We spent the first weekend in April in Busan which I would highly recommend. Korea’s second largest city (and largest port) is buzzing with loads to see and do. Being the beginning of April, the weather literally ran hot and cold so I’d advise being prepared for everything.
There are a few options for getting to Busan – you can get a flight from Gimpo, but that is a bit awkward from Songdo. The morning train from Incheon Airport was booked up so we took the bus from Incheon Bus Terminal. Whilst the bus was super comfortable (foot reclininers and ample space) it took a really long time, meaning that we spent most of the only hot day of the weekend travelling. The bus arrives in the North of the city which is kinda far from most places, especially when you have bags to consider.
You can also take the train from Incheon Airport – its about 3 hours and 40 minutes, not including the travel time to the airport. Now, here is the sneaky tip that we discovered on our way back. The trains to and from Gwangmyeong (where IKEA is) are plentiful, slightly cheaper and quicker – even when you add in the travel time to and from Gwangmyeong by taxi.
There is SO much to do and see in Busan… and we started with the pretty Cherry Blossom lined trees on the taxi ride from the bus terminal (see header).
We stayed in Haeundae Beach – a beautiful, wide beach which I am told gets rammed in the summer. The area is vibey with lots of bright lights, food and drink options and transport links are great. On Sunday morning, there was a Holi celebration on the beach (actually, that was the reason we chose Busan this weekend). There were options to pre-register, in which case, along with the colour cap and a packet of coloured chalk powder, you were given samosas to snack on but if you signed up on the spot, you just got the colour. There were speeches, dances and general merriment. I’d recommend going with a group of friends to make the most out of it.
After a quick shower, we jumped in a taxi back towards Beomosa Temple, which is located near the bus station. The weather was slightly grey but the temple itself was beautiful and there are a number of hikes in surrounding area, so wear appropriate shoes.. Converse, wet leaves and slippery rocks on an uphill slant are not a good combination.
Gwangalli Beach is a less impressive beach than Haeundae, but it does have some great views of the Gwangan Bridge – especially in the evening when it is all lit up!
[Picture to follow on the next trip – rainy weather meant the views weren’t great!)
Given the cold and wet weather, we sought refuge in Centum City Mall – the world’s largest shopping mall. Honestly, it was overwhelming but there was a food court which catered to all diets and a lovely cinema. The cinema is one of 3 with a GINORMOUS screen – called ‘The Starrium’. Inside the mall, I even found John Lewis section which put a smile on my face!
On Monday morning, we checkout out of our hotel and left our bags in the lockers at Busan Station – the lockers are large enough to fit small carryon size suitcases and are operated by fingerprint! You have to be on your platform 15 minutes before a train departs, so we had plenty of time to do a little bit more exploring before heading home.
Having been to the War museum in Seoul, the UN Memorial Cemetery was top of our list to see. Despite the bleak weather it was a moving experience with photographs and videos to bring the sacrifice of so many to life. It didn’t feel right to take many pictures here, but definitely worth a visit when you go to Busan.
Our last stop before taking the train home was Gamcheon Cultural Village. It is a quaint village on a mountain. There is a trail that is said to take 2 hours, but can be done in about an hour or so. There is a great deal of walking (uphill) and stairs though so be prepared!