Nirvana in Gwangju: Finding Zen in the Heart of Gwangju

Live Music, Cocktails and Plenty of Umbrellas.

Welcome to Nirvana And Where The Heck Have I Been?

Welcome back! This is my first post in a very long time. Although, I don’t want to take too much away from my post on Nirvana, the time-consuming life of a dad of two, husband and of course the pandemic made the life of Derek is very, very busy. But despite this, I have always kept traveling and experiencing new things in my travels, and now I have the chance to share them with you. Please continue this journey with us.

Over the course of 4 years, a journey that has taken us from the US to Korea to China and now to Thailand, one of the most special places that I frequented is a little bar in the heart of Gwangju. The owner, Caleb, is not only my bartender / counselor but also my friend. His bar started out on a little side street in Gwangju and has grown into one of the central places in Gwangju for foreigners and Koreans to gather and share war stories over a glass of single malt.

How To Get to Nirvana

Nirvana is located in the heart of Gwangju, across from the Asia Cultural Center. From the subway, get off at the Asia Cultural Center exit and take Exit 3. Cross the street and make a left, walk about 300 meters and then make a right on the first major road. It’s on the second floor of the first building on your left. We here at DerekvsLP have now added some video directions and Google Maps for your convenience!! Enjoy fam!

Atmosphere and Service

I think one of the unique aspects that brought me to Nirvana, and then continually brought me back over the course of two years was the balance between the calm and ambience of a casual, neighborhood watering hole and the exciting vibe of a live-music venue. On some nights, the local talent in Gwangju gathers for an intimate jam session, and another night, the vibe is completely relaxed with good conversation amongst the friendly expat population of Gwangju and the locals. Leather couches, a second-story view made for people watching, or pull up to the bar and have a friendly conversation with Caleb and his wife, Yunoo.

Food and Drinks

Nirvana has a fair share of pub grub such a sliders with potato chips, as well as some more hors d’oeuvres inspired snacks such as a cheese plate with crackers. But the real draw of Nirvana is the wide selection of whiskeys and cocktails. It is one of the few, if not the only place in Gwangju, that can make a proper cocktail. My go-to was the Moscow Mule and a few shots of their single malts. J’s go-to was a bottle of wine and the cheese plate. Pairing a cigar with the 15-year-old Dalmore was always a good choice after a long week.

Food and Drink Price Ranges:

The single malts range from 8,000-25,000KRW per 45ml shot/glass.

Cocktails range from 5,000-7,000KRW

Beer ranges from 5,000-8,000KRW

Wings/chicken tenders are 10,000 (with cajun french fries it’s 14,000 KRW)

Bottles of wine ate 18,000-35,000

Shots of all kinds go from 3,000-18,000 (cheap tequila up to 30-year-old Jaime-Torres brandy)

Moscow Mule (6,000KRW)

I don’t think there is anything more refreshing that a Moscow Mule on a hot Korean night. The cold metal mug filled with ice, vodka, and Bundaberg Ginger Beer cools the soul and refreshes the mind. Caleb serves them up at a quick pace and is always perfecting his craft. By far my favorite drink here.

Cheese and Cracker Set (13,000KRW)

The old go-to for Mrs. J with a bottle of red. The cheese and cracker set is a very nice compliment to the wine and is a perfect snack for those late nights where you still want to remain a little classy and not become a complete grease-faced drunk.

Look after my fifth Mule, I am still class with my cheese and crackers

15-year-old Dalmore (19,000KRW)

I like to pair the Dalmore up with a good cigar and take it outside for some people watching. One of the best feelings in the world is a good cigar and whiskey. There are many selections whiskey, well over 25 bottles in stock, as well as other evil elixirs to sooth the soul.

What can I say? Nirvana is my place to go on a night out in Gwangju. Whether you are visiting for a short period of time, or you’re teaching English for a year or two, Nirvana is the place to be for a good drink, to meet some locals, connect with the expat community and listen to some live music. Thank for the great times!


  1. Welcome back Derek

    1. Thank you my friend! I’m happy to see that you are still active!

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