Camping in Seoul: Cats, Coffee, and Korean Barbecue
Updated: May 14
Camping Culture in South Korea
When I first began teaching, I was surprised by how many of my students would routinely leave early on Fridays. Compared to my relatively uneventful weekends growing up, I suspected they had relatives who lived far enough away that they had to get a head start traveling to see them.
"Who're they visiting this weekend?"
"They aren't visiting anyone, they're going camping."
Despite the language barrier, I asked my students to bring in collected items from their camping trips: shiny rocks found on hiking trails, their favorite leaves, and sometimes photos of taken of their campsites. I realized then how popular camping is in Korea, and how accessible the outdoors are for families in the city.
Coming from the U.S., particularly my area, I'd have to drive a few hours to get to the nearest mountain. Seoulites, on the other hand, only have to take a short subway trip to the base of a trail. And there are some excellent trails within the city: from the rock-scaling peak of Bukhansan to the long trek around Inwangsan's rock walls.
Camping for the Faint of Heart
However, what I find most impressive is how easy it is to just go camping. In the U.S., I always envisioned camping as a big to-do, from preparing your supplies (hiking boots, tent - knowing how to set up the tent - bug spray, sleeping bag, backpack) to actually getting out in the wilderness, setting up a site and staying safe from whatever wild animals lurked in the night.
And there's plenty of outdoorsy people in Korea who do just that, however there are easier routes for those simply wanting to get out of the city for a few nights. Like me!
This ready-to-go campsite was located in Yangju, a city only 60-minutes outside of Seoul. The site had everything we needed: a cabin stocked utensils, WiFi and a TV, running water, bathrooms, and a grill.
We stayed only for a night, though a few hours outside of the bustling city and some fresh air turned out to be perfect. Here's a video of the camping experience in Yangju. Tell me: does your city have easy access to the outdoors?