Daegu is lucky to be surrounded by beautiful mountains, such as the popular sightseeing destination known as Apsan. Literally "mountain before the city," Apsan towers above southern Daegu. From its peaks visitors may experience breathtaking views of the entire city and beyond. In the valley below lie the many attractions of Apsan Park, the largest park in Daegu. Visitors may relax and picnic in romantic gardens, or visit the Korean War Museum and Buddhist temples. Whether on a date or family outing, a memorable excursion awaits at the Peaks and Parks of Apsan.
To reach the top there are two options. For immediate gratification the cable car provides a quick ascent. From 9am to sunset it runs every fifteen minutes, and costs 8,000krw for adults and 6,000krw for children, round trip. Alternatively, for a taste of nature there are several hiking trails. However, the steep slopes demand a strenuous workout and between one to three hours depending on the trail length and difficulty.
Along the heights of Apsan are several points of interest. First, the upper cable-car building houses a restaurant that serves traditional Korean hiking meals. Popular among hikers is Makgeolli, a refreshing, milky rice wine, as well as vegetarian dishes that compliment it, including veggie "pancakes" (Pajun) and spicy tofu and kimchi (Dubu Kimchi). Best of all, window seats and a rooftop balcony provide patrons with spectacular views while dining.
Second, the trail down from the upper cable car leads to the Apsan Observation Deck. The platform hangs like a floating island over a cliff's edge, giving onlookers a panoramic perspective of the entire city. It is an unforgettable experience to have such a bird's eye view of Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people encircled by distant mountains and glistening rivers. The Observation Deck is also open at night, allowing for an even more amazing spectacle of lights.
A final worthwhile experience, for those willing to exercise, is traversing the scenic ridgelines. About fifteen minutes up the trail from the upper cable car is the main, namesake peak of Apsan (658m). From there, trails link to the two other peaks: Daedeoksan and Sanseongsan (653m). Hiking above the city along these ridges lined with jagged rock formations and seasonal colors makes for a picturesque adventure. For the serious hiking enthusiast, connecting trails lead to even further mountains in the same range, such as three hours to Blue Dragon Mountain (793m) and eight hours to the sacred Biseul Mountain (1,084m).
In the valleys between the three peaks lie the beautiful Parks of Apsan. Visitors can relax in the Parks' pavilions, have a picnic in their forests and gardens, or play sports in their fields. Throughout the park are natural wonders such as caves (굴) and waterfalls (폭포). Drinkable "medicine water" flows from many mountain springs (약수터). Also throughout the park are over a dozen Buddhist temples (사). Nestled peacefully between the slopes sit beautiful temples such as An-il-sa and Dae-deok-sa. Their elaborately painted shrines and golden Buddha statues are sights to behold.
The Nakdong River Victory Memorial Hall (낙동강승전기념관) is also worth a visit. The museum's outer courtyard boasts tanks, planes and other ordinance from the Korean War. Inside, the museum's exhibits, artifacts and theatre provide an educational and moving experience. The museum, as well as the nearby Chunghontap Memorial Tower (충혼탑) and other monuments in the park, are dedicated to Korean War soldiers.
Other facilities include an outdoor weightlifting gym, several shops and restaurants, the Nambu Library and the art hall of the Daedeok Cultural Center.
The greater Apsan area is massive, with several separate parks and entrances. There are enough trails and attractions for multiple days of sightseeing, so advanced planning is recommended. Therefore, the best point of arrival is the main entrance area, known simply as Apsan Park, which has plenty of signs and maps, as well as a tourist information center. By cab or GPS, say or enter Ap-san Gong-won (앞산공원). From downtown it should take around 20 minutes and cost around 7,000krw. By bus, ride the 300, 410, 410-1, 750 or Rapid 4 directly to Apsan Park. By subway, ride the red line to Anjirang Station (안지랑역), go out exit #3, then make a right towards the towering peaks of Apsan.
Apsansunhwan-ro, Nam-gu, Daegu, South Korea