A Hiking Guide to Busan, South Korea

So you have found yourself visiting the mountainous, bustling city of Busan. Located in the southeastern part of South Korea, Busan is the second-largest city with beautiful beaches, bustling night markets, and plenty of notable landmarks to check out. However, even more, notable is the one hundred and eight mountains that shape the city.

The most notable mountain is Mount Geumjeongsan, which is conveniently located right behind my college, Pusan National University. It stands at a staggering 801 meters (2,630ft). One day in class, my teacher mentioned how beautiful the view is and that the mountain housed a multitude of great places to visit. So I geared up, packed some snacks and plenty of water, and set out to hike Mount Geumjeongsan. Because this mountain spans such a wide land area, there are multiple starting trails. For my hiking trip, I decided to start from the Beomeosa subway stop which is trail 1. However, this trail is slightly steep and I would recommend for beginners who want a more scenic view (and less stringent exercise) use trail 4. Both trails will lead you to the peak of the mountain.

The scenery is astoundingly beautiful during our journey to the top. Lots of natural flowers, squirrels, and butterflies can be spotted along the way. The trails are well taken care of and have plenty of signs so there is no worry of getting lost. You may spot many travels along the trails heading to the first notable landmark on this trail, the Beomeosa temple. The Beomeosa temple is very beautiful and rich in Korean Culture. It was established in 678 and was used as a training ground for fighting monks that had defended Korea from Japanese invasions in the 16th and 20th centuries respectively.

A plethora of Buddhist statues found at Beomeosa temple

After an arduous climb up the mountain, we finally stumbled across this famed temple and had a nice moment to rest and observe Buddhist customs. We also had the pleasure of meeting a very friendly monk and the temple staff helped us write Korean prayers to hang on the temple lanterns as a Buddhist tradition for good fortune. They also kindly provided us with water and snacks for the remainder of our hiking journey.

Inside grounds of Beomeosa Temple

After leaving the temple we had found ourselves lost outside of the trail, mistaking a green line on the map as a trail, when in fact it was a river. We decided to climb up the river rocks and work our way up to the peak this way. It was a very hard struggle but after an hour and a half (and a few rests), we had found ourselves at the peak. I must say the four-hour journey is worth every second for the breathtaking view awaiting you at the top. The whole city of Busan can be seen from this point as well as areas outside of the city. Furthermore, the wind at this altitude is very refreshing after such a long journey. We also have the fortune of meeting an older Korean man who was somewhat of a local celebrity, for he had been hiking the mountain every day a total of 105 times by the time we met him. Maybe you will have a chance to also see him at the peak when you go hiking here.

Taking a rest and enjoying a snack on the way to the top

The hike down is very easy and does not take much longer than one hour. One the opposite way down you can see the fortress walls that surround the mountain that was used to protect the fighting monks and to keep out Japanese invaders. There is so much to experience by hiking in Busan and so many more destinations on the mountain such as several local villages and smaller temples. When you visit Busan, take the chance to explore and conquer the towering Mount Geumjeongsan and experience all of the great nature and deep, rooted history that this mountain has to offer.