Located about 2 and a half hours from Seoul, Boryeong is known mostly for one thing. Mud.
One of Korea’s largest festivals, the Boryeong Mud Festival takes place every year for two weeks in mid-July. During these two weeks, a bunch of different mud-based activities are set up. To add to the fun, many K-pop performers, dance groups, and entertainers also attend. From 1988-2007, the event attracted over 2.2 million visitors!
Boryeong is located about two and a half hours to the south of Seoul. The festival itself takes place just outside the city of Boryeong, at Daecheon Beach. Getting there is quite easy, but take this piece of advice: If you want to stay a night, book as soon as you possibly can. If that’s months and months in advance, perfect. The whole nearby area will be booked! When we tried booking about two weeks before the event, the average accommodation price was $350 per night. Book as early as you can to avoid the sky-high prices.
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There are a lot of different hotels and pensions (a Korean type of accommodation – usually nicer and more spacious than a motel) located around Daecheon. In fact, there are a LOT of accommodation options. However, they will all get booked fast. If you get in and book early, you’ll have no trouble finding accommodation.
If, however, you are like us and didn’t book until too late, I have a few tips. When we looked for accommodation we weren’t willing to pay $200 (not exactly within the student budget!), so we began to look a bit further away. Boryeong (the nearby city) accommodation was also very expensive, so we looked south – to Muchangpo Beach.
We paid $50 for the night and the taxi ride there was only around $11 each way. While we could have taken the bus, that takes over an hour (and often over two!) due to the timetable. Not only did we save a lot, but we got to explore Muchangpo a bit in the evening. It’s a pleasant place to stay, and it’s very quiet and laid-back after the festival!
Muchangpo isn’t the only option, however. Many smaller townships around the area have accommodation available. While staying in Daecheon is convenient, there are definitely cheaper options out there. My advice is to check around in the smaller townships and see what you can find.
Unfortunately, as with finding most accommodation in Korea, it’s hard online. If you really want to find the cheapest options you either have to search Korean websites or physically visit the area – most budget-friendly accommodation will not advertise in order to keep their costs low. While I would usually recommend just visiting and finding accommodation once you arrive, I would advise against that in this case. The Boryeong Mud Festival is a MASSIVE event, and most of the places we checked were already full.
Transportation-wise, there are lots of options. The usual Korean intercity buses can be taken and so can a variety of different tour bus services. The particular company that we took, KoreaTravelEasy, offered a return shuttle bus service for only $13 per person.
Their service runs most days throughout the festival and covers all of the important days. They also offer a range of pickup locations within Seoul – Hongik University (Hongdae), Myeongdong, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. These are three of the main tourist centres in Seoul, so the bus really is convenient.
The bus pickup starts at around 9 am and the bus leaves Daecheon to return to Seoul at 5 pm. You can expect to reach Daecheon at about 12:30 and to reach Seoul again at around 7:30 pm. For the larger event days (such as the last weekend of the event), the buses return much later, allowing you time to stay and watch the concerts and fireworks. For a full list of the events over the two weeks, check out the official website.
The big advantage of taking a tour company bus rather than an intercity bus is that you don’t have to worry about getting from the Boryeong Bus Terminal to Daecheon Beach. Getting from the bus terminal to Daecheon takes about 10-20 minutes depending on your method of transport. However, this is another cost which you should factor in if you plan to take an intercity bus.
Entry tickets cost 14,000 per adult on the peak days (Friday-Sunday) and 12,000 on off-peak days. Youths and groups receive discounts which can be seen here. The tickets can be purchased either online or physically at the event. According to the official website, 30% of the tickets are sold online, and 70% given at the entrance.
The lines can be very long at times, so getting a ticket online is the best option to guarantee quick and easy access. Once again, I would recommend getting a ticket as soon as they go on sale – the festival is insanely popular.
While you will miss the main events (such as the K-pop concerts and fireworks), if you just want to experience the mud and activities, visiting throughout the week is a great option. The weekends can be absolutely packed! Sunday evening (in the first week) is also a great time to visit as most of the crowds begin to clear out in the late afternoon.
Even if you visit on an off-peak day, you will still get to experience all of the activities that the festival is known for!
The festival itself mainly takes place in a large dedicated area located right next to the beach. Inside the ticket area, there is a multitude of different, mud related, activities. From mud-races to mud-slides, mud-fights, to mud-showers, there are a ton of mud-related activities.
In this way, the festival reminded me a bit of a theme park. There were long waits for relatively short experiences (at least at peak times). However, there were so many people having a fantastic time, and the activities were a lot of fun. If you ever get bored with the activities, you can also enjoy the beach and the large inflatables located there (perhaps the highlight for me!).
The main area has a main stage that provides music and entertainment while you get covered in mud. Located around the main stage are a variety of different activities. A mud obstacle/race course follows the edge of the mud area, The obstacle course consists of lots of military-style activities – like crawling under netting, dodging ropes, and more.
If you get bored of the mud, there’s still a lot to enjoy!
Next, to the obstacle course are a few big mud pools with different activities. The first of which is a balancing-battle where you have to push the opposing team off before they do the same to you. Next to that is a ball game similar to basketball where you have to get all of the balls in the opposing team’s basket.
The third and final large pool is for a game where your team holds each other (in a line) and has the break the other team’s line. The first team to break loses!
Finally, there is a large slide and a variety of other, smaller activities within the area. The slide was one of the main attractions and for good reason – it was a lot of fun! Other activities such as mud-dunking, mud showers, and more fill up the rest of the area.
The slides are some of the most popular attractions – and for good reason!
Everything in the main area can be accessed with the entry ticket, meaning that for 14,000 you will get access to the whole festival except for the kid’s zone. For a festival of this size, the tickets are well priced for a day of entertainment.
If you need changing rooms or lockers then they can be found starting from 3000KRW. However, it’s possible to avoid these fees if you choose to get changed in the public bathroom instead. There are also showers available for a small fee – there are taps to rinse your feet and body free for use.
The mud part of the event had a lot of different activities that were a lot of fun to both watch and experience. Everyone was covered in mud and enjoying their time at the event. The constant performances and music make the whole event a lot of fun and keep it lively even when you have to wait in lines.
Anything related to mud can be found at Boryeong!
Outside the main event area, there are also many things happening. There are booths located all around the event that sell products (such as mud cosmetics) and have different competitions and promotions. On top of that, the beach is also turned into a performance area with a large stage set up on the sand.
The beach area is free to access, and if you want to wash off in the ocean that is possible. There is a large inflatable set up on the beach which provides a floating obstacle course. On top of this, there are a lot of different stores where you can rent inflatables to use in the ocean – from doughnuts to full-scale inflatable boats!
The mud festival is located right next to Daecheon Beach. The beach is free to access and provides you with a great place to wash all of the mud off!
If you need to eat while at the festival (let’s be honest, you probably will!), there are a few restaurant options close to the main festival plaza. Without going too far you can find a few different Korean restaurants as well as Mom’s Touch fast food. The food options around the main plaza are a bit more expensive than these restaurants normally are (even when compared with Seoul!), however, for the convenience they are good options. You can find a meal for around 8000-10,000KRW per person.
There are also a multitude of cafes located around the festival – great if you want a bit of a break from the crazy-ness of the event.
Should You Visit Boryeong Mud Festival?
The Boryeong Mud Festival is a very unique event that is a lot of fun to experience firsthand. If you don’t mind getting a little (a lot!) dirty and want to have a great time, then it’s an event that is worth checking out. Compared to many of the other events around Korea, the Mud Festival is also on the cheaper end – even including the transport costs.
The biggest downside to the event is the crowds. To avoid them, I would recommend trying to visit on a weekday. Unless seeing the fireworks or concerts is a primary concern, then you won’t be missing out on much.
Boryeong Mud Festival is basically a large outdoor party. A party with lots of mud. Even if you don’t want to get muddy though, it’s a nice place to enjoy the beach and party on the sand. The main area has about 5 or 6 main attractions, and they can all be experienced in a day. Unless you really want to experience everything that the festival has to offer, a day trip is a great option. If accommodation was cheaper, it would be easier to recommend the mud festival as a weekend getaway. However, with the costs associated, I think that Boryeong makes for a fantastic day trip rather than a weekend experience.