Find yourself pressed for time but still want to pay a visit to Busan? While not as popular to tourists as Seoul and Jeju island, Busan still has its own unique sights, such as the renowned Busan beaches and the seafood markets. Here’s the essential classic Busan itinerary on things to do in Busan and what to eat in Busan, without missing any of Busan’s famous attractions.
There was a lot of reliance on online sites while researching for my South Korea travels, as the main language was in Korean and so were their directions. Thus, I’ve included the directions, prices of admission, operating hours all in one Busan guide to help the next visitor to Busan travel with greater ease!
What to do in Busan in 3 days
Busan Station (부산역)
The place of disembarkation by train from Seoul to Busan, this is the central station of Busan. It is also where you can purchase a hop on hop off city tour bus, outside Hotel Arirang Busan.
Eat: Fish cakes (Eomuk) at Samjin Eomuk 삼진 어묵 Bakery
Fish cakes are one of Korea’s most popular street foods, and this bakery, by no chance, is Busan’s most famous fish cake bakery. Being the oldest eomuk maker in Busan, the bakery offers eomuk croquette and over 50 types of fish cake.
Many locals buy these fish cakes in bulk. If you don’t mind the fish cakes at room temperature, you can actually eat them straight up!
Price: Croquette are sold at 1,200₩ per piece, with cheese, shrimp, curry, spicy pepper, sweet potato and potato fillings. Fish cake prices vary. Directions: 2nd floor of Busan Station
Eat: Choryang Milmyeon 밀 면
This eatery offers a traditional Korean meals in traditional dining settings. Enjoy cold noodles, dumplings and ice soups all while seated on the floor. Korean noodles are made of wheat, making the texture chewy. Noodles are usually served long, so a pair of scissors can be found on every table, meant for cutting these noodles.
Hot broth is complimentary and served in a teapot. One of the culture differences we experienced was watching the locals drink the broth from a cup instead of a bowl.
The highlight of this shop has got to be their enormous dumplings.
Price: Dumplings (6 pieces) for 3,500₩ Directions: From Exit 7 of Busan Subway Station, walk to Kookmin Bank. The eatery is situated right beside it.
Oryukdo Skywalk (오륙도 스카이워크)
Oryukdo Skywalk was built on Seungdumal, a border between the East and South Sea. Walking on this skywalk translates to “walking in the sky”, or so the skywalk is intended to make you feel.
This horseshoe-shaped bridge is set up against a 35-metre coastal cliff. With the entire bridge made of glass, you can watch the waves hit against the cliffs from under you.
While some may be wowed by the transparent walkway, others felt it was nothing more than a pavement made of glass which juts out of a cliff.
The skywalk overlooks the Oryukdo island, which comprises of 2 brotherly rocks.
I was rather underwhelmed by the size of the skywalk, especially since it took quite some time to travel from town to the edge of Busan where the skywalk is. Being only 15 metres long, the skywalk can be cramped, especially when you have hordes of tourists coming to photograph the spot. To put the length in perspective, it does not take more than 5 minutes to complete the walk, including taking pictures on the skywalk.
I enjoyed the path that led to the skywalk much more, for there was a clean view of the coastlines and the Oryukdo island, sans the crowd. To get to this view, alight a couple of bus stops before the Orykdo Skywalk.
Admission fee: FOC Operating hours: 6.30am-6.30pm Directions: Take Subway Line 1 to Busan Station. Come out from Exit 10. Take Bus 27 and get off 25 stops later at Oryukdo SK View Humun (Backgate). Walk about 275 m to Oryukdo Skywalk. This journey takes approximately 1 hour.
Eat & Shop: Seomyeon (서면1번가)
Seomyeon is known as the medical street because of the countless of plastic surgery clinics found here.
This area is kept busy from dawn to dusk, but bustles come night, with billboards of clashing colours screaming to be noticed.
You can find a whole gamut of food and shopping establishments, from pushcart food stalls (pojangmacha) to restaurants. You can experiment all you want with their local street food. There is also a chance for unlimited shopping both underground and on the streets. Being a trendy district, Seomyeon features plenty of pubs, bars, clubs and KTV as well. Many shops are open 24 hours – even bakeries!
Thanks to the recommendation of a local friend, we booked our accommodation in the heart of Seomyeon, where everything is accessible within steps. Because of the proximity of hotels from each other, prices of the accommodation in Seomyeon can be very affordable, for as low as $33 per person per night!
Directions: Take Subway Line 1 or 2 to Seomyeon Station.
Gamcheon Culture Village (부산 감천문화마을)
For culture buffs, this has got to top your list. Or at least, the colour-chasing photographer in me was not going to miss this so-called ‘Santorini of the East’.
Walking around the village is free, unless you wish to obtain a stamp tour village map for 2,000₩ at the entrance. Like a treasure hunt, this map points out different points of interests within the village for you to get to in order to obtain a stamp and complete the map.
The whole village rests on a hill. The houses that make up the village are scattered in terraces. I found myself navigating through the narrow sidewalks interspersed with steps and slopes, and you will too. Make it your aim to uncover the best view of the village, for which you can never be certain of, for each view you stumble upon seemed only trump the previous.
Getting lost in cultural villages is my favourite part about travelling. It is not visiting museums, nor shopping. It is through these walks where I get a glimpse of Busan’s past, where I imagine what Busan used to be.
Tip: I recommend making this your first destination of the day, as this is the furthest you’ll ever be in Busan’s West. Besides, don’t you want to take in the view all on your own?
Admission fee: FOC Operating hours: 9am to 5pm Directions: Take Subway Line 1 to Toseong Station. Come out from Exit 6. Facing an intersection, turn right at the corner and walk straight. You will see a hospital on your right. Take Bus 1-1, 2 or 2-2 from the bus stop in front of the hospital. This will take you to Gamcheon Culture Village at the top of the hill.
Songdo Beach Skywalk (송도해수욕장)
This 365-metre-long promenade extends out from the edge of Songdo beach, giving you a distant but complete view of Songdo beach, with the city skyline in the background. Songdo Beach is the first public beach in Korea, completed in 1913. According to a legend, the curved walkway is supposed to provide an illusion of a dragon flying over the sea. But well, the image of a dragon seemed rather elusive to me.
Tip: While most would venture West of the beach towards the skywalk, there is another hidden photographic gem not to be missed, the red suspension bridge. It can be found on the opposite end of the skywalk, at the far East of the beach by the rocky cliffs.
When I caught sight of the existence of this bridge, I knew I could not pass it up. The walk towards the bridge may cast doubts, since it was a path that led further away from the crowd, but carry on anyway, until you meet with the red metal walkway that connects to Amnam Park. Climbing up the seemingly unending path would turn many away, but press on! No sooner would you find the bridge you are looking for.
Admission fee: FOC Operating hours: 9am-6pm Directions: Take Subway Line 1 to Jagalchi Station. Come out from Exit 2. Take bus 7, 9, 26, 30, 71 or 96. Get off 6 stops later at Songdo Beach.
Eat & Shop: BIFF Square (BIFF 광장)
Palm prints of famous film directors and movie celebrities can be spotted on the ground along the 428-meter-long street stretching from the Buyeong Theater in Nampo-dong to the overpass in Chungmu-dong. This is an area dedicated to the film veterans of Korea, celebrating their achievements they have made in the film industry.
This square is a shopping haven for locals and foreigners alike, with a mishmash of both local and global brands, such as Reebok, Adidas, Giordano, The Body Shop, Innis Free, Paris Baguette, Starbucks and Gong Cha. Set aside at least half a day roaming about here because the plethora of shops and street stalls which open until late had my head spinning.
Tip: Hunt for the famous stall selling hotteok. Easily spotted by its queue, the street snack is chewy on the inside and crispy on the out, with sweet peanut filling. This 1,000₩ snack is perfect for a break in between shopping. In retrospect, I wish I’d discovered this little delicious gem earlier, so I could indulge in it more.
Directions: Take Subway Line 1 to Jagalchi Station. Come out from Exit 7. Walk straight and turn left to find yourself in the heart of the square 5 minutes later.
Eat: Jagalchi Market (부산 자갈치시장)
You can never leave Korea without visiting the seafood markets that they are so known for. Jagalchi Market is by far the largest fish market in Korea. Set in a modern 7-storey building by Nampo port, you can find the freshest catch here, since all the seafood are caught on the coast of Busan and Korea’s South Sea. There are also outdoor fish stalls selling in the vicinity in the mornings which you can venture to – the Jagalchi Gomjangeo Alley and the Changseon-dong Eatery Alley.
The highlight of this visit is to sample some raw fish (or live octopus, if you prefer)! In fact, you can even have a taste of raw abalone if you wish. That was exactly what I did when I was there. Out of the 7 storeys, the ground floor is a wet market full of live seafood of every imaginable species swimming in colourful tubs. The 2nd floor is where you find rows of restaurants offering what they claim to be the best price for a satisfying seafood meal.
You have two options if you choose to dine here. You can personally handpick your choice of live seafood from the ground floor, after which you will pay them and they will send it upstairs for it to be prepared for consumption. Or, you can dine directly at your restaurant of choice from the 2nd floor.
Should you opt the first option, your restaurant choice would be determined by the seafood seller you bought from, and you would have to pay whatever the restaurant owner dictates, including the preparation fee of your live seafood. We felt rather indignant that not only were we robbed of our choice of restaurant, we also had to pay whatever cost the restaurant demanded.
While some tourists claimed they sell fresh seafood at wholesale prices, I’m sceptical about it myself. It felt like a tourist trap while I was there. For a sense of scale, here’s how much we paid for our meal there:
6 fresh abalones: 10,000₩
1 octopus: 5,000₩
Spicy seafood soup: 40,000₩
Per pax: Additional 4,000₩
I wouldn’t have minded if the prices were stated upfront, but it was only when they seated us down that they started hurling these “hidden costs” at us.
Nevertheless, Jagalchi Market is one of the few places I notice both locals and tourists coming together to eat to their hearts’ content. The ingredients were a spread. If you do not know already, a typical Korean meal is never accompanied without side dishes. Sweet potato, kimchi, seaweed and coleslaw were part of our appetizer. The spicy seafood hotpot soup, thankfully, was this restaurant’s only redeeming quality. What came along with the soup were huge tiger prawns, flower crabs, squids, and at least 6 different kinds of shells.
Tip: Want the best views of the nearby Yongdodaegyo Bridge and the port? Take the lift to the 7th floor to find a cute guesthouse, Terra Guesthouse. An unusual place for a guesthouse to be situated at, don’t you think? Head to the outdoor terrace of the guesthouse, and be greeted by a 180-degree panorama view.
Directions: Take Subway Line 1 to Jagalchi Station. Come out from Exit 10. Turn right onto Jagalchi 3(sam)-gil Street. Walk for approximately 5 min, then turn left to arrive at Jagalchi Market.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple(용궁사)
Unmistakably known as the temple by the sea, it offers one of the best views you can get in Busan outside of the city.
Whether you are here to pay your respects or simply to admire the architecture and the sea that envelopes this temple, you will not expect anything quite so similar. I found this temple had more life than Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace, perhaps due to the perfect complement of history and nature, with it situated right by the sea.
Again, I would advise to make this your first destination of the day as it is far out of the city centre to the North of Busan. Furthermore, it is a popular tourist destination, so expect heaps of crowd as the day goes.
Admission fee: FOC Operating hours: 5am-7pm Directions: Take Subway Line 2 to Haeundae Station. Come out from Exit 7. Take Bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa Temple approximately 20 minutes later. There will be a stone post that indicates the direction of the temple. Walk uphill for another 10 minutes to get to the temple.
Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장)
A popular and well-known beach, rows of colourful beach umbrellas can be found clambering for a space on the beach come summer.
Directions: Take Subway Line 2 to Haeundae Station. Come out from Exit 5. Head straight and you will arrive at Haeundae Beach.
Eat: Haeundae Market
A short walk away from Haeundae beach is a straightforward street you can walk down, with restaurants selling live seafood, buns, dumplings or street snacks, convenience stalls and household shops lining the market street.
Gwangalli Beach (광안리해수욕장)
An ordinary beach if not for the bridge that runs parallel to the beach across the ocean. Gwangandaegyo Bridge is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks due to the myriad of colours that emanate from it come nightfall. This is also how it became known as the Diamond Bridge.
Directions: From Busan Station, take Bus 41, 42, 140, 239, 240 or 139. Alight at Gwangalli Beach. OR Take Subway Line 2 to Gwangan Station. Come out from Exit 5. Turn right and walk for 5 minutes down 7 blocks to arrive at Gwangalli Beach.
Hwangnyeongsan Mountain (황령산)
End your night on this mountain, if not for the tranquility and the city breeze that the peak offers, then for the view of the Diamond bridge lights from end to end!
Directions: Bongusudae Peak on Mt. Hwangnyeong is 15 minutes by foot from Gwangalli Beach. 20-30 minute walk from Subway line 2 Geumnyeonsan Station
First impressions of South Korea
You can hardly can find traffic light crossings on main roads. To cross the roads, you’d have to go underground.
There are only stairs and (extremely slow) lifts to go underground.
South Korea offers plenty of free wi-fi spots and you’ll always never run out of battery with free charging points.
Daily Busan Expenses
Bus: 1300₩ for adults; 900₩ for children 1-way.
Try to have exact change as the driver might not have change for you!
Metro: 4500₩ metro-only day-pass.
A much wiser option if you’ll be travelling around the city much! Note also that the metro only accepts 1000₩ notes.
Recommended duration in Busan: 3-4 days
This extensive itinerary covers all of Busan’s main attractions, so you shouldn’t run out of things to do in Busan! If you do, ask me! I have plenty of food recommendations to share with you. 🙂
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