Seventy kilometres due north of Changwon is Daegu, a basin city surrounded by mountains and the country's hottest place. It is also the birthplace of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. With a population of 2.5 million, it is the country's fourth largest metropolis, with the Nakdong, the longest river in Korea, coursing through it. Daegu is famed for its apples (earning it the nickname of Apple City), textiles, metals, machinery, and it is a centre for cutting-edge medical and optical research.
First opened in 2001 and expanded in 2011, EXCO (the Daegu Exhibition and Convention Centre has scores of solar panels on its roof that spell the words DAEGU EXCO. The panels aren't just a vanity project - they also save the centre US$60,000 per year in electricity costs. EXCO has 19 rooms including a grand ballroom and three exhibition halls; the fifth-floor convention hall can accommodate 3,500 people classroom style, and is used for concerts, musicals, opening ceremonies. The more intimate VIP room, next to the Sky Garden (which can handle 300 people for a reception), has shoji screens and can host Korean tea ceremonies. EXCO is well-oiled machine, handling 500 exhibitions and 1,000 conferences per year, including the World Energy Congress in 2013, and World Water Forum in 2015.
It's hard to do quantify Seomun Market with mere words: This sprawling market is built on the site of a former lake and has 4,000 stalls divided into different districts. Expect to spend many hours, and get lost numerous times, while here. Anticipate more shopping at Dongseongno Street, filled with chic boutiques, beauty stores, restaurants, cafés, with sections devoted to handmade shoes, fusion food, cosmetics, and jewellery among the offerings. The Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Cultural Centre first opened in 1993 and combines a herbal medicine market with various experience stations, a souvenir shop, an outdoor garden, and general and historical facts about Asian medicine development in the city.
The Apsan Cable Car ride brings visitors to the Apsan Observatory, providing 360-degree views of the city that unfurls below like a giant blanket hemmed in by mountain ridges. At night, Suseong Pond in the city's southeast near Apsan Park is a pretty place for a stroll or a thrill ride (there's an amusement park here); the streets around it are packed with places to eat or have a tipple.