Ever thought of taking a road trip across the Korean countryside and camping in your car? This is known as ‘Cha-bak’, a new type of holiday that is trending in Korea right now. The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly changed how we travel. Foreign holidays were the norm for Koreans, but now locals are enjoying domestic vacations instead. However, the increase in domestic travel has seen flights, hotels and experiences fully-booked, or scaled down to maintain social distancing. However, Chabak is a safe and inexpensive vacation alternative!
1. What is Chabak?
What is “Chabak”? “Cha” means car and “Bak” means night in Korean. This non-contact travel method has recently been trending and caravan sales have skyrocketed. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport stated that 17,799 caravans were registered in 2020, four times higher than in 2015 (GP Korea, 2021).
They also mentioned that the caravans’ owner’s age has gone down to 30s and 40s. Chabak is definitely becoming a nationwide trend. There are many positive benefits regarding “Chabak”, from it being a non-contact travel method to its feature that allows you to travel at any time at the moment to anywhere. Cars are also usually parked quite far from the other, giving you a little privacy and also avoid coming into contact with anyone else but your travel partner. It also has the advantage of being able to create your own private space and enjoy it comfortably. So what do you need and where should you do “Chabak”?
2. What to prepare for Chabak camping?
The first item you need for your “Chabak” is a car tent! With the increasing popularity of “Chabak”, you can find a variety of car tents anywhere online. With the tent, you have your very own campsite! Just like in the picture. At night you can hand fairy lights and make it a little more romantic. However, definitely bring a mosquito spray or repellent if you can! Or better yet a mosquito net that can hang over your tent.
So what else is needed for a perfect “Chabak”? Well since you are going to spend a night in the car, the most important thing would be making your car comfortable to sleep in. I would suggest bringing a mat, a thick mat that would be able to cover the gaps between your car seat so you can’t feel it. They sell thick mats in Daiso for KRW 5,000! Next a good comforter and pillow so you can have some good night’s rest.
Now where to spend your “Chabak”? It was simple to find beautiful locations to spend the night. However, due to the recent inflow of campers, many locations have been closed off. Because there were many campers not following the rules like not taking their trash leaving it onsite. For example, camping, parking, and cooking in national parks, forests, coastal areas are illegal. You might be fine up to KRW 20,000,000 for negligence! So make sure to double-check and also keep an eye out for banners that prohibit camping.
3. Where to camp?
Let me introduce you to a couple of places where you can camp and cook!
Yangyang Gaetmael Beach is one of the famous “Chabak” locations among Koreans and also beach lovers. Why? The campsite has a toilet, an emart24 convenient store and there is a campsite management office if you ever need help. You are also allowed to cook here; they have a sink and garbage disposal area for you.
If you prefer camping in the greens, try out Zelkova Campsite at Yongin, Gyeonggi-do. It is about an hour’s drive away from Seoul, so easy to get to if you just want to spend a short holiday weekend. However, you do need to make a reservation at the campsite at a price between KRW 50,000 to KRW 70,000. The best thing about this place is that they have multiple shower stalls available! A kitchen, equipped with appliances like air fryer, microwave, fridge, toaster oven. They also have an onsite convenience store especially for camping, so you can camp at ease even if you forget your mosquito repellent.
Book it here: https://zelkovacamp.modoo.at/
If you have not tried “Chabak”, I would definitely recommend it. It’s definitely nice to set up your own campsite and also grill barbeque. A very refreshing experience for those who have never camp or for city folks. Since it also has been hard for foreigners to travel back to their home country due to having to quarantine for 2 weeks and it’s hard to take time off at a job or during your studies to do that. So I would say, try “Chabak” and let me know what you think about it.
Check out other campsites here.