Summers in Korea are quite active! People are outside and using the long days to fit in as many activities as possible. Luckily, this summer Busan has not experienced a heavy rainy season, often called monsoon season. So I have had many opportunities to do outdoor activities after work or on the weekends, without fear of getting rained out. The best part about many of the outdoor things you can do while teaching in Korea is that they are free!
Here are a few of the things I’ve been able to try for free while living in Korea!
Camping is a hugely popular activity for both the expat community and the native community as well! Many families use camping as an inexpensive way to go on vacation! There are many popular free camping spots outside the city, and many are located in national parks. However, if you camp in a national park the fee will probably be around ₩10,000 ($10) per night. The convenience of camping in a national park is that they have tents and camping equipment available to rent, as well as running water to use. If you’d rather opt for a completely free and unique camping experience you can always try camping on a beach. Here in Busan overnight camping is allowed on Songjeong Beach near Haeundae (off the Green Line) This beach is the smallest of the three beaches in Busan but its size generally means more privacy while camping. You can also overnight camp on Gujora Beach located on Geoje Island, just about an hour away from Busan by bus. I have really enjoyed beach camping! Although the morning sun and sand are very hot, the opportunity to night swim is simply extraordinary.
The view from our camping spot on Songjeong beach
Because of Korea’s vastly mountainous landscape hiking is very popular outdoor activity! Many shops and huge sections of department stores are completely devoted to hiking gear and clothing. It is a popular activity among all age groups! Whether you are an experienced hiker or just starting out, there is a trail and distance for you! Many trails often lead to or pass through temples grounds which are beautiful sites to see. Signs and maps located on the trails are also conveniently in English as well as Korean so there is no fear of being lost. Hiking is a great opportunity to get exercise, while seeing Korean nature for completely free! Here is a link to some of the popular and well-traveled trails in Busan.
View from the top - taken by a coworker
The Igidae trails
Dog walking was an outdoor activity I didn’t think I’d have the chance to do while in Korea. As a pet owner back home in Canada, I certainly go through pet withdrawal. Even though Korea has many pet cafés to offer, I found I wanted some animal time in a more natural setting. That’s when I discovered BAPS. BAPS is the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary that rescues animals from the street or euthanization. It is privately run so the owners rely on volunteers to come and walk a few of their 20+ rescued dogs. I had the opportunity to volunteer and it was an amazing experience. The owners are very dedicated to their animals and are always finding loving and permanent homes for their dogs. You can also foster a dog from BAPS for a temporary period. Dog walking is a great way to get to know some of these amazing dogs, and get outside while helping another living being.
Bear - one of the rescused dogs at BAPS
Go to the Beach!
One of the more unique things about living in Busan is that it is on the coast so there are many beautiful beaches to visit. Some of the beaches in Busan are located in popular city areas so you can visit the beach and then enjoy a night out without leaving the area. While others are in more secluded areas without the noise of the bustling city. My favorite beach is Gwangalli Beach located off the Green Line. It has both the beach and night life and the best view in Busan, in my opinion, of the Gwangan bridge.
Gwanganalli Beach at night
The other very popular beach area is Haeundae, located on the Green line. It is very large and is the chosen beach for many cultural performances. The two smaller beaches are Songjeong (as mentioned as the overnight camping beach) and Songdo. Both these beaches are accessible by bus but not metro. Going to the beach is one of the best free activities to do in the summer, especially when it’s scorching hot outside.
Sunrise at Songjeong beach
Korean summers seem to never end, the days are long and it is hot! Take the opportunity to get out of the AC and try out different outdoor activities free of cost! Just remember your SPF and water!