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Top Ten Things To Do In Busan, South Korea

January 21, 2021 Visit North Asia No Comments Email Email

Busan, South Korea’s second largest city situated on the southeast tip of the Korean peninsula offers an enviable urban lifestyle that attracts such events as the Busan International Film Festival each year.  Along with its rugged mountains, pristine beaches, museums, shopping and chic bars, there is plenty to see and do – here are the top ten things to experience in Busan.

  1. South Korea’s Very Own Slice of Italy – Gamcheon Culture Village

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at the colourful houses of Santorini, but no, these colourful homes are set against a mountain backdrop where you’ll find cafes, galleries and bright Lego-shaped houses.  It’s an ideal neighbourhood to discover a little more about the history of the area and take in some unique art installations along the way.

  1. Largest fish market in the country – Jagalchi Fish Market

Explore the country’s largest fish market Jagalchi Fish Market, a lively place for anyone who loves seafood.  Enjoy the variety of locally sourced seafood available at decades old stores and food carts.  You can purchase your seafood fresh and then have it served to you to eat upstairs.  Local favourites include crab and eel.

  1. Try a Templestay – Beomeosa Temple

For a change of pace and a sense of peace, head to the magnificent Beomeosa Temple which is the perfect escape from the energy of city life, set against a picturesque mountain backdrop.  It is also possible to enjoy the Templestay program where you’ll experience the magic of predawn chanting.

  1. Cable car ride to Buddhist reliefs carved into stone walls

And in keeping with the temple theme, also worth the hike (or the Geumgang Park cable car ride if your legs have lost their enthusiasm), is the intimate Seokbulsa Temple. This hermitage is built into the sides of sandstone cliffs on Geumjeongsan Mountain (Busan National Geopark) and features meticulously etched Buddhist reliefs carved into the stone walls.

  1. Sun, sand and surf – Haeundae Beach

This 1.5km-long city beach is one of the country’s best known.  With luxury hotels and private guesthouses in the Haeundae neighbourhood as the beach’s backdrop, people flock for the white sand and shallow water, ideal for swimming.  Umbrellas line the beaches and there are plenty of sea-sports to choose from to help you while away the hours of sun.

  1. Shop ‘til you drop – Markets to Mega-stores

For those who love to shop, Busan has traditional markets like the Gukje (International) Market or Bupyeong (Kkangtong) Market with hundreds of small booths selling everything from leather goods, fresh produce to Korean crafts.  Or go to Shinsegae Centum City which is the world’s largest shopping complex (registered by the Guinness World Records) that has more than just things to buy – an ice rink, indoor golf range and Spa Land- the ideal place for the weary shopper to recuperate.

  1. Best place to catch a sunrise – Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

The Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is also well worth a visit as it is one of the country’s few temples located by the ocean and is the perfect place to catch the sunrise.  This unique temple was first built in 1376 and is visited not only for its unique location but also its mystical occurrences.  A highlight is to see it decorated in paper lanterns for Buddha’s birthday.

  1. Lights, Camera, Action: Busan International Film Festival (BIFF)

As host of the most important film festival in Asia, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has been entertaining cinema lovers each October for over two decades.  In 2020 there were 192 films from 68 countries screened.  Best place to catch a movie is at the Busan Cinema Center, where the opening and closing ceremonies of BIFF take place.

  1. Final resting place – UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea

The Korean War took place 1950-1953 and at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea, the only one of its kind in the world, you will find the final resting place of 2300 men from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Turkey and the UK who supported South Korea.  There is a moving photography exhibition and helpful volunteers for interpretation. 

  1. Happy hiking trails – Geumjeongsanseong Fortress

Strangely there is no fortress at Geumjeongsanseong Fortress (which was destroyed during the Japanese occupation 1910-1945) but there are four architectural gates and 17km of stone walls built in 1703 circling an 8km² mountain-top, where you can enjoy the city’s best hiking.  The best way to tackle it is by cable car to the base of the mountain and hike from there.

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