For Park Mi-jeong, a 29-year-old Seoul resident, camping is the easiest way to escape hectic city life and enjoy nature.
“Camping is a good rest for tomorrow,” said Park. “It also brings your family together through outdoor activities. And it brings you closer to nature.”
Camping has gained popularity in recent years thanks to the five-day work week that began in 2004 and the five-day school week earlier this year.
According to recent figures, the number of campers jumped tenfold in the last five years and is estimated to reach about 1.2 million this year.
Campsites with full amenities, built on the back of the camping boom, offer the best of the urban and the rural, as most of them are located in natural settings but equipped with extensive facilities.
Kim Eun-ju, 37, from Yangcheon district in Seoul, started camping last year with her children. “It offers the perfect moment to be immersed in nature,” said Kim.
However, as more people find campsites one of the easiest ways to escape the city, camping grounds are becoming fully booked and reservations are becoming trickier.
To meet the growing demand, a new camp site has opened near Ipo Reservoir situated in Namhan River, Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province.
|Campers sit around a campfire at Ipobo campsite in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province.(Lee Woo-young/The Korea Herald)|
The Ipobo (bo means reservoir) campsite offers 60 individual campgrounds with individual parking space, public showers and bathrooms, outdoor washing facilities and individual power points.
Camping: From day to night
After setting up your tent, the rest of the day leaves you full of options. But according to Kim Sung-geon, who has more than 10 years of camping experience, the pleasure of camping starts when you do nothing.
“People are preoccupied with many duties in their daily lives, which cause much stress. Camping is the time you can cast away all preoccupations,” Kim said.
You can simply relax in a nice, comfortable camping chair and adjust to a slower pace of living.
And the highlight of camping comes at night.
“It’s the time you can do barbecue and gather your family and friends around a campfire and just start talking freely,” said Kim.
Sitting by a campfire presents a perfect opportunity to bond for families ― parents and children will find that they can talk casually over barbequed meat and drinks.
“Camping is a family-oriented activity. Most of the campers consist of families with school-age children. Camping offers kids a chance to play in a wide open space and it motivates parents to go out for camping more often,” said a camper at the Ipobo campsite.
To reserve a campsite, visit www.riverguide.go.kr and for more information, call 1577-4359.
Reservations can be made for June 21 through end of July.
Activities: Biking, kayaking, canoeing
|Riding along the Namhan River cycle path (Korea Tourism Organization)|
The cycle path along the Namhan River and kayaking or canoeing in the water adds a bit of energy o the relaxed atmosphere of camping.
You can ride your bike near the campsite, or start a long ride from Paldang Station.
The 40-kilometer-long bike ride from the train station to the Ipobo campsite can be challenging for beginners, but offers a magnificent view along the bike road.
The bike road passes several well-known spots, allowing you to stop by places such as Yangsuri or Dumulmeori, the point where two rivers ― Bukhan River and Namhan River ― merge and create the most scenic view; Yangpeyong flame grass field, which creates a dramatic landscape; and the Ipo Reservoir which has become a local landmark with its distinctive architecture and a popular family vacation spot with an eco-park, rest-stop for bikers and a camping site.
You can bring your own bike and ride directly from the train station to the campsite as trains on the Jungang line offer bike stands in the first and last passenger cars of the train on weekends and holidays.
You can also rent bikes at Paldang Station or Yangsu Station.
One of the best things about the Ipobo campsite is that it offers fun water activities on the slow flowing water, making it ideal for kayaking, canoeing and boating.
It will also allow you cool down in the summer heat.
“I really liked rafting and water fighting with other groups today,” said Park Gyu-ri, 8.
Her mother said she liked her kids enjoying a variety of events from kayaking to biking near the campsite. “Kids love it, I hope they will also build a swimming pool so that kids can play in the water,” she said.
A stop at Semiwon Lotus Park
A visit to to Semiwon, a beautiful and serene lotus park, is recommended either on the way to the Ipobo campsite or on the way back home after camping.
Located on the wetland in Yangsuri, the 180,000-square-meter park features vast lotus fields as well as water lilies and Sweet Flag that create the most scenic view and perfect photo opportunities.
Upon entering the front gate, stepping stones through a narrow stream lead you to a Korean Peninsula-shaped garden that features a variety of aquatic plants.
The garden continues on to lotus fields and a scenic point to Dumulmeori, where Bukhan and Namhan rivers meet.
The entrance fee to the park is 4,000 won for adults and 2,000 won for children, teenagers, soldiers and the elderly. Group visitors can get a 500 won discount.
By Lee Woo-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)