With a festival to celebrate just about everything from fireflies and ice fishing to bullfighting and bodypainting, there’s no shortage of mass festivities occurring at any given time in South Korea. But perhaps no other event rivals the country’s Boryeong Mud Festival in terms of international attendance, government spending and good clean (or should we say dirty) fun. Get ready to get muddy, as Culture Trip fills you in on how to make the most of your trip to the country’s muddiest celebration.
A brief history
For two weeks every July, thousands flock from around the Korean peninsula to Boryeong, a small, sleepy town situated on the western coast of the country for the Boryeong Mud Festival, or Mudfest, as it’s colloquially called. Even more fly in from overseas, some traveling from as far as Europe and the Americas, to experience some good old fashioned mud wrestling, mud sliding and mud swimming – activities that constitute what has in recent years become the number one Korean festival to visit.
But the popular event, which rakes in millions of dollars in revenue annually, has more humble beginnings. In fact, when it was first established in 1999, the festival was intended to promote cosmetics made from the region’s mud. According to event organizers, Boryeong mud is high in minerals, especially germanium and bentonite, and it emits large amounts of far-infrared rays, which are particularly beneficial for the skin. It didn’t take long, however, for the Spring Break-esque beachside party to outshine the mud beauty marketing.
What to expect
This year, Mudfest will run from July 21 to 30, but to experience it in all its glory, be sure to schedule your visit during a weekend, when the most noteworthy events and activities take place.
Spread throughout Daecheon Beach and downtown Boryeong, the festivities generally begin in the morning, when tourists are ferried in by the busload and are dropped off at the beach, which is carefully prepared with loads of mud trucked in from the region’s mud flats.
Various areas – some free, some requiring admission fees – are equipped with mud pits, mud fountains, mud pools, mud massage zones and even a mud prison, all of which are guaranteed to have you looking like a mud monster by the day’s end. A one-day pass will get you in to all the ticketed events and areas, such as the inflatable playgrounds, obstacle courses, mud slides and races. Regular tickets are 10,000 Won for adults during the week, and 12,000 won on the weekend, and can be purchased at the festival or in advance online.
In addition to muddy merriment, there are also plenty of squeaky clean events to partake in, like fireworks displays and live performances during the festival’s opening and closing ceremonies. This year, K-pop superstars Psy – singer of the 2012 smash hit “Gangnam Style” – and IU will host free stand-alone concerts on July 25 and July 28, respectively.
Other highlights include the festival’s Black Eagles Show with the Korean Air Force and a slew of parades. Those in the mood for a friendly sports match can partake in the Beach Mud Football Competition at the Citizen Tower Sandy beach site on July 29.
Boryeong is also home to a number of nightlife venues ranging from Korean BBQ joints and seafood restaurants to bars and noraebang, so it’s highly recommended that you stay overnight to get the full Mudfest experience.
Staying the night
Locating accommodation during Mudfest can be tricky if you don’t plan ahead, as the festival continues to grow with each passing year. Still, it’s not completely impossible. Options include the ubiquitous minbak, bare-bones accommodation in which guests sleep together on mats on the floor. The majority of the city’s budget hotels don’t advertise online, so it’s advised that you inquire directly at the motels around the beach upon your arrival.
If you’re really in a bind, ring up the Korea Tourism Organization through their free hotline (+82-2-1330). An English-speaking representative will happily assist you by providing additional information or interpretation if needed.
A bus for Boryeong leaves five times daily from Stop 09D on the first floor of Incheon International Airport. Tickets can be purchased at the terminal, or you can pay cash directly to the driver.
If traveling from central Seoul, there are express buses to Boryeong from the Central City Bus Terminal that depart approximately every hour. Alternatively, there are regular train departures from Yongsan Station and Yeongdeungpo Station to Daecheon Station. You can book online up to a month in advance.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.