Capitalising on its great coastal location and deep artistic traditions, Busan attracts travellers as the Sea and Film capital of Korea.
Feeling stressed? Need a getaway from your daily routine and hectic city life? Looks like it’s time to visit Busan, a great beach town where your dreams can come true.
Night walks along the beach. White seagulls and relaxing sounds of waves. Endless sky horizon and romantic lighthouses. Plenty of fresh seafood and open-air cafes with great views. This is Busan⸺ a city where you always want to come back.
Busan, the second-largest city in the country, is one of the must-visit places for any newcomer or a long-term resident. It is one of the most modern cities in Asia and is famous for its many skyscrapers and other architectural attractions. Busan is recommended to be included in the bucket list of every foreign tourist to Korea. This beautiful city does not win the love of travelers immediately, but gradually as you become acquainted with its gorgeous sights and choose to stay for a longer period!
The main advantage of this region is the opportunity to enjoy a thematic trip that will satisfy all your wishes. When planning a tourist trip, you are invited to choose one of the routes aimed at getting acquainted with ancient history and traditional culture or medical tourism and shopping. Busan without a doubt will give you a lot of vivid unforgettable impressions!
The following is a list of main reasons why you should visit Busan ⸺ an underrated southern capital of Korea.
Did you know there are seven public beaches in Busan? Located on the beautiful South-Eastern coast of the Korean peninsula, Busan boasts stunning beaches where you can spend either a quick getaway or a memorable vacation.
As you may have heard, salty seawater and sea air are great for improving overall physical and mental health conditions, so going on a beach trip will definitely make you feel better. Since as early as the 18th-century doctors have been prescribing trips to the seashore, and several studies have proved a direct connection between the ocean and health. Thus, a holiday at one of the Busan beaches may be just the right medicine for stress, given there are tons of things to do and see in this City of Lights apart from sunbathing, swimming and water sports. Additionally, according to recent research results, seaside strolls are particularly good for helping people to sleep for longer.
Haundae Beach night view
Haeundae is the #1 and most famous beach in Busan and it is usually occupied by international tourists or respectable domestic crowds looking for more upscale services and surroundings. Most of the best Busan 5 star hotels, as well as recently opened 6 star Lotte Singniel, are located in or around the Haeundae beach area. Among the main attractions of Haeundae is affluent ‘Bay 101’, which is known for high-end restaurants, cafes and a yacht center, Busan Sea Aquarium, Dongbaek Island, and Dalmaji road. Called Montmartre of Busan, Dalmaji road is all about great ocean views, trendy cafes, art galleries, hiking trails and it has a Camellia forest and pine tree forest. Haeundae beach area is full of international restaurants, bars, and clubs and is famous for various cultural festivals, K-pop concerts, and events held all year round. To get to Haeundae take KTX train from Seoul station, then a city bus or a cab from Busan station, and in 40 minutes you can check in your hotel or guesthouse, unpack and run to say hi to the beach and the sea! Then go for a slow promenade along the beach and listen to busking musicians and artists’ cool live music performances. It is guaranteed that the sight of the sea alone is good enough to cheer you up!
The other popular Busan beach is Gwangalli - it is loved by and attracts younger crowds looking for a more laid-back ambiance, cool hang out spots, and more liberal vibes. If you happen to stop by Gwangalli, don't forget to enjoy and take pictures of the stunning Gwangandaegyo (aka Diamond bridge) after sunset while sipping coffee or cocktails at one of the numerous beach bars or cafes.
Songjeong Beach is famous for its surfing schools and ideal for a family vacation. There are also Songdo, Dadaepo, Ilgwang, and Imrang beaches. Each has a distinct character, landmark attractions nearby, and is worth visiting at least once.
When the outdoor heat gets too much, Busanites and visitors love ducking inside for a spot of retail therapy and a good dose of airconditioning. While not everyone is a fan of shopping, in Busan it's an activity you don’t want to skip and your trip would be incomplete without it. Here is the largest department store in the world. Shinsegae Centum City and other mega facilities are being built such as the Centum Leaders Mark skyscraper and the highest office in the country -- Busan International Financial Center. Fantastic Spa Land consisting of 22 spas, 13 themed jjimjilbangs (Korean traditional saunas) and equipped with all the benefits of a traditional Korean spa, can be found in Shinsegae Centum City, and it’s a must-visit place to relax and indulge in a few hours of customized tranquil surroundings to invigorate the body and replenish the spirit. From massage to skincare, body treatment and more a team of experienced professionals is eager to assist you in creating the most memorable spa experience designed to heal and rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul.
The Nampodong Kukche international market is a space where various cultures of the world are gathered. While the history of the international market is a thing of the past, in the period after the liberation of Korea, a permanent market appeared here, formed from the malls with items that had been used in the war years. In each lane of the market, shops with a wide variety of goods are lined up in a row. Exploring the atmosphere of the market will be an interesting and fascinating activity. In 2014, the premiere of the film “The International Market” (Ode to My Father) was held, the shooting of which took place in Kukje market. Thanks to the huge number of more than 14 million visitors a year, the international market has become one of the main attractions of Busan.
Probably, there is no such thing as a seaside resort city without yacht or boat cruises. Every traveller visiting the beach town usually dreams of taking a sea trip and Busan has numerous exciting opportunities to check and look around main travel sites while enjoying yacht or boat sea cruises.
Panstar Cruise will take you to see the great views of the beautiful south coast of Dadohae, Hallyeosudo, and Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Tiffany21 is a party convention cruise and it can host a variety of events from private occasions to the onboard buffet, fireworks, or even weddings. It’s a nighttime cruise that takes guests from Dongbaekseom to Haeundae, then to see the breathtaking view of the Gwangan (Diamond) bridge and back to Haeundae. More information about these and other wonderful cruises, as well as how to take them, can be found here: Busan Sea Cruises.
Since recently, sailing around stunning beaches and beautiful Busan travel spots on a yacht is no longer a luxury or a dream but quite a regular activity. There are several options to have a glimpse of Busan from a yacht while chilling with your friends or family and sipping cocktails and even having a BBQ party. Take an hour-long sailing yacht tour from Busan Suyeong Bay Yachting Center around the waters of Busan and the city’s most famous landmarks and attractions such as Haeundae and Gwangalli Beaches, Gwangan Bridge and Dongbaekseom Island. There are three different cost-effective options to choose from, each of them is guaranteed to make your journey truly epic and unforgettable. Day Yacht Tour itinerary includes Marine City, Dongbaek Island, Haeundae, Gwangan Bridge, and takes you back to the Yachting center. Please note that the total number of people who book for it should be a minimum of 4. Sunset Yacht Tour starts at 7 pm and the main sites which you can see include Marine City, Dongbaek Island, Gwangan Bridge, Gwangalli Beach.
There is also a Night Yacht Tour with itinerary: Yachting center - Marine City - Dongbaek Island - Gwangan Bridge - Gwangalli Beach - Yachting center. During a luxurious yacht ride along the coastline of Busan you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the city's skyline and natural scenery. Plus some light snacks and a drink are offered onboard. There are both public or private cruises that perfectly fit for groups or couples on a date. Capture amazing images of the impressive skylines and natural scenery of Busan at numerous photo spots, travel on a comfortable yacht equipped with safety gear and life jackets. Be sure to take warm clothes with you because after the sunset it can get quite chilly while sailing.
Besides sea cruises and yacht tours, you can try a completely different, but very glamorous experience - instead of staying at a regular hotel, book the Marine City Club Yacht Stay and live in a romantic atmosphere of a luxury yacht unit which is air-conditioned and features a flat-screen TV, a living room with a sofa, a dining area with a well-equipped kitchen, a private bathroom with shower, and an open terrace with incredible sea views.
Located within 1.5 km of Gwangalli Beach and 1.5 km of Haeundae Beach, Marine City Club Yacht Stay offers accommodation with seating area and Asian breakfast available every morning at the boat.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is a temple founded in 1376 during the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea on the seashore by the great Buddhist preacher Naong. The temple located on top of a huge rock which had been erected from the ocean is visited by thousands of tourists and pilgrims from different parts of the world. Due to the scenic and architectural beauty of the temple, the sounds of the East Sea ocean waves, this temple is considered an iconic and fascinating place where the melody of sutra chanting from the temple creates an incredibly magical effect and where you would always like to return. Yonggungsa Temple is a fabulous attraction that offers visitors exceptional memories and a rare temple situated along the seashore line while most temples in Korea are located in the mountains.
Construction of the Geumjeong Mountain Fortress was completed in 1702 during the reign of King Sukjong. The fortress is more than 17,000 m long, and it is the largest fortress in Korea whose walls were mostly made of natural stones. The structures of the weaker parts were reinforced with large hand-carved stone blocks and the area surrounded by the fortress was about 8.2 square kilometers. Such a large perimeter was hard to maintain and eventually the fortress had to remain unused for a long time. After a whole century of being empty, it was repaired in 1807. Take a slow stroll along the fortress walls while making excellent pictures and enjoying striking mountain views.
As you may know, Busan is the center of the Korean and Asian film industry. Busan International Film Festival was founded and held in 1996 for the first time and BIFF Square was created after that -- here the main cinemas in the city are concentrated. Held every October, BIFF attracts world-renowned directors, actors, commercial firms, and the public and media to Busan for a 10-days movie holiday. I remember one quite memorable visit to BIFF when I was lucky enough to attend Jackie Chan’s press-conference and even ask him some questions about his unusual part in the movie “Myth” where he played along with Korean actress and a beauty Kim Hee Sun. He happened to be a really funny guy, just like most of his characters.
On the 500m long Star Alley next to BIFF Square, various sculptures of cinema celebrities are installed, and on the surface of the road, you might find the fingerprints and names of favorite actors and film directors.
If you are looking to check the main attractions within a day or two, it is advised to take a Busan City Bus Tour. With a single pass ticket, you can travel from Busan station to the UN Memorial Cemetery, Centum City, Haeundae, Gamcheon Culture Village, Jagalchi fish market, Oryukdo SkyWalk and other sites along three routes (Red, Blue, Green Lines) connecting all major sites by double-decker bus. You can hop on and off the bus freely with the purchase of a transfer ticket. It is the simplest and the best way to see the LA of Korea if you have limited time on hand. Check detailed routes and schedules at Busan City Tour Bus.