Before I came to Korea, I was not much of a hiker. However, soon after arriving, I realized that hiking is a major pasttime here. There are tons of hiking supply stores, and everyone, especially older Korean people, have their own gear. Hiking shoes, shirts, hats, pants, walking sticks; Koreans know their hiking tools. So although I'm not a huge hiker, I wanted to explore more of the Busan's nature than the beaches. There are tons of trails, but my friend personally recommended visiting Geumgang Park, both for the spectacular views, and the ride up on the cablecar!
Don't look down! Actually, do! There is a great view of Busan past the trees of Mt. Kumjong
A roundtrip ride up Mt. Kumjong with the cablecar is around $7, but walking around the park, or hiking up, is free. I splurged for the ride since I am not a completely experienced hiker yet. When we got to the top there was a little restaurant and many benches where you could sit and take in the skyline. There was more hiking to do though! Hiding at the top of the mountain was a smaller Buddhist temple that we wanted to find.
Steep steps lead up to the hidden temple, don't forget to hold onto the rope!
The mountain paths in Korea are not so rugged that you'll get lost without a map, we had none, they are well marked, but there are a lot of them. Luckily other hikers are very helpful and will do their best to point you in the right direction! We got a little lost, but eventually found our way to the temple.
Follow the Buddhist statues!
The temple was very quiet and serene. It was a smaller temple, but there was still room for the three of us to slip off our shoes and take a look inside. Once we paid our respects to the temple, we continued our climb, and we made it to the top! There we sat, enjoyed the views and treated ourselves to a lunch of gimbop. It was a fantastic day.
There is also a botanical garden and an amusement park (currently a bit under construction) in Geumgang. The botanical garden was stunning, with some huge beautiful flowers and many different greenhouses showcasing different kinds of plants. There was even a greenhouse full of cacti! That's one plant I have not seen in a long time.
One small section of the garden, a room of bonsai trees!
To get to Geumgang Park, take the 1 Line (orange) up to Oncheonjang Station. Once there, catch a cab and ask for Kumgang Park, they will take you to the entrance of the botanical gardens and it's about a $3 cab fee. Once you're finished exploring the gardens, as you come out walk right and you'll run into both the entrance to a Buddhist temple and the park itself. To get to the cablecar, you must walk into the park. There are plenty of signs, and if you get lost ask someone where the cable car is, they will know!
After graduating from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, Ariel Rosen looked back on the semester she spent traveling around Europe and decided she must explore Asia. Her teaching job with ChungDahm April in Busan allows her to experience South Korea firsthand and with the bright enthusiasm of all the children she teaches. She is overjoyed to share a class with them and finds herself learning more from them and the beach city around her everyday.
Read Ariel’s blog here: http://arieldrosen.wordpress.com/