Damyang’s 죽녹원, or bamboo forest, is quite famous in Korea. Signs litter the park reminding visitors that famous movies and people, such as a former president, have visited it over the years. Apparently, it is well known internationally as well, so much so that the World Bamboo Organization chose it to host the 10th World Bamboo Congress and the “World Bamboo Exposition” in 2015 (check the link for details). This is no small feat for a county as small as Damyang, whose population barely surpassed 50,000 in 2003.
The popularity of the bamboo forest is a boon for this tiny population, bringing in much-needed tourism and cash to a fairly isolated part of Korea. Yet the forest’s popularity attracts large crowds on the weekends. In other words, don’t expect to find peace and quiet there if that is what you seek. Go early if you can if that is what you really want.
Nevertheless, the forest is still well worth a visit. The bamboo is impressive to look at and you can even try some bamboo ice cream. It definitely ranks as a must-see place if you find yourself in Gwangju. Its only 40 minutes away from the city and ridiculously easy to reach. You can get there by taking bus 311 from Gwangju’s U-Square Express Bus Station until you see a massive sign with “죽녹원” on it.