BUSAN, South Korea – There’s nothing like saying “I can see my house from here!” as you survey this incredible city from heights that you have conquered. The clean, ocean air allows many spectacular views of Busan’s ideal marriage of urban sprawl, seafaring industry, and most importantly, its natural beauty. Dozens of trailheads within this fair city are easily accessible by public transportation or taxi. For this first installment, we visit Igidae Park in Yongho-dong.
When you think of Igidae Park, you may think of narrow roads mobbed with cars and trails teeming with foot traffic. However, with just a little more effort, you can enjoy a lesser-known 2.5-hour hike that skirts the park’s coastline. This hike is great for the novice hiker; in fact, the first 30 minutes to a concrete amphitheater would even be an easy walk for your lady friend who wears four-inch heels.
The first part of the hike features a recently upgraded shoreline path (a wooden boardwalk made of stairs, hand railings and a series of suspension bridges) in the shadows of sheer, rocky cliffs. Ditch the high-heels in anticipation of occasional stretches of dirt path should you choose to go past the concrete amphitheater. Go up a massive staircase to the Circle Road to avoid the barb wired army base.
After circumventing the army outpost, follow the sign for Chimabawi and continue on to Nongbawi. The boardwalk soon gives way entirely to dirt paths along steep drop-offs, so tread carefully. Stop frequently to take in the local fishermen on cliffs, the dramatic coastline, and even the occasional ROK soldier with his machine gun. Continue the moderate climb to Oryukdo Sunrise Park, as the sound of crashing waves accompanies you all the way to the hikes end, SK View Apartments.
In the parking lot across from the Oryukdo Islets, ajummas sometimes sell hong-hap (mussels) and culinary adventures such as kol-baeng-ee (sea snails) and hae-sam (sea cucumbers). For more traditional post-hike needs—namely makgeolli, beer and meat— restaurants and marts can be found in the SK View complex.
Directions to Igidae: The trailhead is across from Xii and LG Metro City apartments. Tell the cab driver “Ohn-jeon Metro Land Golf yeon-seup-jang, ka-ju-se-yo.” From the driving range, walk up the small hill toward Diamond Bridge to the trailhead. When finished, take Nam-gu bus #2-1 into LG Metro City or to the Kyungsung University area. City buses #22 or #131 also go to Kyungsung.