Have you seen Train to Busan yet? In case you have been living under a rock these past few weeks, Train to Busan is one of the hottest movies to hit the screens during the second half of 2016. This film from South Korea is a zombie apocalypse thriller starring Gong Yoo of the hit Korean drama Coffee Prince, Jung Yoo Mi (The Crucible), and Ma Dong Seok (The Neighbor). The gripping film made its debut in the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and has attracted almost 10 million moviegoers, earning as much as $99 million in the worldwide box office.
The movie may have made the city more popular, but it has always been a must-visit ever since. Apart from Seoul, Busan will also make you fall in love with South Korea. Here are a couple of reasons why you should definitely include it in your travel bucket list:
1. Busan is only about four hours away from Manila or about two hours away from Seoul.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have daily flights from Manila to Busan, with travel time lasting for about four hours. Some travelers enter South Korea through Busan and then exit in Incheon, while others do it the other way around. Keep an eye out for the frequent seat sale announcements so you can score cheap flights.
IMAGE Kim Min Seong via Wikimedia Commons
Even if you’ve already booked a trip to Seoul, you can still get to Busan by taking the KTX train, just like what Seok Woo and Soo An did in the film. The KTX trains to Busan leave Seoul Station as early as 5:15 AM, while the last train departs at 11:00 PM. The one-way fare costs KRW 83,700 (PHP 3,553.93) for first class seats and KRW 59,800 (PHP 2,546.27) for standard seats. Given the current situation in South Korea (and the rest of the world), the train will most likely be zombie-free, so no need to worry.
2. Busan is to South Korea as Baguio is to the Philippines.
If we Filipinos have Baguio as our “summer capital,” the Koreans have Busan. However, unlike Baguio, which is on a mountainous terrain and has a temperate climate, Busan is located at the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula and has a warmer climate than Seoul. Busan is also where you’ll find Haeundae Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in South Korea. Its coastline spans 1.5 kilometers long with its southern end being a popular spot for fishing.
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Apart from the beach, there are other various attractions that you can find within the Haeundae District, including the SEA Life Busan Aquarium, Haeundae Traditional Market, Nurimaru APEC House, and Dalmaji Hill where a spectacular view of Haeundae awaits.
3. Busan has a temple both in the mountains and by the sea.
One fascinating feature about the attractions in South Korea is how its history is interwoven with its modernity. The Koreans have greatly preserved their heritage as seen in the Beomeosa Temple. This structure, built on the edge of Mount Geumjeongsan, is said to have been constructed in 678 AD and is one of the three major temples in southeast Korea. Beomeosa also offers temple stays, allowing you to experience the monastic life of a Korean Buddhist for a couple of days.
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While most Korean temples are found in the mountains, Haedong Yonggungsa is distinct as it is located on the coast of the northeastern section of the city. The temple is a popular spot during New Year’s Day, where many people come to see the sun as it rises over Busan.
4. Busan allows you to explore nature right within the city.
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Taejongdae is a natural park which is designated as a Busan monument. The park is set amidst lush greeneries and with a spectacular ocean view greeting its visitors. You’ll also find an observatory, a lighthouse, a coastal walkway, and a hot spring. Two temples—the Taejongsa Temple and the Gumyeongsa Temple—are also found onsite.
5. Busan is home to the largest shopping mall in the world.
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Shinsegae Centum City holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest shopping mall in the world. Operated by one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, it is also one of Busan’s landmarks. It features endless arrays of shopping, dining, and recreational options. Aside from shops and restaurants, Shinsegae Centum City also has an ice skating rink, spa, amusement park, and driving range all under one roof!
6. Busan hosts the Busan International Film Festival.
IMAGE Wonsuk Choi via Getty Images Entertainment
Busan is also the home of one of Asia’s premier film fests, the Busan International Film Festival. The event is usually held every October at the state-of-the-art Busan Film Center in Centum City. It serves as a platform where filmmakers, actors, and actresses can showcase their talents on a global stage. If you’re lucky, you might just see your favorite actors and actresses walk the red carpet during the festival.
7. Busan is home to sumptuous dishes you simply shouldn't miss.
South Korea is known for its unique local flavor, and the variety of dishes in Busan will surely not disappoint. Their pork soup is perhaps the city’s most famous, and almost all restaurants in the city have this on their menus. The dongnae pajeon is another local delicacy, which is a variety of the Korean savory pancake made with whole scallions, sliced chili peppers, and seafood.
IMAGE Jung Jin Ho via Flickr Creative Commons
As a coastal city, Busan produces fresh and delectable seafood all year round. Ocean Village in Haeundae is lined with snack carts where you can enjoy fresh seafood at pocket-friendly prices. If you love sashimi, then you should definitely drop by Jagalchi Market Center. And if you’re adventurous, try the sea eel dishes at the Haeundae Market.
*This story originally appeared on Travelbook.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.