In the middle of our trip to Seoul, I booked us a night at Banu, a collection of modern camping “villas” by the Noil River in Hongcheon, Gangwondo.
I’m not really the camping type. But this I can manage.
It takes about two hours to get there from Seoul. You take the bus to Hongcheon Bus Station from the Express Bus Terminal in Gangnam. Tickets are about US$8 each.
Once there, we found the taxi line and it was another 20 minutes of winding roads before we reached Banu. Our driver had the address on his GPS, so it must be getting popular. The taxi there came to about US$25.
There are convenience stores inside the Hongcheon Bus Station where you can pick up supplies like ramen, soju, teabags, coffee and snacks, if you need.
There are six villas on the property, each with its own “patio”, Weber barbecue and outdoor campfire pit. This pink one was ours.
The villas are so shamelessly well-equipped it’s pretty much a crime to call it camping. There’s an indoor shower and bathroom, plus a kitchenette with rice cooker, electric stove, fridge and kettle.
It was chilly the night we were there, but luckily the floors are heated. Oh, and the wifi is great despite the remote location.
Each villa sleeps four. There’s a queen bed on the mezzanine level and another one downstairs.
We were there on a quiet Monday night, but we were told on weeknights, the place is absolutely packed with young families.
This is the friendly stray dog that came by our tent soon after we checked in. We named her Kimchi.
After we got settled, Kimchi took us on a tour of the neighborhood, introducing us to other dogs on nearby properties and showing us exactly where she likes to pee.
If you don’t plan to cook — we didn’t — you can order this huge barbecue set for US$28 per person. Just tell the camp staff when you’d like to eat dinner and they’ll deliver it to your villa and set up the charcoal for the Weber grill.
The meat’s pre-cooked so you only need to heat it up. Super delicious, I tell you. Kimchi thought so too.
Despite the chill, we sat outside for hours with beers in hand and blankets in our laps, watching the wood slowly burn away. It was an intensely happy night in the middle of nowhere, Korea.