White Water Rafting in South Korea

White water rafting in South Korea on the Naerincheon River, Gangwon Province

In summer, Seoul and a lot of other cities in South Korea begins to feel like a sweltering bath with temperatures lingering around 30 degrees Celsius while the humidity makes it feel more like 40. What to do? Where to go? We decided to travel to Gangwon Province, north-east of Seoul, to try out white-water rafting in South Korea.

Gangwon-do (“do”=Province) is the most mountainous and least developed area of South Korea. It’s cooler and less humid than Seoul in the summer and a good alternative to battling traffic jams and beach-side crowds along the coast.  It’s also stunningly beautiful and will only take 1.5 to 3 hours to get there from Seoul.  So if you want to get out of the city quickly to the countryside, this is the place to go.

White water rafting in South Korea is a popular summer activity. But it’s possible to go in the Spring or Fall as well – the season runs from April to October. May is a particularly beautiful time when the forest is bright green with new growth, and October is great for the Fall colours.  Occasionally during the wet Korean summer boating on the river is cancelled because of flooding, so best to double-check your booking if there’s been heavy rain.

Inje river, Gangwon Province, South Korea

The Naerincheon River near the small city of Inje is a hotspot for rafting. Along the river-side road at the edge of town there are dozens of white water rafting companies to choose from. Unfortunately, information in English about white water rafting is scarce.

We went with the Songkang Canoe School we found through the government’s Visit Korea website.  but the details such as pricing were out of date (check below for the updates). The owner of the company spoke excellent English and some of the staff could also speak basic English. Songkang Canoe School was well organised and safety conscious. You can also book accommodation, transportation and rafting packages. We did a bit of asking around and found most companies nearby have pretty similar prices.

The pace of our rafting trip was fun and relaxed.  We went after overnight rain and were told it would be quite rough… but mostly it was just a little bumpy and slow paced.  We did have one particularly exciting patch where our boat almost flipped and a friend and I fell in the water.  But if you’re an experienced rafter or an adrenaline junky this is not the white water rafting for you!

We spent about 2 hours on the river including a short break half-way at a small waterfall.   In a few quiet spots our guide allowed us to jump out and swim along with the raft. Be warned though, you probably won’t be allowed to take off your life-jacket and swim properly – few people in Korea can swim well, so it’s considered dangerous.

White water rafting in South Korea, Gangwon Province is a great way to spend a couple of days – especially for families or with a group of friends. The clean air, lush forests and clear river valleys certainly refreshed our bodies and minds.

Resources & Links:

http://www.korea4expats.com/news-rafting-korea.html
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=260563 (some info seems out of date)

[tab name=”Bookings”]White water rafting in Korea runs from April to October.
Songkang Canoe School:
(Young) TEL 033 461 1659  MOB 010 9489 3447  or email canoe1959@hotmail.com
Cancellation:
On the website it says you get a 100% refund if you cancel 3 days prior to your booking, 80% for two days notice, and 50% refund for the day before.[/tab]

[tab name=”Packages”]Shuttle + lunch + rafting W55,000
Rafting+ pension W60, 000
Rafting only W35,000 kids W30,000

Other Options:
The school also has inflatable kayaks (duckies) that take 1-2 people and kayaks. There’s a beginner’s or intermediate level both with an instructor.[/tab][tab name=”Gear”]You will be given a helmet and life jacket you are required to wear. Our company didn’t supply water shoes.

Wear water shoes or sturdy water sandals that strap on, (or you’ll lose a shoe like our friend.) and shorts and t-shirt suitable for swimming in. Bring a change of clothes for afterwards.[/tab]
[tab name=”Getting there”] A shuttle runs to and from the white-water rafting area and costs W10,000 to W13,000.  It takes about 1.5-2 hours and runs 2 times on the weekend.  It’s best to book through your white water rafting company[/tab][tab name=”In Hindsight”]We think the pension + white water rafting package was quite overpriced, (5 of us minus white water rafting was W120, 000 for a slightly run down pension/cabin room) Next time we’ll go with the rafting only or rafting + lunch +shuttle bus and think about camping overnight along the river.

The inflatable kayaks they call “duckies” look great fun and could be worth a try next time.[/tab][end_tabset]

Photography by Jarrod Hall

2 comments

  1. Hi there
    I am an experienced rafting guide from Nepal and am interested in coming to South Korea this season to work. Would it be possible for me to apply to your company? Would there be any way you could sponsor my working holiday visa? I believe I would be a great asset to your team with many qualities you are looking for! I have WRT certificate, IRF certificate,frist aid certificate,guide licence,canyoning certificate 5 years of experience letter from my company I work with. I am enthusiastic in everything I do and will bring with me my commitment, team communication skills, dedication,creativity and expertise. I have great knowledge of the outdoors with experience in other sports as well, I am a trained canyoning guide as well and kayaker. I look forward to hearing form you soon.
    thank you!
    Kind regards,
    Bimal Itani

    1. Hi Bimal,
      Currently we don’t run tours ourselves for white water rafting in Korea, sorry. We have used the Korean company mentioned in the story.
      Thanks for your interest!
      All the best,
      Emma

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