Perched by the lake, surrounded by three national parks and dotted with caves and temples, Danyang is considered North Chungcheong's top attraction.
The modern town of Danyang dates only to 1986, as most of the old city was submerged beneath the waters of the artificial Chungju Lake. Throughout town, you'll see statues, pictures and even lampposts of a guy with huge eyebrows, holding hands with a lady. This is Ondal, a jester in the imperial court, who managed to break through Korea's strict caste system to marry the princess Pyeonggang and become a respected general.
The tourist information office is rather inconveniently located on the far side of the red bridge from the bus terminal. Some English is spoken, and you can pick up a handy town map from here.
The sizeable international airport at Cheongju is about 30km away by road.
Danyang is on the eastern Jungang line from Seoul's Cheongnyangni station through Wonju to Andong. There are mugunghwa services every hour or two (3:15, ₩10,000), and two saemaeul expresses daily (2:45, ₩14,000). The train station is 3 km outside Danyang, but you can take a bus from the stop just outside the station (₩1,000) or a taxi (around ₩5,000).
Danyang's clean and modern bus station, on the northern side of town, has hourly express services to Seoul's Express Bus Terminal (2:30, ₩14,000) and intercity services to Dong-Seoul terminal (over 3 hours). Most buses from Seoul continue onward to Guinsa (30 minutes, ₩2,600). There are also hourly services to Chungju (1:30, ₩6,200) and Jecheon (1 hour), and a few departures daily to Busan and Daejeon.
In season, you can take a very scenic cruise across Chungju Lake to Chungju (2 hours, ₩18,000). The ferry terminal is on the riverside, a few blocks south of the bus terminal.
Central Danyang can be covered on foot, but taxis are plentiful (starting fare ₩1,500).
- 1 Gosu Cave (고수동굴) (Cross the bridge, turn left and walk 10 minutes along the highway.). 9AM-5PM. One of Korea's most famous caves, 1.7km of twisting, turning limestone caverns have been outfitted with metal walkways and subdued lighting. It's quite a remarkable sight, but claustrophobes and people in need of a diet might want to skip it as some tunnels are quite narrow. ₩4,000.
- 2 Cheondong Cave (천동동굴) (Continue up the hill past Gosu Cave for several kilometers. A few hundred meters before the road ends, look for small signs and a large parking lot on the left side of the road. The cave entrance is above the parking lot; follow the stone steps up and walk along a sidewalk for several minutes to get there.). 9AM-5PM. This cave has many ups and downs along with twisty narrow passages. It is perfect for nimble athletic folk. There are some excellent stalactites, stalagmites, fins, and soda straws to be seen.
- 3 Ondal Fortress. This complex houses the reconstruction of an old fortress and a limestone cave. The admission ticket gets you into both areas. The fortress has dozens of buildings to walk around and through. For an extra fee, you can dress up in traditional formal clothing and have your picture taken. The cave takes about thirty minutes to tour.
- 4 Stone Gate of Danyang. This scenic arch is located near the river. There is a large tourist parking and rest area nearby, with plenty of shops for food and drink.
There are plenty of hiking opportunities around Danyang, especially in the nearby Sobaeksan National Park and Woraksan National Parks. The easiest option, though, is to head to Mount Daesong (Daesongsan, 380m), located right behind the city and covered with easy, well-signposted (in Korean) hiking trails, the main one doing a loop around the base of the hill. There are several trailheads; to reach the most convenient one, walk up the hill from the bus terminal, then turn left after the police station. The "summit" is about one kilometer away.
- 1 Danyang Paragliding (단양레저 패러글라이딩) (From the bus station, head south for about 600m. This place is just past GS25.), ☏ . Paragliding is what this place does, and they do it well. If you look east from town, you can see an observatory on the hilltop. This shop will take you up there and do tandem jump, so it's perfect for people who want to try paragliding but have never done so before. Little English is spoken, but the people leading the jumps all know the important expressions for safely getting you off the ground and landing at the end. ₩100,000 for a basic jump; more for longer jumps.
Pay a visit to the Danyang Market in the centre of town, where you will have the opportunity to see (and smell) more garlic than you have ever seen in your life.
- 1 Yeongyangilbeonga (영양일번가) (Across the street from the terminal, tucked down an alley. Look for the bright yellow sign.). The speciality here is yeongyangtang dog soup, but the chueotang minced fish soup with potatoes, mushrooms and rice cake is also quite tasty. No English menu. ₩7,000.
- 2 Jeonwon Hwagwan (전원화관) (Up the hill from bus terminal on the left side.). Korean barbeque, offering the full range of beef and pork cuts and some pretty tasty cold noodles (naengmyon) to go with them. Some English and Russian spoken. ₩10,000 and up.
- 3 Onnuri (온누리회관) (From the bridge near the bus terminal, head south along the main road. This place is 500m down the street.), ☏ . This restaurant serves mostly vegetarian and spice fare. The set menus include a great variety of vegetable dishes, tons of garlic cooked in various ways, and a few meat dishes. Some staff members speak excellent English and can explain details of the food, though no English menu is available. Set menus for ₩15,000.
The local speciality is Sobaeksan dongdongju, a fermented, milky, peach-colored rice wine sold in big white containers in shops and by the cupful at tourist sites. The look and smell are unappetizing but the taste, while unusual (think of an alcoholic Sprite mixed with milk), is refreshing when served cold.
The riverside strip along the bus and ferry terminals is pretty much all motels, all offering rooms for ₩30,000-₩50,000.
- 1 Sky Motel (스카이모텔) (Just south of the bus terminal.). Don't be put off by the dark hallways, the rooms are some of the nicest and cleanest around. The "family" part means that there's no porn on the TV, but you get a small, fully-equipped kitchen instead. Located in the tall, modern-looking building a block south from the bus terminal, with the entrance on the third floor. ₩50,000-.
- 2 Napoli Motel (나폴리모텔) (Next door to Sky Motel.). Run by the owners of Sky Motel.
- 3 [dead link] Luxury Hotel (호텔럭셔리) (Near the bridge.), ☏ . Recent and clean Motel with fun room design. Enter through the parking, there are rooms with view on the river and the bridge. ₩50,000-₩80,000.
- 4 Danyang Guesthouse Rio127 (From the GS25 just north of the bus terminal, follow the riverfront road north for 200m. This hostel is behind and above a coffee shop. Look for small. "guest house" signs.), ☏ . This is marketed as a hostel, but it should also be thought of as a clean, fairly new, no-frills hotel. Rooms are sparsely furnished, but on the other hand everything is in working order. The staff are friendly, and there's a nice view of the bridge from room windows.
- Guinsa, the stunning mountain headquarters of the Cheondae sect, is just 30 minutes away by bus.
- Sobaeksan National Park
- Woraksan National Park
- South, to Cheongju, the closest airport, and birthplace of jikji, the world's first metal printing press.