Hit the Beach
After living in Gwangju for two years, we’ve done our fair share of beach trips and beach camping weekends. There are plenty to choose from but here are some of our favourites.
Just 40mins drive from Gwangju, I think Hampyeong Dolmeori Beach is the closest. There’s also an intercity bus from the bus terminal then local bus 500 will take you right to the beach. Due to huge differences in the tide, they’ve constructed a wall to keep an area for swimming, even when the rest of the beach is mudflats – also fun for crab hunting if you’re into that. There’s even a brand new water playground at the far end of the beach, but I’m unsure whether it’s open this year due to COVID restrictions.
We also visited Hampyeong Dolmeori Beach in the middle of winter. We stayed in a caravan right by the water and it was a different kind of beautiful!!
Explore the Islands
Nowadays, many of the islands are accessible via bridge so you can skip the ferry ride. For beaches, we loved Bungye Haebyeon on Jaeundo Island.
For a peaceful overnight trip, staying in the Hankok pension on Oedaldo has been our favourite so far.
Yulpo Beach can get busy but is a firm favourite among Gwangjuites. The road to Yulpo goes right past the Boseong Green Tea Fields for a perfect stopover.
Goheung County is full of beautiful countryside and striking coastlines. Namyeol Beach stands out as being particularly beautiful. It has a very laid back feel and you can even hire surfboards. Although I don’t guarantee any surfable waves!
Gosapo Beach is a bit further north in Buan County, but the whole area is surrounded by a national park to explore if you want to enjoy the beach and the mountains together.
Splash in a Mountain Valley Stream
Since 70% of Korea is covered by mountains, and most valleys have streams running through them, it’s not hard to find one to splash in! We spend a lot of time around Wolchulsan as Appa’s parents live near Yeongam. There’s a lovely shady stream with icy cold water coming down from the mountain. It’s called Gyeongpodae and can be found by typing into Naver maps or here. It can be busy on the weekends, but if you just walk a bit further up the trail you’ll surely find your own little pool of water.
Visit Gichan Land
EDIT: Gichan Land is closed this year (2021) due to Covid. Keep it in mind for next year!
If you’re looking for a more exciting ‘water park’ this year then Hue Spa is not too far away and is open in 2021. More expensive than Gichan Land, but we took our daughter there for her birthday and we all had a blast! It was almost empty on a weekday, even in school holiday
Wolchulsan’s Gichan Land is a totally different experience from the natural mountain streams, but it’s deep enough to actually swim in. If you manage to go during the week or outside of school holidays, it’s much quieter than this. It was closed last year (2020) due to COVID restrictions, but the website looks like it might be open this year. Better check for details, but it’s certainly worth remembering for future summers!
Catch a Breeze at Damyang’s Bamboo Forest
Damyang is a lovely day trip from Gwangju, and the bamboo forest offers enough shade to beat the summer heat. Especially if you grab a bamboo flavoured ice cream on your way in! There’s a lot to do in Damyang with kids and, and it is certainly worth getting out of the city on a warm weekend.
What about Seoul?
We’ve recently moved up to Seoul. There’s so much to do and see, but we’re really missing the easy access to beaches and quiet mountains! Please hit me with ideas of how to cool down in Seoul.