15 things to do in Busan, South Korea
Author: Clark Tos
Are you planning to go to Asia and put your suitcases in the Korean city of Busan? Here is a selection of 15 things to do in Busan, South Korea.
What to do, what to visit in Busan, South Korea?
Plage de Haeundae Crédit : eugenesergeev
Busan – formerly Pusan –, is the second largest city in South Korea after Seoul, the capital. Located on the southeast coast, facing the Sea of Japan, Busan is also the country's leading commercial port. This international metropolis hosted several sporting events, such as the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the Asian Games which took place that same year. Cultural events are also regularly held there, such as exhibitions and the Busan International Film Festival, which has taken place there every year since 1996.
Busan has a rich history dating back to the Neolithic era, when the first humans settled there. This city allowed the development of the commercial and diplomatic relations of the Korea with Japan. Busan also played a major role in the Korean War. Indeed, it was the scene of the 'battle off Busan', during which the South Korean navy was able to intercept a North Korean ship which was trying to land soldiers on the coast.
Busan offers a multitude of facets that make it a travel destination unavoidable if you plan to visit South Korea. Its landscapes, its beautiful beaches and its places of tourist interest , like the temples, are so many riches that this city has to offer. You will discover a multitude of activities to do there, and the transport network is efficient since the city has 6 metro lines and many bus lines.
If you are setting foot in Seoul for your trip to South Korea, you can reach Busan by plane landing at Busan International Airport, or by taking the local high-speed train, the KTX. The journey takes 2 hours 30 minutes. Note that the city has many hotels for your accommodation, and the restaurants offer à la carte menus as well as specialties. Between excursions and cultural visits, discover our selection of 15 things to do during your trip to Busan.
1 – Visit Beomeosa Temple
Korean traditional architecture at Beomeosa Temple. Credit: Sanga Park
Located north of the city and nestled on a Mountain , the Beomeosa Buddhist Temple is one of the places you absolutely must visit during your trip to Busan. You will fall in love with its bamboo alleys, its beautiful traditional buildings, but also its sumptuous landscapes. You will also appreciate the superb view of Busan from the heights. Note that you can stay there for a few days to discover the life of the monks.
2 – Visit the Jagalchi fish market
The stalls of the Jagalchi fish market. Credit: RomanBabakin
In the shopping district of Nampo-Dong near the port, the Jagalchi fish market - the largest in the country -, impresses with its vastness . This emblematic place is a must on your trip to Busan, and must be part of your ideas for outings. To fully appreciate your visit, go there early in the morning. Thus, you will be able to observe the comings and goings of fishermen who deliver fresh fish and seafood, caught the same day. Above the market, restaurants allow you to taste the seafood directly.
3 – Take a trip to Taejongdae Park
Taejongdae Park Observatory. Credit: artran
Housed on a rocky cliff, this park is famous for its lighthouse as well as its observatory which offers a panoramic view of the coastline. You can travel it in a small train, but you can also stretch your legs while contemplating the surroundings. Taejongdae Park is also home to a small Buddhist temple.
4 – Take a walk in Yongdusan Park
View of the Bell Pavilion and the city of Busan in the background, Yongdusan Park. Credit: efired
Accessible from the Nampo-Dong district, Yongdusan Park is renowned for the beauty of its traditional pavilion , but also its floral clock and its statues. The Busan Tower Observatory, which is also located there, offers a view of the city and its port. If you are looking for a haven of peace, this place is recommended. You just need to take the elevator from Gwangbok-ro street to get there.
5 – Stroll through the Gukje market
View of the Gukje market alley. Link: Julien Viry
Also called Nampo-Dong International Market, Gukje Market is one of the biggest in South Korea. Similar to a souk, you will find many alleys with their multitude of stalls and as many products to discover. If you get a bit peckish during your walk, just take a detour to one of the restaurants in the market.
6 – Discover Haeundae Beach
Sea and sun on Haeundae beach. Credit: aomam
Located east of Busan, Haeundae is a district known mainly for its beautiful and long beach . During the summer, the crowd is at its peak and a huge crowd storms the fine sandy beach. Be sure to pass by Dongbeak Park, also known as Camellia Island. You can access it by passing at the foot of the luxury hotel Western Chosun Beach.
7 – See Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
View of Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Link: f9photos
Built in 14 and century, the Buddhist temple of Haedong Yonggungsa captivates with the beauty of its richly decorated buildings . It has the particularity of being erected by the sea, unlike the other temples which nestle at the foot of the mountains. The place can be reached from the center of Busan by public transport, but you can also get there by renting a car.
8 – Take a trip to the cultural village of Gamcheon
Richly colored houses in the cultural village of Gamcheon. Credit: DoctorEgg
Gamcheon is a famous village colored located in the Saha-Gu district, which welcomed refugees fleeing the Korean War in the 1950s. In order to enhance it, the district was renovated from 2010. Artists, urban planners, local officials and, of course, the locals themselves joined their talents and enthusiasm to create the Gamcheon Culture Village. It can be recognized by its small, richly colored houses, its narrow streets and its stairs, as well as by its works of art scattered here and there. The village offers a panoramic view of the sea.
9 – Visit the cinema center at night
The illuminated rooftops of the Busan Cinema Center. Credit: artran
Built in 2011 in honor of the Festival International du Film de Busan , the Busan Cinema Center is recognizable by its avant-garde architecture. To better appreciate it, visit it at night and you will not fail to appreciate its roofs covered with LEDS which offer a magical spectacle. To get there, take subway line 1 to Seomyeon area, then change to line 2 and get off at Centum City stop. Then head to Centum Marina Park and the Suyeonggang River.
10 – Visit the modern history museum
Entrance to the Museum of Modern History. Credit: NGCHIYUI
If you want to learn more about Busan's past, nothing beats a visit to its modern history museum. From photographs to relics, this museum will take you through the different eras that have marked the evolution and development of this historic city.
11 – Stroll through Shinsegae Centum City, a large shopping center in Busan
View of Shinsegae Centum City shopping center building. Credit: Anney_Lier
Shinsegae Hundred City is le plus grand centre commercial of Busan and was at one time the largest in the world. It has many shops and restaurants. It also includes a gigantic spa in the basement. Korean hot bath sessions are offered at a reasonable price. Shinsegae is also a food court, a children's playground, a bookstore, and even a golf course and an ice rink.
12 – Stroll along the shopping district of BIFF Square
The alley of BIFF Square, with the Busan Cinema Center. Credit: artran
This lively neighbourhood houses the cinema center or the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF in English). Plaques bearing the handprints of actors and actresses can be found there. Beyond the cultural aspect, BIFF Square offers an assortment of local culinary specialties. The place not to be missed for a gourmet experience.
13 – Take a tour of the United Nations Memorial
The United Nations Memorial, a place dedicated to the fighters of the Korean War. Credit: Im Yeongsik
It is at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery that many soldiers who fought under the auspices of this same body and from 16 countries during the Korean War are buried and honored. To get there, go to Busan Station and take bus number 134, then get off at Yuen Kongwon bus stop. After walking about 500 meters, get to the subway and take Line 2 at Seomyeon. Get off at exit number 3 of Daeyeon station, then walk in a straight line for about 25 minutes before arriving at the entrance of the memorial. Visiting this site can be done in addition to Seoul prison if you also pass through the capital.
14 – Escape naturally through the Igidae park
View of the coastline of the Igidae park. Credit: crystaltmc
You have craving for fresh air and physical activity ? Opt for a Trek through the Igidae park, and enjoy landscapes located between mountain and sea. Whether you prefer to walk in the forest or follow the coastal path, the choice is yours. Finish your journey in style on the Oryukdo Skywalk platform, which has a transparent U-shaped floor overlooking a 30-meter cliff. To get there, take subway line 2 and get off at Kyungsun University station (Kyungsun University-Pukyong national University). Take bus number 20, 22 or 27 and get off at the Igidae ipgu stop. All you have to do is reach the park after a walk of about 25 minutes.
15 – Contemplate the world of fish at the Sea Life Aquarium
Busan Sea Life Aquarium entrance. Credit: Julien Viry
If you have children or are still childish, take a trip to the Sea Life aquarium, located on Haeundae beach. Miscellaneous activities playful and educational activities await you. You will discover a great abundance of marine species, whether fish, rays or sharks.