Busan is a very particular place and not a cliché destination to visit, you definitely will love it and it worth adding into your bucket list. South Korea is a well-developed country, which brings to the world the touchscreen, MP3 player, Samsung, the technology of digital multimedia broadcasting, Korean BBQ and many other cool things.
South Korean cities embrace the mixture of the unique culture and traditions with the modern touch. There are hidden Ancient Buddhist temples along with skyscrapers, some undeveloped areas and luxury hotels with exceptional customers service.
Busan is the second largest city in S.Korea with a population of 3.5 million, who are mostly Buddhists and Christians. The citizens follow old traditions, but at the same time, they seem to be open to everything new. While many of you have heard of Seoul and some of you, have, perhaps even been there during a flight connection stopover, not many people know about Busan, an awesome city- port. So what is interesting about it and what you can do in Busan?
1. City Bay Boat Cruise & Dine
It’s a one-and-a-half-hour cruise which takes you along the river to see the beautiful Diamond bridge. You can have the trip with a lunch/dinner on a ‘Tiffany 21’ liner. You can see amazing views of the city and a harbour, night lights and lights installations on the bridge. Take a two-hour tour around the Symbol of Busan – Diamond bridge. When was there, I got a feeling that the boat really needs to be redesigned and renovated inside. The dinner is pretty average, but the view totally worth going there. Amazing ambience and wonderful shiny bridge views, plus some live music at dinner will make your day. http://www.tiffany21.com/. Cruise starts at 12:00noon-2:00 pm for Lunch tour with prices starting from 66,000 won. Cookie tour at 3:30pm-5:00pm priced at 44,000 won. Dinner Tour from 7:00pm-9:00pm which costs 99,000 won and lastly the Night tour from 10:30pm-12:30am for 77,000 won (Source).
2. Check Jagalchi Fish Market and Order Some Grilled Seafood
Busan is a city port by the sea and the is seafood is one of their biggest industries, it is home to Jagalchi, the Largest fish market in Korea. Here you can find lots of different kinds of seafood and, buy some grilled fish or have a fresh fish local lunch or dinner with Soju. See some bizarre sea creatures and try some if you are brave :) !
This fish market is located in Nampo Dong area, close to Lotte Aqua Mall.
3. Haeundae Beach Walk/ Swim/Surf
At Haeundae, you can take a beach walk, or go to some cafes across the beach. Here is why I personally prefer Busan to Seoul – there is a beach in Busan, which is nice even in the Winter time. And it is wonderful in the summertime when you can even rent a surfboard or just a sunbed. At the beginning of October, there is the Busan Film Festival. So the beach gets pretty busy and fun, here you can meet a Korean or international celebrity.
Across the beach, you can find many cafes and bars to stop by. If you walk down from Busan Aquarium, cross the road and turn right, you can find a small fish market, where they will grill some fresh seafood right in front of you. Do not miss a chance to try it! It is cheap and delicious, and it is a cool local experience. Or you can simply find Hard Rock Cafe in front of Paradise Hotel (just ask someone or look at the map), and walk left to the street behind it.
4. Walk along Dongbaegseon Island and visit APEC House
This walk is located near Haeundae beach uphill from Westin Chosin Hotel. If you are travelling by taxi – you can ask a taxi driver to drop you off at the Westin Chosin Hotel and then simply walk up the hill. The track is quite easy and relaxing. It is surrounded by a beautiful landscape with pine trees and camellias. You will see the lighthouse, visit the modern Primary APEC house-museum. Locals love coming here to jog or to walk and sightseeing.
Watch for the little stairs – you can come down to the water to take a photo on the rocks!
APEC structure has been built to host a world summit in 2005, where the conference of the world leaders was held. Now it is open as a museum- memorial. It is a unique place, where the modern culture and Korean traditional culture collide.
부산광역시 해운대구 동백로 116 (우동)
5. Have a Beachside Dinner at Westin Chosin Hotel. ‘Camelia’
Visit this gorgeous fancy beach-side place for dinner at Camelia or/and cocktail/ afternoon tea at Panorama Bar to enjoy the view. The buffet offers a large choice of seafood, meats, sushi, vegetable dishes and, of course, deserts. It is a bit of an upscale place, and it is absolutely worths it! Incredible views and a large chose of fresh & absolutely delicious foods.
Bookings in advance are strongly recommended for Friday and Saturday while during the week there are no problems with the tables and no time limits.
6. Walk and Shop in Gwangbokro Culture and Fashion street
(Nampo Dong Area )
There is a cool shopping street with lots of various Korean fashion shops and many cafes and eateries. Here you can see funky bronze statues, which are very popular for taking pictures among tourists.
This place is especially beautiful during Christmas time and it is always busy and fun. If you want to eat something – just turn to any small parallel street and you’ll find more small local cafes.
Other places to visit in Busan for shopping and entertainment are Lotte Mall and Aqua Mall with the water, music and lights show inside the mall every hour.
These two malls are located in the same place and are connected, so you can walk from one mall to the other. What is interesting about this mall – there is a big fountain show every hour with lights and music. Tip: Watch it from the Ground floor.
7. Watch the city from the bird’s eye view. Busan Tower
On Gwanbokro street you can find an escalator which takes you up to see Busan Tower and the city from bird’s eye view. The ticket to the tower is quite cheap and it is only about $5 (5000 KRW).
2019 Update: they have recently renovated the exterior and added a few cool photo zones on your way out.
8. Shop Korean Beauty Products
Pick some super cute packaging that contains awesome beauty products. You might see pretty and appealing shops on the street – do not hesitate to come in and make sure to grab pressure products! Check Etude House, Tony Moly, Skin Food, It’s skin and other local brands for cute packaging, innovative products and low prices.
9. Visit Authentic Korean Traditional Restaurant:
Traditional Duck Meal and Experience.
Visit this place for authentic traditional dining Famous for its Duck dishes. This is a very particular place with a specific cool ambience, museum and a botanic garden where you can see some cute animals and local plants.
You can have your dinner or lunch just like Koreans did a long, long time ago – in wooden houses sitting on the floor surrounded by lots of antiques. It is a great place for a family visit and a unique and unforgettable experience.
10. Visit the Largest Department Store in the Asia Pacific
For shopping in Busan, I suggest visiting the biggest department store ‘Shinsagae’. Levels 1 and 2 accommodate luxury brands boutiques and makeup stands. Following the upper levels – Korean and international brands and some European brands sport apparel (Fila, Nike, Adidas etc) and restaurants and cinemas. Cinemas in Korea are mostly screen movies in English with Korean subtitles.
11. Explore Gamcheon Cultural Village
This is a village with lots of arts, street art and graffiti. Cool place to visit, to take photos and to have a walk. But get ready to walk a lot and to go up and down the stairs.
The entrance is free, but it is highly recommended to get a map (~2000KRW) because it is not easy to navigate your way in the village.
Tips by thetalesofatraveladdict of how to get there:
Take subway line 1 to Toseong Station. Then take Exit 6. On the way out you’ll see an intersection. Turn right at the corner and walk straight. On your right, you’ll see a hospital and the minibus stop right out front. Take Bus N 2 or 2-2. The bus stop ‘Gamcheon Culture Village’ will be at the top of the hill.
12. Visit Jurassic Park on the Rooftop of Shinsagae Department Store
If you are visiting Shinsagae Dpt store, take time to go to the rooftop. The exit to the park is just behind the cafes. It is a small park, that would be more exciting for the kids, but adults can have a look too, take some photos or just enjoy a small outdoor oasis and relax after shopping and check out some fantastic views from the rooftop!
13. Watch incredible sea life at Busan Aquarium
Sea Life is an international brand of Aquariums around the world.
This is a fun attraction for kids and adults. The Aquarium is easy to find at Haeundae Beach.
Address: 1411-4 Jung 1-dong, Haeundae-gu.
Name and address in Korean:
SEA LIFE 부산 아쿠아리움, 해운대구 중1동 1411-4.
14. Score Great Shopping Deals at the Outlet Malls
If you are after sales and discounts – visit Shinsagae outlet, which is located within about 40 minutes away from the city or about 25 minutes from Haeundae beach. I took a taxi, as far as I was short on time and the entire trip was around 50-60 Won return from the city (Busanjin). While it is easy to get a taxi from the city, it may be a little bit more difficult to catch a cab on the way back. There are also buses and trains that you can take to this place, which is much cheaper (ask the concierge in your hotel how to get there).
Address: 1133 Jungwan-lo, Jangan – eup, Cijang-gun, Busan.
In my opinion, this place is not that big, but you may need the entire day to walk around, have a coffee at the Starbucks or lunch at the food court on the third level.
It is not that big that like some American or European famous outlets villages, but get ready to spend a few hours here.
When I have visited it, there was only one ATM I was able to use with my foreign Visa card – the Citi Bank one at the food court. Other ATMs did not accept my cards.
You can find here some big brand outlets, such as Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Moschino, Armani, Ferragamo, Coach, Fendi and others. Upper levels are La Coste, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, Nike and others. Everything is on a 50-70% discount.
I’ve found here cool Michael Kors hills just for just 70$. And I was lucky to find a big size (9), which is quite difficult in Korea and any Asian countries (due to the small Asian sizes). My other haul was another pair of leather boots at the Korean brand store – ‘Suecomma Bonnie’. It was the only Korean footwear brand where I could do my shoe shopping. Majority of Korean footwear, in general, looks not really fashionable to me. So do not expect great shoe shopping, but do expect good coats, jumpers, dresses and accessories.
14.1 Shop the Sales at Lotte Outlet Mall,
You can simply walk from the mall to this temple below:
15. Visit Haedong Yonggung Temple
This gorgeous breathtaking place with a very special ambience is located close to the traditional restaurant (number 9 in the list) and not far from Shinsagae Outlet (N.14), so you can do these 2-3 activities in one day.
To get here you can take Busan city Tour bus, or driving.
The bus departures from the Train station in Busan. There is a bus stop on the side (if you look at the station – on the right):
This tour of the Temple takes about 4 hours in total, it is inexpensive and highly recommended.
Be ready to walk down the stairs at least to the middle. At least you will see an ocean view (e.g. if you walk with someone who has limited mobility and any difficulties to walk, e.g. aged parents or kids).
It is a serenity place of power surrounded by Spectacular views. Before building the temple they had to find a powerful place with a particular vibe. I am not a Buddhist, but I honestly could feel it, this place certainly has some magic around. If you’d like to enter the temple – please, take your off shoes and be quiet with respect to the prayers. You can grab some souvenirs next to the buses parking area upstairs.
I would also recommend visiting the temple during weekdays to avoid the crowds.
Seomeyon – 서면
Check the Streets Around Lotte Hotel. Busanjin Area
Visit Seomeyon / Busanjin-Gu to enjoy the shopping street with lots of shops, cafes, clothes, cosmetics and sports outlets. There is also a cinema, which is all in English in Korea – so if you understand English.
There is also a massive underground shopping establishment with more affordable shopping and interesting inexpensive finds that you can check out on your spare time. Simply jump into one of the underground crossings and roam around the tunnels, try to do not get lost :)
Pretty much all this area between Seomeyon and Jeonpo train stations in this circle is cool to explore.
This area is always pumping regardless the day of the week. There are always young people around and you can always find a buzz in local cafes, bars and restaurants. What we did last time that I have really enjoyed is visiting a few different cafes in a raw for some shared dish. So we have tried a little bit of everything and we changed the environment a few times, so it was pretty fun!
GALMEGI BREWING CO SEOMEYON
It is a large shopping area around with numerous large and small shops including a big Zara store, H&M, Foot Locker, lots of other sport apparel brands, local Korean shops and more.
Do not miss underground shopping, Korean cosmetics flagship stores and cute accessories and souvenirs shops.
What can you find here? Numerous Shopping, cafes, bars, cinemas, beauty salons and interesting streets to see.
17. Ride a Cable Car in Songdo Sky Park
Come here during the weekdays to avoid crowd, try to choose a clear day with good weather.
They have recently opened this park and this time I have visited Busan in 2019 was the first time I was lucky to check out this place, so I am happy to add it to my Busan recommendations list for you today.
The return ride cost W 15,000 with a normal floor cabin and 20,000 with a glass floor. There is a nice park to explore and some awesome views to see from the cliff. Get ready to do a little bit of hicking if you would like to explore the entire park. They have facilities, food and drinks at the park and some cool huge moving and dinosaurs that are fun to see for the kids.
18. Try Korean Street Food
You can find lots of street food around these streets – I’ve tried it and I’m still alive :)
It’s not spicy as I was guessing.
It is not a dog (as some tourists may assume), and it’s mostly chicken, it tastes good, some may be quite spicy. Definitely go for some sweets!
19. Modern Art Museum
It was a rainy day and we’ve decided to hide from bad weather in a museum.
20. Get some Silk and Cotton at Busanjin Textile Market.
You can also visit the textile market, which is very big and has a wide selection of Korean traditional costumes and nice materials.
To find some silk and cotton, go a bit deeper and walk upstairs, where you can find more beautiful fabrics. It is good in quality and price is pretty affordable (but not too cheap though).
21. Enjoy a Dinner and Stunning views at the Panoramic Restaurant at the Top Hyatt
Another beautiful place to see the beautiful panoramic view of the city – Park Hyatt. There are 3 venues on top of the tower on the 30th floor and above. You can have a cocktail at the panoramic bar, have a tea or coffee at Patisserie or enjoy fine dining at the Living Room or Dining Room.
You can enjoy the restaurants even if you do not stay at the Hyatt. Dinner at the restaurant is about 50- 100$ per person with the drink.
If you do not feel like a dinner, you can just pop in for a drink or for a coffee at the level below with the same views!
22. Try Soju
This is the most popular alcoholic beverage for Koreans. Depending on a brand and a type, alcohol may vary from 16.7% to 45 %, while 20% one is more common.
Soju is based on rice or barely. If you’ve tried Arak in Indonesia – soju is something similar, especially since Arak is an origin of Soju. However, Soju is much pleasant to drink I think.
23. Visit Cat’s Cafe in Seomeyon
If you are a cat lover – you may want to tick this point in the list.
There are two cat’s cafes in Seomeyon. You will need to buy a coffee and you’ll be allowed to play with the cats for an unlimited time.
Cats cafe on Google Maps 35.15459, 129.06135
24. Learn to Surf
Go to Songheong-Dong Beach, which is only within 10 minutes drive away from Haeundae beach and 5000 Won by taxi (around 5$). You will find lots of surf shops, surf schools and surf rentals along the beach. Taking a surf lesson is really something unique for Korea travel experience! Normally waves here are not big not messy, which makes it perfect for learning!
You can find surf shops around the area or right at the beach to rent your surfboard and enrol in some classes.
25. Visit Seafood Restaurants in Haeundae Beach
There is a variety of seafood restaurants along the beach from the opposite side of the beach from the Westin Chosin hotel. To find these, you can walk from, for example, Paradise Hotel to your left (if you look at the ocean and Paradise is behind you).
26. Enjoy Most Scenic Bath and Luxury SPA With the Ocean View
It’s expensive but well worth it. It’s an ideal place for honeymooners and for those who love to spoil themselves! Id’ say it is a luxury answer to your question ‘What to do in Busan when it rains’.
City overview from the Lotte Hotel window:
Some extra things to do:
– Visit the Comodoro Hotel to see beautiful Korean style architecture, exteriors and breathtaking interiors.
See my favourite spots in Korea under Instagram hashtag #InnagramKorea
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