Farmboy and I camp a lot here in Korea. One of the main reasons for all of our camping is because of our pup Shadow. Another reason is that once you invest in your camping gear you no longer have to pay anything for accommodation (apart from campsite fees if you camp in actual camping grounds).
Having a car here in Korea has always been a big life changer, as we would never be able to get to the places we have explored without a car (and, being a CityGirl, camping for me should still involve some level of comfort and there is just no way I would be able to carry a blow up mattress and pump in a backpack loaded with everything else). If you'd like to read more about owning a dog in Korea then click here. I've written lots of helpful posts that you might find useful if you have a dog. Also, click here to see all our other posts on camping.
We went camping over the Chuseok holidays (we had a 4 day weekend this year with Monday & Tuesday being public holidays) up near Yeongju (Gyeonbok Province) and so this left us enough time to make the 6 hour journey up North from our town. Something to bear in mind over Chuseok, most Koreans head South to their family home towns meaning there are fewer cars heading North at the start of the holiday. We were warned about the traffic and had no problems as we were going against the traffic in both directions. We left at 3am on the Saturday and although out lane was completely clear, the traffic was almost to a standstill in the opposite direction...at 3am! So keep that in mind when planning your trip. We also tried as best we could to avoid the IC (main highways) and stuck to the smaller roads.
Farmboy has really been into his fishing lately (both bass and fly fishing) and so we were headed up North in search of trout. Much to his disappointment, there weren't too many bites, even though we were in an area that is well known for trout. He still had a great time fishing, and the areas surrounding the streams and rivers were beautiful, so that made up for it. For this trip, Farmboy had heard that the streams around Bonghwa are great places to fish for trout and so we went onto google maps and searched for Bonghwa, and then zoomed in on the map in search of legitimate camp sites. If you zoom in close enough on an area in Maps on your iPhone you'll see the little brown tent symbol which shows campsites in the area. Then we simply drove along the road in search of the best place for us to itch our tent.
After our very early start, we arrived at 8am at one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen here in Korea. We followed a small country road (following this address: 산129 Daehyeon-ri, Seokpo-myeon Bonghwa-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do). The area is known as Kosun Creek (고선계곡) and is filled with camping sites, MinBaks and Pensions (Korean Guesthouses). The first camping site we came across looked abandoned, and across from it another site only had one caravan. We headed over to chat to the only camper we could see and find out more about that particular campsite. He was incredibly friendly, spoke wonderful English and proceeded to tell us about much better spots to fish and set up camp further up stream. He also shared his breakfast with us. He had a rather impressive camp set up, which he told us was just for him when he needed a break from his family. He told us he has a much bigger caravan back home for when his wife and kids join him...sounds like a good life to me!
We don't like camping in specified camping grounds, and we also know that we would probably be turned away when people catch sight of Shadow, and so we usually just drive to a quiet spot to set up camp. We have yet to be kicked off a spot or to run into any problems just setting up camp. We also always make a fire and have yet to have any issues. If you do this, just make sure to clean up after yourselves. Toilets are the only downside to this kind of camping...bushes are your only option. We either burn the used toilet paper or keep it in a packet to throw away at home/along the way. We also like to camp near water so we can at least have some version of a bird bath if we are camping for more than one night.
For our camping trips we eat the following:
- Breakfast: coffee/tea and digestive biscuits
- Lunch: Bolognese mince/tuna wraps with salad
- Snacks: store bought popcorn/crackers/Gim or seaweed packs
- Dinner: samgyupsal/pre-cooked sausages/vienna sausages, sweet potatoes fire
- Dessert: s'mores (& wine/soju!)
The only downside to this style of camping is you don'c actually know where you are going to be sleeping that night. This means you need to factor in time (while it's still light) to find and set up camp. We don't usually stay at the same spot 2 nights in a row as there is so much to see and explore here in Korea, and so we end up driving around (often times getting frustrated) in search of the perfect spot. We found the one below after about an hour and at the end of a very tiny country road that wasn't even on our gps. It was below a train line (a little bit nerve wracking) but the train was still far enough above us to not cause us any worry. It only ended up going a few times during the night.
As we had made it all the way to Gyonbok, we headed to Andong for the Mask Festival. I hadn't realised that there are two parts to the festival (the Folk Village and the Mask Festival) and that they are really far from each other. The Mask Festival is in Andong itself, whereas the folk village was about 30km out of town. There are shuttles that go between the two, but bear in mind that you probably need a car to get to the Folk village. We also had no idea if they would allow dogs in, but they seemed to have no problem with Shadow.
Are there any great camping spots you can recommend? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. There are still a few more good weekends left before it gets to cold to camp.