Located on the southeastern-most tip of the Korean peninsula, Busan is the second largest city in the country and also home to Korea’s longest beach. Thanks to the beach at Haeundae, the city, and in particular its costal district, has become increasingly popular with foreign tourists who have joined the large number of locals who have been flocking here for years during the peak seasons.
If you are tempted by the idea of this city, then read on to find what you should see amongst the many attractions on offer in South Korea’s second city.
Top 8 Things to Do in Busan
While the beaches are the main attraction for many, and the recent deluge of luxury hotel and shopping malls, there are still plenty of other things to do in Busan. Here is our list of the best attractions in Busan:
Yongdusan Park is easy to get to for anyone exploring the city of Busan. In true modern-Korean fashion the slopes of the park are equipped with escalators to save you the trouble of traversing their gradients. It’s a great spot for travelling couples who want a touch of romance, thanks to the love notes and locks that are left by local couples in order to seal their love. The park is also home to the 118-metre high Busan Tower which is an ideal way to get a panoramic view of the city for a small fee. There is also an observatory that is open to the public. If you are looking for a peaceful space to relax and enjoy the view, then Yongdusan Park is a must see attraction.
While Haeundae might be Busan’s most popular beach, Gwangalli Beach is definitely worth a look. While it’s great to visit in the day, it comes alive at night with chattering youths and sightseers from the city and neighbouring beaches. The road is lined with popular seafood restaurants making this an ideal spot for dinner. It’s also a great vantage spot to take in the lights of the bridge once the sun has set. For the local experience of coastal life in Busan, visiting Gwangalli Beach comes highly recommended.
The Beomeosa Temple is the most highly recommended religious site in Busan for those visiting the city. It’s an iconic temple in true Korean-style that sits on Mount Geumjeongsan. While this destination does get busy, thanks to its popularity with tourists, if you visit it independently from the large tours, you can experience some of the peace and tranquillity it was built for, between departures and arrivals. The Temple is also a great starting point for a range of walks and treks into the surrounding countryside.
What modern Asian city wold be complete without an aquarium? This Busan underwater kingdom can be found at Haeundae Beach, making it a great respite from the sun, sea and sand. Kids will love the variety of sea life on display here and adults can learn a thing or two while exploring the residents of Busan Aquarium. There are a range of show times during the day but even if your visit doesn’t coincide with one of them, you won’t be disappointed with this attraction.
There are a number of museums in Busan, including the popular Busan Modern History Museum, however this one gets our recommendation if you only have the time or the inclination to visit one of them during your trip. While isn’t likely to be the biggest museum you’ve ever visited, it does have a certain charm. The free entrance and cool interior help make it an enticing attraction in this city. There is also a free library with computers that can be used to access the internet for those that need to get online in Busan. Other than that is a peaceful location that provides a good insight into the history of Korea.
Gamcheon Culture Village
The Gamcheon Culture Village is a great attraction in Busan that mainly consists of a still-lived in ancient village of houses painted in a vivid array of colours. As well as touring the village and taking in the traditional Korean architecture, there are art galleries to visit and small places to eat local food. While you have free reign to explore the village, be aware that people still live here, so it’s a good idea to stick to the beaten track and avoid trying to inadvertently explore people’s homes.
Gwangbokro Culture and Fashion Street
This collection of streets is a highly recommended place to visit of an evening. It’s littered with small boutique shops and places to eat and drink in pleasant surroundings. While the city of Busan features many large malls and international and national shopping chains, if you want something more independent and unique, then heading down to the Gwangbokro Culture and Fashion Street is a good bet. Prices are fairly low here as the area hasn’t yet started cashing in on its popularity. This makes it a good place to pick up great value goods and interesting souvenirs during your stay.
For another slice of Korea’s history, head to the UN Cemetery at Nam-gu. Here you can pay tribute to the soldiers from a number of UN nations who perished during the Korean War that saw North Korea invited its southern neighbour. As well as visiting the memorial, there are a number of events that are held throughout the year which might be of particular interest to anyone visiting Busan, so it is worth checking out the events calendar around the time of your visit.
While Busan is often overlooked by those visiting this part of East Asia, it’s well worth checking out if you happen to be including South Korea on your itinerary, or just fancy seeing a different type of beach destination that isn’t Thailand or Vietnam.