• A GUIDE TO HAHOE

    KOREA’S MOST CHARMING FOLK VILLAGE

HAHOE FOLK VILLAGE

Bucolic Hahoe is a place like no other. Tucked away in a secluded rural valley, its setting is truly idyllic. A horseshoe river wraps around one half of the village, with fields surrounding the other. A sandy beach nestles under a beautiful old pine forest, overlooked by an impressive cliff face. Traditional Hanok houses, some with thatched roofs, await you at every turn on dusty, winding paths.

Hahoe Village (하회 마을 pronounced Ha-way ma-eul), is home to a genuine living and working community, giving it an air of authenticity that’s missing in other purely tourist focused folk villages in Korea. It is historically and culturally rich, inextricably linked with Korean mask dancing, Confucian scholars, and poets of old. It’s utterly charming, and the perfect place to unwind and experience traditional rural life.

  • A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk Village

The spectacular view of Hahoe Folk Village from the top of Buyongdae Cliff

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SEE AND DO

Hahoe is made for wandering and you can easily spend anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days exploring the village and surrounds. Pick up a map at the tourist info booth near the car park and work your way around the notable sights. There’s a number of exquisite hanoks that once belonged to wealthy noble families, a 600 year old tree, Confucian Academies, and endless photogenic scenes.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageAdmiring the entrance door of a traditional hanok home

Wander through the pine forest down to the beach and you can take a boat across the narrow river to the cliff opposite. Hike up to the top for an amazing view across the village. On the other side of the village, take the forest trail behind the church and you’ll wind up at the impressive Byeongsanseowon Confucian Academy.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageThe impressive Buyongdae Cliff and beach at Hahoe

Every weekend at 2pm, plus Wednesday and Friday from March – December, you can watch a Korean Mask Dance performance in the specially built arena. It’s well worth timing your visit to catch the show. English translations are displayed on a screen behind the stage, and the hour long performance is free to attend.  

‘The Butcher’ and ‘The Buddhist Monk’ performing a Korean Mask Dance

Near the car park there’s a mask museum displaying Korean and international masks. It also explains the traditional Korean Mask Dance which is so closely associated with Andong and Hahoe. There are a few souvenir shops to nosey around, too.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageByeongsanseowon Confucian Academy

WHEN TO GO

The highlight of the year is undoubtedly the International Andong Mask Dance Festival, held over two weeks in early October. Hahoe and nearby Andong play host to mask dance performances from around the world. 

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageMessages strung up at the International Mask Dance Festival

On Saturday nights during the festival, a traditional fireworks display is held in the village and it’s truly magical. Bags of mulberry charcoal are strung across the river, from the cliff top of Buyongdae to the pine forest below. They are set alight and slowly cranked out towards the cliff. The charcoal starts to explode and thousands of embers float silently to the beach and water below. 

The magical fireworks display held each Saturday night during the Andong International Mask Dance Festival

Meanwhile, giant bundles of pine wood are set on fire and hurled off the top of the cliff, ricocheting off the cliff face and crashing to the riverside below. Floating lanterns drift slowly downriver and lantern balloons are set alight on the beach then released into the sky. You can sit and soak up this mesmerising scene on the beach, surrounded by a gorgeous soft orange glow and sipping on some wine (if you’ve thought ahead and brought some!).

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk Village Cherry Blossom season is a spectacular time to visit Hahoe

In Spring, the blooming cherry blossom trees are spectacular, encircling the village in a ring of pink. Lush rice paddies grow taller and greener throughout the summer and autumn brings a whole new spectrum of colours. Winter is crisp and chilly, but you’ll be roasty toasty in your ondol heated room if you’re sleeping over in a hanok.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageScarecrows and lush rice fields in Autumn

SLEEP

There are a number of hanok stays available in the village, ranging from basic homely affairs with shared bathroom facilities to swish ensuite luxury. Staying overnight in the village is, in our opinion, the best way to fully enjoy Hahoe. A hanok stay is a uniquely Korean experience, and an extra special one in Hahoe. Once the other tourists have left for the day you’ll have the place practically to yourself and an early morning golden hour stroll shows off the village at its best.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageExpect warm hospitality and a unique experience at a hanok stay in Hahoe

It’s a good idea to book ahead for a hanok stay and you can do so easily by calling the local tourist info office (054-852-3588). There is an English speaking member of staff who will advise on the best place depending on your budget. Drop by the office when you arrive and they’ll show you where to find your hanok stay on the map. You usually pay in cash direct to the owner. You’ll likely pay per room, not per person. Starting prices are around 50,000 won per night and go up to 200,000 won or more for the swankiest places.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageTraditional underfloor heating methods at a hanok stay in Hahoe Folk Village

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageNo beds at a hanok stay! You’ll be sleeping on the floor on a padded mat, or yo

There aren’t any other options besides hanoks in the village, so if you don’t want to stay here the best place to find hotels, motels, hostels etc is in nearby Andong city. Check out Booking.com and Hostelworld for the best deals.

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EAT

Andong is famous for its signature dish, Andong Chicken (Andong Jjimdak 안동 찜닭) and it would be a crime not to try it while you’re here (unless, of course, you don’t eat chicken). Chunks of chicken are served in a soy sauce based stew with carrots, glass noodles and potatoes. It’s really yummy.

It’s usually served as a sharing dish, in a big platter in the middle of the table. There are a number of restaurants where you can try it near the main car park outside Hahoe. These are likely to be closed come evening so make this your lunch stop instead. Inside the village, many of the hanok stays also offer dinner at an extra cost, just ask when you book. Otherwise, pop in ahead of time and pre-order dinner round at Chogajib Minbak (No. 20), the home of a super sweet grandma and grandpa cooking up arguably the best Andong Jjimdak in the country.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageDelicious Andong Jjimdak

Another classic local dish is salted mackerel and you can try this at the same restaurants clustered around the car park as mentioned above. It’s also really good.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk VillageAndong Mackerel – a set lunch with plenty of banchan (sides)

If you’re travelling solo and don’t want to splash out on a big sharing portion, there are single servings of bibimbap and some other meals available at most of the restaurants, too.

There are a few small stores (locally owned, not your chain convenience stores) dotted about the village where you can pick up cup noodles, ice cream, biscuits, etc.

The beach is the perfect spot for a picnic if you plan ahead and bring some food with you.

Drink

You can buy Korean beer, soju, water, soft drinks, etc., at the wee stores around the village but if you want wine, spirits or beer that isn’t Hite or Cass then bring your own.

There are a few cafes around that sell coffee, tea, juices and so on.

GETTING THERE

Andong is the closest city and you can get there by train or bus from various locations around the country. From Andong Bus Terminal you can take local bus 46 to the main car park at Hahoe, about 50 minutes away. From there walk or take the free shuttle bus to the village itself. The entrance fee is 3,000 won.

You can freephone the Korean tourist info number on 1330 and ask about transport options in English. They are very helpful.

A Guide to Hahoe: Korea's Most Charming Folk Village

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Step back in time to idyllic Hahoe, a living & breathing folk village in rural South Korea. This is one of the best places in Korea to do a Hanok stay, sleeping over in a traditional home & enjoying local specialities like Andong Chicken & Salted Mackerel. Hahoe is home to the traditional Korean Mask Dance, a gorgeous beach, pine forest, Confucian Academies & oodles of charm. See for yourself in this video & guide! #SouthKorea #Traditional
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