Damyang is quite large so I’ll focus on the attractions that are littered throughout the neighborhood and within walking distance from the house at the top of the page, and the more distant popular tourist attractions can be found at the bottom of the page.
If ‘Gasa’ (traditional Korean verse) is your thing then you’ve probably already explored the area and know that this is where they started writing Korean poetry/literature in Hangeul (as opposed to Chinese characters) for the first time during the Joseon Dynasty. If Korean poetry from 500 years ago isn’t in your wheelhouse, you’ll be happy to know this valley was also a playground of sorts for the elite of the time and their pavilions, gardens and parks remain for you to enjoy today. Most of these attractions are free (or 1,000 won) and outdoors, so it makes for an enjoyable and inexpensive afternoon of exploring.
The biggest draw in this area (and the only one without a tie to ancient history) is Gwangju Lake and the Eco-Park. Established in 2006 the Eco-Park is a maze of boardwalks and a refuge for birds, snakes and other small animals. The park isn’t too large and takes less than an hour to leisurely walk from one side to the other. The crowds really thin out around dusk, which is great because the sun sets right over Gwangju Lake and there are some great viewpoints to sit, relax and watch it all happen. Grab a fishing pole from the storage unit if you want to make an afternoon of it and try your hand at bass fishing (no license necessary/catch and release).
The west end of Eco Park
Eco Park (winter)
Bass fishing on Gwangju Lake
Descriptions of this private garden tend to be overly dramatic, but the fact that’s it’s 500 years old and has been passed down for 15 generations is pretty impressive. The entire garden is surrounded by a bamboo forest (of course) and is split by a small stream, with pavilions on either side. Small walkways and bridges connect everything and guide you through the park. It’s not big and is unfortunately made even smaller by the unusually large crowds. Check it out midweek or during the off season if you want to get your 1,000 won worth.
This museum, directly across from the Eco-Park, was opened in 2000 and documents the history of Gasa poetry and literature. If you attended K-12 in Korea, you will recognize a lot of the names of the poets, authors and artists whose works are on display. If your Hangeul reading comprehension skills aren’t up to snuff, it’ll probably be a quick stroll through the museum, as it’s not terribly large and there is very little English to explain what you’re looking at. At 1,000 won however, it’s well worth a look if for no other reason than to enjoy the garden and pond just inside the gates, past the ticket booth.
Poetry and Literature Museum
These pavilions were built by the poet Seohadang for his father-in-law and attract a lot of amateur photographers, particularly during the fall. The park is free and a good place to explore on your way to or from the Eco-Park. Follow the stone staircase to the pavilion situated on the top of the hill overlooking Gwangju Lake to enjoy the sunset. If you’re feeling energetic, follow the wooden fence up the hill (towards the bamboo) and take this trail up to the overlook on the top of the mountain where you can see the entire valley (~40 min).
Fortune Teller Cafe (사주 가패):
Have a cup of coffee and let some random stranger decide if the person next to you is marriage material. There are two cafes on either side of the village and well worth the experience if you’ve never done it before!
Other Popular Damyang Tourist Attractions:
The Hwansun Resort and Spa – (coming soon)
The Bamboo Forest (Juknokwon) – (coming soon)
The Bamboo Museum – (coming soon)