Juknokwon: The Bamboo Forest of Damyang
Discover the beauty of South Korea’s countryside
· 4 min read
Japan’s Arashiyama is probably one of the first few places that comes to mind when we think about bamboo forests. But did you know that South Korea also has a magnificent bamboo garden? Located in Damyang-gun, the Juknokwon bamboo garden that opened in 2005 is approximately 40 acres in size. The tall bamboo trees provide a very healing effect and escape from the daily hustle and bustle of life. And if you are looking for a change from the typical Seoul, Busan, or Jeju-do, then perhaps this is your answer.
Juknokwon Bamboo Garden
The Juknokwon Bamboo Garden is undoubtedly the highlight of Damyang-gun. If you are only have time for one attraction in Damyang, go to the Juknokwon Bamboo Garden. There are 8 walking paths in the garden: (1) the Good Luck Road, (2) the Unchanging Love Road, (3) Memories Byway, (4) Philosopher’s Path, (5) Path of Contemplation, (6) Scholar’s Road, (7) Close Friend’s Road, and the (8) Seonginsan Trail.
When you enter the forest, the first trail you will enter will be the Good Luck Road. You can branch out to the Close Friend’s Road, and rejoin the Good Luck Road. Going forward, you will arrive at a cross roads. If you go left, you will enter the Scholar’s Road, and if you go right, it will be the Unchanging Love Road. From there, you can go in a loop to cover the remaining trail. You can refer to the map of the various trails to help you plan your route — the map is in Korean but the numbers indicated in this guide will help you identify the trail you are on.
The total distance of the trails add up to about 2.4km, and you will be able to complete it in slightly more than an hour, though it could take longer if you are stopping to take photos.
As you stroll through the bamboo garden, you will be able to see sculptures along the way. There are also seats that line the path in case you want to take a break, or just have a moment to enjoy the fresh air in the midst of the towering bamboo trees.
Hanok Experience Site
At the back of the Bamboo Garden, just off the Philosopher’s Path, there is a Hanok Experience Site where you will be able to see a number of Hanok-style buildings and pavilions. Some of these Hanok-style buildings and pavilions also serve as guesthouses, so if you would like to spend a night here, it is entirely possible — you can make online reservations on the official website. For those familiar with the Korean variety show 2 Days 1 Night, this is also the filming location of the show!
Right next to the Hanok Experience Site, there is also the newly opened Sagunja Garden, also known as the Garden of Four Gracious Plants. The site only opened its doors in 2022 and comprises five themed gardens: the Historical Garden, Nujeong Garden, Traditional Garden, Experience Plant Garden, and Culture Garden.
As you approach the back entrance of the Bamboo Garden, you will also be able to see the Chuseonggwan Memorial Hall, a site that commemorates the army of soldiers who fought against the Japanese invasion in 1592.
There are two Hanok cafes in the Bamboo Garden, one near the front entrance and the other near the back entrance. The cafes’ menu items include a number of bamboo-specialties like Bamboo Tea, Bamboo Latte, Bamboo Yogurt Smoothie, and Bamboo Sikhye (sweet rice tea). They even have bamboo ice-cream. And since you are already in a bamboo garden, why not have a go at one of these bamboo-flavoured dessert or drink?
New Bamboo Festival
Damyang has an annual Bamboo Festival takes place in May to celebrate the beauty and value of Damyang's natural bamboo forest. The festival was stopped for four years, but will be brought back in 2023. The 2023 New Bamboo Festival will take place from 3 May 2023 - 7 May 2023, at areas at the Juknokwon and nearby Gwangbangjerim Forest.
The festival features various experiences, educational programs, and performances open to locals and visitors alike. You can expect to experiences like bamboo rafting and canoeing, making bamboo water guns, and kite making. There will also be contests for bamboo crafting and calligraphy that you could enjoy. Visitors can also enjoy some of Damyang's local specialities as well as visit nearby attractions.
What Else to Do in Damyang?
Of course, Damyang is more than just the Bamboo Forest. Here are some of the other attractions that you can visit when in Damyang:
- Gwangbangjaerim Forest
- Meta Provence
- Metasequoia Path
- Visit the Bamboo Museum
How to Get to Juknokwon?
Damyang is a town located in the Northern side of Jeollanamdo, somewhere between Jeonju and Gwangju.
The best way to get to Damyang is to go from Gwangju. From Seoul, you can get to Gwangju either by flight or by the KTX. The KTX from Seoul to Gwangju takes about 2 hours. From Gwangju, you can then take bus number 311 from the bus stop behind Gwangju station, and it will drop you directly at Juknokwon. There are also inter-city buses that you can take from Gwangju to Damyang.
Alternatively, there is also a direct bus from Seoul (Central City Honam Line) to Damyang Bus Terminal, which operates four times a day. Departures are at 8:10, 11:10, 14:10, and 17:10.
💡 It is possible to do a day trip to Damyang from Seoul, but it could be rather rushed. We recommend that you spend at least a night there or at Gwangju.
🕤 Opening Hours: 9am - 7pm (last entry at 6pm) daily from March to October; 9am - 6pm (last entry at 5.30pm) daily from November to February
💲 Cost: 3,000KRW for adults; 1,500KRW for middle and high school students; 1,00KRW for elementary students; Free for senior citizens above 65 and children under 6