BUSAN -- If you missed getting to the beach this summer, you've got something to look forward to next season with a trip to Busan, South Korea's second-largest city and principal seaport.Busan, on the peninsula's southeast, is a city that has everything -- six beaches, including the ever-popular Haeundae -- mountain trails, traditional and modern shopping districts, spas, temples and fortresses.
Getting to Busan is easy and quick if you grab the Korea Train eXpress, or KTX, which covers the 250 miles from Seoul Station to Busan in just 2.5 hours.
Before you begin your journey though, get online at http://www.korail.com/ and purchase your KTX ticket, as seats have to be reserved.Bus and taxi stands are right outside Busan Station to get you to your hotel. Mine was near Haeundae Beach, less than 30 minutes by bus.I decided on a trip to Haeundae because of its crescent-shaped white-sand beach and the numerous activities it affords.
The swim area extends pretty far but I didn't encounter water deeper than six feet. A well-equipped platoon of life guards -- some on the beach, others on jet skis -- keeps a watchful eye over those in and near the water.For a small price beachgoers can rent an umbrella, a mat they can lay on the sand, and a flotation device.
Those wanting to get on the Internet can do so thanks to the free WiFi Busan provides at all its beaches and 19 other tourist venues.For a good look at what lives below the water's surface, the Busan Aquarium, which is on Haeundae Beach, is the place to do it.Its three underground levels contain 35,000 species of fish, algae, reptiles and amphibians. An 80-meter tunnel along the "seabed" allows visitors to walk along the ocean floor with various sea creatures swimming above.Busan's Haedong Yonggung Temple is on a cliff just 10 minutes from Haeundae.
The temple was built in 1376 and has besides its main sanctuary a giant gold Buddha and a Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, before which visitors light incense.For more tourist information about Busan, visit http://english.busan.go.kr.