Hidden gems in South Korea

South Korea is not only home to bustling cities and make-up stores but hidden in plain sight are vast and lush greenery, perfect for a relaxing getaway. Apart from the ubiquitous Jeju Island, Busan and Gangwon-do are hidden gems that also fit the bill. From sensational K-drama scenes to the cutest french desserts served with a side of calming sea views, Busan and Gangwon-do are much-deserved breaks every traveller needs to escape from the city life.

Read on for a 3D2N budget guide to help you unwind without breaking the bank!

Travel Essentials

1. Getting to Busan and Gangwon-do: KoRail Pass

To get to Busan and Gangwon-do, the Korean Rail (KoRail) offers convenient access to your destinations in a jiffy. Redeem your KoRail passes at any metro stations in South Korea and enjoy unlimited train rides for 2, 3, 4 or 5 Days consecutively or on any 2 or 4 selected days within a 10 days. Who said you have to give up flexibility on a budget trip?

Cost: $143 (3 Days Consecutive Saver Pass)

Pre-book your KoRail Pass on Klook!

 

2. Travelling within Busan: T-Money Card

The T-Money Card will be handy when travelling within Busan. Apart from transport, you can also make cashless payments in convenience stores and vending machines! Avoid fumbling for change or getting stuck in snaking queues just to get your transport pass. Simply flash your e-voucher at the Klook counter in Incheon International Airport Terminal 1 and enjoy immediate redemption for your T-Money Card. 

Cost: $3.30

Pre-book your T-Money Card on Klook!

 

3. Staying connected

Enjoy up to 20 days worth of 5GB data when you get a 4G SIM Card. Gone are the days where you have to make the extra trip down to pick up your travel essentials. Now you can leave your address and have it delivered straight to your doorstep!

Likewise, you can also choose to rent a Portable Wifi which allows connection up to 5 devices at a time! 

Cost: $19 (4G SIM Card) /$2.90 (Portable WIFI)

Pre-book your 4G SIM card on Klook!

Pre-book your 4G WiFi device on Klook!

 

Day 1: Busan

1. Daejeo Ecological Park

Photo credits: @jjoorri_3_ on Instagram

At Daejeo Ecological Park, autumn isn’t the usual flush of crimson maple leaves or brimming yellow walkways. From October to early November, Busan turns into a field of affectionate pink, alluring travellers and locals alike with its irresistible soft muhly grass. Make sure to put on some soft pastel #ootds to match the marshmallow-like foliage. 

Across the year, you’ll also chance upon different flower seasons. Here are some festivals to look forward to if you prefer Busan in warmer weather!

Till late March: Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival 🌸

April/May: Rapeseed Flower Festival 🌼

Cost: Free

Address: 2313-7 Daejeo 1(il)-dong, Gangseo-gu, Busan, South Korea

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Nearest KTX Station: Busan Station on the KTX Gyeongbu line 

Nearest Subway Station: Gangseo-gu Office Station

2. Waveon Coffee

Photo credits: Waveon Coffee

Photo credits: @dr_moon123 on Instagram

Waveon Coffee is a sprawling 3-storey minimalist cafe overlooking the waterfront like a lighthouse. Draped in soft hues of white and sea blue along with a breathtaking view of Busan, its chill vibes has always been the cafe’s signature selling point. 

Photo credits: @woo_claus on Instagram

Whether you’re here to escape the hustle and bustle, or looking for the perfect cozy spot for some HTHT, sink into their beanbags and treat yourself to their home-made iced coffee and #instaworthy french desserts.

Cost: Less than 10,000 won ($11.50)

Address: 286 Haemaji-ro, Jangan-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan, South Korea

Opening Hours: 11am to 12am

Nearest KTX Station: Busan Station on the KTX Gyeongbu line 

Nearest Subway Station: Ilgwang Station

3. Running Man Thematic Experience Center

If you’ve spent the last 8 years or at least a part of your couch potato life binge-watching and ROFL at Running Man’s goofy variety scenes, we know just the laughing pill you need this year. Head to the Running Man Thematic Experience Center where you’ll spend an hour completing ridiculous games and conquering mind-boggling stations just like the cast did. 

Expect nothing short of stomach cramps from laughing and brief, insane workouts! 

Cost: $15.59

Address: 672 Jungang-daero, Busanjin-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: 10am to 8pm (Last admission: 7pm)

Nearest KTX Station: Busan Station on the KTX Gyeongbu line 

Nearest Subway Station: Seomyeon Station Exit 2

Pre-book your Running Man Experience on Klook!

 

4. BIFF Square/Gwangbok-dong Cultural and Fashion Street

Photo credits: Max Whitney on Flickr

If Myeong Dong is Seoul’s shopping mecca, then Gwangbok-dong Cultural and Fashion Street is Busan’s epic equivalent. Hold on, there’s not all. Situated just 5 minutes away is BIFF Square, a street food haven perfect for famished shoppers to refuel. Whether you’re here to unleash your bargaining prowess or load up on some carbs, you have arrived at the best of both worlds.

Photo credits: @vnt.m on Instagram

Most snacks range from 1000 won to 6000 won and by dinnertime, the street food scene is at its peak. You’ll find flaming hot rice cakes so chewy you’ll be begging for more and snuggly wound Gimbaps with fragrant seaweed wraps. 

Cost: Varies; 1000 won to 6000 won per purchase ($1.50 to $7)

Address: Sinchang-dong & Gwangbok-dong, Jung-gu, Busan-si

Opening Hours: 9am to 11pm

Nearest KTX Station: Busan Station on the KTX Gyeongbu line 

Nearest Subway Station: Nampo Station

Day 2: Busan

1. Jumunjin Breakwater

Photo credits: Gangneung Tours

Apart from the popular Haeundae Beach and Songdo Beach, the Jumunjin Breakwater is a picturesque waterfront that functions as a romantic spot to bring bae. 

Thanks to the hit K-drama ‘Goblin’, many lovebirds and K-drama fans have made it their top priority to immortalise the iconic scene when the drama’s protagonist, Ji Eun Tak summoned the goblin, Kim Shin by accident. 

Cost: Free

Address: 81-68 Gyohang-ri, Jumunjin-eup, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Nearest KTX Station: Busan Station on the KTX Gyeongbu line 

Nearest Subway Station: Gangseo-gu Office Station

2. Gamcheon Culture Village

Photo credits: @graceliangga on Instagram

Photo credits: @lukmeerlw on Instagram

Much like Ihwa Mural Village, Gamcheon Culture Village is one #insta-worthy resurrection from the ghetto that was built by the refugees of the Korean War. Today, the gruel remnants of the past have been replaced with these cute and colorful murals.  

Photo credits: @ohh.yannn on Instagram

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

For the best views, nip into Avant Garde Cafe, Gamcheon Culture Village’s most popular panoramic cafe tucked at the tip of the revamped site. Go ahead and pamper yourself with their freshly brewed coffee before ducking out and sweeping off more Busan’s delicacies such as Ssiat Hotteok, a Busan styled Hotteok made famous by the nation’s variety hit show ‘2 Days 1 Night’.

Cost: Less than 9000 won ($10.30)

Photo credits: Jon Chiang on Flickr

What most typical itineraries fail to mention is how stunning Gamcheon Culture Village is when bathed in a golden glow. Before heading for dinner, make sure to catch the sunset and soak in the stunning phenomenon before it disappears for the day.

Cost: Free

Address: 200 Gamnae 1(il)-ro, Gamcheon 2(i)-dong, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea

Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm

Nearest KTX Station: Busan Station on the KTX Gyeongbu line 

Nearest Subway Station: Toseong Station Exit 6

3. Bupyeong Kkangtong Market

Photo credits: Alex Hurst on Flickr

Clear your schedule on the second day and make your way to Bupyeong Kkangtong Market, or more famously recognised for its moniker as the ‘Tin Can’ market. Once a prime site for imported goods during the Korean War, present-day Bupyeong Kkangtong Market is now a street food galore peppered with the freshest produce.

Photo credits: Alex Hurst on Flickr

Other than the usual suspects such as Tteokbokki and Hotteok, try your hand at more than 10 assortments of marinated Kimchi with varying degrees of spiciness and flavors. Not to mention South Korea’s Dakkochi, don’t be fooled as this is not just another chicken skewer. 

#Klooktip: If you’re low on cash, you’ll be glad to know that credit cards are accepted here! 

Cost: Varies; 1000 won to 6000 won per purchase ($1.50 to $7)

Address: 48, Bupyeong 1-gil, Jung-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: 9am to 8pm

Nearest KTX Station: Busan Station on the KTX Gyeongbu line 

Nearest Subway Station: Busan Station

Day 3: Gangwon-do

1. Paul & Mary

Photo credits: Everyday Korea

Paul & Mary is a popular burger joint that serves UPSIZED meals. Their collection of burgers such as the Bacon Mozzarella Burger, Hawaiian Burger, and Chili Mozzarella Burger are so huge you might want to consider sharing! This is one meal that will get messy real quick but guaranteed to be immensely satisfying.

Cost: Less than 10,000 won ($11.50)

Address: 33 Changhae-ro 350beon-gil, Gangmun-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Opening Hours: 10am to 9.30pm

Nearest KTX Station: Gangneung Station on the KTX Sancheon Line

2. Seoraksan National Park

Photo credits: Chris Cusick on Flickr

There are multiple hiking trails suitable for those on the #fitspo journey and even fellow couch potatoes who hardly break a sweat. Nevertheless, Seoraksan National Park’s scenic views are definitely worth the hike. Whether you’re here for the autumn hues or the ice-cold snow, you’ll get to feast your eyes whichever route you take. 

Photo credits: @life.of.brit on Instagram

The most popular trail leads to Daecheongbong, and we daresay this is definitely tailor-made for the adrenaline junkies out there. Make sure to start early so you can capture South Korea’s most beautiful mountain in daylight. 

Cost: Free (Unless you’re signed to a tour)

Address: 833, Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho, Gangwon-do 24903, South Korea

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Nearest KTX Station: Gimyujeong Station on the KTX Gyeongchun Line

Nearest Subway Station: Jeongdongjin Station and take a bus to Sokcho for 1,700 won ($20)

Save EVEN more on your trip to South Korea!

Here’s another #Klooktip to score EVEN more savings on your budget trip! From now till 30th November 2019, unlock $15 worth of discount when you key in <ANNYEONG> with minimum $150 spend on all Korean activities.