Getting There

Direct buses connect Seoul Central City Bus Terminal to Damyang Bus Terminal. From there, you have to take a taxi or another bus to get to Damyang Bamboo Forest, also known as Juknokwon. Alternatively, you can take the KTX to Gwangju and take a local bus to Juknokwon.

We had spent the previous night at Gwangju and checked out early in the morning. U Square is a busy bus terminal in Gwangju and is always bustling with activity. This terminal has a couple of lockers to store your bags, but they get filled pretty quickly. We had one big backpack and a smaller daypack which conveniently fit in the long locker. Instructions are in English and don’t forget your locker number.

We had mistakenly booked a bus from Gwangju (U Square) to Damyang Bus Terminal. This route turns out to be more expensive because the bus doesn’t go directly to the bamboo forest. Fortunately, the local tourism officer helped us cancel our tickets and gave us the number of the local bus (311) that stops right outside the front gate of Juknokwon. The bus numbers are printed on the board at the local bus stop (outside U Square) and you can use your T-Money Card for payment. The driver will need to know your last stop to calculate the fare, and if you don’t speak Korean, show him the printed name (죽녹원).

Juknokwon (죽녹원)

The driver stopped the bus on the opposite side of the main entrance. We had to cross the road to buy tickets and enter the front entrance gate. There’s a pretty water fountain just beside the Metasequoia-lined Road. We decided to come back and explore this trail.

Bonghwangru Pavilion

Bonghwangru Pavilion is perched on an elevated point and is surrounded by dense bamboo cover.

Main Entrance

We took about an hour to reach Damyang Bamboo Forest from Gwangju and were happy to arrive by ten in the morning. It was a bright and sunny day — perfect to walk under the shade of bamboos. Starting early ensures that you have the trails all to yourself with fewer people lurking around for selfies.

Walking Paths

There are multiple walking paths to explore in Juknokwon. Each path is named after the feeling one gets while walking along that particular trail. Information boards/maps are easy to find, and even if you don’t pick a map at the entrance, you won’t have to worry about getting lost here. In fact, this is just the place to follow your feet and lose yourself in the lap of nature.

Lee Lee-nam Art Centre

We didn’t have a particular route in mind and followed the path that lead to Lee Lee-nam Art Center. There are restrooms and a cafe in this center. The highlight of this gallery is the art exhibition that’s on display in a dark room. We were particularly excited with the exhibit of the lens and white screen (second pic). When an observer places the lens on the screen, he/she can see different colourful shapes move — in contrast to a white background. Other artworks were digital interpretations of popular Korean paintings.

There’s a small outdoor market that sells local bamboo products. A wooden hanok (traditional Korean house) doubles as a cafe and a restaurant for Korean delicacies.

Under a Canopy of Bamboo Leaves

We walked along Old Friend’s Trail, before peeping inside Lee Lee-nam Centre, and continued along the road that joined Good Luck Road. It gets pretty hot and humid in the summer months and we were happy to have the shade of towering bamboo trees.

Movie Alert

The Korean Movie, R Point, was shot at this location in Damyang Bamboo Forest. We haven’t watched this horror/zombie movie yet. Judging by how realistic Korean films can get, I’d think twice.

Trickling Light

Wangdae, Somdae, and Juksundae are the 3 species of bamboos that are cultivated in Korea. Wangdae bamboos, the tallest of the three, grow to a height of about 10-30 m with a diameter of 5-13 cm. Somdae trees have an average height of 10-15 m and a diameter of 3-10 cm. Juksundae trees, loosely translated as edible shoot, rise upto 10-12 m with a diameter of 20 cm.

Meditation Road

Good Luck Road joins Meditation Road — another narrow path dwarfed by towering bamboo trees.

3-Way Intersection Point

The 3-way intersection point connects Scholar’s Road with Meditation Road and Seonginsan Trail. Seonginsan Trail looked more interesting and we decided to follow the upward course.

Seonginsan Trail

It’s a 5 minute climb to the top of a scenic viewing point. In June, those 5 minutes can feel much longer.

Seonginsan Dulegil

We met a couple of ajusshis and emos who were in high spirits and cracked jokes on making it to the highest point of Juknokwon. Their humour and zest for life was contagious. An ajusshi climbed on top of the elevation and screamed, ‘Yay, Kilimanjaro!’ and his friends laughed along. It made us smile and forget the heat. They smiled, greeted us and shook our hands. Have I mentioned how much I love being a foreign tourist in Korea?

The view from the top was stunning. We could see mountains in the backdrop and the long Metasequoia-lined Road.

There are multiple trails that lead to the top and we took a different path to go down.

Chwiseongdae

This wooden pavilion was empty and perfect to take a break. You have to take off your shoes in most pavilions and always check for a board. If not, you can enter with your shoes.

The pavilion is built on a elevation and that gets you closer to the trees. It’s quite an experience and feels like a tree house.

In Search of Lovers’ Lane

Honestly, we weren’t keeping tabs on the names of the trails and were just walking around. Lovers’ Lane caught my attention and I thought it might be an interesting trail to follow.

Somewhere along the Trail

Now, we struggled to find Lovers’ Lane and stumbled upon these interesting bamboo structures. There was a steady influx of people and we didn’t want to stick around for too long.

We couldn’t get a picture with this scenic spot because it was hard to keep up with the different groups waiting in line.

Damyang Bamboo Festival is held in the month of May and it might be nice to participate in the festivities of the region. Damyang  Bamboo Forest has made it to the Top 100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Korea for 2019 list.

Old Memories Lane

I gave up on Lovers’ Lane and walked along the road that sloped downwards. We decided it’s time to find a way out of the bamboo forest.

Waterfall

Turns out that we were walking along Lovers’ Lane. This cute (Jukrim) waterfall is the last sight on this trail and there’s a children’s play area here. Another path leads back to the front entrance.

Bonghwangru

This observation point boasts of a stunning view of the vicinity. There’s a cafe and boards with explanations on the the kinds of bamboo.

The View

You get an idea of all the places around the bamboo forest and if you have the time, you can spend a whole day wandering around.

Entertainment

Metasequoia-lined Road

The long line of vertical trees at Metasequoia-lined Road look stunning in summer. They would look spectacular in autumn when the leaves turn yellow.

Crossing Damyang Stream

We crossed the stream and walked along the other side. It was a beautiful day with powder-puff clouds and blue skies.

They were all Yellow!

The stream was covered in yellow and green floating aquatic plants. It made a pretty sight with the green trees and blue skies.

Cycling along the trail looks popular, but we didn’t have time to try it.

Tourist Traps

We had to wait for around 10 minutes for our bus to Gwangju and we succumbed to a bamboo flavoured ice cream to beat the heat.

Lunch at U Square

We reached U Square by 1 p.m. and went straight to the dining area. There are many options to choose from and we might have eaten more than we should have.

Posted by:twobrownfeet

Walkers. Wanderers. Travellers. Now in Seoul.

21 replies on “Walking Along the Tranquil Paths of Damyang’s Bamboo Forest (Juknokwon)

    1. We love bamboo forests! We’ve been spotting trails just about everywhere. 🙂 The ice-cream tasted more like matcha (green tea) ice-cream. I’ve eaten bamboo shoots and they taste quite different. 🙂

    1. Was it Arashiyama? We visited it in 2012. It gets a lot of hype and tourists from all over visit it. Mass tourism can kill the experience. Korean bamboo groves/forests are off the tourist radar. That’s what we love about them. Damyang is pretty big and is cultivated around a hill. 🙂

    1. This one’s promoted on most tourist sites. It’s better to visit before the crowds hit. 🙂 There are many quieter ones that don’t attract too many people. Mosquitoes aren’t there in the morning or afternoon. But could possible attack in the evening or at night (especially summer). 🙂 We’ve never stayed back that late.

    1. We visited Arashiyama in 2012. It was nice and not too crowded at that time. 🙂 I guess tourism has picked up over the years. I prefer the solitude of Korean bamboo groves. 🙂

    1. haha…Korea has some stunning bamboo groves and forests! 🙂 We’ve found bamboos growing in the middle of nowhere. Although, the manicured groves are more pleasing to the eye.

  1. Ahhh nothing quite like bamboo. We had a bamboo business in Nicaragua some years ago and so are very familiar with bamboo forest towering above and swaying like giant ferns in the wind.

    Love the photos of the meditation walk in particular and the bamboo bench (so cool) as well as crossing the stream with all those yellow flowers.

    I did NOT know one could get bamboo ice cream!! Nice.

    Peta

  2. I really love the look of bamboo, but now that I have some in my own yard in Houston, I appreciate it that much more out in the wild or where someone else is taking care of it! It’s so onerous to keep trimmed back, so it’s easy to become disenchanted with it. Seeing it here in your photos is much more pleasant!

    1. I know what you mean. We’ve been to some wild bamboo paths in Korea and it can get quite difficult to walk between them. Bamboo trails are my favourite to walk along. So much quiet and peace. Just my kind of walk. 🙂

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