Laid-Back Busan

Busan-Haeundae-Beach-300x225

Many people in Korea have traveled to Busan. So, it’s my opinion an article about what to do and what to see is probably irrelevant. In fact, Say Kimchi has a pretty nice write up of it already.

So, why should you read this article?

The answer is simple. Busan is an amazing city.

I don’t want to tell you about the incredible sky line. I don’t really need to mention the numerous mountains that pop over the buildings or the incredible ocean. I mean we have all seen these things before (at least I think we have).

What I found amazing was what you couldn’t see. The character of the city is very laid-back.

For anyone that has been there, this might sound like an odd statement. For anyone that hasn’t been there, understand that Busan is the 2nd largest metropolitan in Korea. Also, Haeundae beach, where we stayed for Seollal, is also one of the most popular beaches in Korea. During the summer months you can expect a few hundred people packed onto the 12 km coastline.

Packed beaches. Crowded train stations. Standing room only.

What about this sounds laid-back?

The short answer is the area itself. The charm of Korea is still prevalent. The side dishes are numerous, the people are inviting and the culture is everywhere. The smaller city charm is somehow still captured among the 3 million or so people.

Take it upon yourself to check the area out and experience what Busan has to offer. Also, for the hell of it, look at these pictures and imagine yourself there.

–ShayM

 

It’s been Awhile! Seol-nal!!

–ShayM

There’s good reason for the absence. You see, Korea is an awfully great time. I’m not saying this to try and persuade anyone to come here (or stay), but really just insinuating that my time here has been great.

And, it looks to only be getting better!

February 10th, as most of you probably know, is home to Seol-nal. This is essentially one of Korea’s most popular holiday among family and friends. AsI’m told, Koreans usually tend to visit the eastern parts to watch the first sun rise. Popular areas include Gangwon province and Busan.

To celebrate this very enjoyable time, I will be going with friends to Busan. There will be fireworks, soju, mekju and probably more soju. Most importantly, there will be friends!

I will include more information on the events around Busan for 설날 as they become available. Also, as the rays peek over the horizon I will upload pictures!

peperos

Pepero Day 11/11

–ShayM

Pepero Day is similar to Valentines Day. Both ‘holidays’ symbolize love and friendship while using candies and chocolates as a means to express relationship. While many people have heard of Valentines Day, there are few people who have heard of Pepero Day.

Honestly, though, there is good reason for this. Pepero Day is celebrated only in South Korea.

And, instead of the candied hearts that are exchanged in the Western world, Koreans celebrate with Pepero sticks–Lotte brand pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate. The idea behind this tradition, which started in 1983, is meant to symbolize a nice, long and ‘slender’ life. It is celebrated on November 11th, or 11/11 (which is meant to look like 4Pepero sticks) and a increasingly popular ‘holiday’.

Pass on a Pepero and enjoy a part of recent Korean culture!

Busan/Kay Lang

Summer Vacation

By Shay Meinecke

Summer vacation is finally here!

Depending on contracts, most teachers receive a few days to a few weeks to explore Korea. Korea offers many rich destinations.  The most popular choices inside Korea are Seoul, Busan and Jeju.

Jeju is more of a relaxing destination as visitors tend to be families and couples. However, there is pleasant reason for their choice. Jeju, an island located south of the Korean peninsula, offers spectacular scenery and great wilderness for those that want to get away from the hustle and bustle of major city living.

Dragon Head Rock

Seoul, probably the most sought after destination, is what most people would expect. The city is huge and there are an endless supply of exciting places to go. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in Seoul, you want find it in Korea. There are great places to shop, eat, learn, unwind, and party. Seoul certainly offers a bit of something for everyone.

Seoul Aquarium

Busan is known throughout Korea as the place to go for beaches and beach life. There are more than a few fantastic beaches, restaurants and bars to explore. Many of the popular spots are located alongside the coast and offer spectacular views. Many people go here for the rays during the day and the life in the night.

Busan/Kay Lang

Any other ideas for vacation destinations?

BUSAN GUIDE: Shopping, Tanning, & Culture

By Emma Dooley

While Busan, Korea’s second-largest city, is probably best known as the home of Haeundae Beach, the most densely populated beach in the world, the city is not simply a haven for sunworshippers. Busan is a thriving port city and is packed to the gills with a plethora of things to do and see.

Shoppers can worship at the altar of consumerism in Shinsegae Centum City, the largest department store in the world, which boasts a golf driving range, a cinema, a spa, an ice rink, a sports club and a culture hall, all in addition to the nine floors of fashion! The food hall in the basement is enormous and perfect for a post-shopping treat and there’s also an international food store for stocking up on the essentials you miss from home.

When your wallet is empty and your hands are full of bags, you can stop off at Spaland, located inside Shinsegae, to relax and soak your aching feet. Spaland is the biggest spa in Asia and is comprised of 22 spas fed by two different types of spring water, 13 themed jjimjilbangs as well as

saunas from around the world, including a recreation of an ancient Roman bath house!

If you’re in the mood for a more traditional shopping experience head for one of Busan’s markets. Gukje, Bupyeong and Kkangtong Markets are interlinked and there you can find traditional Korean

cookware and clothing, as well as the usual knock-off sportswear and bags. The street food at these markets is out of this world, especially the Busan Hotcake – a dough pocket snipped open with scissors, then filled with hot nuts, seeds and cinnamon.

Jagalchi Fish Market, the largest fish market in North Asia, is located at the entrance to Gukje Market. Its Food Street is the perfect place to sample raw eel, Korean penis fish, turtle or octopus and have it cooked to your specifications in one of the hundreds of tent restaurants.

If the sun is shining, Busan’s beaches are the place to be, especially out of season, when the number of visitors dwindles to almost zero. Haeundae Beach is located in the bustling Haeundae neighborhood and is within easy reach of lots of bars and

One of the many things to do and see in Busan is the Busan Aquarium/Emma Dooley

restaurants. Gwangali Beach is a more relaxed place, and offers stunning views of Gwangan Bridge, the second longest bridge in Korea, particularly at night when the bridge itself transforms into a light show.

If the weather is not on your side, Busan Aquarium is located right on Haeundae Beach and is a great way to spend an afternoon. You can watch an underwater magic show, walk along with seabed through the 80m tunnel or take a trip through the shark tank in a glass- bottomed boat. For the really brave among us, you can also dive with the sharks!

If culture is what you’re after, head to Yongungsa. While the majority of temples in Korea are tucked away in the mountains, the buildings, statues and pagodas of Yongungsa are perched on a cliff on the coast of Busan. The temple was first built in 1367 in honor of the Goddess Buddha, Gwanseumbosal, and nowadays people visit Yongungsa to make wishes in the hope that she will grant them.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as things to do in Busan are concerned, for more information (and directions to all of the sites mentioned here) visit http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto the Korean Tourist Organization.

How to Get There: Buses to Busan run from Gwangju’s U-Square Station every 20-50 minutes from 6am to 12 midnight. One-way tickets cost between 16,000won and 26,000won. The journey takes 3.5 hours.
From Seoul, buses run on a regular basis from all the major bus stations.

BUSAN GUIDE: A world of eats

By Emma Dooley

When it comes to food and drink Busan has it covered, with cuisines and beverages from around the world represented in the multitude of restaurants and watering holes around the city – a real treat for visitors from the smaller cities and towns around Korea.

For Mexican food try Fuzzy Navel (various locations). From the outside it looks and sounds like a dance bar, but they have an extensive, delicious and inexpensive food menu, in addition to beer and cocktails. The burritos in particular are to die for!

The Wolfhound Pub in Haeundae, just metres from the beach, is a traditional Irish pub serving bangers and mash, burgers galore, an all day breakfast and amazing fish and chips. The wooden interior and comfortable seats make it the perfect place for a lazy lunch or a quiet afternoon pint and a soccer match. They serve a wide range of imported beers and have Guinness and Kilkenny on tap to complete the Irish experience! Later on in the evening however, The Wolfhound transforms itself into a hopping nightspot, with music blaring and people spilling out onto the large balcony.

Breeze Burn’s (various locations) is a relaxed burger and sandwich joint, great for a quick lunch between sightseeing trips. Breeze Burn’s make their own ketchup, milkshakes and ades and their sandwiches are served on tasty homemade wholewheat bread.

For a delicious burger in an unusual setting visit Farmer’s Original Handmade Hamburger (two locations). The menu consists of eight different burgers, all served with French fries and a soft drink. Each burger is named after and representative of an American state or city. The Honolulu burger comes with pineapple and balsamic vinegar, while the New York is slathered in cream cheese sauce. The Texas burger is especially scrumptious, covered in a thick barbecue sauce. Orders are placed outside the restaurant at the window on the ground floor. You can then grab a table on one of the upper floors and your order will be called over the sound system when it’s ready.

One of the many great restaurants in Busan/Emma Dooley

If you can’t decide what to eat, make a trip to the enormous basement food court in Shinsegae Centum City, where you can enjoy Korean, Japanese or Turkish cuisines, among many others. When it’s time for dessert, stop off at Manoffin, home of perhaps the nicest muffins I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating! There is also an international food store in the basement with cheese and meat counters and products from around the world (they even have Irish tea!).

Beached Bar, a small establishment overlooking Gwangali beach owned by a New Zealander, is a place where you can enjoy Kiwi beers and marmite sandwiches while reclining on a red velvet stool and taking in the best view in Busan. The bar has a wall of windows overlooking Gwangali Beach and Gwangan Bridge and it’s a great place to watch the frequent fireworks shows.

By far the most delicious meal I had in Busan though, was at Kebapistan, a Turkish restaurant in the Pusan National University District. It’s a tiny place tucked away in a basement and serves the best Turkish food I’ve had in a long time. It’s not exactly cheap but the portions are quite large and the food is so wonderful that it’s worth the cost! The hummus is amazing and the lamb shish is out of this world. You can enjoy Turkish tea or coffee and baklava for dessert and even smoke a hookah while you relax on the comfy couches after your meal.

For more restaurant and bar tips, an up-to-date schedule of events and festivals in Busan and directions to all the places listed here visit www.busanhaps.com.

Busan’s The Planet Guesthouse: for women only

By Khadijah Andersonbusanhostel3

BUSAN — I enjoyed my stay here very much. Park Ji Yeong (manager) was the best. She really helped me become familiar with the Haeundae area. On Sunday for an hour and a half we hit up Haeundae Beach, the APEC museum, an awesome bakery,  Yatch area, and indie film theater before  we parted. I was able to take some great pictures and get a bit of an inside tour of what Haeundae had to offer on my own little adventure. And it’s all thanks to Ji Yeong .

RATINGS:
Staff: Awesome, 100%+++

Cleanliness: 100%

Beds: Super comfortable, heating pad on every bed, makes it toasty for cold nights. I woke up at 8 in the morning and didn’t feel a hint of sun from the windows. Also, I slept very soundly.

Showers: Great, clean, and didn’t need to bring shower stuff, each shower is equipped with shampoo, conditioner and body wash.busan hostel

Breakfast: It was the way some things are made here (sometimes you get shredded cabbage and it’s dressing is ketchup). On Sunday it was thick toast with butter, strawberry jam, perfectly fried egg, and a zig zag design with ketchup and mustard. The combination wasn’t bad at all. The coffee wasn’t that great, but there are plenty of places like Tom N Toms, Starbucks, GS 25 and 7 Eleven that offer ones on the go for about 500 won or more.

Atmosphere: Very comfortable. I never took a picture of the foot massage, but for a good five minutes or more I relaxed on the couch hogging the machine.

People: There were only two other women (Korean) along with me who were in the Guesthouse. But you can expect the place to get full for things like the annual film festival held every year, vacations for those who live in Korea, and  pretty much summer time, so reserve your bed in advance.busanhostel2

Safety: Valuables and personals are stored in a locker. Over all though, the place was very safe in terms of coming and going. I myself got off the train and left the subway just as it was closing. I walked back to the guesthouse within 10-12 minutes without any harm. It was 12AM.

Prices: It doesn’t get any better than this, being near the beach and multitude of places to eat, drink and play (beach or club).
Reserve online at hostelworld.com: 5,000 won.

Once you get there: 27,000 won for bed, 10,000 for key–which will be returned once you check out. That’s 37,000 won, 10,000 won which you get back. Not bad at all for a one-night stay.

Getting there: Take line 1 (from Nopodong, Bus Terminal) to Yeongsan (line 3) TRANSFER to Suyeong (line 1), final stop is Haeundae, exit 3.busanhostel4
For more information, go to The Planet Guesthouse official Web site and press English at the top right hand corner:

http://earthlinghome.com

I highly recommend The Planet Guesthouse to all women travelers, 100%.