Andong, situated in the southeastern part of South Korea, is a city steeped in tradition and history. Known for its well-preserved cultural heritage, Andong offers visitors a unique glimpse into Korea’s rich past. In this blog post, I’ll let you know everything you should know for your trip to Andong, the best spots to visit and the culinary delights to savor.
If you want to have a comfortable and well organized weekend-trip instead of renting a car and organizing it yourself – I can highly recommend the day trip I took with Trazy.com. They not just offer tours like that completely in English and foreign payment options, but basically everything you might need when traveling to Korea.
Where is Andong and How to Get There
Andong is located in the Gyeongsangbuk-do province, approximately 2 hours by train from Seoul. The most convenient way to reach Andong is by taking a KTX-EUM train from Cheongnyangni Station in Seoul to Andong Station. This train costs 25,100 KRW per person and leaves every 2-3 hours.
Alternatively, express buses also connect Andong with major cities in South Korea, find the Bus schedules >here. And if you book the organized trip by Trazy, they will bring you to Andong with a comfortable private van!
Best Spots to Visit
Andong is a city full of tradition and important cultural heritage. The best places to see are a bit spread out through the city, so I recommend you to rent a car or book a guided tour to get around and learn more about the city’s sights.
Hahoe Folk Village
Step back in time as you wander through the narrow lanes of Hahoe Folk Village. This UNESCO-listed site showcases traditional thatched-roof houses in combination with the well known Korean Hanok-Houses, both preserving the architectural charm of the Joseon Dynasty.
The Nakdong River flows around the Village – which is the reason for it’s name: “Ha” stands for river and “Hoe” means turning around. The houses are faced to the river with a great 60 year old zelkova tree in the center. The tree is called Samsindang and locals believe that a goddess called Samsin resides and brings good fortune and healthy children to the village.
Hahoe Folk Village is a famous Fall Foliage Spot during End of October & early November. And even though we came a bit later and hat gloomy weather, we had a perfect Autumn Walk through the village grounds.
Mask Dance Performance
The most important cultural heritage of Andong is the Andong Mask Dance Performance. With their intricate designs, the masks tell stories of ancient rituals and local legends about a butcher, a buddhist, a beautiful woman and confucians.
You can see the show for free at the Open Air Event Hall of the Hahoe Folk Village between March and December – Tuesday to Sunday at 2pm (closed on Mondays).
If you have enough time at the Hahoe Folk Village, I recommend you to have a walk to the Buyongdae Cliff on the other side of the Nakdong River. It’s an about 64 meters high cliff at the end of the Taebaeksan Mountain. If you walk up the hiking path, you can get an amazing bird’s-eye-view of the Hahoe Village.
As the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Korea, Wolyeongyo offers breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty.- even on a gloomy day like we had. A leisurely stroll across this bridge is a must for any visitor and I hiiiighly recommend to visit the bridge twice: during day time and during night time. Our Tour guide luckily organized our itinerary exactly like that, so we’ve been able to see both quite different views of the bridge.
Dosan Seowon Confucian Academy
There are 9 of those Neo-Confucian Academies (“Seowon“) that count as UNESCO Cultural World Heritage here in South Korea. I visited three of them since I moved here and let me tell you, you can feel what used to be their purpose the second you arrive:
The Appreciation of Nature & Cultivation of mind and body!
Those Confucian academies all are built at the most beautiful places, have class rooms and libraries from the Joseon Dynasty (16th-17th centuries) and are honestly so underrated in comparison to most palaces or temples. So I was really happy, that we’ve been able to freely stroll around the Dosan Seowon grounds during fall foliage – it was breath taking!
Known to be the oldest wooden structure in South Korea – you also should explore the spiritual side of Andong at Bongyeongsa. This Buddhist temple surrounded by lush greenery offers impressive architecture and is a peaceful place for reflection.
If you speak korean, you can join one of the temple stays here at Bongyeongsa Temple. If not, check the many other options for English organized temple stays >here.
Important to know: You’re usually not allowed to take pictures inside the buddhist temples or their buildings, but you can take pictures from outside. Also take of your shoes and hats and cover your shoulders when entering a temple.
Andong Soju Museum
Our last stop was the Soju Museum presenting the fascinating history and production process of Korea’s famous distilled spirit. Here you can learn about the cultural significance of soju especially on important festivities in life and even enjoy s tasting of the Soju that’s produced in the factory right next to the museum. But be careful: Andong Soju is famous for offering much higher percentages than the Soju you would usually get in Bars or Convenience Stores 😀
What to Eat
Your Andong adventure would be incomplete without trying the local gastronomic treasures that this city is famous for in the whole country. When I asked my boyfriend if he wants to join me on a trip to Andong he immediately asked “if we will get Jjimdak and Soju” 😀
Andong’s food reflects the city’s rich history and vibrant culture – from savory stews to unique fermented delicacies.. Here’s a taste of what awaits your taste buds in this charming city.
Jjimdak – Braised Chicken Stew
A signature Andong dish is Jjimdak is a savory and slightly sweet braised chicken dish. The tender chicken is cooked with various vegetables in a soy-based sauce, creating a flavorful and hearty meal.
Part of it usually are glass noodles, potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Keep in mind that the chicken usually comes with bones here and tell the waiter to get boneless (sunsal) if you prefer that.
Andong is renowned for its Salty Mackerel, a dish that showcases the city’s proximity to the Nakdong River. Historically the salt was used to keep the fish edible for a long time while bringing it through the whole country.
That way it became a local delicacy and until today the people of Andong have the highest Mackerel consume of the South Korean Peninsula.
One thing I honestly didn’t expect when taking this Andong-tour with Trazy, was a modern and perfectly designed cafe like the ones in Seoul.
But Foremost Coffee did not just offer a quite extraordinary view in the city of Korean Traditions and Historical Sights, but of course also delicious coffee and desserts.
There we also did a little crafting experience Trazy organized for us: We made the traditional Korean Signature-Stamp, called “Dojang”!
Don’t miss the opportunity to sample Andong Soju, a traditional Korean liquor. Known for its smooth taste, Andong Soju has a rich history and is often enjoyed during social gatherings.
Did you know that with time the alcohol percentage of Korean Soju became lower and lower? That’s why you should be careful when trying Andong Soju: As they value their traditions a lot, they stick to the original recipes, Andong Soju usually has a much higher alcohol percentage!
Your trip to Andong promises not only scenic landscapes but also an immersion into the heart of Korean culture and history. Again I highly recommend you to take an organized trip to Andong, to not miss any of the best spots and get very interesting side information from a Korean Guide in English.