If you’re talking about fresh salty sea air, sparkling clean beaches, luxurious and lazy mid-afternoon walks by the sea, you must be talking about Busan!! Busan is Korea’s largest port city, and falls 2nd on the list of must-visit places after Seoul. Why!? You may ask. Far away from the maddening crowds of the Metropolis, the first thing you will notice here is how clean and less crowded the city is. Here’s my step-by-step guide for a 3D2N trip in beautiful Busan !
How To Get To Busan
If you are coming from Seoul, there are buses from Dong Seoul Station to Busan. The first bus is at 6.00 AM and the last bus is at 7.40PM. (Find out more here) Ticket prices may vary, but it was 23,000 KRW for a one-way trip when I last bought it (September 2015). Travel time is around 4 hours.
How to get there: To get to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal get off at Gangbyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 4
You can take a train to Busan too, there are trains which depart from Seoul Station. The KTX (high-speed train) takes about 3 hours and the ticket prices are higher at 44,800 KRW. Find out more here.
Where To Stay: Indy House Hostel
Before you begin exploring the city, let me introduce you to your new home in Busan; Indy House Hostel. Located in Haeundae, the hostel is minutes away from some of the prime tourist locations in Busan; namely the Haeundae Beach, Sea Life Aquarium, and so much more!!
This hostel has a wonderful homely atmosphere. Its artistic wooden interior will welcome you, and as you go up the stairs you will see remnants of happy visitors from all over the world, photos covering the corridor walls saying how wonderful their stay has been at Indy.
You will notice how wonderfully clean and tidy the place is, although the space isn’t so big. Most of the facilities are shared dormitories separate floors for male and female guests. But families can rent one room with several beds too. Prices vary according to season, but range between 15,000 to 24,000 KRW per night.
There is a common room and kitchen space at the top floor, with a lovely terrace and laundry facilities. One night stay includes breakfast the following morning; you can have a batch of freshly toasted beard and fried eggs and lounge in the extremely comfy couches in the living room area.
If the beach right outside wasn’t calling, I would be spending my entire day lounging in this peaceful environment, either reading a book or playing a game of checkers (They have tons of different board games at your disposal). Indy House hostel is absolutely the perfect place for a family getaway, perfect for friends to spend a lovely holiday together.
Make a reservation at Indy House Hostel here!
Bonus: There is a MiniStop convenient store just opposite Indy House hostel, so you will find everything you need during your stay.
Directions: From the Busan Express Bus Terminal in Nopo to our hostel located in Haeundae, our taxi ride took us about 40 minutes. If you choose to take the subway it will take around 1.5 hours from Nopo Station to Haeundae Station.
How to get to Indy House Hostel, Haeundae:
- From Haeundae Station Exit 1, walk 80 meters straight (1 minute)
- Turn right onto first street at ‘CU’ convenient store * If you walked passed the ‘MEGABOX’, you went too far
- Walk along the street (400 meters) near the end of the street, INDYHOUSE will be on your left
What You Must Not Miss
1. Haeudae Beach
People travel hundreds of miles to come visit Haeundae Beach. Now that you’re staying right next to it, you’ll feel like it’s part of your home. The best time to go to the beach on a sunny day would be sometime around 3/4PM. There is just enough sun for the warmth, which is balanced off by the cool sea breeze.
Think of all the wonderful things you can do once you are there!! The clean sparkly sand below your feet, the fresh invigorating sea air in your face and once you’re near the shore, the soft waves greeting you and inviting you to take a dip in the water!! Kids building sand castles, some flying kites, friends taking photos, families having a picnic, all those wonderful images around you will make you feel so calm and peaceful.
Although this time I was there for Chuseok holidays, one of the biggest national holidays in Korea, there weren’t a lot of people in the beach. The beach is open 24 hours, and our evening walk was just as pleasant. Many people come out for exercise and family time during the evening and occasionally you can see people singing or playing instruments too.
Directions: Get off at Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2) and Exit 5. Walk straight for about 330m and turn right into Haeundaehaebyeon-ro 265 beon-gil road after you see ‘Mokjang Village’ restaurant. Continue for about 120m and make another right turn after CU convenience store.
2. Sea Life Aquarium
Who wouldn’t want to spend some splendid time with some beautiful sea creatures once you are so close to the sea? Located in the Haeundae Beach area, the Sea Life Aquarium is a must-visit place for animal lovers. Starting from the tiniest jelly fish to the largest Manta Ray, Sea Life has it all.
There are similar sea aquariums in Seoul too, but if you happen to be in Busan and you haven’t been to an aquarium yet, Busan Sea Life is a treat you will remember for quite a long time. If you are traveling with kids, it will be a fun and exciting new learning experience for them.
Directions: Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2), Exit 5. Walk 600m towards Haeundae Beach.
Operating Hours: Mon-Thur 10:00-20:00/ Fri-Sun, National Holidays 09:00-22:00, Peak Season (Jul, 21-Aug, 26; subject to change) 09:00-22:00
Last admission: 1 hour before closing time.
Ticket Pricing: Individual – Adults 25,000 won / Children 19,000 won
More information here.
3. Yongdusan Park and the Busan Tower
Yongdusan Park is a must go for nature lovers. Set on top of Mount Yongdusan, you will be surprised to see the huge escalator that takes you all the way to the top of the mountain. There are stairs too, so you can enjoy a little exercise on your way.
Part of the park includes a temple, and there are many cats which the authorities take care of around the premises of the park. If you happen to be an animal lover like me, rest assured you will get a warm welcome from the kitties 🙂
The main attraction in this park in the Busan Tower. Just like Namsan Tower in Seoul, the Busan Tower is a symbol of Busan that stands proudly 69m above sea level at a height of 120m. The top of the tower is modeled after the Dabotap Pagoda in Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju. Although the view of the city is quite amazing from the park itself you can go to the top of the tower to get a better view.
Upclose, it’s actually a souvenir shop!
There is a very interesting building right next to the tower, if you have ever watched “Spirited Away” one of my favorite animations produced by the Japanese Animation company Studio Ghibli, you will notice this Japanese styled building resembles the famous Bath House in the movie. I was so captivated by it! I felt magical!! Actually historically speaking, this part of Busan was once occupied by Japan during the time, and this building is a reminder of that. It’s actually a souvenir shop now, and among all kinds of souvenirs, has an amazing collection of decorative lanterns which you can buy.
On your way back from the park, you will realize that the place has an essence of history, religion and appreciation of beauty in nature. Best time of the day to go would be around an hour before sunset, so you can enjoy both the day and night view of the city.
Directions: Nampo Station (Busan Subway Line 1), Exit 7. Upon exiting the station, turn left onto Gwangbok-ro Street (광복로). Go straight 160m to arrive at Yongdusan Park (escalator on the right).
Note: If you go through Nampodong Street, you will come across the entrance to the park with giant escalators. The escalators take you all the way up to the mountain.
Opening Hours: The park is open all year around, but Busan Tower operates from 9AM to 10PM.
Ticketing Info: Ticket prices may vary between 3,000 to 5,000 KRW.
4. Nampodong Street
You must have heard of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), haven’t you? It’s one of the biggest events in Busan and takes place around several venues including the Haeudandae Beach and Nampodong Street. Known as the main location for BIFF, Nampo Street actually is surrounded by top-notch movie theaters, like the Busan Theater, Daeyoung Cinema, Cinus, and CGV, making Nampo-dong a fascinating stop for movie buffs.
The street boasts a huge shopping area featuring not only all the luxury brand stores but also a lot of discount shops. There are a variety of restaurants and stalls selling a lot of international street food along- side the local ones. Point to Note: Yongdusan Park is located right next to Nampodong Street, and there is an escalator along the street which takes you directly to the park.
Nampodong Street shops are open from 10AM to 10PM.
Directions: Nampo-dong Station (Busan Subway Line 1).
5. Jagalchi Fish Market
Jagalchi Market is the fish lover’s paradise!! Here is the market, fresh fish and seafood are displayed in huge water tanks which are constants being pumped with sea water to keep the sea creature happy, until of course they land on your plate 😀
Jagalchi Fish Market is pretty similar to Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market in Seoul which is one of our favourite local food places in Seoul!
Directions: Jagalchi Station (Busan subway line 1), Exit 10. Turn right onto Jagalchi 3(sam)-gil Street. Walk for 5min, then turn left to arrive at Jagalchi Market.
Opening Hours: 08:00-22:00h. Closed first and third Tuesday of every month
6. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
This temple is unique because it is located on the seashores of the north eastern part of Busan. Usually the atmosphere around Buddhist temples are very calm and peaceful, add the background of the sparkling blue sea waves, the fresh breeze and sounds of seagulls floating in the air, what more could you ask for? It is popular among visitors to visit to watch sunrise and people commonly visit during New Years’ eve to watch the first sunrise.
Opening Hours: 04:00-19:00h
Info: Haedong Yonggung temple
Where To Eat
1. Haeundae Star Kebab
Ok, now you are all set to explore Haeudae on foot. You walk pass a Ministop convenient store on your right. Walk ahead a little further, you will see a huge building called Seacloud Hotel. Walk right inside and to you left you will discover a Halal Turkish Kebab Shop!! YEAH!! You can either choose to have your delicious chicken or lamb Shawarma at the little shop or get it packed and have a picnic by the Haeundae beach which is just across the street!!
Address: Haeundae Star Kebab, 1F, Seacloud Hotel, 287, Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan, Korea
Contact: 051-747-9185/ 010-6855-6378
2. Punjab Indian Restaurant
As you walk past Seacloud hotel on your right, you will come to a street crossing, turn left and you will see Gunam-ro street which is lined by numerous restaurants and food stalls. This street is very touristy and also has shops with everything you may need when visiting the beach. Walk straight ahead, and after a few blocks you will see Punjab Indian Halal Restaurant.
The Indian restaurant is very popular for its delicious Indian menu, so usually it is very crowded. It is within a very small space and the tables are too closely arranged so I suggest take-away. Enjoy yourself a hearty meal sitting by the sea!!
Address: Punjab Indian Restaurant, 31, Gunam-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan Phone: 051-731-1947
Directions: Busan Subway Line 2, Haeundae Station Exit 3, walk 290 meters (approx. 5 min)
3. Jagalchi Fish Market
Besides these eating places, you will find a lot of local seafood restaurants in Busan, particularly in Jagalchi Fish Market which is one of the highlights of this write up (refer to write-up above for more info)!
Special Tip: Busan City Tour Bus (BUTI Bus)
The Busan City Tour Bus or the BUTI Bus runs through different points of the city during the day, giving you and opportunity to go around Busan city and enjoy the cityscape. The double decker buses have an open roof, so if you are a bit more adventurous like me, take a seat on the second floor, it will feel like a roller coaster ride! I highly recommend a ride on this bus, because you get to see a lot of the city, including a lot of its busy ports, and also experience the magnificent infrastructure of Busan’s bridges and highways. The BUTI has stops near the Busan Station and also in Haeundae.
You can check out the details of the bus schedule on the official website here!
That was my itinerary during my two visits to Busan this year. But you can organize going to all the destinations within a 3D2N trip. I suggest going to Nampodong Street, Jagalchi Market and Yondusan Park on the same day, because they are located very close to each other. Haeundae beach and Sea Life Aquarium are basically in Haeundae, so start the day by going there, and then take a bus/taxi to Yonggungsa Temple from here because it is nearer.
Now that you’re all set for your getaway to Busan, what are you waiting for?!! 😀
#HHWT tip: Of course, your trip to Korea wouldn’t be complete without visiting the capital of South Korea 😉 Check out our other posts for our ultimate shopping guide, Muslim-friendly guides, Halal Korean food guide, favourite cafes and everything else you would possibly need for your vacation to Seoul! Plus, if you’re visiting Seoul in November 2015, it’s time to immerse yourself in a sea of red/orange/yellow leaves!