On the weekend of 20 until the 21 of November, Kworld Now was able to go to Jecheon and Busan for a weekend trip in South Korea, which you are also able to go on, with a driver and a guide, all arranged by a wonderful tour agency called JSB tour. Amongst many tours they offer we picked “the Wellness Incentive trip in Nature”.
All these travel experiences are organized in collaboration with KTO Incentive. As you all know KTO (Korea Tourism Organization) is always looking for new ways to promote Korean culture and through Korea Incentive Tour Program you can do so. For more information, you can click here.
Weekend Trip in South Korea part 1: Jecheon
The weekend trip in South Korea started at 8 am in the middle of Seoul, at Seoul station. Here you would meet your guide and your driver for the weekend for the first time. The guide was very nice and even got a pack with over 12 bottles of water, for everyone in the car.
The guide talked a bit and went a bit through the schedule while walking to the driver and thus also the car. The car is exactly the same car that idols use when they go on trips for YouTube content, which is how the inside joke of ‘Our Idol car’ started. Every time the car would arrive, we would say ‘oh, our idol car is coming’.
When going in the car you seat yourself, and your guide will start to tell you little facts while you are still in Seoul. One of the facts that she will tell on your weekend trip to South Korea, which I think you might find interesting as well, is about the southern part of Seoul. Basically, the southern part of Seoul – which includes Gangnam and Jamsil – wasn’t anything but farmland before the 1970s.
Only after 1970 they started to build here and got rid of the farmland. This is because, in the Joseon dynasty (1392-1890), which is before the Japanese colonization and the Korean War, it was believed that if you had the mountains north of your house and a body of water south of your house, you lived in the perfect spot. Most often the houses were also built in a way that you had the mountains in your back and the body of water in the front.
This is also the reason why in this dynasty, wherever the king went, the second he sat down a kind of screen with mountains on it was placed behind him. So he always had mountains at his back. Because of this almost nothing, except for farms, was built in the southern part of Seoul, where the body of water and the mountains are in the opposite direction.
Next, you will have some resting time, so nothing much happened for the next three hours of the weekend trip in South Korea, except for the sun, which wanted to look like a moon this morning.
Then after 3,5 hours of driving, you will arrive in the middle of South Korea, where Jecheon lays.
At around 11.23 you will arrive at the very first visit area of this weekend trip in South Korea. This area had a small amusement like park, waterfalls, a beautiful lake, and mountains. Something extra special is that in this area the JIMFF, the Jecheon International Music and Film Festival 2021, was taken place.
We (and you might also be) also got extra lucky with this weekend trip in South Korea, since there was a special event happening only on this day. On this day, the city was celebrating the harvest of this year. There was a stage with around 8 people in traditional white Korean clothing with a crowd around them. Since it looked interesting, we, personally, joined the crowd and we got some free tea, 1kg of rice and a towel. The tea that we received was Yuja tea, which is a perfect little extra for your weekend trip in South Korea.
Yuja tea is a traditional Korean tea, often drunk in winter, made by hot water mixed with Yuja-Cheong. The tea is often used as an at-home remedy for the cold. Originally the fruit of which the tea is made isn’t Korean but actually Chinese.
The story goes that a man was shipping Yuja trees from China to Korea until a storm came and hit his boat. The trees were destroyed, but some of the seeds fell into the man’s coat without him knowing. The man was in Korea after the storm, and while he was walking on the soil of Korea, little seeds kept on falling out of his pocket, without him knowing. These seeds eventually grew into Yuja trees and the Koreans saw the benefits of this tree and they started using it. Because of its bitter taste, they began to preserve the leaves of the tree in sugar and honey, which later became the Yuja tea we know today.
We stood there for about 10 minutes before we moved to another part of this area. In this area, there was a traditional Korean-looking watchtower/rest area and the part where a small lake turned into a waterfall. There was a bridge crossing this exact section, where you could see through the glass you were standing on, seeing the waterfall falling far onto the rocks.
A little extra fun fact is that at this exact place, a legend takes place. The legend goes that at this specific waterfall, the weapon from Sinwol-dong became an actual dragon. The dragon wanted to ascend to heaven, but couldn’t. Instead, the dragon exploded to death at this exact place. Now when the floodgate is opened, the sound of the water dripping sounds like the dragon crying. Even now the villagers who live around here call it “yeongtoggi” because it is the place where the dragon burst and died. It’s not the most happy-ending story, but it’s for sure interesting. Which also made the weekend trip even more interesting than it already was.
After visiting this on the weekend trip in South Korea , you will walk around the area for a tiny bit, before your famous idol car will pick you up to go to lunch.
For the first lunch of this weekend trip, you will go to this lovely little place, where you had to walk on your socks. Everyone, even the servers, didn’t wear shoes, which made the restaurant very home-like. The guide will order the food for you. For us she ordered a special kind of bibimbap. Our bibimbap had flowers in it and the vegetables were made into jelly, which made the dish look intriguing, but also too pretty to eat.
Bibimbap originates from the 1500s and mid-1600s, this was the first time someone wrote about the dish. It is not completely sure how the dish came to be, but there are some theories. One of the theories is that they used it for the practice of jesa ritual rites. The theory says that people mix rice, vegetables and side dished together in a single bowl for ancestral food offerings, before eating it themselves. Another theory is that in an attempt to start the new year afresh, households would mix all of their leftovers with rice.
After lunch, you will go back into the car and drive another 30 minutes on the weekend trip in South Korea to Cheongpung, close to Danyang. While you are on your way, you will hear a few small facts about the mountain the cable car will lead you to and the road before it. The road before the mountain is very known for its looks during spring, as all the trees beside the road are cherry blossoms. In the spring, the streets and the view will turn pink, making it a perfect place for a road trip.
Next to the mountain that the cable car leads to, is a beautiful big lake. This lake is not like other lakes as this one is artificial. Before there was a lake, there was actually a small town. The town was lovely and not too big, but eventually, the entire town was underwater, making it a Korean Atlantis basically. Since then, there has been a lake instead of a town.
The mountain also has its own legend, it is believed that the mountain has something to do with a phoenix, as the top of the mountain looks like a phoenix taking flight to find food after sitting on its egg. Therefore, people believe that in the old, old times, phoenixes would have been flying around here.
At the station where you step in, you also had a cinema 360 viewing room and a Fantasy Art Gallery. You won’t do those activities if there isn’t enough time on the weekend trip, so we only did the cable car. The height of the cable car was 531 meters above sea level.
At the station at the top, you had a cafe, some shops, and some photo zones. You also had a bottle for the future area. In this area, you could buy a bottle and a piece of paper, write your wish for the future, and put it in one of the many boxes placed there. It was a nice viewing area with some lovely drinks. You are totally free here for about 15 minutes before you will move on with the weekend trip in South Korea, towards Busan.
Weekend trip in South Korea part 2: Busan
Now you will have another 3-4 hour drive to go, to finally arrive in Busan. Most of this weekend trip in South Korea was again just relaxing, as the sun was slowly setting which caused some beautiful photos to be taken, where you can see the layers of the mountains while the sun is shining its last lights.
When you will be like 30 minutes away from the city, your guide will start to tell you stories and facts again. One of which was about the Korean war, you see Busan wasn’t an all that famous city back in the day and barely any people really lived in the south. But in 1953 when North Korea attacked, everyone ran to the most southern city, which was Busan. As the war went on between the two, Busan was the only city that was never taken over by the North, which makes it quite a special city.
Since everyone had run to this part of Korea, the government decided to put a lot of money in Busan, to make it a growing and modern looking city, since, before the Korean war, it was actually a really poor area. After all the money was put to use, the city became the way it is now, big, vibrant, and aesthetically pleasing.
At around 7:15 you will arrive at Busan, and before you go for dinner on this weekend trip in South Korea, you will first pay a visit to the tallest building in Busan. Busan X the Sky is a lot like Lotte tower in terms of the experience, in the elevator you get a video, and when you’re up you can walk around, take some photos and then buy some souvenirs of the view of the building.
After the amazing viewing of the city, you will go to your wonderful hotel – the Golden Tulip – to put your luggage away. Then you say goodbye to your driver for the day and then go for dinner. For dinner, you might get a choice between a few menus. For dinner on this day of the weekend trip in South Korea, we had Korean beef, in a Busan way. The beef was like all in one go, and all together. Then after cooking it would be a bit more crispy than if you would eat it in Seoul, for example.
You will start your second day of this weekend trip in South Korea by going to a bamboo forest, which was made by the Moon family. It is even believed that one of the members of the Moon family is buried here in a tomb on one of the hills in the forest. The forest is other than that often used for K-dramas, for dramas like Kingdom and such.
While walking here, you could definitely imagine a drama being filmed here, as there are many hiding places and very aesthetically pleasing.
After the bamboo forest, you will jump into your amazing idol car for the weekend trip in South Korea again and you will drive a bit further from the center of Busan to a beautiful and astonishing Buddhist temple. The temple had a huge, and then I mean huge, golden Buddha on the top of its roof, which gets newly coated once every 17 years, when it gets coated, it is a huge event in town. The next coating will happen in 15 years, so sadly we have to wait quite a while to be able to see that happen.
Before you will meet the monk, your guide will tell you some little facts about Buddhism and the origins of certain symbols.
The first fact she told us was about the lotus flower. A lotus flower is a flower that blossoms when it touches sunlight, and Buddhism believes that Lotus flowers also show our life. No matter the problem you had, the background you have, or how old you are. If you try to live nicely then you can also blossom in the sunlight, just like a lotus flower. Because of this belief, you will see the lotus flower around the temple.
The second fact we were told was that monks shave their heads because hair causes a lot of agonies. In the morning, you mostly focus on how you look, on which your hair is a big part. Worrying about how your hair looks disturbs your kind and give you too many thoughts for the day, so they shave their head.
Besides that Buddhists believes that every single person has 108 problems. With every prayer, you “throw” away one of those problems. You might think, why 108? Well, they believe that you have a total of six senses: Feeling, smell, sight, hearing, taste, and your body. They do this x2 and then times the present, the future, and the past. In total this becomes 108, so you have 108 problems.
Then you will meet the monk who will guide you through the temple. She will tell you about how this land came to be. It was a lady who owned all of the lands, she sadly passed away in the winter, and in her wish, she wrote that she would donate all of the lands to the monks and their beliefs. Something also special about this temple is that you don’t have to be quiet here. Normally at temples, you have to be quiet and whisper, but here you can do whatever makes you feel the happiest, if it’s running, screaming, whatever, you’re allowed to do it at this temple.
Next, you will go inside the big building with the big golden Buddha on top. Inside there are two other versions of the big buddha, a medium one and a smaller one. Each represents a different time period; future, present or past. In this building, the latter two versions filled the room making the room look like it was made from gold as well.
Then the monk will tell you some little facts about the religion. One of which is about something small called a sari. If you meditate a lot like a monk, and you keep on concentrating on the meditation, something small in your body will grow. It’s smaller than jelly and it’s called a sari. You cannot scientifically explain it but it happens. In this big building, the original Buddha’s sari is placed. Only once a year, on Buddha’s birthday is this area open for the public to see the sari.
The original Buddha passed away 2500 years ago, and so people are wondering how this sari still exists after such a long time. The sari is a kind of egg, it can multiply, so it can keep on existing. Sometimes the special sari did disappear for a bit, this happens when a monk, who has the sari, and is in that room. If they focus on something else besides meditating, the sari will disappear.
The monk will also tell you another story that includes the sari. There was once a master monk. This monk lived a life full of meditation. When he passed away, they cremated him, but they found something special. His ashes had something odd in them, little white dots. When they looked closer, they saw that they were all sari.
After this little tour through the building, you will walk outside for a little bit and go into a building, that was a bit further away than expected. In this building around six people will be waiting for you. you will get seated and in front of you will be a big bowl, a small bowl, and then an even smaller bowl with two kinds of sticks in it. Some people would also call these bowls singing bowls since they make sounds depending on how you treat them.
First, you will start with the big bowl, putting it on your hand or your feet and hitting it with one of the sticks. Next, you will go around the rim of the bowl with the stick, making the bowl make different sounds and sending a vibration through your body. Then they put warm water in the bowl, so you can see the vibration. Now if you went around the rim, you would see the vibration going from the outside to the inside of the bowl, and sometimes water would even jump out of the bowl. I have honestly never experienced something like this.
Next, you will get the smaller bowl and you will have to imagine our love and ourselves. With every breath in you would think about how much you appreciate yourself and the other person/animal or whatever you wanted to feel loved. When breathing out, the love would be sent to this other person/animal/etc. They believe that when you have enough love for yourself, you can give more love to others as well. And so with every breath, you would give love. I know that it made me emotional, but also some of the others who were there.
Lastly, you will get a sound meditation, you lay down, with your eyes closed and the people in the room would start making sounds with the bowls and sticks in the room. This would be close by your ear or further away. One of us actually fell asleep during this time, which is understandable, since it was super relaxing. With every sound, you could feel your body relax more and more. When you have to sit up, you just felt like moving slowly as a sloth.
Next, it was lunchtime, so we put our shoes on again, and then off again when going into the kind of cafeteria. The food you will have is tteokguk. Tteokguk is a soup made with sliced rice cakes. Normally it’s eaten with a beef broth, but in a temple, the foods are often vegetarian and so was this meal. This meal is seen as the must-have food on New Years and is therefore also known as the New Year’s dish.
After lunch, you will have one final activity to do here. You will make your own bracelet. Before we sat down though, some of us noticed a little stand on the right where they sold little Korean snacks filled with red beans, so of course, we had to run there and get some, especially after learning the fact that this stand is only there on Sundays.
Now we finally got to the making a bracelet part. They will give you a little pack, which included one white bead, and around 28 black ones. You will have the total freedom to decide where to put the white bead. This didn’t take very long, since it’s just putting beads on a string and then tying it, but it was a good and nice activity to end the time at the temple, and it’s of course a great extra to bring home with you. Now every time that I see the bracelet I have to think about this day and the weekend trip in South Korea and how relaxed I feel.
Next on the weekend trip in South Korea, you will drive again for around 15 minutes before you will arrive at the Blue Line Park. This might be one of the most famous things to do in Busan, as it is a train that shows the view of the shoreline and the sea. And so you will also do this activity on your weekend trip. On sunny days you will even see an island 48km away from Busan, which actually is part of Japan, sadly we didn’t get to see it since it wasn’t too sunny the day we went. The Blue Line Park is therefore also one of the official cultural heritages of Korea.
With the train you go past the surfer’s spot, the two lighthouses, past a place where a k-drama was filmed, and more. This ride takes around 30 minutes before you’re on the other side of Busan. When you get off, you will come into this kind of archway with beautiful (now autumn) colors. Then on your left, you still have the beach and the sea and when you walk a bit further you will be at Haeundae, the equivalent of Hongdae in Seoul.
Now it was time for the last activity of this amazing weekend trip in South Korea. , the movie street. The movie street is right next to the sea and it shows not only movies that have been shot in Busan but also big animation movies or other movies are shown here. There is even a 3D painting on the floor of Tarzan, giving you the complete movie aesthetic.
Then when you finish the street you will have an area with a spiderman statue, which honestly was a bit random, not going to lie, but it was a great addition to the weekend trip. And there are also handprints of some of the known actors of Korea, one of which is the frontman in Squid Game, and the main lead of Mr. Sunshine.
And with that, you will jump into your idol car for the last time, on your way back to Seoul, officially making it the end of your wonderful weekend trip in South Korea to two gorgeous cities.
The weekend trip in South Korea will eventually take one night and two days, full of fun, relaxing, and good food. This weekend trip in South Korea starts in one city and goes through a few others before you are in Busan, getting you to see multiple towns and cities in a short amount of time. That’s the beauty of a weekend trip in South Korea.
To read more about traveling or about weekend trips in South Korea, click here.