SIX WAYS TO ENJOY BUSAN

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SIX WAYS TO ENJOY BUSAN

The Busan Asian Games are not the only reason to visit south of the peninsula. Busan offers many travel opportunities from ancient to modern. In between sporting events, get out of the stadium and take in Busan's many cool attractions.


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WAKE UP AT 3 A.M. We know what you're thinking: "Forget about it." But the monks at Beomeosa temple, one of Korea's greatest, wake well before sunrise to meditate in the mountains. On the eastern slope of Mount Geumjeong, Beomeosa (051-508-3127) was founded in 678.

You don't need to set your alarm or be a monk to enjoy the temple's Silla Dynasty architecture, such as a three-story pagoda, stone lanterns, a Japanese wisteria grove and Daeungjeon Hall. Guests are welcome to take off their shoes, enter some of the halls and light incense sticks.


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CATCH A FEW FISH STORIES Browse the famous Jagalchi Fish Market, and you'll find fresh and dried seafood that is sure to whet your appetite. Make your purchase and you can take the seafood to a nearby restaurant, and the staff will prepare and serve it.

One of the largest fish markets in Asia, Jagalchi is always bustling with fishermen, tourists, wholesalers and gourmet dealers. The market is hosting a festival Oct. 9 to 13 (www.chagalchi.co.kr). Events will include a boat-launching ceremony, fish weight-guessing contest, beer tasting and a beauty contest -- for humans.


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HAVE THE BEACH TO YOURSELF It's too cold to go swimming at Haeundae Beach, now that it's fall. During the peak of summer, hundreds of thousands of tourists crowd the beach every day. The resort, after all, has great sand and swimming, famous food, bath houses and beautiful views of nature.

For some people, the chilly weather is a blessing. People-watching may not be as fun with fewer people to watch, but the resort's natural beauty lasts year-round.

The fall season, in fact, is the perfect time to walk barefoot along the shore at Haeundae Beach and enjoy the seascape. Just don't forget your sweater.


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TAKE IN MOVIES AND ESPRESSO Why would anyone go all the way to Busan to watch a movie? That's what thousands do every year to attend the Busan International Film Festival. The event is centered in Nampo-dong, one of Korea's best known theater districts.

Along with the theaters, there are plenty of coffee shops and bars to haunt, where you can try to impress your friends by declaring that your life has become like a Fellini film.


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GO SOAK YOURSELF If you're feeling a little worse for wear, the "megaspa" Heosimcheong (051-555-1122) is a good place to recover. It is essentially a huge network of facilities, including a health club and a beauty salon as well as the many baths and lounging choices.

Inside the spa, you can find practically everything related to health and skin care, and can select from more than 40 tubs and swimming pools, all of which have distinct features and names. The Aloe Tub is suffused with aloe extract, which supposedly helps you keep a youthful complexion. Other exotic options include the Jasmine Tub, the Oolong Tea Tub and the Outdoor Tub. There's also a Birdcage tub, but you'll have to visit to find out why.


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TAKE THE HIGH ROAD If you have a car you can take a scenic drive around Busan and enjoy the fresh air outside the city. The best drive to see spectacular views of the city's craggy coastline is from the Yeongdo Bridge to Taejongdae, the city's southernmost tip. Cross the Yeongdo Bridge and turn left. Then go toward Songdo. In about five minutes, you'll see one of Busan's oldest restaurants, Mokjangwon. Keep driving and you will see the entrance to Taejongdae on your right. Keep going, and you might just fall in love with Busan.


by Joe Yong-hee, Lee Jee-won

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