Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, is known as the artiest town in Asia. Whether you unwind at a temple, by the beach, or somewhere up in the mountains, Busan offers something for all travellers. The town is home to wide beaches, picturesque mountains, pastel-coloured houses, and succulent seafood. Busan is also home to South Korea’s largest port and named best place to visit in Asia 2018 by Lonely Planet.
Short on sleep, we explored the city in two jam-packed days. We decided to take the KTX from Seoul to Busan as it was the fastest option. Taking the high-speed train was pretty cool for some of us as we are fans of the movie Train to Busan—worth a watch if you’re into zombie films.
Arriving around lunchtime, our first order of business for the day was to have a seafood lunch at the famous Jagalchi Market. There are many levels in the market with the higher floors occupied with restaurants and the bottom floor used as a fish market. Eating at the restaurant can get quite pricey—but hey seafood, in general, isn’t usually cheap. If you’re into eating weird foods, then this is the place for you. There are tonnes of mysterious looking sea creatures in this market including sea urchins, sea slugs (I think), and this penis shaped thing that is possibly some type of sea worm. The restaurants also serve live octopus which is another popular Korean dish.
For panoramic views of the city, we headed over to Busan Tower, located in Yongdusan Park. From the observatory, you can view the city from 120 metres above ground. Views from the tower include the city’s harbour, surrounding hills, and other attractions such as Jagalchi Fish Market and Gamcheon Culture Village. A statue of Great Admiral Yi Sun-sin is located on the way up to the tower and overlooks the port city. There is also a cute souvenir shop at the top of the tower stocked with chocolates, fridge magnets, postcards, and other adorable items.
The next day we went to Gamcheon Culture Village. The colourful village overlooks the sea and has unique shops lined up on both sides of its main streets. Wall decorations and artworks of whales and the little prince can be found throughout the village. Perfect for Instagram selfies, if you’re into that. Gamcheon Culture Village is also a great place to go for souvenirs as many boutiques shops in the area sell their items at an affordable price.
We reserved the second half of the day for visiting the beaches in Busan. Haeundae Beach is South Korea’s largest beach and a must-visit when you’re in town. A sea of multi-coloured beach umbrellas decorates the 1.5 kilometre stretch of beach. The beach also hosts many cultural events and festivals throughout the year.
Perhaps more beautiful at night than during the day, Gwangalli Beach is another favourite seaside hangout in Busan. Every night after dark, the area comes to life as the LED light-show display on Diamond Bridge (Gwangandaegyo) illuminates the beach. You can even set alight some fireworks on the beach for around 5000 won (USD 4.50)! They sell them at the convenience stores closest to the beach. The instructions are in Korean, so please make sure to get someone to translate if you can’t read it. The area around both beaches is lined up with restaurants, bars, shops, and most importantly – NORAEBANG! (karaoke) ^_^