Andong (안동,安東) is a city of 150,000 people in eastern South Korea in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. It is situated along the Nakdong River and is best known for some very special cultural attractions. For instance, you can visit a typical village with traditional Korean houses and the largest mask festival in the world, the Andong Mask Dance Festival, is being held here every year. Finally, you can visit some important temples in the surrounding area, which are listed on the Unesco World Heritage List. Are you curious about how your stay in this cultural city will look like? Read on and find out in this Andong Travel Guide.
What would you like to know about Andong in South Korea?
- History – 5 historical facts – Did you know…?
- Sightseeing – 6 interesting places in Andong
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there?
5 historical facts – Did you know…?
- Around the year 0, a settlement called Gochang was established at this place?
- In the year 918, the name was changed to Andong? This was also the year when the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) began. Throughout the centuries, the name was changed 25 more times, but in 1963 the city was officially named Andong.
- Confucianism was the most important doctrine in the country around 1570 and Andong became the major religious centre of Korea?
- During the Korean War (1950-1953), the fiercest battles between the North and South Korean armies took place around this city. Both countries suffered great losses here.
- Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain went to Hahoe Folk Village in 1999 and planted a tree there. And it is still an important topic of conversation among Koreans!
Sightseeing – 6 things to see and do in Andong
Those who visit Andong will mainly explore the surrounding area. The city itself has few attractions and serves mainly as a base. Most tourists stay here for one day, but if you have time to spend, add another day. Below are 6 nice sights with a taste of history.
1. Hahoe Folk Village – Discover this traditional Korean village
25 kilometres west of Andong you will find Hahoe Folk Village (안동하회마을). This village is very popular with Korean as well as foreign tourists. A walk through this place will give you the feeling of living 500 years back in time. If you want to know more about the way of living of Koreans in the past, this is the place to be. It is also beautifully situated between rice paddies, hills and the Nakdong River, and from the hills you can also enjoy a wonderful view of Hahoe Folk Village.
Would you like to know more about this traditional village and its history? Then read here the article Hahoe Folk Village | Discover this Korean village from the Joseon Dynasty
2. Visit the Andong Mask Dance Festival
Will you be in South Korea in late September or early October? Then you should visit the Andong Mask Dance Festival (안동국제탈춤페스티벌). This festival lasts for 10 days and international artists from all over the world perform here with dance, music and of course masks. There is also a market where you can buy food and drinks and play the best Korean games. But most of all, it is very cosy and atmospheric.
Want to know more about this festival? Read the article Andong Mask Dance Festival | The legendary Masks of Hahoe
3. Woryeonggyo Bridge – Walk across the longest footbridge in Korea
4 kilometres east of Andong you will find the Andong Dam and the Woryeonggyo Bridge (월영교). Woryeonggyo (Moonlight Bridge) is the longest footbridge in South Korea at 374 metres. Especially in the evening when it is dark, the bridge looks charming with its many lights. This bridge is easy to combine with the Andong Folk Village. This is also a traditional village and another option if you do not want to visit the busier Hahoe Folk Village. It is possible to reach the Woryeonggyo Bridge by bus or rent a bicycle.
4. Andong Soju Museum – Drink liquor from Korea
Soju is to South Korea what sake is to Japan. This strong drink is brewed in Andong, among other places, and it is one of the better soju in the country. You can visit the Soju Museum (안동소주-전통음식 박물관) every day and it’s completely free. It takes you past an exhibition on the origins of this strong drink and at the end there is the opportunity to try a sip. But be warned: with an alcohol content of 45%, it’s pretty strong…
5. Dosan Seowon – Visit this influential public school from the 16th century
The scholar Yi Whang (1501-1570) founded a public school at the end of his life that became Korea’s most important school only after his death. Confucianism was central and since 2019 this historic site has been on the Unesco World Heritage List. Would you like to visit this place and learn more about Yi Whand and Confucianism? Dosan Seowon (도산서원) is located 30 kilometres north of the city and can be reached by bus 560 or 567.
6. Bongjeongsa Temple – Go to this classic Korean temple from 672
Bongjeongsa Temple (봉정사) was first built in 672 by the monk Ui Sang, although documents claim that a disciple of his had erected this temple. It is one of the oldest temples in the area and is largely made of wood. The temple can be visited every day and it is even possible to stay overnight. For more information, see the website of Templestay (website is in Korean). Entrance to the complex costs 2000 won and from Andong Intercity Bus terminal it is 30 minutes by bus.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Andong?
A stay in the city of Andong is a great base for exploring the area. I myself stayed in Peter Pan Guesthouse. This is a budget accommodation and for a bed in a dormitory you pay about 13 euro. This guesthouse is run by a young owner who is very helpful and the beds are fine. I also stayed in this place during the Mask Dance Festival at the beginning of October and booked 2 days in advance. It just goes to show that there was still room in this guesthouse.
Another place to stay is in the Hahoe Folk Village. Several residents rent out rooms and it is the ultimate chance to escape the busy city and relax in a peaceful environment. Finally, you can also stay in a temple, such as the Bongjeongsa, which was discussed above.
Food and drink: Jjimdak! That is the local dish of this region. A meal that consists of stewed chicken with vegetables and noodles. There are plenty of restaurants in the centre that serve this dish!
Transport – How to get to Andong?
Andong can be reached in different ways by public transport. The best way is by train, as the main train station is in the centre. From Seoul Cheongyangni, there are 8 trains daily (5 hours) to Andong. Another way is by bus and that is also easy to do. The bus station is located about 5 kilometres west of the centre and every hour there is a bus to important cities like Seoul and Busan. To book train tickets go to the Korail website.
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