Busan, South Korea's coastal city.
With over 3.6 million people, Busan is South Korea's second-largest city and largest seaport. Busan is located on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula. It is located on the coast, which determined the development of the whole city itself. From great ports to beautiful beaches, Busan doesn't deny its heritage.
We think Busan is the perfect city to end your holiday in South Korea. Some of South Korea's most beautiful beaches make for a relaxing time. Depending on the season of course, because good weather is certainly not a guarantee here. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives. Busan is located between the mountains, so you can make great hikes there. In addition, there are beautiful temples, shopping streets and malls. Enough for a wonderful stay.
Of course it is always important to determine in which neighborhood you want to stay, in our opinion there are two contenders. Nampo-Dong and Seomyeon.
This is the neighborhood where we stayed, and also our favorite neighborhood in Busan. Every day of the week, Nampo-dong is a place crowded with people where you can experience the energy of Busan early in the morning. A major urban district, the neighborhood has a park, a department store, a traditional market, and major tourist attractions, making it a hot place for locals, tourists, and foreigners. This district also contains Gwangbok-ro Fashion Street with the largest number of shops in Busan.
Seomyeon is considered the central commercial hub of Busan. It’s an ideal place for shopping, food and entertainment, much like how Gangnam is in Seoul. Its streets and alleyways bustling with life all day long with its many cafes, bars, food alley, restaurants, cosmetics and fashion shops. It also have a large department store, cinemas and underground malls.
Highlights of Busan:
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple:
This temple is situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. The beauty of this temple is not only due to the beautiful colors and beautiful buildings. The location is the highlight for us. Because the temple is located next to the wild coast, the temple has a very different atmosphere than most temples that are located in the mountains. Definitely a temple worth visiting. Entrance is free.
The nice thing about traveling are the hidden gems. This market is one of them, during a visit to Seomyeon we came across this market by chance. And the great thing is that this turned out to be our favorite market in South-Korea. We were here over the weekend during the rain, so it was definitely busy. But the market is huge and has a typical Asian atmosphere. Nice to observe daily life here.
Busan is perfectly suited for an adventurous hike, given its location between many mountains. So we also made a adventurous hike here. We chose Jangsan mountain because you have a beautiful view over the city and the southern sea. We started our hike from Metro station BEXCO (line 2 and Donghae line).
From here you can follow a hiking trail next to the river to the northern Jangsan Seongbulsa temple. Just past the temple, the route to the Peak begins. The peak is located at an altitude of 634 meters. We have experienced this as a relatively easy hike, the distance from the temple to the top is about 2 km. Normally, the view at the top is the reward of the summit. Unfortunately we had clouds, rain and wind, made possible by the approaching typhoon Hinnamnor. Nevertheless a hike always takes you to great heights in Busan.
Gwangalli M Drone Light Show:
Be amazed during this amazing show around Gwangalli Beach every Saturday. The Drone Light Show involves 300 unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) displaying spectacular performances that paint the night sky with various content. The show can be viewed from Gwangalli Beach and takes about 10 minutes. Hours: October to February 7PM and 9PM. March to September 8PM and 10PM.
This Fish Market is the largest seafood market in South Korea, selling both live and dried seafood. Jagalchi Market ranks high in terms of public transport accessibility, huge varieties of live seafood, nice ambience with outdoor street performances on some days and great sea views. You can purchase the live seafood on the ground floor and bring it to one of the many restaurants on 2nd floor for preparation and cooking at additional charge. On the top floor you have a platform with a beautiful view over the city and the harbor.
After the huge hall inside, the market continues outside over a huge area. Especially on weekends it is huge. Animal welfare can certainly be improved, and we certainly wish that Korea will make significant steps in this direction. But still a hugely impressive market.
Busan Gamcheon Culture Village:
This village is formed by houses built in staircase-fashion on the foothills of a coastal mountain, earning this village the nickname "Machu Picchu of Busan". The cheerful colors and beautiful wall paintings certainly contribute to this. Nice alleys and streets to explore make this an ideal location to stock up on a souvenir. The many coffee shops are waiting for you for a nice cup of coffee.
Bupyeong Kkangtong Market:
This market in Busan is near Nampo-dong. Although this place is less known to foreign tourists, Koreans really like it. Kkangton means "can" in Korean. Apparently, the name is originated from the Korean War when a lot of canned food from the U.S. military was traded in this market back in the days, and the name has been kept ever since. During the day, everything is sold on the market such as household appliances, cigarettes, etc. But around 6PM, the market really comes to life, and this is the place to score a delicious Korean delicacy. Tasty!
The Nampo-Dong district contains Gwangbok-ro Fashion Street with the largest number of shops in Busan, a perfect location for a day of shopping. Nevertheless, we found a place where we enjoyed a wonderful shopping day even more, namely Shinsegae centum City. Shinsegae Centum City Department Store is registered in the Guinness World Records as the largest shopping complex in the world, offering a full range of entertainment options, from an ice rink to a movie theather, and even a golf range and a spa. And most importantly, lots of shops and floors full of shopping fun.
Busan has some beautiful beaches, the most beautiful in all of South Korea is often said. Our three favorite beaches are: Haeundae Beach, Gwangalli Beach, and Songdo beach.
Haeundae Beach is the most famous beach in Busan and beloved throughout the country. The white sand beach is about 1.5km long and 30- 50m wide, contributing to the beautiful coastline of Busan. Every summer, locals and tourists alike flock to the beach for the perfect summer vacation. However, due to its popularity, it can also get crowded, but it remains a beautiful beach. This beach is easily accessible with Metro line 2.
Located to the west of Haeundae Beach, Gwangalli Beach is 1.4 kilometers long and 25- 110 meters wide, and is famous for its fine sand. At this beach we really liked the boulevard, which is filled with delicious restaurants and romantic cafes, as well as stores selling famous fashion brands. The area has plenty to offer, but many people come in the evening to take in the bright lights of Gwangandaegyo Bridge, stretching across the horizon. This beach is easily accessible with Metro line 2.
Songdo Beach is a lot smaller than the other beaches, its 800 meters long and 50 meters wide. It is located 3 kilometers from Busan's Jagalchi Market and was one of the first beaches to open in 1913. In 2000, the beach underwent a comprehensive 5-year reconstruction and reopened with restored and expanded coastlines and the addition of several fountains. This beach is accessible by bus, and unfortunately not by metro. The big advantage, however, is that it is also a bit quieter. On the left side of the beach is the Songdo Cloud Trail, a cable car for an adventurous ride across the sea.
Try local delicacies:
Busan has a lot to offer in the culinary field. From fresh fish to some unique desserts. Busan also has some own delicacies which you should definitely try. Our favorite choice was:
Korean sweet pancakes (Hotteok) are one of the most popular Korean street snacks. They are particularly popular in winter and they were introduced by Chinese immigrants in the early 1900s in Korea. Typically they are stuffed with dark brown sugar, cinnamon powder & some grounded nuts or seeds. I don't have a sweet tooth, but this is absolutely delicious. In addition, at many stalls throughout the city for sale for only 1000 to 2000 won.
Bingsu is a Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings. This topping is Injeolmi, which is is a variety of "Tteok" or Korean rice cake. So aside from the super soft snowflake shaved ice, you also get the chewy injeolmi rice cakes inside, topped with soybean powder and it comes with a small cup of sweet condensed milk for the finishing touch. Delicious!