The east coast of Korea is renowned for its great beaches, and Naksan Beach is no exception. If you’re wanting to get away from the city and disconnect from the chaos of it all, Naksan Beach is the perfect answer!
Why you will LOVE Naksan Beach
Situated in Gangwon-do Province, between Sokcho and Yangyang Beach, lies the small town of Naksan.
It’s a seaside village with a close-knit, friendly community and a cheerful, relaxed atmosphere. There are no skyrise buildings, no highways, and no shopping centers. Everything is within walking distance so there’s no traffic either.
I wanted an escape, and I that’s what I got.
6 things to do at Naksan Beach
People flock to Naksan for one thing, and one thing alone. The beach.
Naksan Beach is a long sandy beach that stretches over 4 km. The beach is lined with pine trees and a boardwalk with many swings and other quirky sculptures. The water is clean and refreshing with many families laughing and playing together.
I visited Naksan Beach during our summer vacation, and yes, it was busy. However, the beaches of Busan and Jeju Island attract far greater crowds and Naksan Beach is one of the quieter beaches on the east coast.
Unfortunately the beaches in Korea are nothing like that of the Philippines or Bali so don’t expect a tropical island vibe. However, Naksan Beach is definitely one of the better ones in Korea with soft sand, clear water and great facilities.
Surfing at Naksan Beach?
I never had any expectations for surfing in Korea but I’d read that Yangyang Beach and Naksan Beach are among the favorite surfing spots.
Trust me. They are not! There are no waves. If anything, Naksan Beach is like one big lake!
2) Visit Naksansa Temple
Located to the north of Naksan Beach lies Naksansa Temple. This Buddhist temple sits on a cliff with views overlooking the sea and the town of Naksan and Yangyang. Unlike other temples in Korea, Naksansa Temple isn’t as crowded and you’re able to move around without being pushed aside by other tourists.
You can enter Naksansa Temple from either the beach where you walk up the road leading towards the cliff. Alternatively, you can enter at the main gate which is just off the main road.
The entrance fee for Naksansa Temple is 3 000 won ($3) per person and it’s open from 6:00 am-8:30 pm.
3) Spend the day at Seoraksan National Park
Arguably the most famous National Park in Korea, Seoraksan National Park lies just a few kilometers away from Naksan Beach and Naksansa Temple. Here you can spend the day exploring the forests and hiking the numerous trails.
Seoraksan National Park gets extremely busy and the bus trip alone could take double the time due to traffic. Try to get to the mountain early to avoid the crowds, and the heat – especially in summer!
How to get to Seoraksan National Park from Naksan Beach
Take bus 9 or 9-1 towards Sokcho. After about 15 minutes you will reach the turn-off to Seoraksan National Park. Here you need to change your bus. Cross to the other side of the road and get on bus 7 or 7-1 which will take you directly to the entrance of Seoraksan National Park.
4) Can’t forget about the food!
Naksan Beach is a seafood lovers dream! The strip along the beachfront boast many seafood restaurants offering the biggest mussels and crayfish I’ve ever seen. There’s also a wide variety of Korean BBQ restaurants, as well as Chicken and Beer, burgers and fries and many other mouth-watering foods to keep your tastes buds satisfied.
5) Watch a concert on the beach
On my first night in Naksan, there was a stage set up on the beach with a song and dance performance. People from the audience were invited to join on stage and there were children dancing and singing. This just added to that happy, relaxed atmosphere I mentioned earlier.
6) Enjoy the other festive activities
Naksan Beach has other activities such as a baseball batting cage and a carnival area where you can ride a Viking Ship. There’s also a market on the road parallel to the beach with activities for children as well as all kinds of street food and drinks.
Beaches in Korea
It’s not only the actual beaches in Korea that are different to what I’m used to, but also the customs and culture when visiting these beaches. I made a few observations on my trip to Naksan Beach which I never knew prior to living in Korea.
Swimming with floaties (or Lilo’s as we call them in South Africa) is a thing in Korea. Back home, no one would dare take an inflatable into the sea as it would end badly for everyone involved.
Koreans cover their bodies, top to bottom, as protecting their skin is of utmost importance. I stood out like a sore thumb as I was the only person on the whole of Naksan Beach walking around in a bikini!
The beaches in Korea have official swimming seasons
In 2017, the official beach season for Naksan Beach was 7 July-20 August and you may not go into the water outside of these dates.
No swimming is allowed after 6 pm either. As this closing time approaches, the crowded beach is left deserted.
However, this is my favorite time to be on the beach. It’s cooler and quieter. Grab a few beers and snacks and take advantage of this when you visit Naksan Beach. You may not be able to swim, but you sure can relax in the sand with unspoiled views of the ocean.
Accommodation in Naksan Beach
I visited Naksan Beach during our July vacation. When I travel I always pre-book accommodation, but Naksan Beach was different as most budget accommodation in Korea is not advertised on sites such as Booking.com.
So, I decided to chance it and arrive at Naksan Beach not knowing where I was going to stay.
After walking from the bus stop towards the beach, I passed numerous pensions and motels. Standing outside were the owners who approached me and pleaded that I take a room. I was surprised to see the variety of accommodation available, especially during what is considered a peak time for Naksan Beach.
Most offered private room accommodation for 60 000-100 000 won ($60-$100) per night. When I negotiated a lower price for a longer stay, they were happy to reduce their rate. I can speak NO Korean at all! So these negotiations were done via Google Translate, hand signals, and a very poor attempt at putting on a Korean accent!
For double the price you can stay in one of the many beachfront motels. However, I didn’t think it was worth the extra cash. If you don’t have a budget, you may want to look at Naksan Beach Hotel which lies between Naksansa Temple and the beach. This hotel looks lavish indeed and also comes with a hefty price tag if you’re looking for a more luxurious stay.
Where I stayed in Naksan Beach
I met a lovely Korean women standing outside her motel who offered us accommodation for 50 000 won ($50) per night for a 4-night stay. Included was a spacious room with a double bed, balcony, bathroom and a small kitchen.
After getting off the bus, walk toward the 7/11 corner store. Here you turn right and cross over at the first intersection. The motel is to your immediate left.
How to get from Seoul to Naksan Beach
There are two ways to get from Seoul to Naksan Beach. Either via Sokcho or Yangyang.
I chose the Yangyang route as I’d heard it was an easier and faster one. This bus cost around 16 000 won ($16) one way.
Seoul to Yangyang Bus Terminal
From Seoul Express Bus Terminal take the bus to Yangyang Bus Terminal.
Yangyang Bus Terminal to Naksan Beach
Once you reach Yangyang Bus Terminal, walk out of the terminal and turn to your right. The local bus stop is directly outside the Paris Baguette. Hop onto bus 9 or 9-1 until you arrive at Naksan Beach.
How long does it take to get from Seoul to Naksan Beach
The bus from Seoul to Yangyang takes 2.5 – 3 hours. This is followed by a 10-minute bus trip on the local bus from Yangyang to Naksan Beach.