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Summer is when the Korean city of Boryeong gets down and dirty.

It’s not what you’re probably thinking. We’re talking about the Boryeong Mud Festival. It all started in mid-1990s when a cosmetics brand launched products using the mineral-rich mud found at Boryeong mud flats, which is believed to be good for the skin. In 1998, as part of a massive promotional campaign, the company trucked the mud to Daecheon Beach and initiated mud games, thereby launching the first ever Boryeong Mud Festival. Almost 20 years later, it remains one of the biggest summer celebrations in South Korea. It is held over a period of two weeks in July.

Understanding Boryeong, South Korea

Boryeong is a port city located 141km from Seoul. Koreans sometimes refer to the place as Daecheon because the present-day Boryeong is a merger between Daecheon City and Boryeong-gun. Hemmed in by the waters of the Yellow Sea in the west, it is a popular summer destination, with Daecheon Beach as a top place to visit. During the festival, giant inflatable slides, a performance stage, and other attractions are set up along Daecheon Beach, where all the fun happens.

Boryeong Mud Festival
Boryeong Mud Festival

How to Get to Boryeong / Daecheon Beach

The nearest airport is Seoul-Incheon, which makes it very accessible to foreign tourists. Most major cities in the world is linked to Seoul by a lot of both legacy airlines and low-cost carriers.

If you’re coming from Manila, the cheapest option is to fly AirAsia, which offers the lowest year-round fares to Seoul. AirAsia actually shouldered our flights to Seoul in order for us to experience the festival. What’s great about the AirAsia flight is the time, scheduled to leave daily at 7:10am and arrive at 12:55pm, just in time for the usual hotel check-in time at 2pm (if you’re staying in the capital first).

AIrAsia in-flight meals
AIrAsia in-flight meals
Window seat
Window seat

Incheon Airport to Boryeong / Daecheon Beach

If you’re going to Boryeong straight from the airport, you need to board the Airport Railway train to Yongsan Station, where you will take a Korail train to Boryeong.

  1. To get to Yongsan Station, take the Airport Railway line to Gongdeok Station (where you will alight).
  2. Transfer to Gyeongui Jungang Line, bound for Yongmun.
  3. Alight at Yongmun Station.
  4. At Yongmun Station, board a Korail train to Daecheon Station.

Incheon Airport to Yongmun Station
Travel Time: 63 minutes
Fare: 4150 won (3.7 USD, 172 PHP)

Yongmun Station to Daecheon Station
Travel Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Fare: 11,700 won (10.5 USD, 485 PHP)

Seoul City Center to Boryeong / Daecheon Beach

If Boryeong isn’t your first stop in Korea and you’re coming from your hotel in Seoul, here’s how.

By Train. Depending on where you are in the city, take the train/subway/metro to Yongmun Station, where you will board a Korail train to Daecheon Station.

Yongmun Station to Daecheon Station
Travel Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Fare: 11,700 won (10.5 USD, 485 PHP)

By Bus. Note that travel time varies greatly according to which terminal you’re coming from and how bad traffic is.

  1. Make your way to Central City Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul Bus Terminal and ride the bus going to Boryeong Bus Terminal or straight to Daecheon Beach (available during the festival). Travel time: Central City, 2.25 hours; Dong Seoul, 3.5 hours. Fare: 10-15,000 won.
  2. If you go to Boryeong Bus Terminal, take the bus to Daecheon Beach. Travel time: 35 minutes. Frequency: 1 every 10 minutes.

By Agency-Arranged Group Tour. Another hassle-free way to experience the festival is by joining a 1-day group tour that would take you from Seoul directly to Daecheon Beach at around 7am and take you back by nightfall. These packaged day tours usually cost somewhere between USD 50-80, depending on the agency and the size of the group.

Day Trip, Overnight or Longer?

It’s time to decide how long you want to stay in Boryeong.

Remember: The Boryeong Mud Festival runs for 2 weeks. A lot can happen in 2 weeks, especially during the last weekend of the event. Here are the pros and cons.

View of the main activity area from Dunhill Cafe
View of the main activity area from Dunhill Cafe

Day tours are becoming a more popular choice because accommodation rates in Boryeong at this time of the year are sky high. The problem is, a day isn’t enough to experience all the fun that floods the event. Remember that you will leave Seoul in the morning and arrive between 10 to 11am. If you leave at 4pm, you only have 5-6 hours to enjoy the muddy party. That’s not enough time, in my opinion because:

  • The queues are so long, it would eat up much of your time. You’ll be able to try only a few attractions given that you still have a lot of other things to fall in line for (i.e. locker room and shower).
  • There are activities at night, too! You will miss it if you leave in the middle of the afternoon.
  • There are a few more places to visit. Daecheon Beach alone is a lengthy stretch.

In my personal opinion, an overnight stay is ideal. Booking a room even just for a night not only gives you more time to enjoy, it also gives you space to keep your valuables without the hassle and the worry and a private place to clean up and freshen up after all the madness.

Where to Stay in Boryeong or Seoul

Summer is peak season, and hotel prices are even higher in July when the festival is happening. Rooms also tend to be sold out easily. If you decide to spend a night or two in Boryeong, be sure to book in advance to secure a room.

Boryeong Hotels Seoul Hotels

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Things to Enjoy at Boryeong Mud Festival

Here are some of the activities that you may enjoy during the festival.

Mud Games
Mud Games
Mud Wrestling
Mud Wrestling
Mud Slide
Mud Slide
Beach Activities
Beach Activities

There are also special side events. These may change in the future, but to give you an idea, here are some that they staged in the past.

  • Opening and closing ceremonies
  • Street Parade
  • Foam parties
  • Korean Air Force Black Eagle Show
  • Character mud mime performance
Waterproof pouch to put your devices in.
Waterproof pouch to put your devices in.

Things to Bring to Boryeong Mud Festival

Okay, first things first: what to wear. Old clothes. Basically, clothes that you wouldn’t cry over should they get ruined. You will get really dirty! And I’ve seen some have their shirts ripped apart while playing a game.

When it comes to other items, it is important to bring as little as possible. But here are the bare essentials:

  • Extra clothes. Something nice and clean you can wear after you shower.
  • Money. So you could buy food and pay for shower, lockers, or food.
  • Waterproof pouch or bag. Where you can put money and other valuables. For your phone, a see-through waterproof cover is a must if you’re planning on taking your phone with you everywhere.
  • Sunscreen. Make sure your skin is properly protected.

Cheap lockers are available in one of the buildings (just ask around, everyone knows where it is). However, not only the number very limited, it’s also so crowded all the time. The lockers themselves are also small, there’s only so much you can keep in it. There’s another baggage deposit area but it’s much pricier.

More Tips for the Poor Traveler

Boryeong Mud Festival
Boryeong Mud Festival
  • Entrance Fee. 10,000 KRW (9 USD or 415 PHP) for adults; 8,000 KRW for teens.
  • Don’t expect too much from the beach. It’s clean, alright, but if you’ve been to tropical white beaches (like those in the Philippines, Thailand or Indonesia), you’ll be very disappointed by the sand here. It’s just not as fine and far from fair (more brown-ish). But you’ll learn to appreciate it when you start taking a dip after being covered with mud all day.
  • During the festival, the beach is super crowded. SUPER crowded. Just managing your expectations.
  • All activities stop during lunch time. If you want to avoid long queues at restaurants, have early lunch before noon or late lunch past 1:30pm.
  • If you’re on a day tour, have a meal before going to Daecheon Beach. Food prices within the vicinity of the games are much higher. A meal costs no lower than 15,000 won. Best to bring food instead or just dine at a stopover on the way to the city. Others who are short on cash or time choose to just have cupped noodles (from convenience stores) for lunch.
  • The public locker room closes at 4pm. The sign on the door says that if you fail to fetch the things you deposited before then, you will be able to get them the following morning. DO NOT FORGET this if you’re on a day tour. (Although during my visit, they still allowed people to get their belongings and it was already past 4.)
  • Enjoy a panoramic view of the play area and the beach from a cafe (Dunhill Cafe?) on top of one of the buildings.
  • FREE wi-fi is available, but they’re not that reliable because you’re sharing it with a lot of other visitors. Coverage isn’t that wide, either.

Sample Boryeong Itineraries

Below are two sample itineraries: one for a day trip and the other for overnight tour. Both samples assume that you will be coming from Seoul city center. Feel free to adjust accordingly. Have breakfast beforehand.

06:00 ETD Central City Bus Terminal
09:00 ETA Daecheon Beach, find lockers
09:30 GET DIRTY! Join mud games.
13:30 Lunch!
14:30 Explore Daecheon Beach area
05:30 Freshen up
16:30 ETD Daecheon Beach
19:30 ETA Seoul

The overnight itinerary below requires overnight hotel accommodations.

08:00 ETD Central City Bus Terminal
11:00 ETA Daecheon Beach
11:30 LUNCH
12:30 Hotel check-in if room is ready, drop baggage if not
13:30 GET DIRTY! Join mud games and activities.
20:00 Dinner

07:00 Breakfast
08:30 Explore beach and join more mud games
11:00 Go back to hotel, freshen up, pack things
12:00 Check out, leave bags at reception
13:00 Lunch

From here, you may choose to continue exploring the area and visit other attractions in Boryeong. (Do not get muddy this time!) You may also opt to just leave for Seoul.

Boryeong Mud Festival
Boryeong Mud Festival

Budget Breakdown

Here’s a list of items tourists usually spend on on the way to and at the Boryeong Mud Festival.

If traveling by train:
From Incheon Airport to Yongmun Station – 4150 won (3.7 USD, 172 PHP)
From Yongmun Station to Daecheon – 11,700 won (10.5 USD, 485 PHP)

If traveling by bus:
Seoul to Daecheon: 10-15,000 won (9-14 USD, 415-620 PHP)

If on a agency-arranged day tour:
All-in: 50,000-100,000 won (45-90 USD, 2000-4000 PHP)

Other expenses:
Admission fee: 10,000 won for adults, 8000 won for teens
Locker rental: 2000 won (2 USD, 90 PHP)

Last checked: 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣7️⃣•9️⃣•3️⃣0️⃣
First up: 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣6️⃣•8️⃣•2️⃣9️⃣

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