The Weekend Warrior’s Guide to Busan

A Weekend Warrior, as defined by urbandictionary.com:
“A person who holds a regular job during the week which restricts their ability to party/go on trips/partake in awesome activities, and thus plans epic weekend adventures to compensate.”

It’s Friday afternoon and with little more than 48 hours of precious freedom standing between you and the drudgery of Monday morning, any self-respecting Weekend Warrior knows that free time should be exploited and life lived to the fullest.
So this October, grab you and your buddies a couple of KTX train tickets, and blast yourselves down south to the epic costal metropolis that is Busan. With such an intensely large amount of things to experience, there’s no way you can cram it all into two days. Instead, this Weekend Warrior’s Guide will ensure you see the best that Busan has to flaunt.

By Day 
So you depart the KTX at Busan Station and wonder to which corner of the city to venture. If the weather’s still holding up this late into the year, get down to the subway, tunnel across town to Haeundae Station and crash down on Korea’s premier beach. If you’re looking to catch some gnarly surf, then taxi ride further still to Songjeong beach, where you can hire a board from the little surf shack.
There’s far more to Busan than its beaches however and besides, by the time you’re reading this, autumn might have already coated the mountains with its trademark shades of brown, red and orange. In that case, amble over to Nampo-dong, one of the sites of the Busan International Film Festival and take in a film or two, meander through busy market streets, restaurants, street food stalls and high street shops. While here, make sure to gaze upon the grandeur of Busan held high atop Namsan tower.
Close by is Jagalchi Seafood Market, a great place to pick up some very fresh seafood or alternatively, freak out gawping at the creatures of the deep freely on display.
Geumjong Mountain, located in the northern part of the city is perhaps a better place to gaze upon Busan from a god-like height. Take the cable car up the mountain to Indiana Jones along the cliff tops, stroll along the ruins of Geumjeongsan Fortress, peer at the Buddhists figures carved in boulders at Seokbulsa Temple and pig out in one of the many pojangmacha snack shacks that serve the knackered climbers.
Beomeosa Temple, one of Korea’s oldest and most famous temples, is another popular spot despite the journey out of the city involved to reach it. An arguably more interesting temple to behold would be Yonggungsa Temple, which clings to the coast and features dragon-themed Buddhist statues.

By night 
So you’ve explored the city by day and now it’s time to paint the town red. Start your night off with a few relaxing beers down in Gwangan-li. The sundry of restaurants and bars that line the beachfront offer plenty of places to dine, drink and gaze upon the spectacle that is Rainbow Bridge by night. The cool kids here tend to hang out at Beached Bar, Thursday Party and Sharky’s.
When you’re ready to take the night up several notches, check out the pumping tunes, pulsating lasers, superstar DJs and hypnotised clubbers at one of Haeundae’s discothèques; Maktum, Murphii or Elune are the most popular.

Busan International Film Festival:
Thursday, October 4th – Saturday, October 14th
300 films from 70 countries on 36 screens
Screening Centers
Busan Centum City CGV and Lotte Cinema, Haeundae Megabox,
BIFF Square, Nampo-dong
Asian Film Market
BEXCO, Haeundae
Information Center
BIFF Village, Haeundae
Scheduled Programs
Gala Presentation, A Window on Asian Cinema, Korean Cinema Today, Retrospective, Wide Angle, Flash Forward, Midnight Passion

Words and shots by Ben Cowles

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