Korea’s second largest city after Seoul, Busan is not as impressive and cosmopolitan as the capital, but it does feature some lovely corners hidden among its chaotic concrete-dominated districts.
Situated on the south-eastern tip of the country, it is Korea’s largest and busiest port and a popular holiday destination for the locals, who flock its many beaches during summertime.
Seaside entertainment, scenic temples, downtown mountain parks and endless shopping opportunities make this Asian metropolis a tempting travel destination.
Two busy subway lines and a series of city-bus routes efficiently serve the city and the suburbs. Like in all Asian metropolises, public transport can be quite crowded during rush hour.
Two types of taxi cabs are available in Busan. The regular taxis are easy to find on the street or ranks. Deluxe taxis are usually parked around popular tourist spots, such as famous city attractions, luxurious hotels and the airport. Deluxe taxis cost more than the regular type, but they accept credit cards and offer a free car-phone service. You can spot them from a yellow lane across their side.
Things to see and do in Busan
Busan features a series of popular beaches, most of which offer a vast variety of dining and entertainment facilities, along with hosting lively cultural festivals. Gwangalli Beach mostly attracts the local youth and fishermen. It is the best place to try water-sports, while it also offers a nearby cultural centre, which houses cinema theatres, art galleries and hip boutiques.
However, Busan’s most visited beach is probably Haeundae Beach. Hosting some of the city’s best festivals, it also features a square where traditional local games and activities take place. Songjeong Beach is popular with families due to its shallow waters, while Dadaepo Beach is worth a visit to see Nakdonggang River flowing into the ocean.
Busan’s most scenic religious site, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is a seaside complex, which includes Daeungjeon Main Hall, Yongwangdang Shrine, Gulbeop Cave Sanctum, a golden statue of Seawater Great Goddess Buddha and a 3-storey pagoda. First built during 14th century, the temple was reconstructed in the 70s. The spot offers fascinating sea views and a lovely sunset.
Located on Mount Geumjeongsan, Beomeosa Temple was initially built 13 centuries ago by a local monk. However, the current construction dates back to early 18th century, since the original structure was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592. Featuring colourful halls, pagodas, hermitages and royal chambers, this charming religious complex is definitely worth a visit.
Mingle with the locals by walking down Jagalchi Fish Market. Korea’s largest seafood market, Jagalchi houses dozens of stalls, which sell all sorts of seafood, from shrimp to whale meat. This is also a great place to catch a bite, while gazing at the locals making their daily shopping. Jagalchi Cultural Tourism Festival is held here in October.
Close to Jagalchi Market, you will find Nampodong Street. The street and its surrounding area are considered Busan’s theatre district. Hosting Busan International Film Festival, the area is packed with movie theatres and also houses the Korean version of Hollywood Walk of Fame, with dozens of copper tablets featuring the hand and foot prints of the winners of the film featival.
Shopping addicts will love the Shinsegae Centum City. The world’s largest department store, it features hundreds of stores that sell pretty much anything, from designer clothes to kitchen sinks. Have a break from endless shopping to grab a bite at the on-site food court; Korean barbeque could be nice choice. Apart from retail shops, the complex also houses cinema theatres, an ice skating rink, spas and beauty salons and several other entertainment and recreational facilities.