Words by Sonia Knapp and Ramona Albu
Camping or glamping in Korea is integral to your life, whether you want to see Korea from a different perspective, or you’re aching to get away from the hustle of the city, Korea has something to offer every type of camper.
Campsites in Korea are inexpensive and offer basic amenities: bathrooms and (cold) showers, cooking areas, and parking. Campgrounds that rent out tents, and mattresses are a great option if you want to try camping before investing in gear. Bigger campgrounds may feature playgrounds, sports facilities, and even noraebang (karaoke) equipment. On the other hand, glamping has got you covered if you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, without the challenges of classic camping.
Keep reading for our best tips for camping and glamping in Korea and check out our recommended camping and glamping sites.
Camping Culture in South Korea
Foreigners should keep in mind that Koreans are traditionally very group-oriented. Campers tend to come in groups and often incorporate drinking and singing into their experience. During peak season, expect noisy neighbors and don’t be surprised by loudspeakers and whistles at 7 AM.
Few Koreans camp alone or as a couple, and as a foreigner, you will likely be invited to join in activities, meals, and drinking.* Don’t be shy! You’ll learn something about Korea and create a memorable vacation for both you and your hosts.
*Due to COVID19 and social distancing measures, this has changed drastically in 2020-2021. It is now more common for people to go camping in Korea in small groups and not interact with each other as much.
When to go camping in Korea
Korea’s four distinct seasons mean that the best time for camping is late spring to early autumn, though for the hardcore, year-round camping is possible if you plan ahead and dress/gear-up accordingly. During winter and autumn, the campsites are often deserted, while during the summer, national parks, beaches and other popular destinations can easily fill up, or at least strip away any illusion you are away from it all.
Where to go camping in Korea
Korea’s national or provincial parks provide beautiful settings, cultural sites, hiking trails and other attractions. These parks are well run with a developed infrastructure and well-appointed campgrounds, several offering tents and mattresses for hire. Booking in advance is recommended during the peak season, from late July to August, as camping is first-come, first-serve. Most campgrounds close in the winter.
There are many hidden gems in rural areas across the peninsula, though the sites are more primitive with a natural spring for your water, a fire ring and picnic tables and are better suited for caravan and RV camping. Korea’s many islands, mountains and rivers offer additional opportunities for more experienced campers who want to venture off the beaten track. Many forests and mountainous areas allow camping, though you should ask if it’s on private land.
One problem at many campsites in Korea is trash from previous campers. Set a good example and bring extra bags for garbage. Pack in what you pack out, and maybe even pick up a little from the previous party. A clean campsite makes an impression on the next party to use the site.
Camping Sites in South Korea
Yulpo Beach Camping | Boseong, Jeollanam-do
While not the most isolated camping site, Yulpo Beach is recommended by many as a great spot for beginners with little experience camping exactly for that reason. Facilities like toilets and parking are close by and you are within walking distance from numerous stores, cafes and restaurants from pretty much anywhere on the beach.
Reservations are not available for Yulpo Beach camping, so it’s a first-come-first-served system, with no fees. Go there early, pick a spot among the majestic pine trees on the beach to set up your tent and admire the beautiful sunset by the sea while enjoying a drink. If you want to cook, you better bring your own portable gas stove.
Yulpo Beach is located in Boseong, close to the famous green tea fields and within an hour drive from Gwangju.
Nakdong River Autocamping is located in the Samnak Ecological Park by the Nakdong River in Busan, a park also known for being a migratory park habitat. With quite a large surface, the camping ground has 62 RV campsites, 50 regular campsites, as well as common facilities such as bathrooms, showers, kitchens and a lawn square.
With the camping site being inside an ecological park, you can take the chance to see the migratory birds’ feeding stations close by and the wildflower complex, you can use the biking path, or you can go on a special “ecological” walking course.
Campsite reservations are required and made through the official website, and the fees differ depending on the type of campsite you reserve (KRW 25,000 for RV/auto campsite and KRW 15,000 for a regular campsite).
For those of you seeking a more secluded campsite, far from the buzz of the city and right in the middle of nature, Donggang Riverview Campsite is the place to go! Located about a 3 hour drive away from Seoul, this camping ground offers amazing views of the Donggang River, as well as the surrounding mountains and valleys. The place is especially beautiful in autumn, when you can watch the colored leaves in the warm and gentle sunset light.
Being farther away from civilization, there are not as many facilities or stores around, but that’s what will make the camping experience more authentic. Because it is right by the river, there are also a variety of water sports and activities for you to try, making your camping experience more exciting.
Reservations are required and made through this page, and the fees range from KRW 20,000 (weekdays) to KRW 30,000 (weekends and peak season – July to August).
If you don’t want to go too far from Seoul, we recommend choosing Seoul Grand Park Camping Site in Gwacheon. This very large campground can host up to 1500 people per day and is right in the middle of Cheonggye Mountain’s forest, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the fresh air and the beauty of nature.
In terms of facilities, Seoul Grand Park Camping Site is quite impressive, with not only bathrooms and showers, but also drinking fountains all throughout the site, as well as sports courts, a playground, a convenience store and even a campfire site and a charcoal disposal facility.
Reservations are required and made here, and it’s important to know that you can also rent the tent and the equipment if you don’t have your own. You can also rent a campsite only for the day if you don’t want to spend the night there.
You will have to pay an entrance fee (KRW 1,000 – 2,000), then a KRW 20,000 fee for the campsite itself. Renting the tent and the rest of the equipment (for 4 people) will cost you another KRW 27,000 and will also require a reservation in advance.
The best part is that you can easily get there from Seoul by subway (Line 4 – Seoul Grand Park Station). If you want to explore more, the Seoul Zoo and the Botanical Garden are also found in the same Seoul Grand Park complex. Check out their official website for more information.
If you don’t want to leave Seoul at all but still want to experience camping, you can go straight to Nanji Campground in Mapo, located in a park right next to the Han River. With a high capacity of about 2000 people and 165 campsites every day, Nanji Campground offers a large variety of options: you can go have a picnic without a tent, you can go with your own tent and spend the day chilling, or you can go and enjoy your stay overnight, like a true camper, preparing a barbecue and having a drink under the night sky.
A variety of tents sorted by size and level of “luxury” are available for rent (check options and prices here) and a convenience store nearby has everything you might need in terms of food and cooking supplies, making Nanji Campground a great option for beginner campers. To check prices for renting equipment, have a look here. There is also a small entrance fee of KRW 2,000 – 3,750, so keep that in mind when planning your outing.
Glamping in South Korea
What is Glamping?
“Glamping” is a combination of the words “glamorous” and “camping”, and it refers to the more luxurious form of camping that has gained popularity in the last decade.
Worried about leaving the modern amenities behind? Don’t worry, if you would rather go camping in style, Korea has glamping for you! Glamping sites run by municipal governments and private companies can be found near cities and coastal areas, offering a variety of resort style camping for different fees, depending on the level of luxury.
Instead of the usual tents, your accommodation when glamping will be either a fancy and large tent, a cute cabin, or even a modern, fully-equipped RV. Nice beds, hot water and electricity are a given and there may be amusement parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and sports available on the premises or nearby. Using the barbecue usually comes with a separate fee, but if you’re not in the mood for grilling, you can usually find restaurants and shops in the vicinity of the glamping site.
When to go glamping in Korea
Similarly with camping, late spring to early autumn is the best season for glamping. However, taking into account the upgraded accommodation and the advantages that come with it (like heating and hot water), we would like to recommend trying glamping mid to late autumn, as well, despite the cold weather.
At that time of the year, Korea’s colorful autumn leaves (“danpung” – 단풍) offer visitors breathtaking views, especially by the mountains, which are fully worth the trip. If you can handle a bit of cold, we would also suggest glamping in winter, especially if it snows and you like building snowmen!
Where to go glamping in Korea
Glamping sites are all over South Korea, whether it’s within an hour from Seoul or farther away, in the middle of nowhere. Depending on what you are looking for and the time you have, you can look for glamping sites in the mountains, by the sea, in the countryside or even right next to the city.
While many of the glamping sites are easily reachable with public transportation, some are more comfortable to reach by car. If you don’t own a car, don’t worry! Check out 10 Magazine’s guide on renting a car as a foreigner in Korea and start planning your trip.
Glamping Sites in South Korea
BANU offers visitors the possibility to book one of many spacious, modern-looking cabins in the middle of the pretty nature. These luxurious cabins are fully furnished, have a well-equipped kitchen, and each of them comes with its own deck, where barbecue gear and a campfire pit are available (check for additional fees). There is also an open site surrounded by grass in the complex, as well as an eco-friendly vegetable garden, where you can even pick a few ingredients for your dinner.
Reservations can be made either through their official website or through Airbnb.
This luxury glamping in Taean sits right on the Hakampo Beach, offering an amazing ocean view to all guests. Each “tent” or cabin is fully furnished and equipped with air conditioning and a bathroom, as well as a private barbecue. The complex even has an outdoor swimming pool and a kids’ playground, but if you’re looking for other activities to do around in nature, you can try sea fishing or experience the mudflats in the vicinity.
Reservation can be made through Naver Booking here. Prices differ depending on the type of room/cabin.
Gapyeong’s Pine4rest, although in close vicinity to Seoul, will take you deep into the middle of nature, more specifically between a forest of pine trees. Their cabins have a very unique design but are very spacious and they are, of course, fully equipped with everything you need and more. If you want to explore the area, several hiking tracks, water sports, the Garden of Morning Calm, Nami Island, and Petite France are all within a short distance from Pine 4 Rest.
Reservations can be made through their official website.
In this glamping ground in Jeju, all guests get fully-equipped units with a terrace overlooking the ocean. Air conditioning and the kitchen are a given, but there is also the option of choosing an American-style breakfast served by the pension every morning. The complex has a garden where you can relax while enjoying the ocean breeze and the beautiful surroundings.
Reservations can be made through their official website, on Booking.com or Expedia.
The Dreamping in Namyangju is an all-in-one kind of camping and glamping site. The complex is split into several areas dedicated to different types of camping: picnic zone, tent zone, vintage cabana zone and caravan zone. Not only do they have a swimming pool, but because The Dreamping is right by the Bukhan River, guests have access to a wide variety of water sports, surfing and many other activities. So if you’re a very active person, this might be the best choice for you!
Reservations can be made through their official website.