If you’re in South Korea and want to see different parts of the country, I recommend spending at least one night in Busan, Korea.
Busan is a Metropolitan city located on the southernmost tip of South Korea.
Busan is South Korea’s second-most populous city, with Seoul being the first. It is divided into 15 districts and is home to the world’s largest department store: Shinsegae. And if you’re solely focused on visiting Busan, they have an international airport: Gimhae International Airport (PUS).
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For Koreans, Busan is a popular getaway, even if it’s just for a weekend. With the number of things to do and see in Busan, you will understand why.
So, if you’re wondering What is Busan famous for?
Here are just a few things:
- Hot springs
- Nature reserves
And you can’t forget the Busan international film festival that is held each fall.
Whether you take a tour or venture off by yourself, you’re surely going to find something to occupy your time while in you’re on the Korean Peninsula. And hey, there are even free things to do in Busan at night (or at least cheap things).
With all that there is to do in Busan, you’re definitely going to want to add a few of these sites below to your Busan itinerary. Or you can also reserve a tour to make your trip easier.
Korea’s transit system is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It is efficient and affordable which adds to the country’s greatness.
You might’ve heard of Gangnam-gu in Seoul or Haeundae-gu in Busan. The -gu at the end of the word means district in Korean.
You will see many of these words after places in South Korea:
Tips/Things to Know For Your Trip
- South Korea uses Type F for their outlets. You might need a power adapter or a power converter because they operate on 220V and 60Hz. If you forget to bring one, your local convenience store should have one for a cheap price.
- If you are going to book your train tickets online in South Korea, you need to have a Korean bank account. You cannot use a foreign card. Additionally, you can’t buy tickets over the phone using your card. So you either have to book online with your Korean card or buy a ticket at the station.
- If you’re a tourist, you can grab one of the tourist passes here. But if you’re not going to be traveling too much around the country and want something cheaper, you can get a T-money card at most of the convenience stores. You can also add money to your card at the stores too.
- You can use your T-money card or your Korean bank card with the buses, metro, and taxis. I recommend starting with around KRW 15,000 (USD 12) if you are just staying for one night in the country. You can always add more money if you need to. You can check the balance on the BucaCheck app just by opening the app and holding your card on the sensor at the top of your iPhone screen.
- Bring good walking shoes and appropriate clothing. If you plan on visiting a temple, you should wear modest clothing. Although it is considered respectful to have your shoulders and knees covered, Korean temples do not have a strict dress code like they do in Southeast Asia.
- You should bring sunblock with you, especially if you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing.
How to Get to Busan From Seoul
The distance between the two cities is 329 kilometers (204 miles) and the road distance is 389.5 kilometers (242 miles).
There are a few ways to get from one to the next:
The buses in Korea are usually decently priced and sometimes they’re comfortable. If you want to take a bus from Seoul to Busan, you will want to get to Seoul Express Bus Terminal (Gyeongbu). The express buses in Korea have their own expressway which makes the rides quicker since you won’t be stuck in traffic. If you take a bus from Seoul, you will end up at Busan Central Bus Terminal in Busan.
If you drive it will take a little over 4 hours.
You can fly from Seoul to Busan at either Incheon (ICN) or Gimpo (GMP) airport. Flying will be the most expensive out of all.
If you’re short on time, you can take the KTX. The KTX is South Korea’s fast train. You can go directly from Seoul to Busan and vice-versa and it will take almost 3 hours in total and cost anywhere between USD 30 and 50.
The Mugunghwa is the slow train. The Mugunghwa makes stops in between which is one of the reasons that it takes longer. It can take almost 6 hours to get from Seoul to Busan but it will cost less than USD 30.
How to Get to Busan From Pyeongtaek
You can take the SRT, KTX, or whatever other transportation you desire. If you are heading to Busan from AK Plaza Pyeongtaek, you can be in Busan in a little over two hours.
If you want to take the train, you can go to Jije Suseo Pyeongtaek Gosokseon Station. They have a direct train to Busan for KRW 45,000 (USD 35).
If you purchase your ticket online, you can show the person at the ticket booth and they will print out your ticket for you.
Jije Suseo Pyeongtaek Gosokseon Station is tiny but you can find a 7/11 and a cafe inside so if your train is at a later time in the day, relax and have a coffee.
How to Get Around Busan
Since Busan is the second-biggest city in the country, the transportation systems are great and simple to use.
You can catch a bus to other popular nearby cities such as Daegu and Gimhae. You can also hop on the KTX to head to Seoul.
You will have numerous ways to get around the city. I recommend downloading either Naver or Kakao Maps to help you along your journey. Google Maps also works too.
Areas in Busan
It would be wise to ask yourself what you want to get out of your stay in Busan and then research the neighborhoods from there.
Busan is huge so as long as you get a place to stay near the subway or a bus stop, you should be fine. Needless to say, there are numerous hotels in the area. But there are also cheap hostels that you can find around the city for a fraction of the price.
- You can find tourist bars and expat restaurants in this part of Busan. You are about a half-hour subway ride away from Haeundae.
- If you’re looking for nightlife in Busan, Korea, this is your spot. You will find hostels, hotels, street food, restaurants, bars, and more. And most of the places you go to will have English-speakers and English menus. Even though it is a bit far from central Busan, you’re only just a bus or subway away.
- This area is close to the airport so you will find bars, restaurants, and especially hotels. Don’t expect them to stay open as late as they do in Haeundae.
- The location is not the best if you are looking to check some sights off of your Busan bucketlist. However, if you are looking for peace and quiet, this is your spot because it is mostly residential.
Where to Stay
Kimchee Haeundae Guesthouse is a hostel and it is cheap and pretty close to Gwangalli Beach, Haeundae Beach, and a few other popular spots. You can get a shared room for a decent price. Haeundae Beach is about a 15-minute walk from the hostel. If you arrive early at the hostel, you can usually leave your bags and then go back for check-in.
Here are some places close to Kimchee Haeundae Guesthouse:
- Gwangalli Beach
- Gwangandaegyo Bridge
- Haeundae Beach – 210 meters (.1 miles)
- Haeundae Market – 480 meters (.3 miles)
- Haeundae Street Market Village – 450 meters (.28 miles)
- Haeundae Subway Station – 460 meters (.29 miles)
Gwangalli Beach is 30 to 40 minutes on the metro from Kimchee Haeundae Guesthouse.
Gwangandaegyo Bridge connects Haeundae-gu to Suyeong-gu. The road is 6,500 meters long (4 miles). It is the second longest bridge in South Korea, which Incheon Bridge being the first. It will take about 30 to 40 minutes to get to Gwangandaegyo Bridge by public transportation.
What to Do
There are countless things to do in Busan, and many of them are free! Let’s mark the places that have no entrance fees with *. Some of them may not have entrance fees but you can buy food, drinks, or other items while you walk the streets of Busan. Even if you plan on going to a market, you can do some window shopping.
- Go to a beach
- Go for a walk
- Go shopping
- Visit a market
- Visit a temple
- *Gwangalli Beach
- If you come here at night, you will see amazing views of Gwangan Bridge. You can also find the numerous restaurants and bars and you’ll probably see a ton of expats.
- *Haeundae Beach
- You can find summer events along this beach. Take a walk along the beach and visit Dongbaek Island Coastal Promenade and Dongbaek Park. You can even see a mermaid statue.
- *Songdo Beach
- You can walk along the walkways and take in the views of the crystal clear ocean.
- *Haeundae Market
- Try some street food and take a gander at one of the many shops.
- *Jagalchi Market
- This is the the largest fish market in South Korea so you’ll want to walk around and see what they have to offer. Grab some fresh fish for dinner in Namp Port, Busan.
- *Beomeosa Temple
- It was built 1,300 years ago and is one of the country’s most popular temples. It is on the Geumjeongsan Mountain so get ready to do some hiking!
- *Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
- This 14th century temple offers views of the water and coast. Head here early on the weekends to beat the crowd.
- *BIFF Square
- You can head here after Jagalchi Market. You’ll see clothing stores and even more street food vendors.
- Busan Tower (Diamond Tower)
- Check out the views from this tower while you sip of a cup of coffee. This tower stands 118 meters (59 feet) tall and has an observation deck and cafe. The entrance fee is less than USD 10.
- *Cheongsapo Daritdol Observatory
- Although it is quite far away from everything, this 72.5 meter (237.9 feet) long pier stretches into the ocean and gives you views of the nearby cities and lighthouses.
- *Gamcheon Culture Village
- You won’t have to pay any entrance fees to visit the village but you might want to stop at one of the restaurants, cafes, or shops. You can also buy a map that may come in handy with the hidden alleyways in this area.
- *Texas Street
- Here, you’ll find international restaurants and cuisine. This tourist street usually gets packed at night and it is close to China Town.
How to Spend One Night in Busan Korea
If you’re trying to find out what to do in Busan at night, don’t be afraid, just choose a few places listed above. The nightlife in Busan can get pretty intense so it can be overwhelming planning your nighttime activities. And if you can’t finish everything, you can always leave your belongings at your hostel or hotel for the day before you head out. Always be sure to ask first though.
- Take a walk along Gwangalli Beach or Haeundae Beach. You can see the city lights and even the Gwangan Bridge (Gwangalli Beach).
- Head to a Busan Night Market to enjoy some fresh Korean food or seafood.
- The next day, you can tread along a beach that you haven’t seen and visit Busan’s most prominent temple: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple.