Had another expat not posted about this on a Facebook page, I probably would not have even thought of coming here. But since I was already going to visit my boyfriend in Gangneung, an hour south of the farm, we decided to make a day trip up there a couple Saturdays ago.
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Annual Lavender Festival
Hani Lavender Fields’ flowers bloom & are harvested in June, during which they have their annual Lavender festival and their grounds are filled with wandering Korean tourists. Selfie sticks are thrust everywhere even after the festival, so keep an eye out before you get poked in it. This year the festival had lessons in soap making, growing herbs from seed, and extracting lavender, as well as photo contests and exhibits. Unfortunately, we arrived three days after the three-week festival ended.
And while we were there, the owner said that he had just harvested many of his flowers, and apologized for the less-full fields. I scoffed, softly. Despite just barely missing the festival, we had an amazing time in the beautiful fields! I’m sure they’re lovely to visit at anytime from April to July, but call first if you aren’t sure! Admission to the festival is free, but admission to the fields on a normal basis otherwise costs ₩4000 per person. Facilities include bathrooms, a coffee shop, make-your-own pizza restaurant, and a lavender shop where you can buy several products made in-house (some edible) & many imported ones.
A Flower’s Daily Life
Obviously it was a smell to behold, and the views are spectacular. I wouldn’t mind passing my days here, just swaying in the wind. It seems like the place was laid out with instagram in mind, and the selfies do not disappoint. You could sit in each and every field, watching out for bees of course, and there were even strategically placed chairs and benches for the older people in the crowd.
Every Saturday morning at 11am, the owner also comes out of a small house set up in the middle of the property and explains the distillation process for the lavender essential oil he makes with his annual crop. It was in Korean, but my boyfriend helped translate the more technical aspects. He gave everyone some lavender flowers, let us feel the lavender water produced as a by-product of the distillation process, and gave everyone a little spray bottle of the sweet-smelling lavender water for free— I’m definitely glad we stopped & listened to the whole thing!
He seemed nice and eccentric, and I love how much he cares about his plants and keeping his process organic. I was actually very happy to see all the bees pollinating his flowers since their numbers are dying out so quickly & I’m a huge fan of conserving as much natural space as possible. Though this didn’t seem to be a problem throughout Goseong, as it’s quite far out in the countryside, and in fact, you would be hard-pressed to get here without a car or a knowledgeable taxi driver.
Fresh Local Blueberries
Even when we left the farm, we still struggled a bit to go find one of the many blueberry farms we passed signs for earlier in the morning. Once we found one, too, the only people we saw were a group of older ladies eating lunch. They nicely called the owners for us and we quickly bought a kilo of freshly-picked berries, though I’d have bought two if I had remembered more cash!
In fact, all I had was ₩15000, and a kilo should have cost ₩20000, but since everyone had driven there for the purpose of selling, they kindly sold us a kilo + a generous cup of samples for what we had on hand. There were also several signs for the blueberry festival in June, so if you time it well you could easily do both! This would be a very long day trip from Seoul, but for a weekend in Sokcho or Gangneung, this would be a great adventure for all ages, supporting a few lovely farms.
From Seoul there are buses direct to Ganseong (간성읍), the main city in Goseong county (고성군), where the lavender fields are located, and from there you should take a lock bus towards Sinan-ri and then a taxi to the fields. However, if you want to do a late June beach weekend in the popular city of Sokcho (속초시), this is also an easy day trip from there, though I’d recommend renting a car or taking a bus from Sokcho to Ganseong station, and continuing from there.
Address in English & Korean:
175, Kkotdaemaeul-gil, Ganseong-eup, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do
강원도 고성군 간성읍 꽃대마을길175 (어천리)
Warning, but not Warning off
The whole morning, I was the only non-Korean I noticed, so just prepare for some strange looks if you’re used to Itaewon-like surroundings. This goes for the lavender fields as well as our other adventures up the coast, though I’m used to it at this point. One of the things I truly love about living in Gangwon province is it proximity to everything. Not all of the provinces has access to a long strip of coastline, but every single one of them has an abundance of mountains and small towns, though not all of these are very well-connected.
So living here, I get to explore the delights of and attend the festivals in Seoul, while still being able to access most any small town in the province one or two cheap express buses, Goseong included. Gangwon countryside shows a perspective of Korea, both food- and view-wise, that people don’t often see. Tourist, expat, or Korean national; don’t let distance or difference scare you off. This is Korea with its best foot forward.
When are you heading to Hani Lavender Farm?