For budget, travel info, culture, see Itinerary Part 1.
For Seoul Itinerary Days 1-3, and Days 12-14, see Parts 2 & 8 respectively.
For Andong Itinerary Day 4, see Part 3.
For Gyeongju Itinerary Day 5, see Part 4.
For Busan itinerary Days 6-8, see Part 5.
For Jeju Island Days 9-10, see Part 6.
For Haeinsa at Gayasan National Park Day 11, see Part 7.
Busan Itinerary Day 6: Beomeosa, Hot Spring Spa & Shopping
TIP: Plan your itinerary to spend Friday and weekends at Busan, as it’s more fun in a city.
From Gyeongju, I strongly advise taking the train because Gyeongju and Busan are very near but I took the meandering bus which took 4 hours.
As you climb to Beomeosa, get a bottle of very refreshing rice water (tasted like barley) at the kiosk just before the climb. My Busan friend asked, “Do you know what you’re drinking?” I replied, “Yes, rice water right?” He was astonished and asked, “How do you know?” I replied, “I’m a food blogger, I have tastebuds.”
But if you take the bus like me, you’ll alight the bus at Nopo subway station, which is just a stop from Beomeosa. Leave your luggage in the lockers and visit the temple built in 678. You may take a picnic basket to the stream beside the temple, where many local picnickers dip their feet. You may want to do a temple stay here. But again, temples are temples and this one is boring.
I’d advise you to go straight to your hotel, dump your bags, dash to a spa and spend the entire day there. YES, THE ENTIRE DAY.
I went to Heosimcheong Spa, the biggest hotspring fed in Asia, located inside Nongshim Hotel. It was the best experience I had in Busan! The male and female hotsprings are separated–and it was the first time I had seen so many unshaven pubes. Like BOOMZ, you know. Korean men need to be introduced to trimming. Hey, “trim the bush, show the tree” yah?
It was daunting to see so many, hundreds of penises in the first 15 minutes. Old wrinkled sexagenarians, middle-aged fathers, nubile teenagers and little boys were walking around naked, without a towel, so un-self-conscious of their bodies. But when I adapted fairly quickly, it was so liberating not to care. Every men was equal, regardless of age, body size or sexuality. I think I may be a nudist.
A common area for men and women to laze around, watch tv and charge handphones. You have to properly clothed in their tacky outfits at the common areas. Love the outfits!
I even got a scrub and massage in the buff in front of everyone, and felt like a dirty old man, paying a hot boy with Bruce-Lee-body to touch me but what a great scrub–so much dead skin cells–and a great massage. He was using lots of strength, I felt his sweat dripping on me. I wanted to tip him–but I was naked. No money on me. Excuses cheapskates give.
3 different “igloos” at 10°C, 40°C, and 60°C.
On another floor, there is a common area for both men and women. You’ve to be dressed on this floor in their tacky pyjamas. I love their tacky pyjamas! I almost wanted to snitch it. On this common area, there are igloo-shaped clay structures for you to steam like a xiao-long-bao or freeze. There are also private sleeping rooms and a cafe. Bring a book, read, nap, snack, go back to hotspring, and repeat process. I only spent ₩60K for massage, scrub, and hotspring. Good value!
After spa, you may take the subway 1 stop away to Pusan National University or known as the PNU area for trendy fashion shopping and cafes.
My new Busan friend informed me there is a newer spa, Spa Land, located inside Shinsegae Centrum City, the largest department store in the world. Although Spa Land is smaller than Heosimcheong Spa, it has the advantages of being newer, with longer opening hours, and no kids allowed, and, if you get bored, you can shop around the area. There is a food court at B1 worth checking out.
How to Get to Beomeosa Temple
Subway line 1 to Beomeosa Station, exit 5 or 7 and take the upslope climb between the two exits. Then at the bus stop, take bus #90.
546 Cheongryong-dong, Geumjeong-gu.
Free admission. W-M: 9.30am-5pm. Closed Lunar New Year and Chuseok.
How to Get to Heosimcheong Spa
Subway line 1 to Oncheonjang Station, exit 1. At the exit, facing the main road, turn left and walk until you come to a pedestrian crossing. Cross the main road and continue walking straight for 10 minutes. The spa is located within Hotel Nongshim.
137-7 Oncheong-dong, Hotel Nongshim, Dongnae-gu.
How to Get to Spa Land at Centrum City
Line 2 to Centrum City Station.
35, Centumnam-daero, Haeundae-gu, Busan (부산광역시 해운대구 센텀남대로 35 신세계 센텀시티)
To be continued…
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.