BY MELISSA TAIT and NICHOLE FERENCE
Changwon is a nice little town located to the west of Busan in Geyongsamnamdo province. It’s a nice little day trip from Busan and has a more relaxed vibe and a small central downtown area.
How to get there and around
From Busan you can catch a bus from Sasang’s Sobu Bus Terminal which takes you to the main bus terminal in Changwon or you can catch a train from Haeundae, Bujeon, Busan, Hwamyeong or Gupo station. (check times on korail.com) The train stop you want to get off is at Changwonjungang, but there’s no problem if you continue to the next stop, Changwon.
You’ll need to get a taxi from a train station when you get in. The first time I went to Changwon was to visit a Korean friend and she explained to me that Changwon is Korea’s Canberra…which everyone knows is the capital of Australia. That is, it’s a newly built city that favours car transport to get through the wide roads and avenues. So, I’ve spent most of my Changwon trips getting around in taxis, which are fairly cheap and very convenient to get around.
Also, “the 102 is the bus for you” as it runs along the main road past the landmark mall City7, to the basketball stadium, City Hall which is the E-Mart stop, to the Paris Baguette which marks the beginning of the expat bar area. More on that later!
Most of my trips to Changwon have centred on eating a nice big meal, so there are plenty of options on that front. There are the main chains such as Craze Burger and MacDonalds located around the city.
Some of the best locations are located in the big malls around the city, particularly the City 7 mall.
Its home to all of these restaurants:
– Seven Springs: A fancy western style buffet with things like steak, olives, pizza, chicken wings, and smoked salmon from around W25,000 per person.
– Vietnamese Pho restaurant which Busan Awesome is yet to try
– Bruschetta an Italian place called that is decent but overpriced. Expect to spend about W13,000 a plate.
– Hakali, a cheaper curry place with all variations of curry dishes that are big portions for around W8,000 a plate.
– The crowning glory is a really nice rooftop wine bar that has reasonably priced wine by the glass (starting at W7,000 per glass). Here, you pay for the ambience. The interior is sleek and dark and the exterior has gazebos and outdoor seating situated around a pond and fountain with an expansive view of Changwon before you.
Now I want to buy something
Changwon is not exactly a mecca for fashionistas. The City 7 building has a new Uniqlo and there are the average Korean chain stores, but I wouldn’t recommend making the pilgrimage just to boost your wardrobe.
There is a large park in the middle of Changwon which has a beautiful fountain and is a nice green space to hangout in more temperate climates.
Another great thing to do in Changwon is to check out some local sport. For basketball, the Changwon LG Sakers have a small and enthusiastic following, Gyeongnam Changwon FC is working magic in the K League and the NC Dinos baseball team is in the Baseball league’s second division.
I’m sure there are some nice hikes as well, but we’re yet to try them. If you have details on a great hike please email or comment below with the details.
I love the nightlife
When it comes to night life, there is a small expat scene in Changwon which centers around a few bars in the Sangnam dong neighbourhood, behind E-Mart. The best way to get to this area is by taking a taxi to International Hotel which a very large and fancy hotel very close to O’Briens. Friends have assured us that it is also a quick walk from E-Mart and the Paris Baguette 102, check our map for the walking directions. The best bars for expats are O’Briens, For Foreigners and The International Pub.
O’Briens is the first one you will come to. It has good Guiness draft at a reasonable pint price for Korea. Fridays are Taco Fridays where you get 2 delicious chicken or beef tacos for W8,000. You can also buy blocks of Costco cheese there from behind the bar. There’s a pool table as well. This place is pretty small and gets packed out after 9. The locals are very friendly.
The next place you will come to is For Foreigner but caution this may not actually be a foreigner bar anymore. Since new ownership this has been a mainly Korean hangout, but locals say there are hit or miss nights with foreigners there. This place is big and used to be a crazy club scene packed with foreigners, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Last up is International Pub is almost at the end of the street on the 3rd floor I believe. The biggest attraction for many foreigners is the beer pong table! It’s a fun trip back to your college days. It has reasonably priced beers and drink and pretty great burritos and burgers.
Nice to see, time to leave
I have always enjoyed the time I’ve spent in Changwon, but mainly because it’s been to see friends that live there. It’s nice for a day or a weekend, but it’s not going to usurp other cities as a tourist mecca.