Busan's Exhibition Center is a pretty fun trip if you're looking for something to do on a rainy day. The center is a huge building out in Haeundae, and it houses various shows, travelling exhibitions, and a children's indoor amusement park.
We went specifically to see a travelling exhibition: Salvador Dali's sculptures and sketches. The exhibition was fantastic, and had we been ambitious enough, we could have gone to any one of a dozen more that were at BEXCO that weekend.
Admission varies depending on what you go see, but expect to pay around $6-7 USD for admission to any of the shows.
To get to BEXCO, take subway line #2, and get off at stop 205 (Busan Metropolitan Art Museum). Take exit 7 to get to BEXCO.
Koreans are really crazy about hiking. Also a bit boarding on the crazy into which way they go about this activity. A bottle of healthy traditional wine (makgeolli), often sold at stalls along the way, or some ample supply of soju into the day pack. Hiking by many it seems is considered strictly exercise, not really a pleasurable walk in the woods. From most prominant rocky knobs Yodelling is not only done by the toughest guys in the pack, and I mean pack as their out in their droves, but also a pursuit by some of the women.
Regarding all this, Busan really offers some wonderful hiking and it's most accessible to, too, many.
An ideal hike is along the Geumjeongsanseong fortress and to be taken during the week, for some solitude please. Start going up hill from Beomeosa Temple then ramble on south all the way to the Dongnae cable car for the ride down. There are a number of historic features and the trek can be taken either way and is a good 12Km in length following much of the eastern wall passing both the North and Eastern Gates. Reconsructed, traditional style structures. Wonderful views are commanded from where you are high up and perched over the sprawling city. It's quite exposed aswell so take summer protection, or winter for that sake, and a big bottle of water along with the soju if you must. Keep the Yodelling for the locals.
Getting to this temple involves eventually going by foot. If you are ever able to get there you will feel rewarded when you find it. Either start walking from the terminus of the No 33 bus in Old Mandeok, about 30 - 45 minutes or from the top of the Dongnea to Mandeok ridge road. This spot can only be reached by private car or on foot from the terminus of the No 9 Village Bus which runs from Dongnea's above ground subway line station.
Below the temple there is a nice little restaurant which does traditional Korean food, beer and soju, mostly catering to the hikers who pass through. One can hike beyond the temple further climbing up the the Nammun or South Gate. The Kum Gang cable car makes an easy way up the mountain and one could walk to Seokbulsa from here and via the South Gate. this location is even seldom know by Busan's hords noisey of weekend hikers.
That was definitely our highlight of our Busan-Trip.
The temple was founded in 678 and seems to be far away from civilization even though it's very near.
As almost every temple in Korea, Beomeosa got mostly destroyed in 1592/93 during Japanese Invasion.
How to get there:
To get there take the subway to Beomeosa Station (sometimes it's spelled Pomosa). It's 2 1/2km to walk or take bus 90 if you are lazy....
Admission is only W500.
Busan has no shortage of theme and amusement parks, 99% of them are completely unamusing. They are "sub-kitsch" - meaning that they have no value on even rating as being kitsch. However there are the exceptions and during one of my winter walks I found what would have to be the world's smallest amusement park, it located in the Grand Children's Park. Here alongside the token rusting ferris wheel there run the Roudolf Coaster, slightly interesting, and a pretty good and authentic looking carousel. It actually surprised me for being of modest quality, perhaps this was my nostelgia for things genuine in a land where that's just not possible.
For all you people who have seen the real thing, Rome's Trevi Fountain, please be prepared for the smirking or is it "the whining" cupid. You'll see plenty of whining children near here as this is department store heaven. This is truely a "lot-a-Lotte rear" at it's highest kitsch artform. As you cultured few out there would know Rome's famous Trevi Fountain has one special attraction, other than it's baroque splendour, and this is the important act of throwing a coin into the pool so one may hope to return to the Eternal City. However the infernal city "Lotte Department Store" there is not a single coin I noticed in the pool here, I'm certainly not wanting to return in a hurry. Oh yer I know it now you have to throw coins somewhere else don't you, and it's certainly not in the fountain. It's worth a look once at this imitation masterpiece. Mind you it's conveniently above the busy Seomyeon subway station, an ideal meeting place.
There are several beaches in Busan, and on the weekends, they are crowded and loud, not at all the relaxing weekend getaway that many people are looking for after a week of dealing with the boss/coworkers/students/people in general! Most of your guidebooks will recommend Haeundae beach, as will many ex-pats. It's a really fun place. If you're looking for something a little more mellow, head for Songjeong beach, just over the Talmagji hill.
Songjeong is a smaller beach in a smaller bay. There is a watersports shop/club along the waterfront. I've received secondhand info that you can rent body boards, surfboards and parasailing equipment, as well as wet suits. The waves are a bit bigger than at Haeundae, so if you're into this stuff, this is the place to be.
The beach is family oriented: lots of games and activities for the kiddies on the weekends. There are also beer tents, vendors and the like for those of you who want a bit more fun. Along the point there is a small hill for hiking and sitting. If you like fishing, there's space for this too!
To get to the beach, take the number 2 line subway to the last stop, Jangsan. Catch a cab, and just ask for Songjeong beach. The cab fare is about 4,000W one way. Getting home is a little tricky. Cabs don't seem to be very numerous, so be careful you don't leave it until too late in the day.
Korean hikers are not complete with out their mobile phones, Geumjeong Mountain makes an ideal point to call from it seems. It isn't recommended to climb this peak on weekends as it is just far to crowded, infact spare the natural environment and avoid it altogeather.
Take the opportunity to make a boat trip around T'aejongdae. I can't remember the price but we had awesome weather and then the price didn't matter at all.
The Tour has some comments in Korean only. But mainly they just explain about the islands in this area.
The boat is kinda crappy and small. If you get boatsick easily you might not wanna do that.....
A couple of times per week during my long afternoon break I have the time to hike up to one of the nicest small temples in the hills out side of Busan. This temple is my favorite because of its seclusion and good spring water. During the winter their water was frozen for several weeks
Seriously, get lost...it is exciting. Just make certain you have toilet paper and some cash with you (oh, and know the name of your return destination!)
Take side roads...they are more interesting...hop on a bus or a subway and get off anywhere...you will be safe no matter where you end up.
If you truely can't find your way back to your 'home', just take a cab...they're cheap. Under $20 to go across the entire city.
Lantern festivals can be seen in Buddhism countries like China, India, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan. Jinju hold’s the only festival in Korea. This year’s festival is the debut of Jinju City’s efforts under ambitious plans to expand the festival into an international event. So it is more brilliant and diverse and has many attractions than any other year it was held.
There are many things to be surprised at the festival. You will be surprised by the many shapes the lanterns take: a human, a mandarin duck, a wood post, a goblin, a white heron, a drum, a carp, a running horse, a tiger, a hanging lantern, Chuntae Bell, etc and that is not all of it. The lanterns shaped as a dragon, a phoenix, and a lotus from China, Japan’s cuttlefish and huge garden lantern, Taiwan’s totem lantern, Thailand’s royal carriage lantern, India’s Ganesh lantern, Singapore’s Ma-lion(an imaginary animal which has the head of a lion and the body of a fish) lantern, and Africa’s lanterns shaped with images of the ancient people can also be seen.
Each unique lantern from all over the world brilliantly brightens the night at Nam River. There are also super-large lanterns. One is the Kongbukmun lantern, made to be the exact size of the real front gate of Jinju Castle, and the other is China’s heaven terrace lantern (18m in height). A technician who is a member of China Sichuan Zigong City’s lantern management committee, which holds the largest lantern festival, came to Jinju and made it himself. This international lantern, which has 173 different shapes and sizes, will decorate the waterside and surface of Nam River with brilliant lights and shapes all through Jinju’s nights of the festival.
Located at the front entrance to the "Children's Grand Park", out at Choeup-dong, is yet another amusement park. Busan has about 12 of them, most are all the same as each other. Amusement Parks do have an element of mystery as some are out of the ordinary. Ordinary is an understatement when concerning Korean amusement parks they are below kitsch. However there is this tiny lot devoted to an amusement park complete with carousel, roller coaster - Santa's sled powered by yours truely Rudolf the Red Nosed Something or Other, and of cousre a rusting, but still in service Big Wheel - on a deminished scale. The carousel, fake and tacky as it is, did hit the spot for me in a country so staved of original artifacts. Beyond this is a nice lake complete with artificial swans, a bigger amusement park is at it's far end, which should have been devoted to tranquility! Here there is another minor intresting aspect of this other amusement park - a peddle powered rollercoaster.
You can find some nice esplanades in the reservoirs and coast of Busan City which have 6 beaches easy to access from downtown.
Songiljeong Pavilion :
East Tip of Songjeong Beach, Haewundae-Gu
Dongbaek Park :
West Tip of Haewundae Beach, Haewundae-Gu
Taejongdae Coast :
South Tip of Taejongdae Park, Yeongdo-Gu
The 2nd Songdo :
Near Mokjangwon Restaurant, West Side of Yeongdo-Gu
Amnam Park :
South Tip of Songdo Beach, Jung-Gu
Molundae Coast :
East Tip of Dadaepo Beach, Saha-Gu
Seongjigok Pond :
North Tip of Children's Park, Busanjin-Gu
Hoedong Reservoir :
Near Korean Martyr Memorial Hall, Geumjeong-Gu
This is a must to see if spending a little time in Busan. It is associated with the recently opened Busan Modern History Museum in Nampo-dong. Here one is able to tip toe about the fully restored mansion of the Govenment in Exile - President's Residence. It was an inovated home when built, energy efficiant and having the charm of a upper class residence one would find in a posh English suburb. It has a pleasant garden and some changing exhibitions in a annex. One can walk to here from Toseong-dong subway station heading up hill and to the right. Look out for the blue signs in English posted on the back street corners. Its the only old style house in the area and has a high pitched roof and trees sarounding it.