Image by DEA / M. BORCHI De Agostini
This delightful traditional riverside village – a Unesco World Heritage site – is a place to commune with the traditional fabric of old Korea and, in the busy months, with large crowds of visitors. Avoid the weekends, go off-season and be rewarded with a glimpse of bucolic enchantment and the gentle rhythms of countryside village life. Cross the river or drive to Buyongdae Cliff for the bird's-eye perspective and search out the sacred Goddess Samsin Tree at the heart of Hahoe.
The name Hahoe (하회 – pronounced 'ha hway') means 'River Returning', which reflects the village's position at a looping bend in the Nakdong River. Some Korean folk villages can seem a bit artificial but Hahoe has 230 residents who give the place life and the sensation of a working community; this also means it is important to respect people’s privacy if you step beyond a house threshold (residents are of course used to visitors, but keep this in mind).
Before you hop aboard the shuttle bus to the village from the Andong bus drop-off point, take time to explore the Hahoe Mask Museum, with its intriguing collection of Korean and international masks. There are also Byeolsingut Talnori masked dance performances near the car park; enquire at the tourist office for details on times and also to pick up a map of the village.
The shuttle bus will deposit you in the village, where you are free to explore at will. The village is full of traditional residences, pretty thatched houses (63 in total), old pavilions and rural panoramas. Hunt down the Presbyterian Church with its brick spire and wander down by the river to the Mansongjeong Pine Forest. Not far from the pine forest, a small ferry (₩4000) crosses the river to Buyongdae Cliff on the far bank.
The Confucian academy of Byeongsan Seowon is a 30- to 40-minute walk east of the village, or you can hop aboard one of the three daily buses from Andong that pass through the village and continue to the academy.
Bus 246 (₩1800, 50 minutes, 12 daily) runs to Hahoe from Andong. The last bus back to Andong is at 7.10pm. The shuttle bus to the village runs every 10 to 15 minutes for the 1km run from the Andong bus drop-off point.