Busan City Tour – Travel on a Budget
For the past few decades, Koreans have been roaming around in almost every city in the Philippines. Korean culture have also been manifested in the global scene, from their fashion industry, to Koreanovela (Korean Drama), to of course, Korean Music called K-Pop. All these fame, attracted interests from different people around the globe to visit their country, but many Filipinos are intimidated of visiting, because of the visa requirements and the common notion that it is expensive.
In this post, we will tell you how we have traveled to Busan, Korea for only P14,000 per person, which already included airfare, transfers, tours, travel insurance, baggage allowance, food and accommodation.
The city of Busan is located at southern-eastern portion of the country. It is the second largest city, next to Seoul (capital) in Korea. South Korea time is one hour ahead of the Philippine time. The weather in Busan in December, though very cold, is not as cold as the weather in Seoul. When we were there, the coldest we have experienced while we were out was 8ºC, this was around 9pm. But there was one morning when we saw the weather app to be reporting a 4ºC temperature (which also added that it “feels like -1ºC”). Good thing though, that by the time we went out, the sun was there to the rescue and temperature went up to around 10ºC. We will have a separate post on how we prepared for the winter weather, so watch out for that.
TRANSPORTATION. The main reason why we traveled to Busan was because of the Seat Sale promo of Cebu Pacific last March of 2015. We were able to get the round-trip fare for only P3,692.18 (fare and taxes only). We did not include baggage allowance here yet, since we felt it was too soon, since we didn’t know at that time if we will get a visa or not. Since promo fares are usually several months before the travel date, it is best not purchase the baggage allowance yet at the time you buy your seats, so that just in case something happened and you cannot travel on your reserved date, you did not loose the money that you spent on baggage allowance too. The tip on getting cheaper airline seats? You may have heard this before but I’ll say it again. The key here is to wait for the promo fares of the different airlines.
ACCOMMODATION. Our decision on our final type of accommodation was made only two weeks before our travel date. As usual, our first option was having a hotel accommodation. We have found a lot of reasonable-priced (with good reviews) hotels all around Busan. But when we tried to look thru www.airbnb.com, we found a lot of cheaper options for accommodations. Sure, it’s not the comfortable hotel beds and uniformed staff to greet you, but you will learn that living with a Korean host/family is much more enriching than choosing the comforts of the hotels. We have chosen and booked the Green House Guesthouse in Busanjin-gu, Busan. You may read about our experiences of this wonderful guesthouse and our very kind host here.
ITINERARY. Before I give you a rundown of our itinerary, let me tell you first that we have considered getting a local tour operator in Busan at the beginning of our planning stage. This was mainly because we were too afraid to get lost since we learned that not a lot of Korean locals speak English. We got a quotation from Novaland Tours, who were really very helpful, very detailed and very expensive too! Well, at least for our budget. We were quoted 420USD per person which included only the tours, transfers and meals. We only finally got the courage to have it DIY style when we started researching around and finding out that the Metro/Subway Train system in Busan was very easy to navigate and that they have the hop-on-hop-off bus for city tours. And no regrets, it was a lot of fun exploring the quirks and charms of the city through the adventure of asking around people and getting lost once in a while. 😉
So here’s our itinerary. Day zero was technically our first day, but we did not consider it as Day 1 since our flight arrival was 8.40PM local Busan time. So we just took that time for rest and to meet our host and his family. The host picked us up from the airport for an additional fee of 10,000KRW or about 400PHP (8USD). Alright, so let’s proceed to Day 1, using the subway train system to transfer from one attraction to another, we took a 1-day pass worth 4,500KRW (180PHP or 4USD).
Here are the places we went to:
CHARM # 1 – SHINSEGAE CENTUM CITY
This establishment is registered in the Guinnees World Book of Records as the world’s largest shopping compound. We did not roam around inside so much, since we did not really want to spend our entire day in a mall. There’s so much to see, so little time. But here are our pictures:
CHARM # 2 – BEXCO
BEXCO is a very large convention and exhibition center with eight floors. In order to go here, using the subway, you just have to go down at the Centum City station. As soon as you up, you will the large building already. Unfortunately, we no longer have entered this one. Here are the pictures, it was raining that time, so here:
CHARM # 3 – BUSAN MUSEUM OF ART
A museum with 5 floors, it is located across the street of BEXCO. It is very spacious with modern art exhibits. Located at the ground floor is a very pretty cafe with affordable meals (considering that we had a lot of take-away since pizza was too big for two people), teas and coffee. Our lunch cost was 23400KRW (P935 or 20USD) See our pictures below:
CHARM # 4 – STREET FOOD AT BIFF SQUARE
BIFF means Busan International Film Festival, this is an annual festival of different films in Asia. It is in this complex where you can find a lot of boutiques and restaurants, and of course, streetfood!!! This is actually where we just had dinner, nothing but streetfoods! We had hotteok, a Korean pancake filled with brown sugar (syrup), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and peanuts. It was cooked and soaked in butter, I must say, it was one of my favorites. I was able to try one that was not bought in BIFF Square, but it did not taste as good.
Another famous Korean streetfood is the Odeng. Some call it as fishcake. It actually taste a little like fishballs of the Philippines, but looks totally different.
Here are the other streetfoods found in the area, there will be a separate post that will be all about food in Busan. We spent 8,000krw (320KRW or 7USD) only, and that’s our dinner already. Nice, huh?! For now, let me show you all the pictures. 🙂
CHARM # 5 – MAKE-UP SHOPPING AT NAMPO
One of the most interesting things about Korea is the abundance of cosmetic and make-up stores. They are literally from left to right, and you see them every after 5-10 meters apart. But the best thing about it is that most of them are made from natural materials and are of top-quality, especially the make-ups. So even if I am not into make-up, I was able to buy a few for myself (BB cream, night moisturizer, sunblock and face masks). They even had a product that claimed to be blurring your face, LOL. Well, more like blurring the pores. I did test it, and it does not lie! But I did not purchase it anymore, it cost about 700PHP, way over my budget for make up.
That ends our first day of exploration of Busan. Watch out for our 2nd day of more interesting experiences of the different charms of this quaint city. Thank you for reading. :)#chimes