This post will feature Damyang County which is located in the South Jeolla Province. The area is known for it’s bamboo groves, but it’s also the home of many famous Gasa poets.
TRAVEL COURSE: DAY ONE
1. Juknokwon Garden 죽녹원
2. Noodle Street 국수의거리
3. Metasequoia Avenue 메타세쿼이아길
4. Strawberry Picking Farm Experience
5. Pork Galbi Dinner 돼지 숯불 갈비
TRAVEL COURSE: DAY TWO
1. Korean Bamboo Museum 한국대나무박물관
2. Bamboo Cooked Rice 대통밥
3. Soswaewon Garden 소쇄원
4. Korean Literature and Verse Culture Center 한국가사문학관
5. Sikyoungjeong Pavilion 식영정
6. Gwangju Lake Ecological Park 광주호 생태공원
7. Tteokgalbi for Dinner (Mixed Rice Beef/Pork) 떡갈비
Damyang is located in the South Jeolla Province 전라남도, just north of Gwangju City. You can get there by bus from Seoul. If you prefer to take the train, you will have to take the train into Gwangju, and then take one of the many local buses from there.
When you arrive in Damyang, you’ll probably arrive at the intercity bus terminal, and you’ll be able to find a couple of motels in the area. You can usually check into a motel pretty early on in the day as long as you ask politely, and they tend to run around 30,000-40,000 won during the non-peak season. From the intercity bus terminal you can walk to Juknokwon (죽녹원) which is the most famous bamboo grove in Damyang. It opened in 2003 and was the setting of several tv shows and movies, and contains a hanok complex and a cafe where you can get some bamboo leaf flavored ice cream..
Juknokwon Admission Fee: 2,000 won / adult
Operating Hours: 9am – 7pm
Average Viewing Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Contact Info: (061) 380-2680 juknokwon.go.kr
After checking out the bamboo tress at Juknokwon, you can check out the Noodles Street 국수의거리 which is located just across the intersection from the main entrance of Juknokwon. The appeal here is that you get decent food for a cheap price. You have a choice of noddles with anchovy soup or the mixed spicy chilli type, and you can also order some boiled eggs as well. Some restaurants on this street will also include other things on their menu, but the more famous places only sell noodles and boiled eggs.
Price for Bowl of Noodles: 3,500 won
Price for a Set of Three Boiled Eggs: 1,000 won
Metasequoia Road (메타세쿼이아길) isnt anything too special, but it’s one of the main tourist attractions in Damyang, so you might find it worth checking out if you want to take some nice pictures. It’s a very long tree lined walking path and along the way you’ll also find some totem poles and a tunnel with some photos of tv shows shot at the Metasequoia Road. Unfortunately, the trees were still hibernating when I went in March.
Metasequoia Avenue Admission Fee: 1,000 / adult
Operating Hours: 9am – 7pm (summer) 8am – 6pm (winter)
Average Viewing Time: 30-45 minutes
On one side of the tree lined road, you’ll notice some farms. Many of these hold experience programs where you can pick your own fruits or vegetables. You’ll see signs along the path advertising it. Strawberries were in season when I went in March, but foods available in the general area include tomatoes, grapes, and melons.
Strawberry Picking Fee: 8,000 won per adult
(includes all you can eat + 500 gram take home box per person)
From here, you might want to take a taxi back to the bus terminal area. You can walk or take a bus as well. From the bus terminal, you’ll find plenty of restaurants within walking distance, I suggest you get some Pork Galbi 돼지 숯불 갈비 which Damyang is known for. You’ll find plenty of restaurants that I think pretty much taste similar, so there’s no need to go to a particular one.
The next morning walk to the Korean Bamboo Museum. It’ll take about 20 minutes from the bus terminal. You can also take a bus if you want. The museum is a lot larger than it looks in pictures because it contains several annex buildings and it also contains a pretty nice park with different varieties of bamboo as well as a koi pond. At the museum you’ll find around 3,000 pieces of bamboo crafts and learn about the health properties of various dishes made from bamboo.
Korean Bamboo Museum Admission Fee: 1,000 won / adult
Operating Hours: 9am – 6 pm
Average Viewing Time: 1.5 hours (45 minutes if you skip the park)
Contact Information: (061) 380-2909
Local Buses: Take buses 311 or 322 from the Damyang Bus Terminal
For lunch there is a purple restaurant across for the museum, that is appropriately titled, the restaurant in front of the museum (박물관앞집) and it serves rice cooked in bamboo (대통밥). In this dish, a bamboo stalk is filled with rice, dates, chestnuts, etc. The stalk is then covered with hanji paper and steamed for several hours. After you finished the 대통밥, you can wash out the bamboo bowl and keep it as a souvenir. As side dishes, you’ll probably also get some juksun which are smaller bamboo shoots that have been boiled or pan fried.
Bamboo is supposedly high in protein and vitamin B and is good for treating constipation, hangovers, stress, and insomnia, so I would take advantage of the plentiful amounts of juksun side dishes given at almost all restaurants in Damyang.
After lunch, you’ll can take a bus down to the southern part of Damyang which holds several locations of literary significance.
The first of these is Soswaewon Garden (소쇄원). It’s a private garden built in the 1500s by the poet Yang San-bo 양산보 (1593-1557). At the ripe age of 17, he retired from politics when his mentor Jo Kwang-jo was exiled over differences in political factions. Yang San-bo then moved to Damyang to build his garden and retired here. It’s a harmonious place, but there isn’t a whole lot to do here other than take photos. It’s sort of a hit or miss depending on your personality. I’ve heard some spectacular reviews from people who are into nature/zen sort of things, whereas others find this place underwhelming. I enjoyed it though.
Soswaewon Garden Admission Fee: 1,000 / adult
Operating Hours: 9am – 5pm (Nov-Feb) 9am – 6pm (Mar, Apr, Sept, Oct) 9am – 7 pm (May-Aug)
Average Viewing Time: 30-45 minutes
Contact Information: 061) 381-0115
From there you can walk north along the main road to get to the Korean Literature and Verse Culture Center (한국가사문학관) which holds several paintings and copies of poens as well as short bios of well known Gasa Poets. There are several paintings here of the Soswaewon Garden as well as of the next spot on our list, Sikyoungjeong Paviliion.
Korean Literature and Verse Culture Center Admission Fee: 2,000 / adult
Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm
Average Viewing Time: 45 minutes
Contact Information: 061) 380-2703
If you walk for about five minutes north from the museum, you’ll find the Sikyoungjeong Pavilion (식영정), located up on a hill. It isn’t anything too special, but you can take the time here to think and ponder about life, like one of the Gasa Poets. The name Sikyoungjeong means ‘where even shadows rest’ and it was built around 1560.
Sikyoungjeong Pavilion Admission Fee: free
Operating Hours: 24 hours
Average Viewing Time: 20 minutes
Across the street and a little ways down you’ll see the Gwangju Lake. There’s an ecological park with a long board walk that partially follows the circumference of the lake. The lake is located patially in Damyang and partially in Gwangju City.
After the lake, head back to the city center where the bus terminal is and get some tteokgalbi 떡갈비 for dinner. It’s available in both pork and beef varieties.
After your trip in Damyang, catch one of the late night buses back to Seoul or continue on your trip to the nearby Namwon City or Gwangju City.