Hadong Travel Guide, South Korea. One of the harder-to-get-there destinations that’s worth the extra effort. Perfect for tea lovers, misty mountain temple adventures, and quiet nights in the Korean countryside. I almost don’t want to share Hadong with the world – it’s simply too beautifully unvisited.
- What to See and Do
- Best Daytrips
- Typical Costs & Budget
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- General Tips for Korea
- Other Places to Visit in Korea
Check out the details to plan your trip in this Hadong Travel Guide.
Top 5 Things to Do in Hadong
1. Samseonggung Palace (7,000krw)
One of the most amazing driving journeys you can have in Korea will see you careening around a mountain with steep sides and narrow roads. The Palace of the Three Sages is unlike any other palace in Korea that I have seen, and it evokes a sense of awe. Not many people make it all the way up here, so it’s sure to be a quiet and introspective experience.
Samseonggung is a modern palace that evokes a Taoist Buddhist sense of living as one with nature and the world. Although it was only built in the 1980s, it has a feeling of antiquity, as though it’s always been there.
While it looks just as beautiful in the spring and summer months, the rolling mist coming down off the mountains in the autumn and winter months adds a special magical feeling to the entire experience.
You will most likely either need a taxi or a rental car in order to get here. While buses do occasionally run, they are infrequent and sporadic.
2. Choi Champan Daek Author House & Filming Site (2,000krw)
This is a two for one! This area is more than a house, but rather an entire village that mimics life in Korea just before and during Japanese occupation in the early 1900s. It’s a literary village, entirely based on the setting of the Toji epic saga written by Park Gyeong-ri.
It’s one of those places that feels so entirely Korean. What other country designs an entire village? Complete with historical buildings, livestock in the form of cute cows, and people living and working there designing pottery and other crafts…it’s so convincing I originally thought it was an actual historical site.
That explains why dozens (if not hundreds) of dramas have filmed here! If you’re a historical Kdrama lover, chances are at least one of your favorites has filmed scenes here.
Give yourself time to wander around this hill and stop in at a few of the shops and cafes.
3. Ssanggyesa Temple (Free!)
One of the nicest temples I’ve had the good fortune to visit. As with all Korean temples, there is some serious mythology about how it came to be. If you’re interested in the history, I highly recommend this Ssangyyesa Temple historical guide. Originally established in the 700s, the temple is almost devoid of tourists – a real working temple.
As you pass through the gates you’ll hear the sounds of chanting, or perhaps the ringing of one of the large bells if you get the timing right. The views from up here are simply marvelous. Located inside Jirisan National Park, Ssangyyesa is extraordinarily well-kept with bright paints and plants. Mossy rocks and a nearby stream from which the temple gets its name add additional scenery.
4. Check out the Tea Fields (Free!)
Now let’s talk about the real reason I visited Hadong – the Tea. If you’re a frequent reader, you might be familiar with my love of tea. Well, after being a tad disappointed by the tea (but not the views or overall experience) in Boseong, I was desperate to find the highest quality tea in Korea. But don’t skip a visit to Boseong! To have an amazing time, be sure to check out my Boseong Travel Guide.
Hadong, however, is the real place of tea in Korea. The tea fields are generally accepted to be older and have more history than anywhere else in Korea. The tea fields are not as dramatic as the hillside ones in Boseong, but it is hard to beat the lush mountain views that come with the Hadong fields.
There are several options for visiting tea fields. Most of them have an associated cafe so you can sample the tea they are growing. However, most of them are pretty casual so if you just want to look at the bushes it doesn’t seem like it would be an issue. Check out the Where to Eat section to get addresses for the various tea fields and cafes.
5. Gososeong Fortress Country Park
If you’re looking to get some exercise, this is an excellent series of hiking paths near the Choi Champan Daek house. If you continue along the eastern path you will eventually come out into the village.
The hiking trails comprise two main paths. The Gososeong Fortress path takes you west into the mountains, following the old walls along the hills. The eastern path takes you past the Hansansa temple first, which is a small but cute temple nestled in the mountains, and then over towards the village.
As always, Korea is very steep and built on mountains. If you’re planning to do a lot of exploring in Hadong you’ll already be getting a fair workout. So, bring water and keep an eye on the weather if you’ve planning to hike in the summer (the humidity can be brutal).
Other Things Do in Hadong
- Hwagae Market: A lovely area that has many cute shops and cafes with delicious treats. It’s a great place to get a meal, especially since there aren’t a ton of proper restaurants outside of the area near the bus station in Hadong proper.
- Tea Museum: This is a very small historical site located next to the Maeam cafe discussed below. The history is primarily in Korea but the building is quite pretty and the items interesting. It’s not worth going out of your way for, but if you’re nearby it’s a nice addition.
Best Daytrips from Hadong
- Mt. Jirisan: The largest National Park in Korea, you’ll probably dip in and out of in during your visit to Hadong or any of the places below. There are temples, waterfalls, shrines, and more all dotted throughout this massive park.
- Gwangyang: Gwangyang proper is on the coast with some lovely seaside views. But more in the mountains, on the other side of the river near Hadong, is the Plum Blossom Village. This is where the annual Plum Blossom Festival occurs and you can see scenes such as the one in the photo above of all the plums fermenting and pickling.
- Gurye: Nestled at the base of Mt. Jirisan, this are is ideal for hiking and flowers. Check out the early spring Sansuyu Flower festival where these awesome yellow flowers blanket the land on either side of a river.
Hadong Travel Guide Basic Costs
- Local Bus: 1,350
- 10 Minute Taxi Ride: Around 5,500
- Entrance Fees: 2,000
- Coffee: 5,000
- Meal: 6,500 and up
- Hostel Room: 20,000
Budgeting for Hadong Travel Guide
Estimates are for a weekend in Hadong, the minimum the Hadong Travel Guide recommends for seeing this beautiful place. The Korean exchange rate is currently around 1,150krw to 1usd. While you *can* visit on the backpacker budget, due to the spread out nature of many of the sites relying on the local buses might not be your best idea.
- Hostel: 22,000 a night
- Local buses: 8,000
- Food: 30,000
- Activities: 9,000
- Guesthouse: 80,000 a night
- Local Taxis: 40,000
- Food: 40,000
- Activities: 9,000
- Hotel: 80,000 a night
- Taxi Rides Everywhere: 100,000
- Food: 50,000
- Activities: 9,000
Where to Stay – Hadong Travel Guide
Most Koreans use Booking.com for booking their stays so all of the links are through that site. If you sign up for an account, you can earn Level 2 Genius status after only a few bookings and receive discounts. (I’m not being paid to say this, Booking is not a good idea in many western countries since they hike the prices).
However, in Korea it’s saved me over $100 so far! Hadong Travel Guide recommends, generally, that you stay in the Hadong area unless you have a car or are planning to take a lot of taxis.
- Hooni Guest House ($19)
Unfortunately most hostels closed down due to Covid. One of the only ones left is in the nearby town of Gurye. Unless you are already planning on renting a car, your savings by staying here will likely be wiped out with intercity bus tickets and taxis.
However, this is a fantastic guest house with a good basic breakfast included. Quiet with friendly proprietors, it’s an excellent spot to stay if you’re planning to explore more of the nearby areas of Mt. Jirisan and Gwangyang.
- RG Pension ($74)
Located nicely in Hadong, they actually enforce their quiet hours here (pretty unusual among Korean guesthouses). It doesn’t have the amazing views of some of the hidden hideaways in the mountains, but this is a much easier place to get to.
To make up for those views, they have a lovely rooftop area to while away your evenings. Staff a very friendly and attentive.
Where to Eat – Hadong Travel Guide
Doshimdawon – 도심다원
Average $: 8,000 – 20,000won
Gorgeous views of the tea fields, it’s a bit of a hike but well worth it. Enjoy a full afternoon tea in a picnic basket in a private gazebo overlooking the valley. The tea is excellent, the snacks are primarily prepackaged but still nice and several are local.
If you plan to do the tea set, I recommend making a reservation since this is one of the most popular spots in Hadong.
Average $: 6,000won
This is the second tea-field cafe on this list. Located near the Choi Champan Daek House, it’s a great place to rest after making your way up and down the hill. This cafe is pretty much all about the tea, there are not a lot of dessert or food options.
However, the tea is excellent. They have a few different options to sample and serve them in traditional-style tea ware. The views of the tea fields are excellent, and the “Tea Museum” is right next-door.
General Korea Tips
There are two main apps for getting around Korea; Naver and Kakao. Google Maps does not work. I recommend Kakao as the romanization spellings are more consistent and the features are generally better in my opinion.
You may need to type in Korean to find some destinations so make sure you download a Korean keyboard.
When you go to catch a bus, it will tell you when the bus is arriving and how many stops you have. If you hit the bell icon in the upper right hand corner it will highlight which bus stop you’re currently at, and it will alert you when you need to get off. It’s amazing.
What to Pack
Depending on the season, Korea is either hot and humid or chilly and humid. In general, just take out the winter clothes for summer and add some leggings and a coat for winter. For more details, check out my What to Pack for Korea Guide!