Though it took me two full years of living in Japan before I wanted to venture off to other Asian countries, I finally made it to Korea in January 2018 after my wild trip to Hong Kong. Korea is one of the cheapest countries besides Taiwan to fly to from Tokyo, so I found a good bargain through Peach Airlines for less than $200 USD. I landed in Seoul around 5am, but instead of heading straight for the city, I wanted to check out the countryside and picturesque parks instead. Since I didn’t have a lot of money back then, I took a bus from Seoul to Busan at 6am which took around 4 hours to reach the central station. The bus was only $30, so not only did I save a lot of money but I also finally got the chance to catch up on sleep!
Daewangam Park was the very first place in Korea that I had the pleasure of seeing, and my was it a glorious place! It’s a gorgeous park by the seaside and has a forested area you can walk through near the entrance. The rocks are carved into very unique shapes and you can walk between them and see the coast by using connected bridges. It truly feels like you are on an adventure here! Though it was a bit chilly being here in January, I managed to take a lot of pictures and feel amazing on this hike:
I seriously could not believe how beautiful this place was! I saw benches scattered across the park so I imagine in the summer that many picnics take place here. I can’t read any Hangul, but this park was free to enter and easy to navigate. According to the tourism website that I linked above, the park got its name from a large rock island that looks like a dragon rising up into the sky. It truly is a mystical place.
This park is located in Ulsan which is a little bit outside of Busan, so I took the Line 5001 bus from Busan Station to get here in one hour. This was an insane amount of traveling to do in one day, but I am an insane person so it was doable. I recommend coming here on your second day of staying in Busan so you are well-rested.
After a nice day of hiking and photography, I decided to head to one of the oldest and most famous hotsprings in Busan called Heosimcheong. With the long flight and day that I had, it was extremely well worth it! My muscles felt so relaxed after bathing in the hotspring water.
I have been to many hotsprings in Japan which I think are better than anywhere else in the world, but Heosimcheong (also called Hurshimchung) is comparable in quality. After paying an entrance fee of 7,900 won, you will get a towel and key for your own locker to store your things in. Similar to the manner in Japanese onsen, you will strip, shower, and enter a gender-segregated hotspring bath and spa. Heosimcheong has an open air bath, sauna, and cold bath as well. They also have a hotspring inside a cave which makes it feel kind of like a waterpark. There were a lot of people here, but I had enough room to fully relax and enjoy myself.
What I really like about jimjilbang (Korean saunas) is that they have neon-colored lights inside. I felt like I was at a sauna rave and it was a pretty awesome start to my first day in this country. Except for the fact that I stayed here for too long and missed the train back to my hostel (which was quite far away). Fortunately, Asia is scattered with places to stay in case these kind of things happen (such as net cafes and love hotels)… I ended up staying in a love hotel (by myself) right near the spa:
This became a huge joke on my social media, but I actually had a nice stay here. It was a bit difficult to explain what happened to the staff, but with my luggage and my exasperated expression, I think they figured out what happened so they let me stay and were very accommodating to me. I ended up oversleeping, but fortunately I did not receive any penalty charges. What a crazy first day in Korea!!
Part 2 is now published. I have stayed in Korea for over a month of my life and extremely happy to be able to share my experiences here.