Daegu Travel Guide
While Daegu is Korea’s fourth largest city, it flies under the radar. Situated less than 45 minutes away from Busan, it languishes in the shadow of its flashier cousin.
Nonetheless, it has its own collection of attractions – from ancient temples and markets to a sprawling mountain park, you’ll find plenty to do over a 2-3 day stay.
Begin your time in Daegu by checking out Donghwasa Temple. While it is out of the way (23 km from Daegu Centre), this ancient structure is worth the effort. Built by Monk Geukdal 1,500 years ago, it got its name from a tree that blooms even in winter.
It currently dates from the 18th century, but you wouldn’t know it, as its caretakers value authenticity. There are numerous statues, but its most noteworthy is the Seokjoyaksa Yeoraebul. Built to encourage Korean unification, this depiction of the Buddha stands 17 metres tall above a beautifully arranged stone garden.
In the ancient days of Korea, three major markets existed on the peninsula – Pyongyang, Ganggyeong, and Seomun Market. The last of these still operate in modern-day Daegu, trading in things like silver, silk, and dried seafood.
While it dwarfs the size of the original market, original alleyways from centuries ago still exist. Some families have been selling goods since then, but modern fare, such as clothing and cookware, is also available. Don’t leave without trying local specialities in its food court. These include makchang (cow intestines), and mu tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes with sliced radish).
Like the rest of the world, Korea has hospitals that offer westernized medicine. However, traditional remedies have held firm through the years – learn about them at the Yangnyeongsi Museum of Oriental Medicine.
This institution chronicles the past 350 years of advancements in Eastern medicine through a variety of exhibits and displays. You’ll get to see how they make herbal soap, learn about medicinal foot baths, and more. Visitors can participate as well, as they offer herbal tea tastings and an oriental health examination. Before leaving, be sure to browse through herbs for sale in the wholesale market on the first floor.
Daegu is a great city in which to visit and live, but it can feel like a concrete jungle. If this vibe is wearing on you, follow the locals to Apsan Park. It protects Apsan, Sanseongsan, and Daedeoksan Mountains, giving residents a place to escape the stresses of urban life.
Active travellers will love it here, as there are more than a dozen different trails to explore. If you aren’t athletic, fear not – you can ride a tram up Mount Apsan for 9,500 won. There’s even a cultural component to this park – at Apsan’s base, a monument honours local poet Yi Ho-wu.
As you walk around Daegu, make time for a stroll down Kim Gwangseok-gil Street. This 350-metre long laneway is home to a series of murals that honour Korean folk singer Kim Gwangseok. Popular in the late 80s and early 90s, he met his end in 1996 – he was only 31.
Artwork, statues, and displays will make clear Gwangseok’s impact. If you’re here in autumn, though, check out Bangcheon Market, as locals participate in singing contests in his honour.
Are you travelling as a family during your visit to Daegu? Make room in your schedule for a visit to E-World. Built around Woobang Tower, a 202-metre high radio tower, this park has a European theme that informs its design.
With over 31 rides, live performance stages, a snow-sledding hill, and views from one of the tallest towers in Asia, you can spend an entire day here. Comprehensive passes for adults cost 39,000 won, while kids can get in for 29,000 won.
If you love sports, take in a Korean baseball game at Samsung Lions Park while in Daegu. While the exploits of this city’s favourite team are the central focus, the selection of food is utterly mind-boggling. Ballpark food and outlets like Burger King are there, but there is also a food court serving up Korean favourites. Don’t cheer on the home team on an empty stomach – patronize these places during the game.
Want to get away from the bustle of this city, but don’t have time to head up Apsan? Head over to the Daegu Arboretum instead. Despite its attractive appearance, it’s still a bit of a secret. Part of that reason lies with its location – it’s more than a mile from the nearest Daegu Metro station. There’s also no bus, which means you’ll have to either get a cab or walk.
Your persistence will pay off, though – its tree groves, water features, and medicinal garden will impress. There’s even a reason to visit in winter, as a hothouse is home to a collection of succulent plants.