Serving as the capital of Haenam-gun, Haenam is a small town in the middle of a region renowned for its cultivation of rice and radishes. It’s an ideal base for visiting the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daeheungsa monastery and the village of Ttangkkeut, which is considered South Korea’s “end of the land”.
Things to do
A short drive south of Haenam is Daeheungsa, a 6th-century Buddhist monastery perched on Mount Duryunsan and one of the main temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Wander between its ornate stupas and pavilions, several of which are decorated with artefacts dating from the 17th century. Now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Daeheungsa’s mountainous backdrop is said to look like a silhouette of Buddha lying on his back.
After exploring Daeheungsa, you can follow one of the trails that depart from behind the temple complex to a series of mountain hermitages. A highlight is Bukmireuk-am, which features a four-metre slab of rock adorned with stone carvings of the Maitreya Buddha that date from the Silla era.
At the southern tip of Haenam County is the village of Ttangkkeut, which translates as the “end of the land” in Korean. It’s a popular place to watch both sunrise and sunset at what is the southernmost point on the Korean Peninsula. At the top of Galdusan Mountain is an observatory offering scenic views across the East Sea and the jagged peaks of Mount Dalmasan.
Haenam is around 1.5 hours by bus from Mokpo and just over two hours from Gwangju Airport, which has regular flights to Jeju and Seoul. Buses are the main means of getting to Haenam and getting around the town.