Planning to travel to South Korea? Want to know what attractions to included in your Busan itinerary? Read on.
Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and sit on the southeastern edge of the country. The port city boasting stunning landscape of mountains, coastlines and beautiful beaches is the perfect mix of vibrant city vibe and pleasant atmosphere.
Busan is very different from Seoul. Its airport and port bring in travellers from all horizons. The people, markets, traditional neighbourhoods and ultra modern neighbourhoods with tall buildings give Busan an interesting vibe.
Here’s how to spend 3 days in Busan.
- 1 Busan itinerary: practical information
- 2 Getting there
- 3 Getting around Busan
- 4 Where to stay in Busan
- 5 What to do and see in Busan
- 6 Day 1
- 7 Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사)
- 8 Beaches in Busan – Haeundae (해운대) & Gwangalli (광안리해수욕장)
- 9 Explore Jagalchi Fish Market (자갈치시장)
- 10 BIFF Square
- 11 Day 2
- 12 Visit Gamcheon Culture Village (부산 감천문화마을)
- 13 Explore Seomyeon
- 14 Busan Tower (부산시티투어)
- 15 Experience Korean spa
- 16 Day 3
- 17 Tours and Day trips from Busan
Busan itinerary: practical information
You can use this Google map to help you plan your itinerary. Google Maps is okay but I found Naver to be better for accurate directions.
There are different ways to get to Busan from Seoul by train: one fast, the other slow and cheap. Busan is easily accessible from Seoul via the Korean Train Express (KTX) train. The high-speed train only takes 2.5 hours and is super comfortable. The normal train takes about 5hours. as well as being cheap it is also offers scenic views.
Busan has its own airport, Gimhae International Airport. From the airport, you can get into the city via the following transportation:
- Subway: Take the Busan-Gimhae Light Rail (purple line). Purchase your ticket in one of the vending machines or top up your T Money card. Depending on your final destination, you might need to transfer via Sasang Station( Line 2) or Daejeo Station (Line 3).
- Bus: You can also opt for the bus. You can choose from intercity, limousine, local buses. For detailed routes, check here.
- Taxi: You can find taxis outside the Domestic Terminal. Please ensure that you have your accommodation address in Korean as most taxis driven don’t speak English.
- Private transfer: Ideal for groups of up to 7 people or people seeking comfort. These private services will collect you from the arrival departure and take you straight to your accommodation, stress-free.
- Rental car: we have not explored this method of transport during our trip but if you are planning to explore beyond Busan, renting a car might be your best option. Make sure you have an international driving licence and book in advance.
Essential not to miss out
- Get the best hotel deals in Busan
- Order a portable WIFI device or unlimited data SIM card to pick up at Busan airport or Seoul – order here
- Get discounted Korean Rail Pass or KTX Rail here
- Get a private tour with a local – Book here
Getting around Busan
The subway system, like in Seoul, is super efficient so it is the best way to get around the city. Get yourself a T Money card or equivalent from any convenience store and load it at any station before travelling.
Where to stay in Busan
As always, before choosing an area to stay during your trip in Busan you need to think about your itinerary: what are the activities you are planning to do, the location of those activities and the length of your stay.
When I travel, I always check the metro map to see how easy it’s to get from my accommodation to the top attractions I plan on visiting. On this occasion, Seomyeon was the perfect choice. Not only it’s easily accessible with connection to Line 1 and 2 but it also has a collection of restaurants, cafes and shops.
Other possible areas to stay are:
- Haeundae Beach – Best if you plan on enjoying the beach nightlife . Very close to Gwangalli beach and the world’s largest department store – Centum City.
- Gwangalli Beach – Similar to Haeundae however it’s not centrally located
- Nampo-dong – Busan Tower and Jagalchi Fish Market are nearby. Good for shopping and street food
Lion Hotel is situated less than 10 minutes from Seomyeon Station. It’s offers all the amenities including a computer to use for internet browsing. There were lots of neon lights and restaurants around the hotel. Apart from being clean and comfortable, it was in a strategic location for food and shopping, being 500m away from Lotte Dept. Store, Seomyeon Underground Shopping Centre, Seomyeon Food Alley, Bujeon Market, etc…
What to do and see in Busan
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사)
If you only have to visit one temple in Busan, then Haedong Yonggungsa is. Perched on the cliffs facing the Sea of Japan, the temple looks like it’s floating between land and sea. Built in 1376 during the Goryo Dynasty, this temple complex is one of the few to be by the seaside.
Before entering the temple grounds, visitors pass through the statues of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. Once inside the temple, admire the seven-story pagoda and various statues scattered in the temple like the statue of Haesu Gwaneum Daebul, the Buddhist goddess of the sea. Do not hesitate to explore the surrounding hiking trails and the stunning sea view.
How to get there: From Haeundae station, take bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa Temple. Free entry
Beaches in Busan – Haeundae (해운대) & Gwangalli (광안리해수욕장)
Since Busan is located on the coast, it offers great beaches for the delights of locals and tourists. The two majors beaches worth visiting if you are in the city for a short time are Haeundae and/or Gwangalli. The first one stretches along 1.5 km of white sand. The second one is more famous for the view it offers of the Gwangan Bridge (a suspension bridge which lights up at night)
Haeundae Beach was a great place for my favourite hobby: people watch. Young couples wearing matching outfits strolling on the beach, families enjoying a light picnic or playing beach games: these are the scenes you will see in Haeundae. Luxury hotels line the main boardwalk giving Haeundae an air of Barcelona.
How to get there: For Haeundae, take the metro line 2 to Haeundae Station (exit 3/5). Gwangan Station, take metro line 2 either to Gwangan Station (exit 5) or Geumnyeosan station (exit 3).
Explore Jagalchi Fish Market (자갈치시장)
I like visiting markets: there is something about the smell, sound and the organised chaos that I like to see.
The next day, we headed to the district of Nampo-dong for a glimpse of local life. Home to the famous Jagalchi Fish Market, it shows Busan as an important port city. In the traditional market with a beautiful view of the harbor, you’ll find all the fish and seafood imaginable sold daily. You can find squid, huge octopus, eels or buckets of wriggling gaebul, also known as the “penis fish”. The anatomically suggestive fish is actually a sea worm.
The famous fish and seafood market is similar to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market (now Toyosu Market) so the best time to visit would be in the early morning during auctions. But if you are not an early bird, there’s plenty to see during the day. I’m sure after seeing all these fish, seafood and food on display, you will want to eat. If so, there are three options for you depending on your level of adventurousness.
- 1: visit one of the many restaurants and select from the menu
- 2: go to one of the pojangmacha (restaurants under tents) and try out some of their unique fish and seafood dishes
- 3: buy a fish or seafood of your choice and have it prepared for you, sashimi-style. The most daring one can opt to taste the traditional san-nakji, a raw octopus still wriggling or gaebul.
A few blocks away, another crowded market will give you another snapshot of the real Asia. Gukje Market with its thousands of socks stands, and Korean barbecue restaurants is the largest traditional market. It’s popular with tourists who can stock on cheap souvenirs like electronics, cosmetics and gim (dried seaweed).
Getting to Jagalchi Market: Take the metro to Jagalchi station (exit 7)
Did you know that Busan is the Cannes of Asia? Every October since 1996, the Busan International Film Festival rolls out the red carpet to welcome stars from Asia and beyond. BIFF is the largest film festival in Asia and one of the largest in the world. Venture on Start Street ad Festival Street to get a chance to spot our favourite celebrity’s handprints in a similar fashion to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. On a normal day, the square is filled with tourists and locals wandering the streets to grab the best bargain or sample some street food.
Getting to BIFF: Take the metro to Nampo-dong station, Exit 1. Or Jagalchi subway, exit 7
Visit Gamcheon Culture Village (부산 감천문화마을)
Gamcheon Village has many nicknames, all very fitting I must say: “Santorini of South Korea”, “Korean Machu Picchu” or “Lego Village”. This village with multicoloured houses overlooking the sea is very picturesque. Known for its brightly painted homes, winding and narrow passageways in which you can easily get lost, quaint cafes, art galleries and street art collections, this village can get very busy.
Originally, Gamcheon village was established to accommodate Tageukdo Sinangchon’s followers and refugees from the Koran War in the 1950s. Now, thanks to an initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, it has transformed itself into a tourist, artistic and creative hub. Gamcheon Culture Village is definitely something you must tick off your Busan itinerary!
Getting to GCV: Take the metro line 1 to Toseong Station (exit 6) then buses Sakha 1/1-1 to Gamcheon Culture Village. You can also reach the village via Jagalchi Station, Line 2, (exit 3/5/7.) Take local buses Saha 1-1, Seogu 2, or Seogu 2-2 to Gamcheon Elementary School.
What a better way to finish your stay in a city than discovering the neighbourhood? Take the last moment you have before packing your bags to explore the area. Seomyeon is an interesting district; modernity coexisting with traditional. On one side, you have skyscrapers with a concentration of cosmetic and medical clinics and trendy cafes and on the other hand, dingy back alleys.
Koreans are crazy about three things: beauty, shopping and coffee. Along the main road all the way to the trendy Jeonpo Cafe Street, you will find countless coffee shops to appease your caffeine cravings. Vintage 38, Knockout and Hollys Coffee were our favourite.
More than coffee, Koreans love shopping and that also is well-taken care off with high-end fashion boutiques, Lotte Department Store and a massive underground shopping centre. In the late afternoon, pojangmacha, street stalls start making their appearances. These food charts serve Korean snacks and small dishes.
Busan Tower (부산시티투어)
Located in the middle of Yongdusan Park, Busan Tower is a smaller replica of the Namsan Tower in Seoul. The 120-meter high tower still offers a breathtaking view of the city, port and sea. We visited at night and were able to see the spectacular night scene. Get your ticket ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener” aria-label=”here. (opens in a new tab)”>here.
Getting to Busan Tower: Take the metro line 1 to Nampo Station (exit 1)
Experience Korean spa
If you are tired from all the sightseeing, then Spa Land, the biggest jjimjilbang (Korean spa) is for you. The facility boasts over 22 bathtubs, several themed rooms, saunas, massage chairs, foot spas and so on. Spa Land is located insite the world’s biggest department store, Shinsegae Department Store Centum City.
How to do jjimjilbang? You soak in one of the two types of hot spring water then change into cotton t-shirt and pants and rest in the communal areas. After a few hours there, you’ll come out refreshed.
Getting to Spa Land: Take the metro line 2 to Centum City Station (exit 12) Cost: Adult: 15,000 won / 18,000 won (weekend) Children: 12,000 won / 15,00 won (weekend)
Tours and Day trips from Busan
Busan Day Tour
The city of Busan offers several sightseeing buses to visit the city. there are four tourist bus lines: red line (Busan Station ↔ Haeundae), green line (Yonghoman ↔ Oryukdo Islets), blue line (Haeundae ↔ Yonggungsa), yellow line (Yonggungsa ↔ Gijang Market ).
The Busan City Bus Tour is conveniently located just outside Busan Station and offers an accessible and affordable way to get an overview of the city highlights in addition to door-to-door transportation to some of the city’s best attractions. There are three routes to choose from during the day, as well as a night tour, so you can see just about the entire city. A ticket gets you on board a double-decker bus as well as a discount on admission to selected museums, memorials, and other attractions.
Busan Night Tour
Busan is a city that is best seen at night. Discover how the city comes alive at night when the neon lights illuminate the entire landscape. Get to see Bay 101, Gwangalli Beach, Yeongdo Seaside Park and enjoy a ride on a cable car. Get the tickets ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener” aria-label=”here (opens in a new tab)”>here.
Go on a hike
Since Korean love hiking, there are lots of hiking and walking trails everywhere in Busan If hiking is your thing, so why not include it in your itinerary? With endless coastlines and mountains to choose from, you will be spoiled for choice.
The most popular with tourist is the Taejondae Resort Park. the coastal walkway offers spectacular views.
Day trip to Goeje Island and Oedo Island.
Goeje is a lovely island with endless coastlines, colourful fields and scenic view. Along with Oedo (an equally pretty island), they make a nice day trip away from the hustle and bustle of Busan.
Day trip to Jeonju
The main reason to visit Jeonju is the Hanok Village with its preserved historical buildings. Taking a stroll in the streets takes you back to the old days, especially if you are wearing a hanbok! The city is famous for the bibimbap so get a taste of the authentic dish.
Day trip to Gyeongju
Gyeongju, the former capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla is an ideal day trip option from Busan. Situated less than 1.5 hours bus ride, the city referred to as “the museum without walls” is full of historic sites. From pagodas, tombs, temples, and palace ruins, there are lots to explore in this small city. Start by immersing yourself in the Buddhist art at Bulguksa temple. Visit the ancient sights such as Wolji Pond, Tumuki Park (tumuli are large and round royal tombs covered in grass), and Cheomseongdae observatory. After enjoying the beauty of the sites, stop by the Yangdong Folk Village, a traditional village from the Joseon Dynasty or the Folk Craft Village for some pottery shopping. Gyeongju can either be added to your Busan itinerary or be a stand alone destination.
Take a ferry to… Japan
Thanks to its closeness to Japan, you can get there in no time. So if you are in Busan for longer thank a few days, you might want to visit Fukuoka for example!
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