One of the greatest things about teaching and living abroad is traveling. Korea is one of the easiest countries to travel around. With some of the most efficient transport systems in the world, you can visit great cities and experience awesome weekend getaways conveniently.
A recent getaway, a friend of mine and I took, was a weekend trip to Busan. Since the working environment of Chungdahm is working late on Friday evenings, we decided to hop on the speedy KTX to Busan after work. The KTX takes about 2hrs and 40mins to get to Busan from Seoul Station, and it costs around $40.00 one way. There are cheaper options like taking the mughanwa (regular train) or a bus, but this will take you at least 5-6hrs traveling time, and if you have the money to spend, the KTX is a whole new experience, and competes with some of the fastest trains in the world!
Once we arrived in Busan we checked-in at Pobi Guesthouse. Although we arrived late, the guest house was more than willing to accommodate us by leaving our room key in a marked locker, so we could get in and settle in our rooms for the night. Pobi Guesthouse is in a great location if you want to spend your summer days on the famous Haeundae beach, and for a dorm room it is only $23.00 per night.
The following morning our Busan adventures began! Although it is nearing the end of summertime the weather was perfect for a beach day! The beginning of fall is the best time to head to some of Korea’s top beaches as the skies are clear blue and the weather is drier, ranging between 24C-27C mid-afternoon. The day was absolutely beautiful and we enjoyed a full day just chilling and relaxing on Korea’s most popular tourist beach. Haeundae Beach is not a big beach, but it is one of the only white sand beaches Korea has to offer. Also the ocean is a stunning view, and the beach vibe is fresh with a more Western appearance of people playing volleyball, riding jet skies and sunbathing on the beach.
In the afternoon we stumbled across a delicious Spanish restaurant on Haeundae’s beachfront. We were in desperate search for a spot to watch the sunset from, and happily came across the Spain Club. The Spain Club is highly recommended as a spot to eat at. There is nothing better than sipping on sangria and eating mouth-watering tapas while watching the sun go down. You have got to try the shrimp in garlic tapas, and the pork crumbled bacon tapas. By far some of the best Spanish food I have tasted while living in Asia. It was a fresh, delicious and hip beachside restaurant.
When Saturday night arrived it was time to paint the town red, and experience Haeundae’s nightlife. We first went to the famous Fuzzy Navel for cocktails and watched a fascinating fire show by the bar tenders. Then we headed to the most popular Haeundae foreign pub, called the Wolfhound pub. It is an Irish style pub run by the same Korean owner for almost all the 3 years I have lived in Korea. The drinks are reasonably priced and chocolate cake shots here are delicious! After that, we headed to a popular Haeundae club known as Club Tao. Club Tao is a little pricey, but it is a real Korean club that will open your eyes to how much Koreans love to party! We also went to Billy Jeans and club Elune.
Our Sunday morning was spent in the lavish food court of Asia’s biggest shopping mall called the Lotte Shinsaegae Department Store. It’s at the Bexco stop on the green line, and easy to get to from Haeundae beach. Shinsaegae is famous for its many high end designer shops such as Armani, Louis Vuitton, and Versace. Eating at the Shinsaegae food court is by far one of my favorite things to do in Busan. Every time I visit I spend at least one morning eating all the delicious food it has to offer.
After that we caught a bus to Hae Dong Yong Gung Temple. The ride took about 30 minutes and the temple is located in the more countryside area of Busan. This part of the coast was breath taking especially with the temple overlooking the sea. The walk down to the temple was between rock cliffs and seaside vegetation. There were plenty of Koreans and tourist enjoying the walk down. At the temple you can throw coins into wishing rocks and go underground to pray to Buddah. There is also a giant gold Buddah statue and a beautiful scenic view above the temple. This temple is worth the trip and if you have spare time you can also head to Songjeong Beach, which is rated as the top beach to visit in Busan.
We finished our Sunday evening on the famous Gwangali beachfront. Gwangali is another popular tourist destination in Busan and also a famous beach area to visit. It is recommended that you go to Gwangali at sunset so that you can experience the famous Gwangali bridge light display and watch the city of light, light up! Gwangali is also famous for Korean sushi, and there are tons of fish markets and Korean sushi restaurants that have fresh seafood with tantalizing flavors. If you want a western meal there are plenty of restaurants to eat at here as well. You can have your pick between anything from pizza to Japanese to Mexican! Gwangali is a great place to enjoy a meal and an afternoon sundowner while enjoying watching the sun set.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!