Busan is a great city with so much to see and to do. Temples, beaches, food markets, the list is endless. One day, we decided two kill two birds with one stone and go on a hike that started at a temple, just on the outskirts of Busan.
It was a pretty simple journey to get there from our hotel in Haeundae. You can take the subway to the Beomosa station on Busan subway line 1, and then jump onto bus number 90 and get off at the Beomeosa Ticket Office Bus Stop. The trip took us a little over an hour.
Beomosa Temple is also known as the temple of the Nirvana fish, which is a pretty cool name if you ask me! It was built in 678 and for a fee, you can stay here with the resident monks to get the full experience. Also pretty cool!
The temple itself was really nice, especially on a nice sunny day like we had. All the colourful lanterns were gently rocking in the wind, and every so often, you could see the monks crossing the courtyard to get from one hall to the next. We might have gotten a little too excited when we saw them doing this for the first time – we rushed to snap a pic (amateur tourist move, we know).
From Beomosa Temple, there is a nice hike up to Geumjeong Fortress. The hike was supposed to take roughly an hour, so we said “why not give it a go” and see what this fortress is all about! Another hiking adventure!
After taking in the sights at the temple, we set off on our hike up Geumjeongsan. It was a beautifully lush forest, with a path that followed a small creek for most of its length. It was so peaceful and quiet there that we picked some flat rocks, sat down, closed our eyes and mediated for a little while. There’s something so humbling and calming about sitting in the forest. You can just hear the sounds of the creak running, the birds chirping; being still for a few moments, feeling connected to everything around us.
The 2 km hike was quite an easy and pleasant climb. The path is well-maintained, shaded and just like most hikes in Korea, you run into quite a few people. “Hello”, we say to the passersby, or should I say “annyeong haseyo”!
Once we reached the north gate of Geumjeong Fortress, a few things dawned on us. The first was that this fortress was literally just a long wall that served as a naval base centuries ago. It has 4 gates, one at each compass point. Then we realized that we were nowhere near the peak of the mountain. We thought to ourselves that we need to get to the top, pronto!
At this point, we were in no man’s land. We didn’t know how long it would take to get up and back down. We were starting to get hungry, and realized that we didn’t pack any snacks (lesson learned, now we always bring snacks with us). That wasn’t going to stop us though. The view we would get from the top would be worth pushing through our hunger!
Along the way we started to notice something out of the ordinary. At first, we saw a stray cat and tried to lure it to us. Being cat lovers, this always happens. We miss our cat Jax, so any chance we have to get a little cat love in we take. But as we kept climbing, we started to notice more cats. And more cats. Oh, and MORE cats. They were everywhere! Now, don’t think we are complaining, cause wait, did we mention that we love cats? Well we do, and this was a nice little surprise that the hike had to offer.
Once we got to the top, we were well-rewarded. The views were breath-taking. From the beginning of our trip, this wasn’t the highest mountain we gazed down from, after all, we were in the Canadian Rocky mountains just a few weeks earlier. But this had a different feel to it. For one, we climbed this mountain, our first real hike of the trip (but certainly not our last) instead of taking a gondola up. Secondly, from the summit, we could see Busan, all the way to the sea. No wonder they put this fortress up here, no one is sneaking up on them with this view point!
All in all, it probably took us about 3-4 hours to do the hike (counting the mediation and the cat-loving). It’s not at all a hard or steep a hike. It can easily be done if you are a beginner, the trail is well-maintained, groomed, and has a small incline, most of the time. The end of the hike up the mountain has stairs, so if you take you’re time, you’ll get there easy-peazy! On a nice sunny day, good old running shoes will do the trick.
But if we could recommend one thing for anyone who wants to do this, bring snacks. And water. Always bring water. It’s probably not a long hike if you don’t stop, but there are so many great spots to just sit and take in all the beauty around, unless you get hangry and need to eat.
Here is a short video we made that shows the whole route up to the top.
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