*Updated July 2019*
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.
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.
Admiring 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.
The 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.
Byeongsanseowon 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.
Messages 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!).
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.
Scarecrows and lush rice fields in Autumn
There are a number of hanok stays available in the village, ranging from basic homely affairs with shared bathroom facilities to swish ensuite luxury at Rakkojae. 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.
Expect warm hospitality and a unique experience at a hanok stay in Hahoe
It’s a good idea to book ahead for your hanok stay as it’s not the kind of place you can just turn up and sort last minute. You can book via phone or email directly through the Rakkojae website for stays at this exquisite hanok home overlooking Buyongdae Cliff. Otherwise, to book one of the local hanok stays, call the Hahoe 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 and group size. 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.
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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.
Delicious 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.
Andong 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.
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.
Andong is the closest city and you can get there by train or bus from various locations around the country. From Andong Bus Terminal or train station you can take local buses 246 or 11 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. Kakao Maps (iOS/Android) and Naver Maps (iOS/Android) are the best resources for navigating all over Korea, much more useful than Google Maps.
We hope you have a wonderful stay in sleepy Hahoe!
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