Art In Island - Dog Friendly Wooden Cabin in Gangwon-Do, South Korea

Art In Island - Dog Friendly Wooden Cabin in Gangwon-Do, South Korea

It only took us 3 years, but we finally found the perfect little wooden cabin in the mountains here in Korea. And the best part, they are dog friendly (not just in the cabin, but in the surrounding campsite too!). I am always looking for get away places here in Korea, and even before having a dog and needing to worry about places that would allow him, I hadn't found much in terms of 'western style' cabins that didn't cost the earth. Stumbling upon Art In Island was one of the highlights of our stay here in Korea, and the place itself exceeded all of our expectations.

Art In Island is a delightful little corner of the Korean countryside, surrounded by mountains and a river (great for fishing!) and great for hiking and exploring too. As you can see from the photos below, we headed to the cabin in winter (the snow made everything magical) but I can tell that this place would be just as wonderful in all seasons.

The cabin owned by the most friendly man, Hao, who was great to communicate with before and during our stay. He replied instantly to all my messages and both him and the local manager went out of their way to make sure we had a comfortable stay. Hao speaks perfect English and really was wonderful to communicate with, even though he lives in Seoul, he often visits the cabin and is a great guy to hang out with and get to know. And the fact that he was so friendly to our dog, Shadow, made us like him even more!

If you own a dog here in Korea, you'll know just how hard it is to find dog friendly accommodation, especially if you own a 'large' breed dog. This cabin was everything we hoped it would be and will definitely be going back before we leave Korea.

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Camping in Korea - Hwacheon, Gangwon Province

Camping in Korea, Hwacheon Gangwon-do, RIver bed camping in Korea

After a very successful camping trip with our pooch to Yongdam (click here to read more about this dog friendly camp site near Jinan) Farmboy and I, #ShadowTheJindo & our fellow SA friend and blogger Jenna (who blogs over at Komodoness) set off in search of adventure in Gangwon-do. It was a rather long, 8 hour drive to get there and so we broke up the trip with our first stop on a random gold course near Wonju. We left on the thursday after school and arrived at 10pm, and so we just set up camp in a very random place. It has been our experience that you can camp anywhere in Korea (we have camped on abandoned tennis courts, closed off roads and museum gardens) as long as you clean up after yourself. We did feel rather nervous about the golf course though, as it seemed very fancy, needless to say we packed up at first light and beetled out of Wonju and further up north to Hwacheon in search of a better site for the next 2 nights.

Before we set out we had looked on google and Naver maps and had found a load of great looking camp sites. We drove to a lot of them but didn't stay at them as they were very much the Korean set up on either gravel roads, or with tents right ontop of each other. We had something very particular in mind; a river/stream, shade and a whole lot of nothing else. After another 5 ours of driving we finally came across a stream and river bed with a very friendly looking farmer overlooking his crops. As it looked like he was the closest authority in the area, Farmboy used his Korean skills and asked the farmer is it was okay to camp on his stretch of the river. He was so friendly! With a big smile we told us that we could camp there for as long we wanted to. I wish I had gotten a photograph of him (note to self...take more photographs of the delightful people we encounter along our travels).

Bear in mind when looking for a camping spot, those neglected gravel roads are usually where the best spots are. Don't be afraid to go off-road a little. Our car has done some serious off-roading and hasn't failed us yet! 

Camping is never complete without a roaring fire. Luckily I married a farm boy who knows exactly how to make the perfect fire.

And then there's the food. Camping for 1 day is easy, but when you camp for 2 or more days there's lots to prepare and of course you have to figure out a way to keep everything cool. For this trip, we went to our local Baskins & Robbins ice cream shop and asked very nicely if we could buy some dry ice (our town is so small we know the manager by name and he was very kind to give us a huge chunk free of charge). The dry ice kept everything cold for 3 and a half days!

We are still working on the perfect menu, but here is a rough idea for 3.5 days worth of meals, from the thursday night dinner (it was a long weekend and we had dinner at one of the rest stops along the way) to the Sunday afternoon:

Day 1

  • Breakfast: homemade granola bars, coffee, tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: tuna wraps with salad
  • Snacks: store bought popcorn
  • Dinner: pre-cooked sausages/viennas, samgyupsal cooked on the fire with a grill plate with kimchi, garlic, lettuce & onion
  • Dessert: s'mores!

Day 2

  • Breakfast: homemade granola bars, coffee, tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: pre-cooked bolognaise wraps with salad
  • Dinner: pre-cooked sausages and fire roasted sweet potatoes
  • Dessert: S'mores!

Day 3

  • Breakfast: coffee, tea and digestive biscuits
  • Lunch: left over Bolognaise mince, wraps & salad

If you make it all the way up to Gangwon Province, the east coast isn't too far a drive for the day and is incredible beautiful. The ocean at Gangneung was incredible blue, and the sand was like powder. It was still a rather windy day with a quite a cold breeze as summer has yet to hit Korea, but it was a great way to spend a few hours.

Can you recommend any great places to camp in Korea? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.

The Hanji Paper Festival in Wonju


A few weekends ago we headed up to Gangwon Province in the north of Korea to see the Hanji Festival in Wonju. It was a rather far drive to make, but we were rewarded with a rather pleasant festival experience as there were very few people, unlike the rest of the festivals we have been to so far (Fall Leaves in Naejangsan and the Spring Flowers in Gwangyang). 

Hanji  literally means “the paper of Korea”. The main material is the fibrous skin of the mulberry. Hanji is not simply paper, as it is used in a variety of ways. Each different way has a different name according to its use.

"The manufacturing process of Korean paper is complicated, slow and laborious. The dry mulberry is cut after the frost has arrived and is peeled off after steaming. It is immersed in water for one day and, after being dried under sunlight, the bark is peeled off, steamed again inside an iron pot and immersed in caustic soda. The steamed bark is smashed inside a stone mortar after the water has been squeezed out. Then it is rinsed in water after being placed inside a wrapper. The washed mulberry is mixed with water and a natural adhesive. Next, the fibres are strained through a bamboo screen, which is shaken back and forth to create a crisscross pattern of fibres. The pulp is then dried by stacking it on a wooden panel and placed in the sun, completing the process." Korea Tourism

It was really interesting seeing how the paper is made, and seeing all the different ways it's used. A lot of the lanterns here in Korea are made with Hanji. The festival was over a 4 days, so even though it's over now you might want to visit next year (see info on how to get there at the end if his post).

This was also our first weekend away with our new puppy, Shadow (full post to come on him soon) and it was a rather interesting learning experience being around other people and lots of noise while carrying a new puppy. 

How to Get There:

151, Hanjigongwon-gil, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do
강원도 원주시 한지공원길 151 (무실동)

-From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus bound for Wonju.
-From Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal, take a taxi to Hanji Theme Park.
Take bus 2-1 at the bus stop located across from Wonju Intercity Bus Terminal.
Get off at Youth Center (청소년수련관). Walk 10min toward Hanji Theme Park.

Camping in Korea - Gangwon Province

Camping South Korea Gangwon Province

We recently bought a little car here in Korea and it has been an absolute game changer. As we live out in the countryside, there is so much to explore, but very few ways of getting there. Having a car has also meant that we can just go off for the day to a new town, to parks, to mountains, lakes and rivers with a picnic, a hammock and of course our little gas stove for tea. We also found a tent and have dipped our toes into camping in Korea.

Camping here is very different to camping back home in South Africa. Koreans like to camp in parking lots, close together, no wait, scratch that, on top of each other. They don't mind not having a view and they certainly don't mind listening to whatever their neighbour has blasting out of their portable sound systems. That is completely not our scene, and so our recent camping trip up north to Gangwon province had us driving around for hours in search of peace and quiet (and a little shade). We finally settled on an old abandoned road (it was the smoothest surface we could find that had space for the tent and that was close to a stream) and it turned out to be the perfect spot. The road was closed off (little Cherry, being light weight and the size of a sandwich, was able to squeeze through the barriers - probably very illegal) and we found ourselves alone, with privacy and a flowing stream for my avid fisherman hubby.

Numerous cups of tea, plenty of relaxing and cooling off in the stream led to a wonderful camping trip. 

Our iphones and their navigation system were life savers, especially as we were only able to leave work at 6pm and only got to Gangwon province at 11pm. They showed us each camping site in the area (most of which were abandoned with no toilet facilities) as well as showing us small, farming roads which we were able to navigate around to find the ideal place to set up tent. We spent our first night just outside the town of Jecheon and then settled on the abandoned road somewhere along the river, north of Pyeongchang.

Driving here in Korea has been remarkably easy to adjust to. The roads are pretty well sign posted (although a lot of the time only in Korean) and the toll charges for our little Matiz are extremely low.