Andong Travel Guide
As cultural travellers, we are always seeking out destinations that best tell the story of a nation. In South Korea, that place is Andong. That’s not just us making this claim – back in 1999, Queen Elizabeth II was taken to the most Korean place in Korea at her request.
Come check out our Andong travel guide for curious travellers as we cover the best things to do in Andong, Korea.
If you’re planning on visiting Andong, chances are you’re making the trip to see the Hahoe Folk Village. With buildings that date back centuries, UNESCO has recognized it for its authentic representation of ancient Korean culture.
This community is home to tiled and thatched roof houses which were once home to the Ryu clan. Set in a lush valley alongside the Nakdong River, its natural surroundings create an atmosphere that is unforgettable.
When you aren’t walking through narrow alleys or verdant rice fields, be sure to sample this community’s eats. This village is famous for its Heotjesabap (bibimbap eaten by nobles) and Andong Gangodeungeo (a mackerel dish). These meals will take you to the heart of Korean cuisine, so don’t miss your chance to try either.
Get a sense for local rituals by stopping by the Hahoe Mask Museum. Here, you’ll find a collection of masks used by villagers in ceremonies stretching back centuries. Local masks make up most of the collection, but this institution does have international specimens as well.
You won’t be able to try them on, but there are programs where you can make your own. In the process of doing so, you’ll understand the importance of these ancient rituals.
If you visit between the end of September and early October, you’ll get to see them in action at the Andong Mask Dance Festival. During this period, you’ll experience parades, performances, and other mask-related fun.
As you watch experienced dancers do their thing, buy some beondegi (silkworm pupae) to go with your beer. In doing so, you’ll be indulging deeply in the place known as the ‘most Korean place in Korea’.
However, you don’t have to content yourself with watching – you can participate as well. Throughout the festival, locals encourage visitors to create masks. With the guidance of experienced mask crafters, you’ll come up with something fresh – don’t be shy.
Have you had your fill of Hahoe Folk Village? Head out of town to visit the Dosanseowon Confucian Academy. Over many centuries, this philosophical school has tuned out countless Confucian scholars.
This school gained recognition for its role in developing Korean culture by the government in 1969. Dubbed a National Treasure, it also perfectly portrays the architecture of that period.
If you are looking to tour a Buddhist place of worship in Andong, check out Bongjeongsa Temple. According to legend, the Monk Ui-Sang founded this temple in the late 7th century. It is likely to be that old, but sadly, the ravages of the Korean war destroyed any corroborating evidence.
During reconstruction work in the 1970s, uncovered documents proved that workers performed renovations on the structure in the 13th century. This makes this UNESCO World Heritage Site the oldest wooden building in Korea – don’t miss it during your visit.
You wouldn’t be in Korea without running into examples of the integration of the old and the new. The Traditional Culture Contents Museum is a prime example, as it mixes Korea’s past with state-of-the-art displays.
There are no artifacts in the traditional sense here – just touchscreens, video presentations, and other interactive displays. With English translations throughout, it is well worth your time, as it will deepen your understanding of Korean culture.
Adong is also famous for its contributions to Korean cuisine. These include alcoholic beverages, as the Andong Soju Museum shows. Within, you’ll learn about the production of soju, from the fields to the final bottling.
Exhibits also show off bottles used for soju over the years, and cups used to consume this strong drink. It is in the same building as the Traditional Food Museum, so head over to it to learn about local dishes afterwards.
Lovers of monuments won’t want to miss the opportunity to see the ancient Rock-Carved Standing Buddha while in Andong. Many ages ago, workers chiselled this 13-metre high monument out of a cliff face.
Estimates put its age at around 800 years old. After centuries of exposure to elements and war, its survival is a minor miracle.