World ? Asia ? South Korea

South Korea: The Best Small Towns and Villages

  • Icheon (Gyeonggi-do): Just outside of Seoul, this town is one of the foremost ceramics centers in the country, famous for its traditional artisans. The dozens of active kilns in the area are a vital part of Korea's cultural heritage.

  • Boseong (Jeollanam-do): In late March and early April, the first new tea leaves peek out from tea bushes along these terraced farmlands. The hillsides here are gorgeous even in the dead of winter, but seeing dozens of older women hand-picking green tea is quite a treat. Finish off your visit with a cup of (what else?) green tea, green tea noodles, or some green tea ice cream.

  • Damyang (Jeollanam-do): The bamboo capital of South Korea, this town is famous for its bamboo forests and for producing pretty much anything and everything you could imagine from this versatile plant. My advice is to lose yourself for a moment in the midst of the bamboo and listen as the leaves of these tall grasses whisper secrets to the wind.

  • Gurim (Jeollanam-do): A tiny village located just outside of Wolchulsan National Park, this historic locale is known for its ancient pottery and its replicas of antique works.

  • Andong (Gyeongsangbuk-do): Andong's folk village is the best in the country, bar none. It even warranted a visit from Queen Elizabeth II, as locals will be happy to inform you. If you can, try to visit in October when the mask dance festival is on, to experience traditional folk performances.

  • Tongyeong (Gyeongsangnam-do): Tongyeong is the hometown of world-renowned classical composer Isang Yun. Once you see the magnificent views from the city's ocean-side cliffs, you'll see why the composer, who spent much of his career in Germany, yearned so much for his hometown.

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