9 days in S South Korea
Summary – late March and 1st April week 2016. public transport in Busan area for 3 days + 9 days car rental (900 km, 77k Won LPG- cheaper than petrol, but less refilling stations around, need to ask around) driving around southern part of S. Korea. Driving on right hand side like Europe and US, relatively easy and needs International Driving Permit to rent a car. Electricity socks mainly Europe 2 round pin type C. Hotels in Busan and Gaya, airbnb elsewhere. 1k Won = HK$6.8.
Key aim – see cherry blossoms in full bloom (fulfilled)
The places we went are starred in the map below:-
Day 1 – arriving in early morning after tiring overnite 3 hr or sｏ flight. ATM’s with chice of English operation available in Busan Gimhae Airport, also can buy T-Money (like Octopus in Hong Kong) from 7-11 there. Otherwise most convenient stores such as GS25, CU, sell them, charge the card at the same time. We used about 15k W in 3 days Busan each.
Airport Tourist Info counter opens at 8:30AM, but you can collect many maps and brochures (typically in English and Chinese too). There is also an Airport Info counter who can assist. Taxi from airport to downtown is not that expensive- around US$12,
For an initial familiarisation of Busan sights, we took the opentop tour bus- (tips : try NOT to go on weedends as it’s crowded). Start early if you want to cover as much as possible- you can get off at any stop, tour around and hop on to other later buses. One stop is opposite to a large factory outlet where you can shop premium brands. There are two operators, so check on the routes you prefer. The buses are right outside the KTX station (on the left when you face out). It is easy to spot the red or yellow double deckers from the KTX station exit. Cost 15,000 won per person. has 16 stops and covers major flyovers and modern districts besides tourist spots. including Yongdusan Park, 海東龍宮寺Haedong Yonggung temple; Museum of Modern Art, etc . It takes to Haeundae Beach where you can hop on to another tour bus to cover other islands. Boat trip is possible from one of the stops but recommended only if good weather, check in hotel and had local rice breakfast.
Stayed in Residence Mumum – handy near subway station, clean and efficient 3 star self contained apartment, some with laundry machine too. Free breakfast.
Day 2 – Gamcheon Culture Village- fantastic colorful village on the hill, lots of photo opportunities, can spend half a day. Vist the huge seafood market at Jagalchi, have a sashima dinnerf at a tipadvisor recommended restaurant just opposite the market (70k W fo two). Went to the Centum City ShinSeGae (new world) spaland (on ground floor next to the huge departmental store where you can enjoy hot baths, roman baths and heated relaxing rooms (some 8 or 10 half of these at various tempertures), there are also chairs and beds for relaxing and dozing your day or nite off, if you want a meal, a drink or ice-cream, there are cafes there too. Concession tickets from 8PM starts from 10K W! Great value, it closes at midnight, but outdoor footbath closes at 10PM.
Stayed at Ibis Ambassador City Center for 2 nites, very conveniently located just above a subway station Bugeon – 3 star, clean and friendly. Great value.
Day 3 – Many people would travel from Busan to Jinhae during the cherry blossom period especially during the festival. We queued at the Busan West bus stations (access from Sasang Station Exit 5 -前往方法-巴士. 起點: 釜山-搭乘地鐵至二號線「沙上站」下車，五號/三號出口，便看到釜山西部市外巴士客運站,於客運站購買往鎮海的車票便可-約1小時) for more than an hour. But if you are OK to stand for more than 70 min journey, you can jump the queue when the conductor comes in shouting and you can see those people running outside, that’s the standing spaces which comes every alternate bus. But all these are worth it as the cherry blossoms there in full bloom is really dramatic. After seeing the romantic bridge, go take the 307 bus from the bus stop across from Jinhae rail station (look for the red sign above the corner shop and the bus stop is just 20 m further down the main road- it will be crowded. We chose a much quicker way back to Busan via another bus, this is the tips which I don’t anyone posted it yet. Make the Ghwangu Station your last place to see in Jinhae (again dramatie with the deserted railway and train flanked by rows of very dense flowers. Then go across the road, take the 151 bus to Nam San Station (ask the driver to tell you when to get off), then cross the road to a bus interchange where there is a small building where you buy the tickets to Busan – one bus for Sasong(3.9k W), one for Haeundae. Much quicker and easier to get on the bus vs going all the way back to Jinhae and then queue for the bus there as most of the crowd and tourists only know the way to/from Jinhae.
Additional info: some blog recommended below (the trick is finding your way and the bearings- the map above would help; asking around would help especially if you know Korean). 推薦路線>長福山雕刻公園 → 余佐川櫻花道 → 鎮海內水面環境生態公園 → 海軍士官學校 → 帝皇山公園 → 安民嶺 → 慶和站 從鎮海火車站步行前往至余佐川約200公尺(步行前往安民嶺、海軍基地司令部、帝皇山約各需15分鐘) 鎮海賞花著名景點─慶和站 鎮海共有36萬株櫻花樹，每當櫻花盛開，全市便會被覆蓋成一片白茫茫的花海，雖然鎮海全市皆為著名的賞櫻景點，但其中以安民嶺與海軍基地司令部、帝皇山公園、余佐川最為著名。安民道路是全長5.6公里的櫻花道路，平時是市民的散步道路。海軍基地司令部則以樹齡悠久的繁盛櫻花聞名。此地只有在軍港節時才會對一般民眾開放，可伴隨著美麗的櫻花見到仿照實際大小打造而成的龜船模型。 在帝皇山公園可同時欣賞櫻花與海洋景致。尤其在攀爬被稱作一年階梯的365階梯，還可欣賞到兩旁盛開的櫻花及迎春花。 #余佐川約長達1.5km的區段被櫻花樹環繞，在余佐川附近形成白色櫻花隧道，櫻花樹下綻放的鮮黃油菜花散發出淡淡的香氣，更增添賞花的樂趣。 鎮海軍港節: 慶尚南道昌原市鎭海區通信洞 – 釜山西部市外巴士客運站(沙上客運站) –海市外巴士客運站，6:00~22:00，每20分鐘1班，約需1小時30分鐘，於鎮海下車後可步行至中原圓環; 경남 창원시 진해구 통신동;
Day 4 – Beomeoosa梵魚寺 T:+82-51-508-3122. 546, Cheongryong-dong, Geumjeong-gu, Busan-si 부산광역시 금정구 범어사로 250 (청룡동), a nice temple not too far from Busan.
Bulgusa, 慶州佛國寺 (T:+82-54-746-9913)15-1 Jinhyeon-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbukdo – about 2 hrs drive from Busan, an Unesco site and where the garden in frant and to the left have many cherry blossom trees – hundreds to a thousand or more? Lovely sight.
The nearby Pomon Lake (an artificial lake resort area) 普門湖區:Sinpyeong-dong, Gyeongju,also has thousands of cherry blossom trees all along the lakeshore giving a dramatic show of seas of dense cherry blossoms (mostly white in color) in late March/early April. It’s very popular for visitors local and tourists, so be prepared of very heavy traffic. We’re locked in the lake area in heavy traffic doing only 6 km in 1 hr! Other sights in the area you may like to try if you have ample time include 月城區(大陵苑，瞻星臺,雁鴨池(T:82547724041), nwang-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Stayed in a local temple Seseoum (石水） and lived the day with the monks – chanting at 4AM, breakfast from 6AM, bell ringing at 6PM, an unforgetable experience. The abbot in charge Sirchon speaks good English and was extremely helpful when we ran into trouble with our rental car.
Day 5 – Hahoe Folk Village (Hahoe means “river bend”) is a must in this area where you can see the traditional Korean wooden houses and huts with lovely flowering trees in the background. See the Mask Dance which is on every Sat and Sun at 3PM, allow 2 to 2.5 hrs at least for this Village. Despite didn’t understand what’re said during the show, entertaining nevertheless. Unfortunate for us not knowing almost any Korean, travelling in Korea is an handicap as most of their signs, and everything are just in Korean, and most people don’t speak English or Chinese (some tourist spots do have Chinese speaking staff).
Stayed at Gaya Hotel. T: 82- 54-931-3500. #1282-4, Baegun-ri,Suryun-myeon, Seongju-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do 80k W + 15kx2 for ABF)
Day 6, 7 -Walk, hike short trails in the hotel area (which is in the mountainous Gaya national park) in the morning. Visited the Haeinsa temple- 韓國三大寺院之一 (T:+82-55-934-3140), 慶尚南道陝川郡伽倻面海印寺街122 (伽倻面), chanting, bells and drums was enchanting.
Then drove to 馬耳山塔寺- T:+82 63-433-0012. 367 Maisannam-ro, Maryeong-myeon (4.3) 전주향교, 26-3 Gyo-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do. (3.9). Took about 1.5 km walk up a very easy trail to the temple which was built between the 2 mule’s ears (hence the name). Good photo opp.
Then drove and arrived Jeonju – a key city in the area with lots of history and culture. Visited the Cathédrale Jeondong: 200-1 Jeon-dong, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do (4.6) which was built to revere the catholic martyrs prosecuted in the 1600’s.
学忍堂교동 105-4, 완산구 전주시 전라북도 (4.5) is a very nice and well preserved Korean traditional house with garden- now mainly a high grade BnB. Apart from staying there for about HK$2k a nite , visits needed to be prebooked by calling them.
There are lots of interesting places in Jeonju city – all within walking distance including the Hanook folk village which are well preserved and have lots of arts and craft shops, museums, etc, the ‘Comfort lady’ memorial (with the empty chair) near the city centre and opposite the Punamum (Hunan city gate), the Namum local market, the 2 brother villages on the small hills now separated by a highway – Omogake commanding the high point view of the whole of the Hanook folk village, and the Imogake which was very interesting with the over 40 colorful wall murals. The Desert Market at the top of Imogake commands excellent view in an all-glassed setting was great to quench thirst and tiring legs – delicious smoothies at 50k W.
Day 8 – drove to Baekyangsa 白羊寺Temple: T+82-61-392-7822. 1239, Baegyang-ro, (26 Yaksu-ri), simple and serene temple. Ate a delicous Korean lunch at near entrance 同窗 동창 , Bukha-myeon, Jangseong-gun, Jeollanam-do,T: +82 61-392-7502 (4.3)
Then drove to the famous Metasequoia-lined Road- 12, Metasequoia-ro, Damyang-eup, Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do. The 4 kilometer-long boulevard is located along National Road No. 24 and is one of the most popular driving routes in Korea, especially during summer when the trees’ lush green leaves are at their height of beauty. But April was not the good timing as the trees were bare without leaves, but saw magnificent photos when they’re green and golden brown (so visit there in summer and Autumn would be very nice).
Stayed in an Airbnb in Gurye – simple warm place with excellent host, we went looking for dinner in the rain and host saw us from 2nd floor window of restaurant, came to fetch us with umbrella and we had a most delightful evening with delicious ramen and good accompany with their friends and the cook on calligraphy, movies, and travel.
Day 9 – On route to Gimhae airport for a flight to Jeju, we drove along the river with miles and miles cherry blossoms along the river banks, so pretty. Stopped by a traditional local market (Double Brook Village) and bought some dry persimmoms, a pair of pants, and some pottery souvenirs (spent 2 hours there!). Arrived at the airport and just took a rest at the Priority Pass Lounge there. Arrived Jeju around 6:30PM, took rental car from Sixt (they have airport shuttle to take you there) and drove to our Airbnb near the airport. Remember to ask for English GPS, as even if they give you their GPS with English spoken, all the maps, descriptions and operating functions (including inputing searches) are in Korean! which means unless the places you’re going have local landline (starting with 7…), it’s no use. And even some popular tourist places are not in the phone database. Hence for us, the English GPS is important for finding addresses, etc. So we got 2 GPS’s which seems to be an overkill, but essentｉal for uｓ, the local one has more details and more verbose, telling us speed bumps ahead and more importantly speed cameras!