Late Summer Beach Vacation: Yangyang

CONTRIBUTED BY DANIELLE BASS

In our family we have a ritual of traveling on family vacations at Chuseok. It’s crazy. Friends always tell us not to do it. However, it’s one of the few long vacations offered by Korean employers in the most beautiful season that Korea has to offer. It’s also perfect for beach vacations.

Chuseok fluctuates between September and October, so it’s low season for a lot of beaches. Korean friends have told me that Chuseok is the beginning of cool weather, so no matter where it falls on the solar calendar, I’ve come to expect a warm and sunny sweater-free holiday at this time. Additionally, the low season means travelers can expect less crowded beaches and some times better accomodation at lower rates.

This year we went to Naksan Beach near Yangyang City. Yangyang is a mere fifteen minute drive from the more famous coastal city Sokcho, but it still has plenty of fun to offer for a relaxing vacation: gentle waves, a long stretch of soft sandy beaches, and a clear blue autumn sky.

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Panoramic view of the beach from our motel room balcony

Where to Stay

There are a variety of resorts, hotels, and motels of various price and quality strewn all down the beach. We stayed at Han Ma-eum Condotel, which we found using Naver Maps. The staff only speak Korean but they are incredibly friendly and there were a number of other foreign tourists staying there while we were there.

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The brick building straight ahead is the Han-Maeum Motel.

We stayed in the Suite Bedroom (쉬트침대– suite chim-dae). There were so many things to enjoy about our room. For starters, the photos of the ocean-view rooms on their website were true representations of the rooms. The staff gave us a traditional Korean yo mattress for our two kids to sleep on. This left the room feeling a little cramped, but boy howdy was it clean. You can see from browsing pictures of the room that there is mini-fridge, a sink and small kitchen counter. What you don’t see is that under the sink there are all sorts of utensils you can use to make your own meals in the room, including an electric kettle, cutting boards and knives, and a rice cooker. We saved a lot of money by preparing breakfast and lunch in our room and then enjoying more activities and delicious dinners (more on that later).

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Here are some amenties not clearly visible in the photos on the website:
a mini fridge, pots and pans,
some appliances and other kitchen utensils.

If you are interested in this motel, or the area in general, click on the “special” tab to see all that they offer – a barbecue pit in the backyard, a nearby amusement park, horse and carriage rides, and a little mart for buying snacks.

Pro tip #1: Daily room service is not always automatically provided in Korean motels. However, just ask and they will happily clean up for you while you are out!

What To Do

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In the background you can see some speedboats and a tent.
Here is where you can rent the speedboats and sign up for fishing tours.

There are many activities to do on the beach. Speedboat and ATV rentals allow beach patrons to explore different parts of the coast. The speedboat rental also has a place to sign up for an ocean fishing tour. At night, the beach area lights up with carnival rides and games. Horses pull tourists in carriges for 10,000 won.

If you have time, visit Seorak National Park in Sokcho, or visit Sokcho beach. It’s a quick drive or taxi ride away!

(Sorry I don’t have a picture of Mt. Seorak. There are too many child-related reasons for this. But I promise if you enter “Seorak National Park” in the ol’ Google machine, you’ll get some breathtaking pictures. Also, search “Sokcho” on KoreaYe and you will see some wonderful posts that do it justice.)

Of course, there’s always the beach!

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Pro tip #2: Don’t hang out at the beach near the speedboat dock. There is too much debris and it can be a little more smelly. Instead, walk south along the beach, past the Han Maeum Condotel, and keep on going until the waves settle down a bit and the ATV rental is out of sight. It’s a bit of a hike with kids, but it’s especially worth it if you’re traveling with little knee-biters. There is a boardwalk along the beach that is pretty stroller-friendly. Aim to go out at low tide for the calmset seas.

What To Eat

When you go traveling in Korea, you can generally expect that your destination will be well-known for some sort of regional specialty dish. Yangyang is known for regional mushrooms, salmon, shellfish, and noodle soup, among others. Like many other tourist locations on the beach, raw fish restaurants abound. If that isn’t your thing, I highly recommend 조개구이 (jo-ge gu-i) – a variety of steamed or grilled shellfish!

You might want to check the menu before sitting down and being served your side dishes. Seamed shellfish can vary greatly in price – from 10,000 won to 50,000 won per dish!

Pro tip #3: If you’ve never tried it, you might not think that steamed shellfish and wasabi with beer is the best…and you would be oh, so wrong! Try it! I dare you.

How To Get There

Enter “Naksan Beach” (낙산해수욕장) in your navigation and drive straight there! (We wish we could have!)

Take an express bus from Gangnam Express Bus Terminal (Express Bus Terminal Station, Seoul subway lines 3, 7 & 9). It takes roughly 3 hours and costs about 19,600 won for an economy-class one-way adult ticket – more for luxury buses. Child tickets are sold at 50% of the cost of an adult ticket. Check out the Express Bus Lines Association Website in English for more information on ticket prices.

Pro tip #4: If you choose to travel at Chuseok like we did, leave the morning of the day before Chuseok starts, and return either the middle day or the morning of the last day of the holiday. You still may experience high traffic volume compared to other times, but the delay will be greater if you travel at other times during the holiday. If you hate crowds, avoid the last week of July and the last week of August as these are high-travel times for beach vacations in Korea.

More Information about Yangyang

Yangyang happens to have a pretty decent tourism website available in English.

Visit Yangyang in autumn and enjoy festivals dedicated to local mushrooms and salmon.

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