My favorite season has arrived! It is finally Summer in Korea! The season is short-lived in Northern Asia, as Winters are long and seasonal changes occur frequently. Catching some days in the sun is imperative to surviving Korea’s long brutal Winter months.
Summer is the perfect time to travel the country, enjoying various activities and seasonal dishes. Take into account however that monsoon season (heavy rainfall throughout Asia) could mess up any plans you have of being outdoors. So, when the sun is out you need to take full advantage of the day.
Korea’s Summers can be pretty hot, reaching scorching days of 38C. This is coupled with saturated humidity that hangs in the air, leaving you dripping with sweat. It is for this reason light clothing and staying hydrated is highly recommended.
At first, the humidity is tough to get used to, but as time goes by it will become a part of your daily Summer struggle. Once you adjust with clothing and the climate, you will feel less bothered by it.
Also, every building and transport facility has air conditioning. It is usually freezing, so a cardigan is a good item to have when traveling long distance by bus or train or sitting in a café. Below are my top 5 Summer recommendations that you should try while living and teaching in Korea.
1. Chill on a Beach
Although Korea is not a beach destination, it does have some beautiful beaches. The top 3 recommended white sand beaches are Gyeongpo Beach in Gangwondo, Haeundae Beach in Busan and Hyeopjae Beach on Jeju Island.
Visiting the beach in Korea is a cultural experience. Koreans love swimming, but they hate the sun. The country is known for its whitening creams and obsessive skin care beauty. At the beach, foreigners will usually be the only ones exposing skin, as Koreans will wear t-shirts, shorts and hats while swimming. You might even witness the occasional high-shoes and suits strolling across the sand.
Almost all beaches in Korea, are packed in the Summer months. One of the perks of beaches in Korea is that it's possible to get almost anything you wish on the beach, such as umbrellas, sun beds and swimming tubes. You can even order delivery and they will bring your food right to the spot you are sitting in.
2. Drink Cocktails on a Rooftop
Almost every major city in Korea will open up their rooftop bars. However, Itaewon and HBC districts in Seoul, is where you can experience the best rooftop bars in Korea.
You can meander through the alleyways and stumble across an array of cute little places, that uniquely have their own view of the city. One of my favorite rooftop bars is at Southside Parlor in Noksapyeong. This quaint Southern bar has almost every cocktail you can imagine. It is a great place to hang out with friends and enjoy the evening breeze.
Other great rooftops to hang out on are Harvest Namsan, T-Bar, and Standard Identity.
3. Get your Mud On
The Boryeong Mud Festival is Korea’s most popular international festival . The festival is held on Daecheon Beach in the July and runs for usually 2 weeks. Foreigners from all over the globe come to experience this festival of mud.
Korea's mud is known to have healing properties and to be good for your skin. There are various fun activities at this festival such as mud-wrestling, mud-painting and a music festival. You can also enjoy a military training boot camp or relax in a mud massage zone.
It is a great opportunity to travel and enjoy something unique, all while meeting visitors from all over the globe and having an enormous deal of fun!
This year the festival is held from 21-30 July and there are various tourist operators that organize full packages from getting to and from the event. Have a look at: FUNKO, Korealtrip, and Adventure Korea.
4. Lay at a Pool
The Han River, in Seoul, opens up all its outdoor pools the weekend of July 24th. The Han River Parks pools are a great place to relax and enjoy some Summer sun. It is affordable, costing 5,000W entrance, and there is usually a DJ playing some great music, entertaining the tourists on the pool deck.
If you arrive early, you can rent umbrellas and sun-beds for 10,000W a piece. It is also possible to buy sun cream, snacks and drinks at the poolside along with bathing suits and towels. Unfortunately, in Korea, if you swim in a public pool, you must wear a swimming cap or hat. However, these can also be purchased at the pool shop.
Other pool side options to check out are: Caribbean Bay, Hamilton Hotel, and Spa Castle.
5. Dance at a Summer Party
Korea is buzzing with outdoor concerts in the Summer. The biggest dance event, Ultra, is held annually in June. There is also plenty of options to experience K-pop concerts with some of the biggest names in the industry like BTS and Twice, throughout May to August.
The Jisan Rock Festival is also held annually from July 28th-30th and this year’s big performers are Gorillaz, Lorde and Major Lazor. Most foreigners plan a weekend trip south of Seoul, and camp for two days at the festival which costs about 140,000W.
Later on in the Summer, the Spectrum Dance Music Festival is expected to brace Korea with a mix of K-pop and International artists.
I hope these tips help you out as you try to take advantage of the Korean Summer.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email [email protected] to request more information on teaching in Korea!