Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Namhae Oktoberfest




Namhae is one of the many beautiful islands that litter the Korean coast line. It has a number of sandy beaches, miles of coastline to drive along and rice paddies everywhere. We have camped and stayed in a pension on Namhae and enjoyed it each time. A rather surprising find was a German Village nestled in the hills overlooking the rice paddies with the ocean in the distance. Or at least the Korean version of a German village. Well, on the outside it looks German, sort of...

Whitewashed houses with red roofs and a cobble stone walkway that runs up the middle of the village to a town square at the top of the hill.  Both sides of the road are lined with cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops. The village was built to lure back South Korean nurses and and miners who had moved to Germany in the 1960's and 70's. They had gone to Germany on a work exchange program that was beneficial to both countries. The village was built to provide a place for these individuals (and their new German spouses) to return to, that would feel like Germany, in Korea.

Enough history though! Once a year this quaint little village hosts a German style Oktoberfest, with a Korean twist to it. It usually runs at the end of September/beginning of October.  The whole village participates with beer available on every street corner along with German/Korean foods. Lots of Korean breweries are also involved and offer beer on tap. When we were there there were about 10 different companies all offering at least 2 different beers. You will definitely find something to suit your taste. The beers were also reasonably priced with most being 5000 won.








They also set up lots of activities you can partake in as well as a stage for K-Pop performance and a DJ later in the evening. During the afternoon there is a traditional German parade that makes it way up the hill and into the main square, all the participants are dressed up - quite a sight to see. Most of the pubs and cafes along the way also have live music during the festival which makes walking through the town very entertaining. The main square is filled with long trestle tables to give it that beerhall feel. When you're sitting at these tables they also have a roaming camera that will pick out random people to have a down-down contest with each other. Throughout the evening they also do lots of crowd interaction activities on the stage, boat races, down-down competitions etc. Further afield they also had beer pong set up with an organised competition. you would think that the festival would attract mainly a foreign crowd but this was not the case. There were loads of Koreans sampling the brews and enjoying the festive atmosphere. Such an immersion of culture, with the Korean girls dressed up in their cute little "dirndl", the traditional Austrian/Bavarian womens dress.



The village boasts a few German style restaurants that offer some really good food and beer on tap. During the festival it is very difficult to get in to these so plan ahead! Two that stood out in particular where Crunch Ro cafe. They  served very good beer on tap as well as traditional German fare like sausages and pretzels filled with cream cheese. It is easily located as it has a huge windmill attached to the building. The other was Bayreuth, up in the main square, where we had a really tasty eisbein during the Oktoberfest.





We went to the festival with Enjoy Korea which worked out wonderfully as we didn't have to worry about parking or transport etc on the night. The village gets really busy (especially during the festival) and all the roads are blocked off so you'll have to walk quite a distance!

We've since been back to the village two more times and each time the place has been packed so if you do go I would suggest going early in the morning to avoid the crowds or get a taxi. As far as festivals in Korea are concerned this was definitely the best one we've attended. There is also a museum dedicated to the history of the Korean workers who had gone to Germany, as well as a beautiful garden park called "House 'n Garden".

If you're on Namhae for a weekend and are just looking for a way to spend the day go check out this fun little place - it's like a free international trip!

Here's a video of our fun trip here with Enjoy Korea in 2015


19 comments:

  1. Well, the best place to celebrate your Octoberfest, indeed. I've not been to Namhae and the German Village but heard and read good things about Namhae and particularly the German Village.

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    1. Definitely worth a visit even if you're not a beer lover. Great beaches and the village is very nice to walk around and enjoy a meal with family any time of the year.

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  2. I wish we did this while we were in Korea! It looks like so much fun and that German Village looks incredibly charming! I am excited you guys may be attending the real Oktoberfest soon ;) If we could go back to Korea and do nothing but travel we would have to visit Namhae, it's been a place we regrettably missed!

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    1. I feel like every blog post about Korea I see something we haven't done/seen here yet!! Looking forward to Europe and just having time to travel and explore!!

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  3. I always find it a little funny to find out about these "replicas" of authentic places in Korea. Somehow it seems like there are so many of them. Fontana di Trevi, the Versailles Fountain, Eiffel Tower - I've found them all in Seoul. Haha. The girls in the traditional outfits are cute though, and it sounds like the whole festival was a blast!

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    1. Korea does love make replicas!! I always feel like they are very good at making things look the same on the outside but end up being completely different from the real thing once you look closely. The festival was worth it though.

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  4. Ah your post bought back many memories for us! We visited the Oktoberfest last year and had so much fun - it was way better than I was expecting. Namhae is so beautiful too such a great weekend away.

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    1. After being to a few festivals in Korea this one did surprise me!

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  5. This sounds like an awesome festival! I'm a huge craft beer fan, so this will be something I'll be checking out this year. Did you spend the night when you went? If so, any recommendations on a place to stay?

    Festival aside, I'm super interested to visit Namhae from a historical perspective. I love weird culture blends, and Namhae seems to be a strange one. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. We went on a group tour with Enjoy Korea the first time so everything was organized by them, worth it. The other time we camped on the beach which was also really good if this is your thing. Loads of pensions all over the place though. I would hit up booking.com and just shop for your price range. It has worked well for us in other areas.

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  6. I've heard about this German town in Namhae. Looks like a fun festival! I went to the Oktoberfest in Busan...but it wasn't great. The highlight was having a beer chugging contest on stage with other Koreans! haha.

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    1. We were thinking of going to the one in Busan but just never made it. Sounds like it wasn't worth it. This was pretty good and the added charm of the "German" village made it better, as did the beer...

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  7. I've actually been to Namhae and really enjoyed my time, but we didn't have time to explore the German village. I may need to check it out this year as I love me craft beer. I do think it's eat to visit the island through an organized trip as it's hard to get around without a car.

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    1. Definitely a bit more difficult without a car. Best decision we made in Korea was getting a car for our second year. If you have the chance go with Enjoy Korea or a similar company for the Oktoberfest. Makes it a lot easier.

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  8. I don't think I've been out there yet. Definitely looks like fun though. Though walking long distances with a two year old doesn't sound exactly pleasing. I do love good sausages and beer though! ahah

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    1. If you can get there on a quiet morning some of the cafes/restaurants do have on site parking. We were lucky enough one morning and got parking right inside but the next day was a nightmare later in the afternoon.

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  9. I love Namhae Island, it's one of my favourite places in Korea. I've never been to the Oktoberfest Festival but I've visited the German Village on 2 seperate occasions. Once was on Buddha's Birthday back when I arrived in Korea bright eyed and bushy tailed in 2014 and the next time was last summer. I was really surprised at how developed the German Village had become. Although there were always a lot of gorgeous houses, there weren't quite as many beer places the first time round. Not that I'm complaining- I love having something different to drink other than Cass! Hahaa great post :)

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    1. It has definitely developed beyond its original intention of being a place for Koreans to return to from Korea. Apparently most of the original inhabitants are not there anymore. The beer is good though!!

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  10. Namhae Island has been on my to-visit list for awhile and honestly, I've been craving a trip back to Europe so it would be awesome to check out the German Village. Hopefully if we're still in country, it would be cool to attend the Korean version of Oktoberfest.

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