Pyeongchang ==> Seoul KTX Station ==> Train to Busan ==> Jagalchi Market ==> BIFF Square ==> Yongdusan Park ==> Gwangan Beach & Bridge
In the original plan, we should leave Pyeongchang before 7 o’clock in the morning. But, it would be rude to just leave the deliciously prepared breakfast by our lovely host couple. Look at those beautiful colors! We were definitely full and ready for the long trip down south. We left our holiday home later than expected.
To complete our Korea tour, we decided to take KTX train to Busan. Nope. We did not have zombies on board. But, surely we had a lot of funny, memorable and not so memorable experiences on this trip.
KTX to Busan. We booked our Korail Pass night before our trip. Since we are traveling in group we decided to book a 2-day flex group saver pass so we could save from our transportation expense.
We were pressed with time to redeem our voucher for the KTX ride. We kept running here and there. My cousin and I were the younger ones that could move fast so we decided to facilitate everything. We knew that tickets should be printed but still we took our chance to just show a soft copy along with our passport and credit card used to book it. When we arrived at the KTX station to redeem our reservation, we were advised to have it printed. Good thing there is a public computer that gives access to internet and printer inside the Seoul KTX station. We used our tap card to pay for it.
We had a bad experience on this machine station though. Ahead of us were 2 Thai males who didn’t seem to figure out how to use the machine as well. Realizing that the queue was already long, they stepped aside. When we took over and paid our part. Then, they offered to “help” us. Unfortunately, they just tricked us! They used our money and time for their own use, printed their own ticket and left. Charged to experience. Thank goodness we made it in time. It was crazy! Come to think of it. We finished everything in less than 30 minutes and we had still 15 minutes before our train arrives.
TIP: We confirmed our ticket back to Seoul in Seoul KTX station so we didn’t have to take the queue in Busan KTX station the next day.
Assigned Seat. KTX has pre-assigned seat. It was funny but probably due to excitement to take our seat and eat our kimbap (it was past 1 o’clock in the afternoon, by the way.), we didn’t even remember to check our seat number. When we saw four seats facing each other (and with a table) I know our eyes dazzled as if we found a treasure. LOL! We did not hesitate to take it. It was until our first bite, when the ticket inspector asked us, that we wished we could hide ourselves from embarrassment. (^_^) Good thing my cousin took the tickets with her in the toilet. We made an excuse and he left. We surreptitiously moved to our assigned seat laughing.
Internet. Yes. Our fingers have been itching to post an update in social media site. We were finally on board train to Busan! Thankfully, we had good access of free internet en route to our destination.
When we thought that Busan is warmer because it’s in the south, we were actually caught unprepared. The weather was rainy so the wind was chilly. Later on, my Korean friend who grew up in Busan told me that it’s actually a “rain city” because it often rains there. (Just like my hankies, I think I lost 2 umbrellas with me here. LOL).
South Korea, Busan, Jung-gu, 자갈치로47번길 6-1.
This hostel is very cheap and ideal for backpackers. I booked it through Agoda. We paid like 550pesos each. Not bad for overnight stay. (Upon updating this blog, I saw the website of Popcorn Hostel. It’s a great improvement because I think they didn’t have it when I booked it (or did they?)
Our hostel is located conveniently within the city center. It’s pretty near the Jagalchi Market (smaller arc behind me) and the BIFF Square.
BIFF Square is just right across our hostel. At the entrance, we were welcomed by these food stalls. It was rainy yet many people were still strolling around. While taking pictures of each other, one ajumma called our attention and told us to move while murmuring. It turned out that were covering her stall from prospective customers.
Going around BIFF Square
Yongdusan Park (Busan Tower)
A lot of our plans in Busan got cancelled due to rain. So, we just decided to explore nearby tourist attractions. A leisurely walk brought us to a Buddhist temple beneath a hilly slope, then we found a stair, which seemed to be never-ending. Our curiosity on what’s there to see brought us on top of Yongdusan Park. We only realized it when we’re already up there.
Gwanganlli (Gwangan Bridge)
When in Busan, one should not miss to see the waters. Either you go to Haeundae or Gwangan Beach or both. In our case, however, we just visited Gwangan Beach. Aside from the fact that we could see the beautiful diamond bridge, we wanted to have seafoods for dinner too, but we just could not find one because it’s hard for us to navigate our location.
Gwangan Bridge (popularly known as Gwanganlli to many tourists), is a suspension bridge located in Busan, South Korea. It connects Haeundae-gu to Suyeong-gu. The road surface is about 6,500 meters long, with the bridge as a whole spanning 7,420 meters. It is the longest bi-level bridge over the ocean in Korea. In addition to providing a quick way to get around, the bridge offers breathtaking views of nearby attractions such as Oryukdo Island, Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, Gwangalli Beach, Dongbaekseom Island, and Dalmaji Hill.
We were able to witness a firework’s display when we got there. It was just short as it was almost ending when we got out of the restaurant.
Our exhaustion searching for Korean seafoods restaurant in Gwanganlli brought us in this restaurant. There were actually many restaurants in the area but they were Japanese. The Korean restaurant we saw had many people drinking and they don’t serve dinner. Personally, I was glad to have been here. I’ve always wanted to try eating samgyetang. It was very delicious. It seemed to rejuvenate my tired body from walking. It was my first time eating something with ginseng. (When I got home, my mother was laughing whenever I talk about ginseng because she said we have a ginseng plant at home. She even showed it to me. Oh well, Korean ginseng is different from our ginseng. hehe)
On my 3rd day traveling around Korea, I realized that the side dishes vary according to area. While we were served mountain vegetables in Pyeongchang, we were served seaweeds, and I think spicy fish anchovy, in Busan. The owner probably realized that I was curious about ginseng so she gave us 2 baby ginsengs to be eaten fresh. It’s my first time so it tasted weird to me but it was not bad, and I finished it
Breakfast at Jagalchi Market
We woke up early with hope that the rained had stopped but unfortunately it didn’t so we had no choice but to just have breakfast and prepare for our trip back to Seoul. We decided to go to Jagalchi Market for some local food. The marketplace is perfect to experience local culture.
Jagalchi Market, located on the shoreside road in Busan’s Jung-gu, is Korea’s largest seafood market, selling both live and dried fish. After the Korean War the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the vendors here are called Jagalchi Ajumma, “ajumma” meaning middle-aged or married woman in Korean.
This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. If you visit you can eat fresh raw fish right at the market.
We did not walk further as the rain was pouring. When an ajumma called us to eat at her restaurant, we checked and decided to have our breakfast there. She was kind enough to offer fresh towels to us. It was sealed. Good service! Anyway, since it’s rainy we opted for something with soup. She offered a hot-pot of eel soup and we went for it. I love spicy food so it was perfect for me!
While waiting for our food to be served, it felt like I was in a Korean drama. LOL! There were several regulars (probably). There was also a big TV monitor showing a replay of Korean dramas. She also offered us pajeon and, later on after meal, a cup of coffee!
1. If you are traveling in group, I suggest making an online reservation through your credit card for a Korail Group saver pass. You wont be deducted until you redeem it. In our case, we are 4 so we booked at least a day before. We bought a 2 day flex pass. (http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfKrPassAbout.do) from 102,000W to just paid 91,000W each. Ok, so basically we spent more money in Busan just to experience KTX ride ^_^.
2. Have your Korail pass printed. If you were not able to do it, there is a machine for printing in Seoul KTX station. We had a bad experience from Thai travelers though. We thought they are going to help us but instead they printed their own, and I paid for them. Let’s charge it to experience.
3. Be at the KTX station at least 30mins to 1 hour because the queue may be long.
4. Don’t forget to check the weather. It was raining when we arrived in Busan. On our way, we just checked the sunset because we were planning to go to Gamcheon Culture Village but we failed to check the weather. Days after, my student said it always rains in Busan TT TT.
5. The downtown Busan is like a typical city in Seoul with many cosmetics shop too. As for the weather, it was pretty cold because it was raining.
6. Gwangan is famous for its diamond bridge and its beach. However, the area is less busier than Haeundae beach which is also a famous tourist place in Busan. We want to eat seafood that time but it’s too late so we just had Samgyetang in Busan! -_- It was delicious though. One whole chicken for each of us.
7. We used our tapcard for Taxi! it was like 10~12000W from Gwangan beach to our hotel in Nampo. Not bad for the 4 of us chipping in.
8. If you want to Go to Gwangan beach, don’t go to Gwangan station because it’s far from the beach and takes a lot of walking. Instead get off at Geumnyeonsan Station. It’s much nearer.
9. By the way, in KTX Station in Seoul we already booked our return ticket so we didn’t have to wait in line in Busan. Also, when we arrived at Busan KTX, we were able to change our travel time to a much earlier one. This is possible.
10. Subway Korea app also has a map for Busan. ^_^