After we unpacked our final box, we started crafting our South Korea/Asia bucket list and are determined to make the most of the time off, especially during American holidays!
The first holiday in the country was Memorial Day, but we decided to stay in town and finish unpacking our goods. Our stuff arrived here the Friday before Memorial Day. So, it seemed natural to power through the weekend to set-up our new home here.
However, for the Fourth of July (the next long weekend), we traveled to Busan for a beach weekend and had a wonderful time. What a vibrant city with beautiful views!
We jam packed our weekend with lots of activities. Unfortunately, it’s monsoon season here, which made for some extremely foggy and rainy days. As a result, we had to adjust some of our plans. Despite the setbacks, we did manage to see some amazing sites and experience the local culture.
Busan is only about 40 minutes away from Daegu via the KTX. We decided to take the train because 1) it’s fast and 2) we didn’t have to worry about the traffic. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea (after Seoul). Cab fares around here are extremely affordable and encouraged. We don’t mind having someone drive us around to avoid the hassle of not knowing where we are going! GPS is a little tricky here….
We arrived Saturday afternoon and zipped to our hotel across the street from Haeundae Beach, a very popular beach in the area. It’s is the longest beach in the Busan area and gets really crowded during peak times. We waited to visit the beach till Monday, hoping we would beat the weekend crowd.
After we dropped off our stuff, we hopped in a cab and visited Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. It’s a Buddhist temple with gorgeous views of the East Sea.
In the cab to the temple, I noticed an outlet mall nearby. After our visit, we walked over to the new-ish Lotte Mall to have dinner and get tempted to shop. We didn’t do much else our first day because we booked an all-day tour for Sunday and didn’t want to be tired. I found the Busan Tourism Center through Viator. We used Viator (via Tripadvisor) and found an amazing tour while in Sydney, Australia in January, so I thought we might have the same luck this time around. I was right!
Like I mentioned before, the weather didn’t cooperate well with us at moments, so when we visited Hwangnyeong Mountain, an area you can see beautiful mountain views of Busan…it started to pour. Also, the fog was so thick, it was difficult to see much in front of us. Alas, we couldn’t see Busan from the mountain.
However, our tour guides were amazing and adjusted our schedule and took us to other locations to experience other Busan must-dos!
First, we did manage to visit Beomeosa Temple, another Buddhist temple with views of the mountains. We were able to experience Buddhist monks in action and were humbled by their prayers.
We had Korean BBQ, which was a part of the tour and then headed to the BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) Square. It’s where they host the BIFF and when it’s not film festival season, there are several vendors in the area with food and goods. It’s a popular area for locals to visit.
In addition, we visited the Busan fish market and a book alley, the last remaining area where Busan residents can purchase books in-person. It was pretty neat to get shown around town by locals and why we enjoy spending some extra cash to book tours. Our tour guides also informed us of some other places we should visit that wasn’t a part of our tour. They shared valuable info with us!
For example, our hotel is only a 10-minute walk from Dongbaekseom Island. We decided to visit Dongbaekseom Island before hitting the beach since they both were very near to each other and our hotel. I was very impressed with the views on Dongbaekseom Island, which actually isn’t an island anymore. Over time, the island started connecting with the mainland.
From Dongbaekseom Island, you can see the Gwangandaegyo Bridge, also known as “diamond bridge” because of the LED light show it displays every night. We had plans to go to Gwangalli Beach, another popular beach our last night in town because the bet view of the bridge is actually off that beach.
After Dongbaekseom Island, we suited up for Haeundae Beach and lounged there for a bit. To be honest, I completely chickened out on going into the water because it was extremely cold! I think that might have been one reason the beach wasn’t crowded. Despite not getting in the water, it was still a nice and relaxing time. We stayed till we felt sprinkles and packed up our mat to get ready for the evening.
We hopped in a cab to Gwangalli Beach for dinner and to see the light show. While waiting for the light show, we visited a local craft brewery called Galmegi Brewing and sampled everything they had on tap. Then, an easy walk to the beach to see the lights!
Have you followed me on Instagram yet? I actually share stories and some other pictures from our travels on there!