South Korea is home to one of the world’s dirtiest festivals.
Each year in July, millions of people flock to the shores of Daecheon Beach in Boryeong, South Korea, to get wild and muddy at the Boryeong Mud Festival. This year, the 10-day mud bash ran from July 21st until the 30th and attracted over 4 million people.
Planning to go next year? Here is everything you will need to know to survive a weekend (or more – if you can) at the world’s biggest mud festival.
Plan In Advance!
With more and more people attending the event every year, transportation and accommodation sells out quickly. Daecheon Beach is a beach resort area, with plenty of accommodation options including Airbnb stays, pensions, motels, and hotels. I personally booked an Airbnb, as I found it tricky to research other options with the language barrier. And, I was left with few (and expensive) Airbnb options, even though it was two months in advance. Booking pensions, motels, and hotels in advance can be more difficult unless you speak Korean, but may be cheaper to what you will find on Airbnb. You can always call the very handy (and free!) Korean travel line to help you with these bookings. Click here to find out how you can contact them.
To book bus tickets:
To book train tickets:
Patience Is Key.
The lineups to take part in all of the muddy activities within the mud square are long. Waiting for more popular activities, like the giant mud slide, can take longer than an hour. Although, you may be itching to get to the front of the line, it is impossible to be bored. Whether it be watching others slip and slide their way through inflatable mud courses or singing along to the nonstop K-pop performances, there is never a dull moment once you’re in the mud square.
Dress The Part.
It’s a mud festival! Don’t wear anything you care too much about! Most people wear bathing suits, athletic clothing, or old t-shirts and shorts. As for your feet, bring a pair of flip flops or wet shoes you don’t mind losing. Once you enter through the gate, everyone kicks off their shoes into a big, messy pile. With mud covering everything, shoe mix ups are bound to happen.
Keep Hydrated & Fuelled.
July in Korea is hot. An unpleasant, unthinkable kind of hot. Being out in the heat and sun all day, especially while throwing back a few Korean beers (or soju, if you’re feeling bold) can be exhausting (without even realizing it). Unfortunately, you have to leave the mud square to get water and line up to reenter. Yes, the lines to reenter are long, but don’t be silly, and make sure you are doing this often enough to keep your body happy and going for the rest of the day. When leaving the mud square, be sure to also fuel up with some wacky Korean snacks and (maybe) another beer as well.
Buy a Korean-style waterproof bag right when you get there! They can be found at all of the big convenience stores around the festival grounds. These super handy plastic pouches are completely waterproof and wrap around your neck with a string. They’re big enough for a smartphone, money, cards, keys, and leave a little room to spare. If you decide to bring your phone with you, it’s super easy to snap photos and videos right through the plastic casing, even while being thrown around in a mud pool. A towel, a change of clothes, and anything else you decide to bring with you (but don’t want to carry around), can be left in the lockers just outside of the mud square.
Tickets for the mud festival can be bought online or at the gate. Thirty percent of each day’s ticket sales are available online, while the remaining seventy percent are available at the festival. So, if you see that the tickets are sold out online, don’t panic! You can still buy them on-site. Just make sure to get there before the bus loads of tour groups (usually in the early afternoon) to avoid long lines and the slight chance they may sell out for that day (especially on a weekend).
Cost of tickets are ₩10,000 on weekdays and ₩12,000 on weekends for adults (age 20-64), ₩8,000 and ₩11,000 for youth (11-19). For more information about tickets, click here.
When you’re done with having mud pelted at you while jailed in the mud prison or playing slippery soccer matches on the mud pitch, retreat to the waters of Daecheon Beach, or, make your way over the nearest 7-Eleven for an impromptu party. There are also a few beach bars along the strip that charge a small cover fee.
Western food options are pretty limited along the beach strip. Although, if you like Korean food or seafood, you’ll be happy as a clam with the abundance of restaurants serving these.
Be ready to scrub mud out of every possible bodily crevice for an entire week after the festival. I had mud in my ears and way too far up my nose, that took me five, lengthy showers to finally get rid of.