This past weekend, my family took a pretty spontaneous trip down to Busan. This time, none of us were driving; instead, we took the KTX bullet train, which took us approximately 2 hours for a trip that would have taken more than 4 hours by car. The last time I had been to Busan was in elementary school for a brief summer trip to the beach, and I barely remember it; this one was much more memorable, and filled with amazing food as well! Here’s a video of our trip:
Read on for more details about our journey!
We took the subway to Seoul station, where we got on a morning KTX train to Busan. At the center of each car, there are two pairs of seats that actually face each other with a table in between – the four of us (mom, dad, my sister, and I) could sit together and have a nice conversation as we sped away to our vacation.
Our first stop off of Busan station was a restaurant that serves dwaeji gukbap, the pork soup that Busan is famous for. We stopped by Bonjeon Pork Soup (본전 돼지국밥), which is popular among tourists because their soup doesn’t have the fishy aroma that pork soups can sometimes have. Two of us also added blood sausage to the soup, a nice addition if you’re a fan of sundae (Korean blood sausage). Pair each sip with a crunchy bite of fresh kimchi… YUM!
With full stomachs, we headed to the condo that we would call home for the next three days. We stayed at Hanwha Haeundae Resort – our room had a huge window with a breathtaking view of the ocean! We were so close to Haeundae beach that I felt like I could leap out of the window right into the water.
On the first day, we decided to explore the Haeundae (Marine City) area a bit. We walked over to Dongbaek Park (동백공원), which is an island (or used to be an island but now is a part of the mainland) off the famous Haeundae beach. The walkway around the island is nicely paved with nice views of the sea along the way. Off the walkway also stands a tiny lighthouse and the Nurimaru House, where the APEC conference was held in 2005.
Next up, we headed to Haeundae beach to bask in the sounds of waves and seagulls. Even in the winter the beach was such a nice place to be.
Around 5 o’clock, we stopped by at a Korean seafood restaurant (해운대 수림횟집) for an early dinner – I love going to Korean seafood restaurants because they always serve a ton of food before the actual raw fish is filleted right there and then to be served. Afterward, the restaurant takes the remains of the filleted fish and boils it into a spicy, flavorful soup.
After dinner, we took a walk to find OPS Bakery, apparently very famous for their cream puffs (and basically everything they bake). It seems to be a chain in the Busan area, but since we spent the day enjoying Haeundae, we walked over to the Haeundae location. The pastries, breads, and other baked goods they had on display were just beautiful! We bought some of their popular breads for breakfast the next day, and sat down with a cup of coffee to enjoy some cream puffs. After dessert, we walked back to the beach for the night view, walking through a night market on the way.
The second day was jam-packed with more fun. We took the 1003 bus (대우마리나아파트 -> 중앙역-> 88A bus to 태종대) to Taejongdae, a natural park located at one of the southernmost parts of Busan. Designated as a Busan monument, along with Oryukdo Island, Taejongdae represents Busan, and is especially famous for its rock beach. Featuring its highest peak at 250 meters, there are forests of pine trees and other 200 varieties of trees. You can buy a ticket to use the trolley, which we found pretty convenient since you can get on and off at any point in the route. It was an experience filled with beautiful scenery (you can stop to take pictures at the observatory) – there also was a little temple on the way!
Next we took a cab over to Nampo-dong, where the streets are busy with shops and, most important of all, street food! But first, we stopped by Halmae Gaya Milmyeon (할매 가야 밀면) to have some Busan-style cold noodles and dumplings. Then we walked outside and realized that we were so close to Yongdusan Park (용두산공원), where you can see the entire city of Busan from the 112 meter-high tower. We were able to see both the crowded streets and the busy seaport.
Finally, the time came to eat some street food! Busan is famous for its ssiat hotteok, a type of Korean doughnut with sunflower seeds stuffed inside! We also tried banana roti and napjak mandu (flat dumplings), and everything was delicious!
Next, we headed to Gamcheon Culture Village (감천 문화마을). This colorful village is formed by houses built in a staircase fashion on the foothills of a coastal mountain, earning this village the nickname of the “Machu Picchu of Busan.” The many alleys cutting through this community are vibrantly decorated with murals and sculptures created by the residents.
Here we tried the famous Goraesa fish cakes, went to the cafe that writes comically offensive phrases as latte art on your coffee, and surprisingly, a raindrop cake! I’d meant to try it when I first heard about it being on sale at Smorgasburg, but they were overpriced and the lines were long. So when I found one in Busan, my sister and I decided to try one! Honestly, it just tasted like fancy Jell-O, but the aesthetics were worth it, I guess.
This was a long day! We came back to the condo – it’s not shown in the video, but we also went to get some late night soup.
We got breakfast at a local Paris Baguette, and went to church (수영로교회 – which was apparently one of the largest churches in Busan). Then we went to a Shinsegae mall to watch a movie! We watched Passengers (which I thought was very unrealistic, but it was nonetheless pretty good), then made one last stop at a seolleongtang (Korean ox bone soup) restaurant near Busan station – the steamed beef there was sooo goood!
It was a tiring but fun three days – and I’m always thankful for these family trips since I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my parents anymore. Looking forward to the next one!