Famous for its bamboo forest, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Damyang down in the Korean countryside.
It’s weird to think that I’ve visited Damyang three times now, but I’ve only stayed for the day or afternoon and went back home. I actually just texted my friend to tell her we should do a weekend getaway here when I visit Korea next.
Damyang is both a town and a county located in the northern side of Jeollanamdo, which is one of the southernmost provinces on the peninsula. Its main attraction is its bamboo forest since it’s one of the most northern places the plant can grow in Korea.
It’s also really in the countryside, so it’s a great way to escape some of the more hectic cities and get some seriously fresh air. There are a few pensions around the area if you want to make it a weekend, just check here to see and compare.
Top Things to Do in Damyang
1. Explore Juknokwon – Korea’s Main Bamboo Forest (죽녹원)
Of course, the number one thing to do in Damyang is its bamboo forest! This place is absolutely huge. I’ve been three times now, but I’ve only walked all the way to the back the first time (it was too hot the second two). There’s around 2.4km in total to walk if you want to see everything and a surprise incline towards the back.
The forest is also apparently good for your lungs as the oxygen is incredibly clean. Whatever good this does for your health, I’m sure is done with my next suggestion!
2. Try Bamboo Ice Cream
Within the forest is an art museum, and at the bottom of the museum you’ll find an ice cream shop with bamboo ice cream. I think it’s pretty tasty, but I’m not sure I could describe the taste! If you like green tea ice cream, you’ll like this too.
3. Ride a bike in Gwangbangjerim Forest along the River (관방제림)
Right in front of the entrance to Juknokwon sits Gwangbangjerim, which is situated along Damyang’s main river. It has a lot of little food stalls, bikes, and paddleboats if you want to hang out there for a bit. (Also if you’re driving, that’s where you’ll want to park)
On my second visit, Natasha and I actually rented the trolley bike for a few hours and biked from Gwangbangjerim to Meta Provence! I don’t know that I’d totally recommend it because we ran into a few bumps, but, I mean, we made it there and back!
4. Visit Meta Provence (메타 프로방스)
I wrote about Meta Provence quite a while ago. It’s basically this abandoned resort area with colorful buildings and quirky designs. I don’t think it has much of anything with the same Provence of lavender fame, but it wouldn’t be a fun Korean storybook village if it wasn’t tied to France somehow!
5. Walk along the Metasequoia Path (메타세쿼이아 가로수길)
Right next to Meta Provence is the start of the Metasequoia Path. I know the trees line a path near the main part of town, so I don’t know if this is just the entrance, or they just charge for this one area. I’ve never had a chance to really explore the path, though I’ve always wanted to!
6. Eat at Hyanggyo Juknokwon (향교죽녹원)
Right outside of the entrance to the bamboo forest is this delicious restaurant. We actually parked right in front of it. Get some delicious ddeok galbi (떡갈비) and all those side dishes above, including daetongbap (대통밥). Not only are best some seriously delicious Korean foods, Damyang is famous for both of these dishes. Get the location here
Other Places in Damyang
Those three attractions will keep you pretty busy even if you come to Damyang for a weekend! However, I found a few more things to see and do if you want to explore more.
- Damyang Resort & Spa (My friends went to here after I had to go to work, and they highly recommend it for both the pool and the sauna!)
- Geumseongsanseong Fortress (담양 금성산성)
- Damyangho Lake (담양호)
- Changpyeong Samjinae Village (담양 창평 삼지내마을)
- Korea Gasa Literature Collection (한국가사문학관)
- Daenamugol Bamboo Park (대나무골 테마공원)
- Korea Bamboo Museum (한국대나무박물관)
How to Visit Damyang
Best Time to Visit Damyang
Honestly, any time of year should be pretty okay! I’ve been in early spring, late summer, and early autumn, and by far the best month was September (though it can be rainy). I imagine it’s stunning with the metasequoia trees changing color in the fall, and the photos I’ve seen of the forest covered in snow in the winter are breathtaking.
It’s not so bad in the middle of a heatwave either as the entire bamboo forest is shaded, so it’s a bit cooler than if you were to go somewhere more in the sun!
Where to Stay in Damyang
Okay, so I’ve only stayed over in Damyang once, and this was by far one of the coolest stays I’ve had in Korea! It’s actually not really in town, but a good 20 minutes away by car.
When I was doing research for my tour, I found this glamping site and it looked incredible. Stacked tents overlooking this beautiful lake? Um, yes! While the actual tent is more camping than glamping (compared to my Sahara Desert camping in Morocco, it’s a lot more basic), they’re still quite nice with a double bed, private, Korean-style bathroom, and little vanity area. The deck area of the tent will have a kitchen sink, picnic table, and you can rent a grill for an extra 20,000 KRW.
Unfortunately, we got there pretty late since Stacey got done work late and it was a monsoon weekend, so we didn’t get to fully enjoy our glamping experience, but we managed to have fun anyway with some BBQ & face masks!
How to Book:
Okay, so booking this is quite tricky. It’s also one of the more expensive places I’ve stayed (nearly 200,000 KRW for a night). You have to book on their site, but it’s all in Korean and the only way to pay is via a bank transfer, which you can only two with two Korean bank accounts. If you want to stay here and don’t have a bank account, your best bet is to use a local friend’s or try calling and asking about paying in cash in person (which would also require you or someone to be fluent enough to ask).
Other Places to Stay
Obviously, you can pick much more convenient places to stay closer to the main attractions in Damyang! Try one these places:
How to Get Around Damyang
The easiest way to get around Damyang is by taxi. It is possible to walk everywhere if you have the time or to take the public bus. However, I’ve always just taxied to where I wanted to go or had a friend driving.
How to Get to Damyang
Seoul to Damyang
If you want a direct bus from Seoul to Damyang, there are a few that leave from Seoul’s Express Bus Terminal, and they take around 3 1/2 hours. Times I checked were:
- 8:10 am
- 11:10 am
- 2:10 pm
- 5:10 pm
Gwangju to Damyang
Another way to get to Damyang is through Gwangju, the closest big city. I usually recommend someone base themselves in Gwangju if they want to do different day trips around Jeollanam like Damyang because it’s so close to everything.
Gwangju less than an hour away and has two different buses that go to Damyang. The one is a typical intercity bus, but because Gwangju is so close, it has a local bus, #311, that will drop you off right in front of Juknokown.
Where to Go Near Damyang
Naejangsan National Park
If you’re visiting Jeolla while it’s autumn in Korea, do not miss stopping over to visit Naejangsan, which is famous for its fall foliage. Seriously take the cable car up to get unobstructed views below for all the colors!
Boseong Tea Fields
Nearby are one of the most famous tea fields in Korea! I have a whole guide on how to enjoy Boseong from where to go, what to eat, and more. If you’re doing a multi-day trip, you may want to stay over at Boseong’s Yulpo Beach next or before you come to Damyang!
Okay, so this is kind of annoying, but Suncheon is only an hour away from Damyang by car. However, there’s not really any buses that go straight between them, so it takes like 2 hours by bus to go from Damyang to Gwangju to Suncheon and vice versa. However, I highly recommend visiting this city, not just because I lived here! There’s seriously so much to see, from Suncheon Bay to the Film Location or this gorgeous hike between two temples. I have a whole guide on what to do in Suncheon since I had a whole year to explore!
And that’s about it on Damyang! I’m hoping to go back at least once more down the line so I can fully explore the bamboo forest from front to back and experience that resort!
for more on korea
If this is your first trip, check out my huge Korea travel tips post as well as my trip planner guide. Be sure to book your SIM card ahead as it’s cheaper, and make sure you have these apps to make Korean travel easier.