Walled by lush mountains on one side and the breezy sea on the other, Busan emits an interesting aura of a “homely” city. The summer capital of South Korea and the host of the world-famous Busan International Film Festival is where you’ll find the country’s largest beach, longest river and most beautiful natural landscapes. With inviting smiles from its warm residents and pleasant weather all year long, it is not surprising that South Korea’s second largest city is a top holiday spot for locals and tourists alike.
Best of Busan
1. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
As far as Buddhist temples go, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple stands out from its contemporaries. Perched on a rocky coastline, the beautiful architecture is a rare find right by the seaside. The main deity here is the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, who resides in the sea. It is believed that saying her name over and over again while you are here will result in good fortune.
2. Jagalchi Fish Market
Welcome to the largest seafood market in South Korea–the local equivalent of Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market. Thousands of stalls with tonnes of fish arriving every day make it one of the most exciting places to be in Busan. Have your seafood cleaned and cooked on the spot, or have it prepared raw to be consumed as sashimi. Yums!
3. Busan Cinema Centre
Home of the annual Busan International Film Festival, this beautiful piece of architecture was designed by Austrian firm Coop Himmelb(l)lau. Aside from the three main theatres, there are also a huge outdoor theatre, café and restaurant, as well as a library that houses more than 10,000 books and movies for you to enjoy. Come for the cinematic experience or to simply enjoy the stunning architecture.
4. Nurimaru APEC House
Built for the APEC Conference in 2005, this symbol of Busan is truly an architecture delight. The concept was inspired by the ‘pavilion’, a traditional Korean summer house. Complementing the scenic atmosphere are stunning views of Haeundae Beach and the Gwangandaegyo Bridge from afar. The house is located on the picturesque Dongbaekseom Island.
5. Gamcheon Culture Village
A playground for adults is what this is! Multi-coloured houses with brightly painted murals, with zig-zagging walking paths alongside hidden galleries and art spaces, this art-filled district will bring out the inner child in you. Be sure to purchase a map at the tourist centre and collect “passport stamps” at selected points along the way, which you can trade for postcards at the end of the journey.
6. Haeundae Beach
Korea’s most famous beach is where the excitement is for jet skiing, surfing and fun frolicking in the sun! The fun doesn’t stop there! Come during summer and the beach filled with multi coloured umbrellas for hire.
7. Busan Aquarium
Located right on Haeundae Beach, South Korea’s largest aquarium will keep both kids and adults entertained with its underwater marvels! Hop on the boat with glass floor to see marine life swimming right underneath your feet, watch as the in-house divers feed sharks and giant stingrays, learn about the different varieties of jelly fishes, or simply enjoy the marine life here.
8. Gwangalli Beach
Day or night, there is always some good action happening around this beach area. Enjoy the sand and the sea during the day, and when the night time comes, take a pick between the many bars and restaurants lining the street across the beach. The view from the beach is further illuminated by the stunning Gwangan Bridge from afar.
9. Busan Tower
Located in the pleasant Yongdusan Park, the 118-metre tall tower offers a spectacular panoramic view of the entire city. Seal your love on the padlock-adorned fences around the tower, or feed the resident pigeons with corn.
10. Blowfish Soup
A steaming hot clear broth with soft blowfish fillet, bean sprouts and leafy vegetables is just perfect on a cold spring day. Had a late night of soju (Korean sake) drinking? Blowfish soup is the perfect hangover cure! 😉