Doing Korea's Daegu in a day
Daegu — tired of being ignored by tourists — is trying to raise its profile on the national stage and attract more visitors. Chief among its strategies is the relatively new — and very affordable — City Tour service.
If it’s a glimpse of Daegu’s best sights you’re after in a day or less, then there’s no better way than jumping on the double-decker City Tour Bus. It operates three courses — the City Tour, Mt. Palgong Circular and Theme Tour courses. The hop-on-hop off bus runs form 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in 15-minute intervals. It costs just 5,000 won, or 4,000 won if you’re a foreigner with a hotel receipt.
Let’s start with the City Tour and next month we’ll take a ride on the Mt. Palgong Circular bus.
This bus makes 13 stops, mostly within the city’s central area, and begins at Dongdaegu Staton, where you can also purchase tickets.
The first stop in the two-hour course is the Daegu Opera House — a world-class cultural venue that I featured in Groove Korea’s December issue.
The next stop is Jungangno, better known as Dongsung-ro. This is the beating heart of the city. Whereas Seoul’s commercial, cultural and entertainment areas are scattered, you’ll find everything you need in downtown Daegu — movie theaters, department stores, restaurants and night spots. Daeguites like this centralization and often bemoan visits to Seoul, complaining that everything is too spread out.
Disembark at Dongsung-ro if you’re in search of a good meal. Atop my list of personal favorites are Mijin Bunsik and Taesan Mandu. The former is a cozy, affordable restaurant. If you haven’t had the gimbap, udong and jolmyeon here then you haven’t had the best gimbap, udong and jolmyeon in the country. Each item on the menu costs just 3,500 won to 3,700 won. When I was growing up there, it was a running joke that the owner of Mijin Bunsik made so much money that he couldn’t count it in one night without falling asleep.
Next is Taesan Mandu, which has been one of the most famous dimsum restaurants in the city since it opened in 1972. I strongly recommend the gunmandu (fried dimsum), which is 4,000 won.
After you’re filled up, I suggest heading to Gyeongsang-gamyeong Park — just a 10-minute walk away. Its night views are unforgettable.
After boarding the bus, the next stops are Daegu Yangnyeongsi and Medical Missionary Museum, which were also featured in the December issue.
After that is Duryu Park, also known as E-World, which is the largest amusement park in the city. Here you can get a bird’s eye view of Daegu atop the 202-meter-tall 83 Tower.
At this point, if you’re as tired of parks as I am, then it’s time to head to Seomun Market, which is the largest traditional market in the city, and one of the three largest in Korea. The products sold here vary from fabrics to foods. Experience the local spirit; this is where you’ll get the real pulse of the city. And if you’ve made it this far without eating, you ought to try out the street food wagons. The exotic tastes and smells will remind you of Padong in Thailand.
Another market worth checking out is Gyodong Market, which is close to Daegu Station (different from Dongdaegu Station, for those unfamiliar). This is where to go if you’re in the market for imported products which have been smuggled out of the U.S. base in Daegu. It is often referred to as Dokebi Market, meaning Ghost Market, because when there are inspections by the authorities for illegal products all the shops close their doors. The market is unique, to say the least. High school students come here for soju-laced orange juice.
Now we’re at the half-way point. The next stop is the Feb. 28 Joongang Memorial Park, which is followed by Gukchae-bosang. This “currency museum” isn’t as boring as it sounds, as it tells of the extraordinary story of how Koreans united in an attempt to pay back the country’s debt to Japan in 1904.
South of central Daegu you will stop at Dusan Intersection (Suseong Resort), which is near a famous pond named Suseong. It’s a hot spot for couples in the spring. The most famous food in this area is makchang (cow stomach). Chug a couple bottles of soju and dig in.
Your last stops are the Daegu National Museum and Hotel Inter-Burgo before arriving where you began.
The last bus leaves Dongdaegu Station at 4 p.m. It operates from Tuesday to Sunday year-round, except on Lunar New Year and Chuseok.
For inquiries and reservations: (053) 603-1800, (053) 627-8900 and (053) 794-8700
To download the Bus Tour app: http://m.daegu.go.kr/m/home.do?locale=en
Online: http://tour.daegu.go.kr/eng/main.asp or http://eng.daegucitytour.com
Mijin Bunsik (미진분식)
Daegu Joong-gu, Dongsungro 3-ga 91-6
Business hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Gimbap 3,700 won, Udon 3,500 won and Jolmyeon 3,700 won
Taesan Mandu (태산만두)
Daegu Joong-gu, Duksan-dong 124-10
Business hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.