LIFE&STYLE

K-Travel Bus shows foreigners sights beyond Seoul

By 이우영
  • Published : Jul 8, 2016 - 17:44
  • Updated : Jul 8, 2016 - 17:44
DAEGU -- Launched on March 25, the foreigner-exclusive K-Travel Bus was rolled out by the Visit Korea Committee with one major aim – to showcase that there is more to Korea than the glitzy urban sprawl of Seoul.
 
The travel bus began as part of the 2016-2018 “Visit Korea Year,” with the goal of attracting more than 20 million international tourists to Korea annually. With a large majority of travelers to Korea choosing to solely remain in the confines of the capital city, the Visit Korea Committee launched its K-Travel services with the aim of offering non-Koreans a simple, efficient and cost-effective means to travel throughout the peninsula on specialized two-day trips. 
K-Travel Bus participants dressed in hanbok explore Daegu’s “Modern Streets” tourist attractions. (Julie Jackson/The Korea Herald)

The service currently offers six regional bus tours, with routes that cover Daegu, Pyeongchang, Gangneung, Damyang, Yeosu, Busan, Ulsan and other areas. 

Last Tuesday, the committee held a K-Travel Bus event, which saw a handful of invited local students tagging along with international tourists for an overnight sightseeing trip to Daegu.

“I think this K-Travel Bus is an easy and great opportunity for foreigners like myself to be able to travel outside of Seoul,” said Filipino Debby Sy, 20, who is a return participant of the K-Travel Bus.
K-Travel Bus participants dressed in hanbok explore Daegu’s “Modern Streets” tourist attractions. (Julie Jackson/The Korea Herald)

Korea is the only country outside of her homeland that she has ever traveled to, so Sy, a student at Far East University in North Chungcheong, was particularly eager to see what the country had to offer apart from the tourist hotspot Seoul.

“Although I think it’s a lot easier to travel around in Seoul, especially with the subway, I think this trip makes it convenient for tourists to go to places like Daegu or Busan, or other places outside Seoul,” said Sy, who also invited her friend, fellow university classmate Bernadette Estrella, 23, of the Philippines, to join the trip.

“For me, going outside Seoul, you can experience the real traditional Korea. I think it’s really good for us to be able to have the experience of wearing hanbok (Korean traditional dress) and learning about the history of other places in Korea, because as foreigners and as students, we don’t really have the budget to travel this far all the time,” says Estrella.

Located roughly a four-hour drive from Seoul, Daegu is the country’s fourth largest city, with a population of roughly 2.5 million. Compared to the neighboring cities of Ulsan and Busan, Daegu is often overshadowed as a tourist destination. 
Travelers dress in hanbok and pose in front of the K-Travel bus in Daegu on June 29. (Julie Jackson/The Korea Herald)

The K-Travel Bus’s two-day Daegu itinerary includes trips to Seomun Market, the Modern Culture Alleyway (where visitors can try on and walk around in hanbok), Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Museum, Kim Kwang-seok Road and the Apsan Observatory.

The following day, participants head to a local farm to pick fruit as well as hike up the breathtaking -- albeit, brutally steep -- Palgong Mountain to visit the Gatbawi stone Buddha, which is hailed by many participants as the highlight of the trip.

Legend has it that the stone Buddha will grant one wish to those who pray eagerly in front of it.

It should be noted that the hike up to the stone is not for the faint of heart as it involves walking up and down roughly 3,200 stairs in total. 

“Hiking up was so hard, and I was about to surrender and give up, but I told myself to keep going and that I had to make it to the top. And I did and it was so beautiful and amazing, definitely worth it,” said Estrella.

“In my home country, when we watch TV (programs) about Korea all we see is Seoul, and that’s all we think about Korea – it’s just about Seoul. But being able to travel far from the city like this, I think it really does show the beauty of Korea,” she added. 

The K-Travel tour buses -- which are also equipped with Wi-Fi -- run every week. It requires a minimum of four participants in total. Tour prices range from $145 to $170 per person, and includes transportation, accommodation, program fees and tour guide.

For more information or to make reservations, visit www.k-travelbus.com.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)