Jeju has a myriad of options to get out into the great outdoors and do some camping.
Apparently recreational camping has changed a lot here in the last few years. According to a Summer 2013 article in the quarterly journal Koreana, there are now an estimated 400 to 500 camping sites around the country, and there may be as many as 1.5 million people going camping annually
Many of these travellers are coming down to our fair island. These days you could pretty much go anywhere on the island and find a nearby campground. There are at least two dozen well-established ones spread along the coast and at the lower elevations of Mt. Halla.
According to the article, the cost of taking a vacation, even just a weekend family outing, is a major issue. A family of four, for example, could easily spend four or five times as much in a traditional hotel as they would in a campground. Accommodations, restaurants, activities. They all add up.
And then for students and people who live in Korea’s major cities their whole lives, there’s the sheer novelty of actually spending an extended period outdoors. There’s certainly less light pollution out in the countryside. And people are starting take notice and want to lead healthier lifestyles, whenever possible.
There are a number of different types of camping on Jeju. First, the cheapest option would be to just go it alone and head out backpacking. You’d need to have your own gear and the ability to set out and camp responsibly.
Next is an option for people on a budget, and especially people new to camping. “Auto camping” is where you seek out a public or private campground, using your own vehicle, and paying a minimal fee for renting the space at the campsite.
This is generally just a few thousand won per person, and often you can rent gear or a tent, for as little as 10,000 won a day. Most such campsites have at a minimum a place to wash dishes, public washrooms, and hot showers. WiFi is becoming pretty common, too.
Next up is “glamping” — a combination of the words “glamorous” and “camping.” In essence, you only need to bring your own food and personal necessities. Top quality gear is provided and set up for you, and there are facilities like hot showers and modern washrooms. All you have to do is cook your own food and clean the dishes afterward. Prices, though, are high — in the 100,000 to 150,000 won range, for a family-sized tent, though.
And finally is what some consider to be the creme-de-la-creme of camping: caravaning.
These units have all the amenities, such as air conditioning, a real bed with comfortable mattress, a private bathroom, a sofa, refrigerator, gas stove, TV, and more. It might even seem to some to not be camping at all.
So, if you do head out to camp, what sorts of campers will you find here? Mostly it will be campgrounds full of families, friends, couples, and even some solo campers, who just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life for even a weekend.
Unlike the big family reunions that people in the U.S. and Canada regularly organize, extended families here often don’t have the luxury of a large family plot to retreat to. So a campground can be a place where Korean families can all meet and mix outdoors.
And keep in mind these tips for safe and enjoyable camping. According to the CDC:
1. Keep your food safe
Keep them in an insulated cooler. Wash hands and surfaces often. Make sure you cook your foods to proper temperatures. And chill the leftovers promptly.
2. Keep yourself safe
Never hike or swim alone and watch your kids closely. Look out for poisonous plants and wild animals, many of which carry dangerous diseases. Mosquitoes and ticks are also a problem here. So, apply insect repellent regularly and wear light-colored, long sleeves and pants when hiking.
3. Prevent temperature-related illnesses
Watch out for hypothermia at night, even in summer. And drink lots of liquids through the hot day.
4. Protect yourself from the sun
You can get a sunburn even on cloudy days. So a broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential, but seek out shade, especially around noon when the sun’s rays are strongest. And of course cover up — wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
5. Be prepared
Check the weather report. Have a first-aid kit and know how to use it. And when you return home, check for ticks, skin rashes, and signs of dehydration.
While there is no one definitive source of information on camping on Jeju Island, searching for the term 캠핑장 is one way to find a list of campgrounds.
This a reworked article, written by the author, which first appeared on KCTV English News. — Ed.