|As most of us know, there's life outside Seoul. Busan is often an
overlooked city, as many flock to Seoul, bright lights, big capital.
But ask any Korean and they will tell you - Korea's second largest
city Busan is by no means the ugly sister in the family. In fact, Busan
is the real Korea. Colorful, brash but endearing, Busan is a rough
diamond that certainly speaks for itself, as spending time with the
locals will show you. Busan may feel like second fiddle for now but
it's time is coming.
|What to see?
If you're going to head to the beach
then there are seven in Busan to
choose from. You must see Haeundae Beach - the most popular beach in
Korea. Crowds cram this place every day in August and umbrellas
mushroom across this 2km space but it has to be seen to be believed.
Don't expect any great shakes as far as quiet beach resorts go, just
enjoy it for what it is, it's an experience you won't forget. If
personal space is more your thing, avoid July and August, there are
less crowds and it is a more tranquil place - you may not be able to
swim but a stroll along the white sands and the sounds of seagulls is
perfect on a cool spring day. Just opt for exit 3 from Haeundae
station, turn left and walk 250m.
here for more detailed information on Haeundae Beach!
|Located just 15 minutes
from Oncheonjang train station, Heosimcheong
Spa is a complete chill out zone. Supposedly, the biggest hot spa in
Asia, it has a none too meek capacity of 2,000 people. Based on the
4th floor, it is packed with tubs and saunas. You can grab a robe
and kick back for a couple of hours, all for the princely sum of
8,000 won. Body scrubs and massages are extra and last entry is 9 pm.
here for more information on the Hurshimchung Spa located at Hotel Nongshim.
|If you're into temples check out this majestic Buddhist temple which
is one of the main highlights on a trip to Busan and doesn't fail to
impress. Located at the base of the famous Geumjeongsan Mountain, it's
the stairway to heaven.
In "Donggukjeojiseungram" (historical text) the
origin of the temple is told and has an interesting legend behind it. They say, there was a well at the top
of the mountain and the water was, well, gold. Apparently, the golden fish in the well rode the colorful
clouds and came down from the sky (sounds feasible to me). That is why
the mountain is named Geumsaem (gold well) and the temple is named
"fish from heaven." Maybe the story does sounds rather far fetched but
the serenity and beauty of the place is amazing and good for the soul.
The idyllic setting actually makes you want to experience psychedellic
things, such as gold fish riding candy colored clouds.
The original temple was destroyed during the Japanese Invasion of
Korea in 1592 but was renovated in 1713. It is one of the most ornate
temples from the Joseon Dynasty. Despite its city location, it is set
against a lush, mountainous backdrop. To get there take the subway to
Beomeosa train station (exit 5), walk 200m to the small bus station and
finally take bus No.90 for 15 minutes.
>>Click here for more information on Beomeosa Temple!
|Jagalchi Fish Market
|DThis, the largest fish
market in the country, brings strange smells to
a whole new dimension. But if you are a seafood lover, then you simply
can't miss this little (or big) beauty. Waterfront warehouses, tiny
stalls and lots of elderly women displaying an amazing variety of
fish. Even if just for a look, it's great to soak up the atmosphere
and see it all happening around you.
>>Click here for more information on Jagalchi Fish Market!
|Where to sleep?
If you want to splash out then aim for The Westin Chosun Beach Hotel,
the chief of Busan's deluxe hotels. Established in 1978, and Busan's
first international hotel, its excellent service, panoramic views,
idyllic beachfront position and small forest to the rear, are nicer
than nice. The hotel has the feeling of a grand old hotel, and the only downside is that it could do with an
upgrade in design, for a more modern feel. With six restaurants to choose from, all of them looking
onto the rippling ocean, it's easy to delude yourself you're not part
of the urban massive, well for a night or two anyway. Sipping
cocktails over white sands in the Panorama Lounge, you could literally
melt into the ocean. The seafood at Kuromatsu, the hotels sleek and
contemporary sushi restaurant is affordably priced and has a vast
array of succulent raw and cooked fish. In Camellia, the innovative
buffet chefs can prepare your customized dish on the spot for you. If
you want to take it easy, the sauna, spa, pool, and health centre, are
all included. There are special discounts, when traveling off
Tel: (051) 749-7201
The Riviera Hotel is located in Haeundae, strangely enough, over the
Riviera department store. The attractive, spacious and clean rooms
have good off peak rates.
Tel: (051) 740-2111
|Cheap as chips
If you're on a limited budget, there is no need to worry, as there are
a myriad of cheap yeogwan around Busan from 20,000-30,000 won. One
worth mentioning is Tae Yang Yeogwan. From the outside it looks a bit
shady, but the rooms in this motel are clean, spacious and come
with queen size beds for 25,000 won a night. It's just behind the
Arirang Hotel, just exit Busan train station and turn left. There are
plenty more options around the area.
|Where to eat?
The local specialty here is salty, spicy, raw fish, and many come from
all over the country to sample the fare. This however can be a shade
expensive. Head for Seomyeon or Nampo-dong, where you can find all
sorts of restaurants to suit all budgets. Millak Town Raw Fish Centre
has an authentic Korean buzz. Based at the northeast end of Gwangalli
Beach, you can buy a fish for 20,000-30,000 won from the vendors on
the 1st floor and whisk it upstairs another floor where the food is
spruced and served for you in minutes for a further 10,000 won. Ride
the subway to Gwangan station and take exit 5. Cho-won Blow Fish
serves, yes, blowfish, in this out of the way restaurant. The
bokmaeuntang (spicy blowfish soup) is tasty indeed. Take exit 3 from
Namcheon station and walk to the second corner. Turn left and continue
ahead for 300m.
There are literally thousands of bars ranging from smooth hotel bars
to your local pub, and a vast array of Noraebang (Karaoke rooms), they are mainly concentrated around the
Haeundae beach area. Mi Wharf is at the most easterly point of the Haeundae beach promenade, its outdoor
drinking area has prize sunset views. After 10 pm Moo Monk is a retro bar if you are looking for something
|Take me there
The most memorable journey to Busan is by bullet train, a little
expensive but well worth the cost of 45,000 won each way for the sheer
experience of speeding down to Busan in two and a half hours. Log onto http://korail.go.kr/ for further information on prices and schedules.