It is said this year’s summer will be hotter than usual. The warm weather delightfully brings us to exciting outdoor activities. It surely will be nice to take a couple of days off and go camping to a place with beautiful scenery with your family or friends. Yet, you see your planner and find out that you have a presentation to prepare, assignments or projects in a row due in a few days or weeks, and after that, final exams coming up.
You surely have no free time to go camping to a place distant from the university for several days. If so, does that mean you cannot go camping? No. I have prepared just what you busy students need: a couple of campsites which are less than an hour from the University of Seoul (UOS). However, here is a little heads-up before I start: This article, which introduces Jungnang Campground and Healing Camping Café, is entirely based on my own experience, so it may not satisfy your craving for a perfect, ideal camping experience.
Jungnang Campground is the nearest campsite from UOS. You can take bus 270 across from Seoul Sungsim General Hospital and get off at the Jungnang Camping Forest/Seoul Bukbu Hospital stop. Bus 270 directly goes to Jungnang Campground, and it only takes about 35 minutes to get there.
Before going to the campground, you first need to make a reservation on the Internet and choose the site you want to stay at. You can camp for two nights and three days maximum, but be aware that the place is only for camping at least for a night and two days, not for picnics. The campsites are usually for 4 to 5 people. It costs 25,000 won to use the campground, and if you need electricity, an additional 3,000 won is required. It is recommended you make reservations at least a month before you go if you plan to go on the weekends, since the sites are quickly booked on those days. Even a month may not be enough to get a nice site, so you might as well go camping during the week.
Many people say that the best campsite in Jungnang Campground is 7-6, which is located at the very top of the campground and just below the Multi-purpose Sports Ground, because it is the quietest and widest site. Unfortunately, site 7-6 was already taken when I was making a reservation, so I took the site which was right under 7-6. On Thursdays I have a class that finishes at 6 p.m., so considering how late I would arrive at the campground, I packed and brought food with me from home. I was all prepared except I did not have a tent, which I thought Jungnang Campground would rent out.
But little did I know that my first ever trip would end up as a total disaster which completely destroyed the fantasy I had about camping. As I arrived at the campground, I went to the management office and heard that they no longer rent out tents and grills for visitors starting this year because of complaints from nearby residents.
Well, I could not stay at the campsite with no tent, or cook the food I brought without a grill, so what could I do? I just went for a nice long walk there and took some pictures of the scenery. Although I could not camp, the scenery of Jungnang Campground was beautiful and it was the only thing I liked about the campground. On my way back home, I was mad at the Jungnang Campground website for not posting an easy-to-see notice that they do not provide tents anymore. Oh, what did I do with the food I brought to the campground? I cooked and ate it at home. Mission totally and brutally failed.
▶ One sentence review :
Make sure to bring your own tent and portable gas stove with you!
Healing Camping Café
Located in Bucheon, the Healing Camping Café is about an hour away from UOS. It is easy to get there by just taking the subway line 1 from Cheongnyangni station, getting off at Bucheon station and taking a taxi to the café. The place provides a perfect feeling that you are at a campsite, except that it is not located in the woods but in a building in a city. With each table at the Healing Camping Café, a tent is set up so you can order and have a meal inside the tent.
Although the place is called a ‘café,’ its main item on the menu is the Healing Barbeque Set, which comes in three different sizes you can choose from: Small (for 1 to 2 people, 22,000 won), Middle (for 3 to 4 people, 32,000 won) and Big (for 5 people and more, 42,000 won). Two other reporters came with me and we had a mid-size Healing Barbeque Set first. You do not necessarily have to make a reservation, but if you do, you can have a nice seat and barbeque cooked before you arrive.
Soon after we took seats, salad was served first as an appetizer. Then our barbeque was ready and came on a tray that looked like one you would find among camping tools. We also ordered fried rice with shrimp and ramen. Although the fried rice with shrimp is served cooked, when you order the ramen, you have to cook it in a pot by yourself. This definitely spices up the ‘camping’ mood.
Frankly, the food was not very delicious and I thought the meal was a bit pricey. Nevertheless, it was not so bad either, and we enjoyed the camping mood while we had our meals inside the tent. The place also has a small camping car inside, and customers can use it for a maximum of two hours upon reservation. Another thing I liked about the Healing Camping Café was that the place is open from 12 p.m. until midnight, so that gives you enough time to come to the café after class. Anyways, mission completed!
▶ One sentence review :
Conveniently located in the city, yet provides you with a perfect camping mood without you having to do any camping preparation.
Apart from Jungnang Campground, there are many other campsites that are located in Seoul and not far from UOS, such as Nanji Camp and Noeul Campground. Although I did not have the best experience at Jungnang Campground, the idea was to let you know that there are places where you can conveniently enjoy camping without going too far from your place or UOS and spending too much time.
However, make sure that the campsite you are going to rents out tents or other tools you need for camping, otherwise you will end up the same as I did! Or rather, there are increasingly many restaurants and cafés which make their interior design look like a campsite with tents, tables and camping cars displayed, such as the Healing Camping Café and ‘I am Camper.’ I am sure these places would certainly provide you with an enjoyable camping mood. Why not go camping at some of the campsites or camping cafés in or near Seoul after class today?