Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, is a vibrant coastal destination known for its beautiful beaches, bustling markets, and scenic mountains. As a major port city, Busan offers a fascinating mix of modern urban charm and natural beauty. This comprehensive guide will help you make the most of your visit to this captivating city.
Getting To and Around Busan
Flights: Gimhae International Airport (PUS) serves Busan and is well-connected to major cities worldwide, as well as domestic destinations within South Korea.
Trains: Busan Station is the city’s main railway station, with KTX (Korea Train Express) services connecting Busan to other cities, including Seoul, Daegu, and Gwangju.
Local transportation: Busan has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, taxis, and a subway system. The Busan Metro is an efficient and convenient way to explore the city, with six lines covering major attractions.
Top Attractions in Busan South Korea
Haeundae Beach: One of South Korea’s most famous beaches, Haeundae offers a beautiful sandy shoreline, lively atmosphere, and numerous restaurants, bars, and shops.
Gamcheon Culture Village: This colorful hillside village features narrow alleyways, brightly painted houses, and stunning views of the city and harbor below.
Gukje Market: Busan’s largest traditional market offers a unique shopping experience, with stalls selling everything from clothing and souvenirs to local street food.
Taejongdae Resort Park: Located on the southern tip of Yeongdo Island, this park offers picturesque coastal views, walking trails, and the famous Taejongdae Lighthouse.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple: This unique seaside temple offers stunning views of the East Sea and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
Best Activities and Experiences in Busan
Explore the Jagalchi Fish Market: Discover Korea’s largest seafood market, where you can witness the lively atmosphere and sample fresh seafood dishes.
Visit Busan Tower and Yongdusan Park: Enjoy panoramic views of the city from Busan Tower and stroll through the nearby Yongdusan Park, home to various monuments and cultural attractions.
Hike in Beomeosa Temple and Geumjeongsan Mountain: Experience the serenity of Beomeosa Temple and explore the scenic trails in the surrounding Geumjeongsan Mountain.
Relax at a Korean Spa (Jjimjilbang): Experience traditional Korean relaxation and rejuvenation at one of Busan’s many spas, such as Spa Land Centum City or Heosimcheong Spa.
Discover Oryukdo Skywalk: This glass-bottomed skywalk offers breathtaking views of the Oryukdo Islands and the surrounding coastline.
Local Busan Cuisine
Busan’s culinary scene is diverse and delicious, with regional specialties like dwaeji gukbap (pork soup rice), milmyeon (wheat noodle soup), and ssiat hotteok (seed-stuffed pancake). Popular food streets, like Gwangbok-dong Food Street and Haeundae Market, offer an array of local dishes to sample.
Best Accommodations in Busan South Korea
Busan offers a wide range of accommodations to suit various budgets, from affordable guesthouses and hostels to luxury hotels and serviced apartments. Popular areas to stay include:
- Haeundae: A lively beachfront area with numerous hotels, restaurants, and entertainment options.
- Seomyeon: The city’s central shopping and business district, offering convenient access to various attractions.
- Nampo-dong: A bustling area near the harbor, featuring markets, restaurants, and cultural attractions
- Gwangalli: A trendy neighborhood known for its beach, vibrant nightlife, and the iconic Gwangan Bridge.
- Yeongdo: A charming island district, offering a more laid-back atmosphere and scenic attractions.
Tips for Visiting Busan
- Purchase a rechargeable transportation card, such as the Hanaro Card or Mybi Card, to make traveling on public transportation more convenient and cost-effective.
- Take advantage of the Busan City Tour Bus, which offers hop-on, hop-off services with multiple routes, covering major attractions around the city.
- Be mindful of local customs and etiquette, such as bowing when greeting people, removing your shoes when entering someone’s home or certain restaurants, and using both hands when exchanging objects like money or business cards.
- Learn a few basic Korean phrases to help you navigate the city and connect with locals. Simple phrases like “hello” (안녕하세요, annyeonghaseyo), “thank you” (감사합니다, gamsahamnida), and “how much?” (얼마에요, eolmaeyo) can be helpful.
- Visit during the shoulder seasons (April-May and September-October) for milder weather and fewer crowds. The Busan International Film Festival, held in October, is a popular event that attracts film enthusiasts from around the world.
Overall, I loved spending time in Busan after a crazy few weeks in Seoul. It’s peaceful with a beautiful beach and bit of nightlife. However, despite all the positives of Busan, if you’re limited for time in South Korea, I’d highly recommend spending just 2 days here to do some hiking, discover the Oryukdo Skywalk and an evening of relaxing on the beach with a few drinks to see the fireworks. Then spend the rest of your time in Seoul, which has so much more to offer!