Our last day in Busan started off bright and early, as we had plans to head to Taejongdae, a park near Busan, as well as visiting Gyeongju (a city not too far from Busan) later in the day.
Getting to Taejongdae was rather straightforward, and we took the subway to Busan station, before exiting via Exit 7. From Exit 7, we walked to the bus stop about 70-100m away. This would be the 3rd bus stop from Exit 7, in front of 1 Litre coffee shop. We bought breakfast from a Paris Baguette bakery nearby, as we already knew beforehand that we had a long bus ride (~40-60min) ahead of us.
Buses #88 and #101 terminate at Taejongdae, and an adult ticket would cost 1,300won each. From the bus terminus, it was an uphill walk to the entrance of Taejongdae. We bought round-trip tickets for the Danubi tram at the ticket office. The tickets cost us 2,000won each (adult-price). For youths/elderly it would be 500won cheaper at 1,500won.
The Danubi tram stops at certain points along the circular route around the park, and once you have a ticket, you are allowed to get on and off along the route.
We got off at the Observatory, but were left rather disappointed by the view. As of Aug 2016, it was undergoing renovation, and there was nothing much to do/see there. Thus, we walked the short distance over to the lighthouse, where we spent most of our time at.
Being a hilly area, there were long flights of stairs that we had to conquer. It was extremely windy at the lighthouse, and we were (quite literally) blown away by the view.
God’s creation was in all its splendour; the skies were a calming hue of blue and the sea was sparkling beneath. Coupled with the cool rock/cliff formations, it was a true joy to behold.
There was a small lookout area on the top of the lighthouse, although the glass was slightly smudged when we were there, thus I did not take any photos from the top of the lighthouse.
We also went further down the rock cliffs to see the ahjummas (Korean grandmothers) at work sunning their morning seafood catch.
A rocky route leads you to the rock outcropping near the Lighthouse, and offers even better views of the Tea Kettle Island, and the surrounding sea.
I would say that Taejongdae was great place to visit, and I would definitely recommend visiting the Lighthouse and the cliffs. For those interested in hiking, the trail around the park was about 4.3km, and very comfortable to hike. However, the weather was rather hot when we were there, and taking the Danubi train was definitely more relaxing. The wind around the Lighthouse and the cliffs was also very strong, which was great as the sun was beating down unrelentingly on us.
However, I would think that the cliffs would be more dangerous in winter, especially when the uneven rocks became slippery. I would recommend those with walking difficulties to stick to the proper steps at the Lighthouse, and avoid wandering to the cliffs and the rocks below.
Tom N Toms cafe
Feeling slightly peckish as it was already past noon, we stopped at Tom N Toms coffee for an affogato, as it was just next to the bus terminus. The affogato did not disappoint, with the bitter espresso sweetened by the vanilla ice cream!
Gyeongju – Donggung Palace & Wolji (Anapji) Pond
We then made our way to Nopo station, where the Busan Central Bus Station was located. Buses to Gyeongju run every hour (4,800won/adult one-way), and we arrived just in time (15min before the bus departed) to catch the 2.30pm bus!
After scanning the QR codes on our tickets at the scanner at the front of the bus, we took our seats and settled in for the hour-long journey.
After arriving at the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, we proceeded to the the Tourist Information Centre nearby to get ourselves orientated. We were advised to take bus #101 from the bus stop opposite the bus terminal to get to Donggung Palace. Buses in Gyeongju were more expensive (1,700won/adult) compared to Busan’s, although they were definitely more comfortable!
Bus #101 brought us to the bus stop opposite Donggung palace. Adult tickets cost 2,000won per adult, which I thought was quite decent. The palace grounds were quite small, and it did not take us long to go around the palace grounds, although we went at a leisurely pace.
The Wolji (Anapji) Pond was not as beautiful as I thought it would be though, and it was rather disappointing to see only a few buildings restored within the palace grounds.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think that Wolji Pond was quite beautiful in its own way, and exuded a sense of calm and tranquility. The palace grounds were also very peaceful, and there were many benches along the path that you could take a rest at. There were also not many tourists, hence it was rather quiet when we were there. However, unless you happened to be staying in Gyeongju, I do think that it’s probably not worth the extra cost and time to travel from Busan simply to see this.
BBQ Restaurant at Nampo (Gwangbok Street)
We stumbled into this restaurant along Gwangbok Street, and ordered the free-flow BBQ meat set for 12,800won/person.
It was superb, and we enjoyed the flavourful cuts of pork meat and beef. The best were the marinated grilled pork as well as the pork belly! Tender, full of flavour, and oh-so-yummy!
Naturally we went for a few rounds before calling it a night! An unexpected find for us, but it was good value for money!
We were really stuffed after our BBQ dinner, and decided to walk around Gwangbok Street. We window shopped, and when we felt thirsty, we stopped at a juice bar to get some fresh juices to quench our thirst.
The street was bustling with activity even though it was close to 10pm, with many customers still having their dinner in the numerous restaurants lining the street. I thought that it was an interesting change of scenery. Instead of having large malls with restaurants clustered within (like in Singapore), Busan still retained an old-school charm with the restaurants still operating in small streets.