Oct 182011
 

BY MICHAEL FRAIMANIgidae, Nam-Gu, Busan, Korea

To Westerners, Yongho-Dong’s Igidae Park is one of Busan’s lesser-known scenic trails. It’s basically the city’s “other coastline”—look straight and you can see Haeundae beach; look left and you face the Gwangali bridge. It’s also teeming with native Koreans out for a two-and-a-half-hour afternoon stroll, or setting up fishing posts along the rocks by the water, so don’t expect a solitary jaunt.

Its lack of popularity among non-native citizens might be owed to the fact that it’s a little tricky to find (we took a taxi), or that the hike itself is really more of a rugged walk. Igidae is a testament to the amount of money and effort Korean governments will pour into natural infrastructure: there are loads of clean stairs (they look freshly painted, even if they actually aren’t), naturally-integrated benches and frightening-to-some suspension bridges overhanging small cliffs. Basically, you’re surrounded by greenery the whole time, but you never feel like you’ve left the city. Igidae’s vibe becomes a lot more casual than walking around any mountain.

The whole trek is essentially a line, and you can approach it from either end. You can trek inland or around the coast, the latter of which gives you plenty of chances to walk right down to the water and bound across giant and precariously balanced boulders, which, as I mentioned to my company at the time, truly made me feel like a kid again. (Partly because it’s fun, and partly because I became a terrified child when looking down at the jagged rocks and rushing water only a few feet below.) If you hop far enough along the rocks, you’ll inevitably disrupt some peaceful solo Korean’s lunch, which also brings up the idea of picnicking along the rocks by yourself or with friends. (Thanks for the idea, grimacing Korean man!)

Igidae is made to be a casual hike, and it works. It’s relatively short, relatively easy, and exceptionally beautiful—and on top of all that, we were the only Westerners in sight. I think that legitimately qualifies it (for foreigners) as one of the city’s best-kept secrets.

Directions: there are two ways you can go:

1) A LONGER WALK TO IGIDAE: From Namcheon metro, get off at exit 3 and take your first left. Walk down till the road dead-ends, turn right, and then turn left onto the busy road. Continue past the big intersection at Mega Mart, and continue for a while till you get to Igidae.

2) BY BUS; SHORTER WALK: From the Kyungsung subway, get out exit 5, do an about-face, and go around the corner. Walk straight one and a half blocks (you’ll pass a Paris Baguette) till you get to the bus stop. Take any bus EXCEPT the 10 and 155 (so YES for the ones in the 20s (24, 27, etc) and also the 131). You’ll go about 5 stops to the IGIDAE stop. The bus will turn right just before you need to get off. You’ll be able to see a big mountain.

Get off the bus, backtrack a lil, and cross the street (you’ll be walking towards an eyeglasses shop with a blue sign). Follow that road till it keeps winding around to the park. It’s a 5-10 minute walk just to get to the park, so keep at it. 


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Aug 222011
 

View along the coast of Taejongdae Park, Busan, Korea

After several visits solely for the purpose of eating at the clam tents, I finally took a few hours to hike around the famous cliffs of Taejongdae Park. As far as hikes go, this one doesn’t compare with Igidae or Amnam Park, but it’s still a nice little walk. It’s particularly suited for those who want to see some nice cliffs, but aren’t especially interested in a strenuous hike to get to them. It’s an easy walk along a paved road to get to the short path to the cliffs. If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the cute mini-train around as well. It cost around 1500 won.

Taejongdae Park, Busan, South KoreaThe highlight of the park is the cliffs near the lighthouse. On the day I went it was pretty windy and I saw at least three people have their hats blown off, so you may want to leave your more cherished head coverings at home or secure them safely in your backpacks. The cliffs are beautiful, though there is a rather small area from which to enjoy the views. If you are looking for any sort of inspirational solitude, this is not the place. Like most easy to reach spots in Korea, there are usually a few hundred others right there with you.

Aside from the short (maybe 3km?) loop around Taejongdae park, there is also a 17.8 km trail to goes from Amnam Park to Taejongdae. I’ve passed the wooded walkways on the way to both parks, but have yet to attempt the long walk. I imagine it would make for quite the scenic walking or running spot once the weather cools down.

temple at taejongdae park, Busan

So if you feel like taking in a few scenic views, but don’t feel like doing a long hike in order to find them, Taejongdae is a pretty nice place to go. It’s easy to get to, easy to get around and the cliffs and ocean are beautiful.

Directions:

FROM JAGALCHI: get to Jagalchi metro station exit 10 and take bus 8

SEOMYEON: get the 88-B or 88-A across the street from Judie’s Taehwa. The ride is about an hour.

Nampo:  Take buses 30, 88 or 8 from Nampo metro, exit 6

FROM POINTS EAST (east of Seomyeon): Metro to Daeyeon station, exit 2 and take the 101 all the way to Taejongdae. OR you can take the 139, 1001 or 1003 to the Munhyeon stop and transfer to the 101 there. The ride from Daeyeon will take about an hour.
FROM BUSAN STATION: Bus 101, 88-A or 88-B will do the trick.

Take the bus to the END of the line (TaeJongDae) and you’ll get off in a parking lot. Turn left and you’ll see the entrance to the park. 


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Mar 162011
 

The weather is getting warmer and the glorious summer beach season is quickly approaching.  Songjeong beach is among the most beautiful in Busan.  It’s really close to the city, but feels very far from the crowds that pack Haeundae and Gwangalli beaches.  It’s a great spot for flying kites, plus you can rent surf boards and kayaks right on the beach.

Songjeong is pretty easy to get to on buses, or the subway/bus combo, but if you’re looking to earn your day of laying around on the beach slowly getting hammered on Hite and soju/pineapple sunny-10 combos, you should check out this hike.

Take the green subway to Jangsan station.  Go out exit 1, then turn right and go up the hill.  Veer left and follow the bigger road.  Go straight through the intersection by the school.  Keep following that road through the apartment complexes until you reach the crest of the hill.  There will be an intersection with a nice beach view.  Keep going straight.  A few meters after the intersection there’ll be a set of wooden steps.  Turn left onto those.  You’ll see two tall, smiling wooden figures.  From there it’s maybe a four kilometer walk.  It’s not very strenuous and can easily be done in flip-flops (although some hungover friends that I’ve done this hike with may disagree about it not being strenuous.)  There are many nice beach views and a few exercise parks thrown in for you avid hula hoopers out there.

friends on the hill overlooking songjeong beach

Directions:  Follow the beach hike from Jangsan station exit 1.  If you’re feeling too lazy to hike, it’s about a 10 minute taxi ride.  You can also take 1003 bus or the 100-1 bus to Songjeong.


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