Visiting Damyang Bamboo Forest (담양대나무숲)

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Arts + Sciences

Authored By:

Emma M.


Today I will be recounting a little trip to Damyang Bamboo Forest in South Korea! For one weekend in early December, a couple friends and I took a short trip to Gwangju City--leaving Seoul for the last time before the weather got too cold!


One of the main purposes for our trip to Gwangju was to visit Damyang Bamboo Forest, killing two birds with one stone. I had been wanting to visit this particular bamboo forest since my first time studying Korean at Sookmyung Women’s University--because our textbook mentioned the forest in one of our chapter dialogues!


We woke up early in the morning and took a local bus (311) to the bamboo forest which we could pay for with our T-Money; however, we did have to tell the bus driver when we were getting off so that he could charge us for the right amount. Having never ridden a bus like that, I was very anxious about the daunting task--but it proved to be easy! The bus driver was very patient with us and when we got closer to our stop, he checked with us to let us know we should get off soon. 

The bus stop (for anyone curious) is → Juknokwon (죽녹원).


The ride from our Airbnb to the bamboo forest was supposed to be an hour but… our bus driver “drove with a purpose” and we arrived in only 45 minutes. Also because of the fact that he almost rarely stopped--so maybe it's an unpopular bus line?


We got dropped off right in front of the entrance of the bamboo forest and were immediately greeted by long stalks of green bamboo. Although it was early December and almost everything else green in the vicinity had died, the bamboo was of course very lush and green despite the weather. I guess I should have known bamboo were naturally evergreen, but the first images that come to my mind when picturing "evergreen" are pine trees.


Lauren, Selena, and I got lucky with the weather too! Compared to Seoul, Gwangju was much warmer that weekend--and sunny! So walking around in our warm coats was actually very enjoyable. It was nice to be surrounded by green on all sides and the smell!!! It was refreshing. I also read that bamboo absorbs more than 4-5 times more CO2 than regular pine. Pretty neat!


We walked around and took lots of photos--nice backgrounds with additions of bamboo benches, staircases, and panda statues (of course!) We also came across a traditional Korean pavilion (think wooden gazebo!) and we took off our shoes before entering and rested for a bit.

bamboo bench

After walking around more, we stumbled upon an area with lots of Hanok houses and a cafe! We got to try bamboo ice cream in another Korean pavilion. If you are curious about the taste, I would say it was a lighter matcha flavor? Less grassy and a bit more tea like? Very yummy. The cafe also had a little cat which we could not help but give him some pets.

ice cream

Upon leaving the bamboo forest, we were on a journey for some food. And for a(nother) sweet treat before dinner, we had to all try a bamboo hoddeok (sweet Korean fried pancake). But then we got to dinner and had a large spread of traditional side dishes and a few different entrees. The main thing we were excited to try was deokkalbi (떡갈비) which is a short rib patty dish that Damyang is famous for. We also had a full fish and some korean-bbq style pork! The most interesting part of the meal was eating Daetongbap (대통밥) which was rice served in the “stalk” of bamboo! The rice also was different from normal white rice in Korea as it also had water chestnuts, beans, etc mixed in.

din din
bamboo hoddeok

And that was our trip to Damyang Bamboo Forest! The journey to Gwangju was around 3.5 hours by express bus--around 33,000 won--so if you want somewhere to visit for a short getaway day (or weekend) trip, I highly recommend it!