The east coast of Korea is renowned for its great beaches, and Naksan Beach is no exception. But, it’s often overlooked in favor of the more popular beaches nearby including Yangyang Beach and Sokcho Beach.
But, if you’re wanting to get away from the city and disconnect from the chaos of it all, Naksan Beach is the perfect answer!
Admittingly, I didn’t have high expectations before arriving. As a last-minute decision, I hopped on a bus from Seoul to Yangyang and continued on to my final destination, Naksan Beach.
It was one of the best spur-of-the-moment things I did in South Korea and I highly recommend you take the time out to visit the beaches on the east coast.
Here’s my complete guide to visiting Naksan Beach including the best things to do in the area (because yes, there’s more to Naksan than just the beach), where to stay, and how to get there.
Why you will Love Naksan Beach
Situated in Gangwon-do Province, between Sokcho and Yangyang Beach in South Korea, 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.
People come here for two reasons – to laze on the beach, and to visit the beautiful Naksansa Temple which is located right on the edge of a cliff, overlooking Naksan Beach, Korea.
I wanted an escape during my travels to Korea, and that’s exactly what I got.
6 Things To Do in Naksan Beach, Korea
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 families laughing and playing together.
I visited Naksan Beach during our summer vacation as I was teaching English in Korea, and yes, it was busy. However, the nearby beaches of Sokcho and Yangyang 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 beaches in 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 in 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 Beach.
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 Naksan Beach, where you walk up the road leading towards the cliff. Alternatively, you can enter the main gate which is just off the main road. There are plenty of signs offering directions so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
- Entrance Fee: 3 500 KRW ($3)
- Operating hours: 6:00 am – 8:30 pm
3. Go Hiking 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 and it’s a must-do if you’re visiting the area.
Because of its popularity among locals and tourists, Seoraksan National Park gets extremely busy, especially on weekends and during school holidays. And unfortunately, the bus trip from Naksan Beach to the park entrance could take double the time due to traffic.
Try to get to the mountain early to avoid the crowds, and the heat – especially if you visit during summer in Korea!
How to get to Seoraksan National Park from Naksan Beach
So, don’t do what I did! I wasted a lot of time by taking the bus from Naksan Beach to Sokcho city center, and then got on a different one from Sokcho to Seoraksan. There is a much easier way, so follow the directions below!
- From Naksan Beach, take bus 9 or 9-1 towards Sokcho. (opposite direction of Yangyang Beach)
- After about 15 minutes you will reach the turn-off to Seoraksan National Park, more or less at this point. 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. Watch a concert on Naksan Beach
The entire strip lining Naksan Beach lights up at night and the atmosphere is electric! During my visit, 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.
It was nothing fancy and was certainly not a crazy party like the Boryeong Mud Festival, but it was awesome to be there! This experience just added to that happy, relaxed atmosphere I mentioned earlier.
5. 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.
6. Indulge in Delicious Korean Food
Naksan Beach is a seafood lover’s dream destination!
The beachfront boasts 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.
Getting to Know The Beaches in Korea
After living in the country for over 14 months, I realized a few (actually, a lot of) strange things about Korea!
Initially, it was a culture shock – especially when I learned that wearing a bikini in public was not normal. I made a few observations on my trip to Naksan Beach which may be helpful to those visiting Korea for the first time.
Swimming with floaties (or Lilo’s as we call them in South Africa) is a huge trend when visiting beaches in Korea and you’ll spot them everywhere!
The fact that there are no waves and the sea is pretty flat makes it the perfect place to hang out in the water on a floatie, especially for kids. 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! Learn from my mistakes and make sure you follow this list of what to pack for Korea.
Catch a tan
So, I know that spending too much time in the sun is bad for your skin. But, I’ve grown up on the beach, and having a good tan (whilst protecting your skin) is #lifegoals.
But not in Korea! No one wants a tan and you won’t see any Koreans basking in the sun. So, expect a few odd looks if you’re soaking up the sun in your bikini.
The beaches in Korea have official swimming seasons
During my visit, 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. This was crazy to me as sunset swims are the best, but you also don’t want to be that one person in the water who thinks they’re above the law.
But, just because swimming is not allowed, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beach!
This is actually my favorite time to be on Naksan Beach as 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.
Where to stay in Naksan Beach
During peak season, accommodation in Naksan Beach fills up quickly so it’s best to book in advance, especially if you’re looking for a place close to the beach with sea views.
Pension: Pensions are the cheapest places to stay in Naksan Beach. The host may not be able to speak English, but you’re guaranteed a unique experience. In terms of location and value for money, it doesn’t get better than this.
Budget: La Famille is ideally located just a stone’s throw away from Naksan Beach and Naksansa Temple. Not only are the rooms modern and sparkling clean, but breakfast is also included, making this the perfect place if you’re traveling on a budget.
Mid Range: Dignity Hotel is perfectly situated opposite Naksan Beach with incredible ocean views. It’s a new hotel with top-class facilities including a sun terrace and cafe.
Luxury: Naksan Beach Hotel is arguable the best place to stay in Naksan Beach if your budget allows for it. It’s situated right next to Naksansa Temple with ocean views and luxurious rooms. This place sells out fast!
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 easier and faster – 3 hours. This bus cost around 16 000 KRW ($16) one way.
First, you need to get from Seoul to Yangyang Bus Terminal: From Seoul Express Bus Terminal take the bus to Yangyang Bus Terminal. This is a 2.5-hour journey.
Then, you need to go from 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, which should be about 10 minutes away.
Thoughts On Naksan Beach
I was very impressed with Naksan Beach and it truly is a breath of fresh air having come from the rate race in Seoul!
I recommend this place to anyone looking for a relaxing beach getaway.
What’s your favorite beach in Korea? Did you experience the same culture shock as I did? Let me know in the comments section below!
Psst… Planning your trip to Korea? Check out my other posts!
- Backpacking South Korea: Everything You Need to Know
- The Ultimate Nami Island Itinerary (And Garden Of Morning Calm)
- The Best Things To Do In Jeju Island: 5 Day Jeju Itinerary
- 17 Things I love ABout Living in South Korea
- A Guide to Conquering the Bukhansan Hike in Seoul
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