Boryeong Mud Festival is an internationally renowned summer festival in Korea that happens yearly in July. I have always wanted to go and experience the festival for myself and this year, I finally had the chance to do so!
How to go to Boryeong
If you are coming from Seoul, simply hop on a train from Yongsan Station bound for Daecheon Station. The ride will take around 2.5 to 3 hours depending on whether you take the Saemaul Train (17,400 KRW per person, one way) or Mugunghwa Train (11,700 KRW per person, one way).
The earliest train departs Yongsan at 5.35AM and will reach Daecheon Station at 8.17AM (Mugunghwa Train). I strongly recommend taking this train or the next (Mugunghwa) train at 6.21AM, which will reach Daecheon at 8.58AM, for reasons that you will find out as you read this post.
Alternatively, it is said that there are direct intercity buses from Seoul Express Bus Terminal that will take you right to Daecheon Beach (the festival location) available only during the festival period.
I came from Busan and it was a rather complicated and long journey to Boryeong. We had to take the KTX to Cheonan-Asan Station (46,500 KRW, one way) and then walk to Asan Station before taking another train to Daecheon Station (5,400 KRW, one way). If you are coming from Busan, I would recommend buying a Korail Pass to save some money on the train tickets.
Whichever city you are coming from, from Daecheon Station, you need to take bus number 100 to go to Daecheon beach (approximately half an hour ride) where the mud festival is held. It took us a total of around 5.5 hours of travelling to finally get to Boryeong from Busan but it was worth it!
Boryeong Mud Festival Highlights
First of all let me get done and over with all the less pleasant things about this festival. Firstly, although some (read: very few) areas are free entry, the main highlight of the festival requires tickets and let’s just say the price not cheap for a festival. Be ready to fork out 10,000 KRW per person for entrance fees only if you come on a weekday and 12,000 KRW on the weekends.
Next, I have NEVER seen so many people gathering and queueing at 9.30AM in a secluded town in Korea… before this festival of course. Although the main mud square is only open at around 9.30AM and we arrived at 9.30AM, there was already a queue at the ticketing counter, even longer queue at the locker room and quite a crowd inside the mud square itself (and this is why you should arrive as early as possible because this crowd triples in size after a few hours).
Another thing that is not bad, but was just surprising, is the amount of foreigners at the festival. I have never seen so many foreigners in Korea before that day. This festival is so international that most of the top Korean summer school programs bring their summer school students in buses here for an outing.
Anyway, back to the fun part. There were many fun games to play at the mud festival and everything had one thing in common: you will definitely be covered in mud after each game.
There were games like the above where only 2 people can play at once but there were also games that you can play as a group like mud soccer, group wrestling and obstacle course. They also had 2 giant slides with different heights and lengths that you can try!
The mud square closes at 12.30 to 1.30PM for a break time and that is when you and your friends can go to the beach for a swim or have a quick lunch at any of the nearby restaurants or convenience stores. We came back at 2PM to find that the mud square is overcrowded and we could not re-enter the square without waiting. So if you are planning to go there on the weekend, be sure to be back to the square EARLY after your lunch break.
To Stay or Not to Stay?
If you are coming to the festival from Seoul, there is no need to stay over and a day trip from Seoul will be enough. If, however, you are heading to Boryeong from Busan, you definitely need to stay over at Boryeong the day before you want to go for the festival.
We stayed at a pension called Daecheon Family Pension. If you are wondering what a pension is, it is like a small building of airbnb rooms but owned by the same owner. It is quite similar to a guesthouse but each room mostly has a different arrangement, decoration and hence different price. As such when you book a pension, you will usually also specify which room you want to book and the price is charged according to the room you pick.
There are many pensions, hotels and motels around the beach but the prices of the accommodation around this area skyrockets during the festival period. We had to pay 120,000 KRW for a room for four when the normal price around this area is half of it. There is also a very high demand for rooms, especially on the weekends, so make sure you book your rooms early.
Purchasing Entrance Tickets
If you do not want to queue to get your entrance ticket, you can always purchase them online instead. The catch is, they only sell 30% of the available tickets online and the rest are sold on the day itself at the venue so if you want to get your tickets online, purchase them way in advance to be safe.
Storage of Belongings
There are lockers available (2,000 KRW per locker) at the festival but the amount is very limited compared to the large crowd of people who attend, especially on the weekends. I would recommend going there as early as possible to avoid not having a locker to store your belongings. Each locker is also pretty large and we were able to fit in 5 bags into the larger sized locker.
EXTRA TIP: ask them for the bigger locker if you have more things to store. The price for both the smaller sized locker and the bigger one is the same.
As I have said earlier, be prepared to queue for everything in this festival including to queue for the showers… if you want to shower at the venue that is.
PRO TIP: go to the shower facilities outside of the venue for a clean place to shower (just imagine how dirty the venue shower facility is with the amount of people showering there) and no or at least, less queue. We went to a shower facility (2,000 KRW per person) near our pension and it was totally empty.
The only thing is, there is no hot water (which is fine since we were soaking in cold mud all day and the weather was quite hot anyway) and it was a jjimjilbang-style shower room. If you do not know what that means… it means that there are no dividers in the shower and you just have to be prepared to bare it all in front of other people who are showering there.
The last train for Yongsan leaves Daecheon Station at 9.18PM and there should not have any problems catching the last train since the mud square closes at 6PM. You could even have a nice seafood bbq dinner at Boryeong or catch the free K-pop concert that starts after 6PM on certain days before heading back. Be sure to start making your way to the train station at least 45 minutes before your train time if you are taking bus 100 back.
If you are going back to Busan, you can take the train back to Asan at 8.32PM but you will only reach Busan after midnight. If you do not intend to take a taxi home from Busan station, the last train you can take back to Busan leaves Daecheon Station at 6.39PM (You will reach at 10.37PM).
Please note that train timings are only updated as end August 2017. Please go to the Korail website to double check the timings before planning your trip.
I hope you have as much fun as we had in Boryeong Mud Festival!