Hot springs and other things are ready for you
Daytripping in Busan 11: Oncheon-dong
Anyone whose frigid feet could use a bit of warm respite is welcome to dip those tender tootsies into the hot outdoor foot spa.
When every finger and toe feels like it's about to break off from the crippling cold, a dip in a steamy hot spring just can't be beat.
Let's daytrip this month in Oncheon-dong (neighborhood), located in Dongnae-gu (dis-trict). Oncheon-dong is named literally for its popular hot springs ("oncheon" means "hot spring" in Korean). After a relaxing, muscle-melting dip, we will head to the Geumgang Botanical Garden, which offers a warm, natural escape from the busy city. Wash away that woeful winter cold in our final daytripping destination for 2018!
Dongnae Hot Springs
The idea of going to a public bath house can be intimidating for some, Koreans and foreigners alike. Don't let it be! A trip to a sauna, jjimjillbang or other form of public bath destination is both a mental and physical elixir. Hot springs warm the body up and wash away the cold and fatigue.
The hot springs in the Oncheon-dong area have a long history in Korea. It is believed that even the King of the Silla Dynasty visited the Dongnae hot springs more than a thousand years ago.
The water temperature in the Dongnae hot springs fluctuates between 45 and 60 degrees celsius (113 and 140 degrees fahrenheit). Hot springs offer a number of health benefits, including relief for rheumatism, neuralgia, muscle stiffness and more because of the high levels of alkaline in the water.
The most popular hot spring destination in this area is undoubtedly Hurshimchung, the biggest public bath in all of Busan. Opened in 1991, Hurshimchung is equipped with more than 40 kinds of attractions including hot baths, cold baths, an outdoor bath and even a "cave bath."
There are many other bathhouses located near Oncheon Market that are worth a visit, including Geumchon Park Spa, Nokcheon Spa, Daesung Spa & Hotel and more. If you're still not sold on going au naturel in front of others, check out the outdoor foot spa, which can be used throughout the year and is available during winter from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. The foot bath is closed Wednesdays and Fridays.
-How to get there: Oncheonjang Station (Metro line 1), exit 1. Walk three minutes along the public parking lot on the left. Cross the street and continue straight. At the Oncheon intersection, walk between Lucky Pharmacy (yellow sign) and Gallery Eyes (blue sign) to find the Nongshim Hotel. The Hurshimchung building is behind the hotel and a silver tree sculpture is located next to the outdoor foot bath.
-Information: Hurshimchung (허심청), hotelnongshim.com/eng; Geumchon Hot Springs (금천온천), geumchonpark.co.kr (Korean); Nokcheon Hot Springs (녹천온천), nokcheonhotel.com (Korean); Daesung Spa & Hotel, daesunghotel.shinhanpos.com.
Many photo ops abound within Geumgang Park.
There are many excellent attractions to while away the time here, including a botanical garden and the Busan Marine Natural History Museum. The botanical garden in particular is an excellent destination during the cold winter months. Visitors can check out more than 2,300 different plant species across the garden's 190,000 square meters, all for a nominal 1,000 won entry fee. Palm trees, cactuses and more easily transport visitors out of the busy Busan city beyond. Beyond the garden, why not take the cable car up along the mountain ridge? It is one of the best ways to enjoy a dramatic panoramic view of the whole of the Dongnae area.
-How to get there: Oncheonjang Station (Metro line 1), exit 3. Cross the pedestrian overpass and then take bus 203 located behind the SK Hub Sky building. Get off at Guemjeongsan SK View, which is the entrance to Geumgang Botanical Garden. Or, take exit 5, cross the pedestrian overpass and walk on the right side for two minutes. Turn left along the street and then walk on the Singmurwon-ro for 15 minutes.
-Information: geumgangpark.bisco.or.kr (Korean)