leave any food out. You will also be fined for littering.
Guerilla Camping is when you go out to camp, without permission and aid from any organization. You don’t have a paid camping spot, and so you lack access to necessary facilities. For example, you may not have any proper bathroom facilities or access to clean drinking water in the nearby proximity. South Korea allows you to guerilla camp anywhere, given that it is not private property, and you are discreet. You cannot guerilla camp on areas that are considered as routine use for the public such as roads or sidewalks even in the farby areas.
You can bring your tent and stove. Make sure you aren’t camping next to a registered camping site, as they can ask you to leave. Also, camping in the forests and other areas of wilderness is illegal. A lot of camping sites with waterfalls and forests don’t allow cooking. This is because there is a risk of forest fires and trash levels increase as well.
To check if the spot you’ve chosen is prohibited, check for a forest protection sign. There can be a fine of 100’000 won, or $86.52 if you choose prohibited areas for camping in South Korea.
Glamping or “glamorous camping” is another rising trend in South Korea. There are a lot of resorts that offer the facility. Instead of a plot of land to set up camp on, the resorts give you rooms, or luxury tents, with swimming pools and bonfires. You get a chance to retreat from the world and enjoy the luxuries of life at the same time. This type of camping is quite popular among foreign tourists as well who are visiting South Korea.
Camping Sites in South Korea
Nanji Hangang Park
A government-owned camping site, which gives you facilities like grills, charcoal, and even meat. The registration office is also multilingual, so you can easily book a camping site, even as a foreigner. Tents are not provided. You have to either bring your tent or rent one for a small fee. The Nanji Hangang Park is one of the best ones to camp in South Korea for the outstanding facilities present over there. You won’t regret the camping experience on this spot.
On Yulpo Beach, you can camp without any fees. Just bring your equipment, and show up early. You can set up the tent anywhere on the beach. Facilities like toilets, parking, and a variety of food stalls and cafes are available. However, the beach will have other guests too.
If you want to cook, you should bring a portable gas stove. Wood fires aren’t allowed when camping on South Korea’s Yulpo Beach.
Nakdong River Auto-camping
Auto-camping is when you bring your vehicle to the campsite. The space you are allotted is large enough to fit your car and allows you to set up a tent. Other plain camping spots are also accessible. The Nakdong River Auto-camping in Busan has 62 RV campsites and 50 regular campsites. Facilities like shower stalls, lawns, showers, and a kitchen are also available. This is why it is one of the best places in South Korea to camp with families. This spot gives you an exceptional view of the scenery giving an aesthetically pleasing experience.
Here is a guide to practical camping clothes you can consider when camping in South Korea – A Guide to Practical Yet Stylish Camping Clothes
This site is perfect for people that want to get away from the city, but don’t want to compromise on comfort. It provides you with a campfire site, a deck, dining utensils, and a cooking range. The firewood will cost extra.
Remember to arrange for a car for transport. The path to the campsite is a little remote and beaten down. There are various other good camping sites at this point. Just search campgrounds in South Korea on the internet, or Kakao Maps.
Seoul Grand Park
Cheonggyesan Mountains are home to the Seoul Grand park campground. Comprising 150 pitches, the park allows you to camp in the serene, and majestic environment of nature. During the day, you can enjoy yourself at the Seoul National Zoo, Seoul Theme park, and National Museum of Contemporary Art.
The facilities provided are very impressive too. There are toilets, showers, a sports ground, a convenience store, and a campfire site. You can register at a camping site here. There is an entrance fee of 1000-2000 Korean won. The campsite rent will cost you about 20’000 won, and the tent and other equipment will cost about 27’000 won. However, Seoul Grand Park is the perfect place to go when camping in South Korea.
Things to Prepare for Camping in South Korea
Register yourself a camping spot in advance. In June and July, rates are at their peak, because of an influx of visitors. If you’re looking for something cheap, skip these months. If you’re going guerilla camping, be sure to pack an electric stove. The locals will report you if you litter, light a fire, or are loud. Be as discreet as possible for the best camping experience.
Camping sites will provide you with a site for a campfire. However, private sites aren’t necessarily bound to give you these facilities. Research the camping site beforehand in detail before choosing a particular one. Also, make sure to book a camping spot that matches your needs.
A normal campsite means an open plot of land. You’ll have to bring your equipment and that could be a great hassle. Packing so many items and then carrying them with you while making sure nothing goes wrong is too difficult. An all-option campsite means you can rent a tent. On the other hand, the auto campsite means a plot that allows you to pack your car. You can set up your tent beside the car. A caravan site means you will be allowed to rent a caravan you can stay in.
Pack your tent. If you intend to rent a tent, you must book one in advance. Always bring your snacks, and water when going camping in South Korea because finding these in emergency situations could become a big challenge for you.
The bedding is another important part. Always pack a mosquito net with you. When choosing a sleeping bag, avoid the ones with cotton liners. While these will be softer, the cotton will absorb moisture. This means you’ll be constantly wet, and sweaty in there. Take trash bags with you, and pick up all your trash. Be respectful to the environment and wildlife.
Suggested Reading – Tips for Point Mugu Camping
Camping is very common in Korea. While the state owns a lot of the famous campsites, there are private ones too. These small campsites are owned by people that live next door. You can start setting up your tent there, and in some time the owners will show up themselves. Some large private campsites have websites, however, for the majority, you’ll have to get their number and call them. You can get their numbers on Kakao Maps.