Monday, April 25, 2011

Damyang (Slow City), Samjicheon Village, Bamboo Forest & Soswaewon Garden

One of the things I was really looking forward to this trip was visiting Damyang. And I sure wasn't disappointed. 

Our first stop was to the Bamboo Forest aka Jungnogwon Garden whereby quite a few K-dramas were filmed at. 
Bamboo Forest Entrance

Feeling Cold In Bamboo Forest

We were blessed with sunny and cloudless days the whole time we were in Damyang. Yet, when under the shade or when the wind blows, it felt colder than when we were in Seoul. I think it has got to do with the fact that Damyang doesn't have tall building and it's like a old preserve town instead. I've read that it is nestled between 2 mountains too. Nice!

There's even a Hanok in the Bamboo Forest and I guess the guests will really have it s.l.o.w. when staying there. There'll be absolutely nothing t...o....  d...o....

One thing I found unsettling in the Bamboo Forest was the presence of fake pandas everywhere. It's so weird and what's with the pandas man??

Anyway, we ended the Bamboo Forest visit with a pot of expensive bamboo leaves tea, which tasted almost like normal teas.

*Click here to find out how to get to Bamboo Forest.

Next, we checked in to our Hanok called House of Kim Yeong-Bong after the kind Hanok owner picked us up from Damyang bus station. My Korean friend was so worried that we'll get lost as you'll hardly find anyone who speaks English in Damyang, hence, she arranged for the pick up.

It was a beautiful Hanok and really breathtaking. I heard that it is run by only a husband and wife couple and there's about 16 rooms in total.

BF Learning To Set Up Our "Beds" For the Night.

The owners are really warm and friendly even though we didn't have a common language; they speak only Korean.

Attached Bathroom In Hanok

For 50,000KRW per night, it is a really charming place to stay.

By the way, the floors of Hanoks are warm but bf and I weren't used to sleeping on hard grounds. It was a comfortable stay on the whole though.

While at the Hanok, we were met a young Korean couple who could speak English and were just about to go out as we arrived. They were really friendly asked where we were going for the day. Since it was close to 5pm, we wanted to stay around Samjicheon Village and venture out to Soswaewon Garden the next morning.

Our new found friends then invited us to go along with them to Soswaewon Garden. It really was our lucky day!

Soswaewon Garden

It's about 10 mins ride from Samjicheon Village but would have taken us more than an hour if we were to take the bus.

It is one of my favourites this trip. You can almost understand why the person who built the garden have it done the way it is.

Even with its small size, Soswaewon Garden exudes such charm that'll make you forget time for a while, as if it has stopped.

*Click here to find out how to get to Soswaewon Garden. Or simply cab there for convenience sake!

We had dinner together and tried the Damayng styled BBQ whereby the meat are in patty form instead of slices. It was also the night we discovered the addictive Korean Raspberry wine that was served at APEC 2005.

By the time we were full with a little alcohol to start the night, we were treated with a beautiful sunset right outside the restaurant. The restaurant faces a lake and has a beautiful view.

Seeing how much we enjoyed our drinks, our new found Korean friends invited us to their room (theirs was the bigger room with a common area and a sleeping area) for another round of drinks.

We went prepared with snacks we've brought along from Seoul together with a big bottle of Max Beer.

Our Korean friends brought us more Raspberry wine and also a bottle of Plum wine. I guess they were pretty amused that we drank so much and we had a good time. It was really a lovely night and blessing to have made new friends somewhere so far out as Damyang.

Traditional Rice Snacks Complimentary from Hanok Owners

The rice snacks were more delicious than they look!! We didn't stay long that night, just a round of drinks before going back to try out hanok living. 

The next morning, we have learnt to take it slow in Slow City to appreciate the beauty of the Hanok and Samjicheon Village.

Fresh In The Morning 

Original Hanok Which Is 100 Years Old

By noon, we made our way to Gwanju Train Station to catch the KTX back to Seoul.

*Click here to find out how to get to House of Kim Yeong-Bong Hanok.

I hope my self-drawn map helps if you decide to test your navigation skills to get to the House of Kim Yeong-Bong in Damyang, Samjicheon Village.  

Damyang has indeed left a impression on me. I felt so blessed to have great weather, met kind strangers, found a warm Hanok stay and a had special time stepping back into old world Korea.

How To Get To Damyang From Seoul
-No direct train from Seoul to Damyang

-Take KTX train from Seoul (Yongsan Station) to Gwangju
  • It's a direct train from Yongsan Staion in Seoul and you can check out the train schedule here
  • It take about slightly more than 3 hrs to travel from Seoul to Gwangju
  • 1 way ticket is about 50,000KRW
-Take bus no 301, 303, 311 or 312 from Gwangju Bus Terminal to Damayng
  • Bus ride is about 30 - 40 mins
  • Check with the Tourist Information Centre right outside Gwangju Train Terminal, they'll be able to advise better and provide maps
How To Get To Around Damyang
-Cabs are inexpensive but if you're feeling adventurous enough, you may try out the many buses traveling within Damyang
  • Do note that intervals of the buses as some may come every 40 mins apart
  • Plan your route before heading to Damyang and check with the Tourist Information Centre right outside Gwangju Train Terminal for the bus frequency and correct bus no. to take; staff can speak English which is a great help as not many people can converse in English in Damyang


lailian said...

Hi..I love this post and I do plan to visit there this November, may I know how can I book a night stay at the hanok? Thank you.

Mei said...

Hi Lailian,

You can visit their website ( and book directly with them.

However, the owners converse mainly in Korean only. If you're living in Singapore. I suggest you check with the Korean Tourism Organisation at Raffles Place to see if they can help you to call them and make the booking instead.

Hope it'll go well! =)

Chan said...

Glad to find your blog, as I'm planning for trip to Damyang too early next month.

I noticed you only checked in to the minbak after your visit to Jungnogwon Garden. Do you mind sharing how did you "settle" your luggage? :)

Also, may I know how far is the minbak from Damyang bus station? How long is the journey?


Mei said...

Hi Chan,

We left our main luggage at the hotel in Seoul (Astoria) and carry only a hand luggage.

There's a locker at the front of the Bamboo Forest so you can leave it there and have a relaxing walk.

After that, then we checked into our Hanok.

The bus ride is fast at around 30 mins or so only.