The summer season is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful countryside in Korea, with all the best summer activities on offer. There is an array of adventure sports and outdoor activities that one can avail of, and although Korea may not be known for it’s adventurous side, it’s certainly there. Nature is subtly unstoppable and more powerful than any of us, with no way to beat it. Rather, it can take you to new heights if you let it, just don’t look down…
Because of it’s advanced transport system and convenient size, you can easily access any point in the country within a couple of hours, and so weekend trips anywhere in the Korea to get your feet wet or your heart racing is a great way to spend the summer months. It’s an opportunity we should all jump at.
The land itself is 70% mountainous, and the whole of South Korea is wrapped around three different seas to dive into. With rivers ripping through the land and rugged terrain to get grubby or glide your way through, there is more than enough activity to keep you busy during the playful months of the summer season.
Here are a couple of things that should be on everyone’s Korean bucket list. The most popular activities for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking for some fun.
First and foremost the number one activity in Korea, any time of year in fact is the good old-fashioned hike. With such a variety of hiking trails and breathtaking landscapes to be discovered, you will find yourself addicted to the beauty of it all. Each hike has an abundance of cultural treasures, temples and historic sites. With the combination of scenic nature, exhilarating exercise and a cultural taste of the country, hiking is by far the best way to see Korea and all that it represents. Jirisan and Seoraksan National Park are among the favourites to spend a weekend hiking, with a multitude of trails, waterfalls, magnificent views and soaring heights to reach.
The second sport to dig into is biking the beautiful long roads through the peaceful Korean countryside for miles. The terrain is perfect for an enjoyable family bike ride, or a long endurance cycle for those more hardcore Armstrong types out there. As I said, the size of the country is convenient for those who want to get from A to B, no matter where that is. This is also true for cyclists. Cycling from Seoul to Busan (500 km) is a popular cycle for those that have a bucket list of adventures in Korea, and is one for the list if you have a week free.
Combine camping with cycling or hiking and have a blast. With such rugged rural landscapes and captivating views what better way to spend a weekend than by waking up to it? The mountains, the rivers and the endless countryside makes for perfect camp sites in the summer months. Camping all over the country is widely available, through national parks, lakesides, and flatlands. Get yourself a tent, practice your fire making skills and bring plenty of food and drink. It’s good to take time to switch off, detox from the devices and over stimulation we’re fed everyday and have yourself a peaceful weekend in the wilderness. I’d recommend heading to Jirisan (the largest national park in Korea) for a taste of camping life here, which you can read more about on my hiking weekend here!
With an abundance of rivers throughout the country, there is always fun to be had. Scuba diving and snorkelling during the summer season is a great way to cool off from the beating sun and say hello to some sea creatures while you’re at it. Jeju Island is known as the best location for scuba, said to be the “Hawaii” of Korea.
Surfing is also renowned in Jeju, although you’ll find good spots on the mainland too. Swimming and windsurfing are popular on many beaches. Go to Haeundae beach in Busan, and you’ll be sure to find an array of activity on land too. People flock to the fluffy sand to play rugby, volleyball and frizbee on a hot summer days and the atmosphere along the long strip of beach is always energetic.
Cliff jumping from the islands down south is a great way to get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping. Namhae Island, known as “treasure island” is connected to the mainland by bridge, with 68 islands scattered around the mainland. They hold stunning views from their cliff edges jutting out of the ground.
Throw yourself off them and pierce the water as the sun beats down on you. Always have your snorkel at the ready, because you don’t want to miss out on the adventure underwater. Sangju and Songjeong beaches are well known for their sandy shoreline, and emerald coloured waters.
For those that are in the Seoul area, water rafting through the numerous rivers cutting through the country is another thrilling way of discovering the nature Korea has to offer. Gangon-do Province is best known for its wild rivers where you can grab a rubber boat and enjoy the dynamic currents. Get a group of friends and raft through Hantangan River, the “Grand Canyon of Korea.”
Surrounded by steep cliffs and unspoiled terrain and wildlife, the river holds eight different rapids to plunge through as you travel as far north as the DMZ – an exhilarating ride for more than just the waves.
**If you would rather raft further South than I would suggest Gyeongho River, which runs through the Eastern side of Jirisan National Park, perhaps a day trip while you are camping under the stars there!**
Zip lining and hand gliding are excellent ways to get your feet off the ground and soar through the air as you take in your beautiful surroundings from new perspectives. Hand gliding is a popular hobby that is widely available, and should be grabbed with both hands (most definitely, both hands). Zip lining is available in many places throughout the country, just outside Deagu for instance there is an adventure park that offers an obstacle course and zip line for a very reasonable price!
If you fancy going a step further, and decide to fling yourself off a crane into the water below you, Cheongpung Land has plenty crazy activities to feed your adventurous curiosity. Bungee jumping, Korea’s first ever “ejection seat” and the “big swing” where you can experience zero gravity are all options at Chungcheongbuk-do.
I myself am working on this list, slowly but surely making my adventurous way through the best of the summer activities in South Korea. There are unlimited possibilities, and endless ways to get that adrenaline racing here. Push your personal limits through the natural surroundings and beautiful landscapes readily available to you!