During the time that I was staying in Suncheon I took a day trip out of the city to visit the town of Boseong. I rode the train to Boseong but later in the day I’d be catching a bus back to Suncheon since the bus schedule was better in the afternoon. My goal in traveling to Boseong was to visit Daehan Dawon, which is Korea’s most famous green tea plantation. At Boseong Station I sat around for a bit over half an hour for the next bus down to the tea fields, along with a few Koreans who were clearly going to the same place I was. In retrospect I probably should have splurged on a cab since that was a long enough wait to justify spending extra money. When the bus showed up I got on along with the other travelers and a while later the bus dropped us off near the entrance to Daehan Dawon’s parking lot. As I was walking past the parking lot I caught my first glimpse of the tea fields through the trees.
The entry fee to get into Daehan Dawon was 4,000 won (about USD $3.59) and after passing through the ticket gate I walked for a couple of minutes before arriving at the main part of the plantation. When you get to the “bottom” of the fields it’s hard to tell just how large the whole place is because of the slope in front of you. From this area you can go left, right, or up the middle on a set of stairs.
I chose to go right and started on a path that slowly worked its way up the slope. More of the tea fields became visible as I moved along and I began to appreciate just how big Daehan Dawon really is.
About halfway up the hill there’s a path that runs all the way across the slope and lets visitors walk through the central part of the plantation. This part of Daehan Dawon is particularly scenic and a lot of the photos you see online of Daehan Dawon come from this area. The sun was shining brightly that day and even though half the sky was covered in clouds the photo conditions were pretty good overall. On top of that I had somehow managed to pick a very good time to visit Daehan Dawon. When I was researching this place I couldn’t find any info on what times of the year were best for visiting the plantation and I was a little worried that showing up in early October would turn out to be a bad idea but the tea plants were still very green and hadn’t been harvested yet.
I then returned to the edge of the tea fields to continue my hike up the hill. Daehan Dawon’s tea plants are arranged in long, tiered rows that run right up the hillside and are an impressive sight to behold.
At one point as I was ascending the hill I heard a strange buzzing noise. At first I figured it was the sound of machinery in the distance but I quickly realized that it was actually the distinctive sound of a drone. I scanned the sky and sure enough there was a little quadcopter drone hovering above the tea fields. With a quick look around I found the drone operator, who turned out to be a Korean/Chinese guy standing in one of the tea plant rows along with his wife. Drone photography and videography is something that I’ve been interested in for several years now but I’ve always been hesitant because drone rules can vary a lot between different places and I don’t want to be accidentally be filming in a location that doesn’t allow it.
I climbed higher and higher up the hill, using a staircase that ran along the edge of the tea fields. It wasn’t hot that day but climbing all those stairs got me a bit sweaty. Near the top I got a good view of most of the plantation. Daehan Dawon is home to over five million tea plants and produces roughly 40% of Korea’s green tea every year.
The trail then cut around the back of the hill and got rough for a short while. At the very top there’s a small rest area and observatory from where you can see much of the surrounding area. Not to far in the distance is the ocean and apparently being close to it is good for the tea plants. Each night a wave of fog comes rolling in from the sea that makes the fields cold but each day the fog clears up and the fields become warm again. Big temperature swings are beneficial for the plants and this is part of the reason why Daehan Dawon’s tea fields are so productive.
I then started along the trail that would take me down the opposite side of the tea fields. The trail took me through a forest and past a series of small waterfalls.
With a bit more walking I came out of the woods and back to the main part of the plantation. It looked like more visitors had arrived while I was hiking around the top of the hill but because Daehan Dawon covers so much land everyone was spread out.
After taking some more photos I checked my phone and saw that it was getting close to when I’d need to leave Daehan Dawon. I came down the hill and spent a minute cooling off in the shade before heading towards the exit. Although I would have been happy to spend more time in Boseong I had another bit of sightseeing back in Suncheon that I wanted to take care of, namely visiting the Suncheon Bay Wetlands Preserve. (Which you can read about here and here)