We’ve done a lot of hiking and hill-walking during our time in Busan, but until our trip out to Hoedong Lake, we hadn’t actually experienced a truly Korean day of hiking. This was the last big excursion we’d be undertaking in Busan, and we couldn’t have hoped for a more authentic day out.
Busan is a city with its sights focused firmly on the future — which makes sense, because its past has been so fraught with hardship. But among the glitzy department stores and new constructions, there are a few memorials to bygone days. One of the most poignant is the 40 Steps, found near Yongdusan Hill.
Opened in 1978 at the western end of the U.N. Park in Daeyeon, the Busan Museum takes visitors on a journey through the history of the city and its region, from paleolithic times to the modern day. We visited recently and found it to be the perfect rainy-day activity.
South Korea’s most popular beach is Haeundae, found on the northeastern end of the city. Famous across the country as a place to see and be seen, Haeundae explodes into life during the summer when the entire beach is covered in both parasols and people who are less interested in swimming than looking good.
One of South Korea’s three horse-racing tracks is found just outside Busan, and we decided to check it out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We knew that we’d have fun, since we have fun anywhere that gambling is involved, but the Busan Gyeongnam Racecourse Park exceeded our expectations.
A collection of sculptures found near BEXCO and the Museum of Art, Busan’s Olympic Sculpture Park pays homage to the city’s involvement in the 1988 Summer Olympics and provides a place to check out some bizarre modern artwork. We paid a short visit to the park after a day of shopping at Shinsegae.
For our second Korean jimjilbang experience, we decided to go big. The Heomsimcheong Spa in the neighborhood of Oncheon claims to be the largest spa fed by a natural hot spring in Asia. The popular complex, which also bills itself the Grand Hot Spring, includes a full hotel, an excellent brewery on the bottom floor and of course, a full array of baths and saunas.
Busan’s aquarium is one of the largest in South Korea. With a unique location underneath Haeundae Beach, and a vast array of marine life in tanks which hold over three million liters of water, it’s little wonder that the aquarium is considered one of the city’s top experiences.
For our first trip to a Korean spa, we choose one of Busan’s biggest and most modern: Spa Land in the Shinsegae department store. Twenty-two baths, thirteen distinctively-designed saunas, relaxation rooms, steam rooms, foot baths and more were ours to enjoy for four blissful hours.