36 Hours in Busan

36 Hours in Busan

Busan, South Korea is home to the BEXCO Exhibition and Convention Center the size of three soccer fields, it was the one of the hosts of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the host for the 2005 APEC talks and has a bid in for the 2020 Summer Olympics.  To say that it is an upcoming city working to make its mark on the map would be a gross understatement. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world.  This city has arrived and offers beautiful beaches, a thriving nightlife, gorgeous galleries and forested temples.  If South Korea had not just won the bid for the 2018 Olympics the spotlight would definitely be on Busan for 2020.

5 p.m.

If you have just arrived to Busan there is no better way to get into travel mode than enjoy fresh air at Haeundae Beach.  If you’re tired you can rent a chair and umbrella and ecnjoy a drink on the beach.  If you want to get your blood flowing you can take a stroll through lusciously green Dongbaek Park located a five minute walk from Haeundae Beach and right on the tip of the Korean peninsula.

8 p.m.

While you’re in the area enjoy the nightlife of Haeundae, which is pretty happening.  The skyscrapers surrounding the beach area illuminate the night sky and everyone flocks to beach side bars and clubs for date night.  Drinking on the beach is legal and it seems to be where everyone starts their evening out.


10 a.m.

One of Korea’s great five temples, this large complex is located up in the mountains, seemingly much further away from the big city than the few kilometers it is. Founded in 678, the buildings have been destroyed and rebuilt many times, but they’re still atmospheric. Watch out for big crowds of worshippers, hikers and tourists on weekends. To get there, take exit 5 from the station, make a U-turn, turn left and take bus 90 from the station a few hundred meters up the fees when we visited in 2011 were ₩900, 20 minutes, every 15 minutes and temple entrance fee ₩1000.

1 p.m.

Yonggungsa Temple is a Buddhist temple complex situated on top of a large rock along the ocean creating a stunning setting. It is unique from other temples we visited and beautifully kept up.  To get there, take bus 181 from outside Centum City or Haeundae subway stations.  Alternatively you can take a taxi for roughly ₩6000, just ask that they use the meter.

5:30 p.m.

Even if you are not a fan of kimchi give a full traditional Korean meal a try, we were impressed by the array of flavors and variety of dishes served.  This may be a tricky experience to arrange as you typically need 2-4 people and a Korean speaker.  If you do take this culinary adventure you will be rewarded with your own private hut to eat in and free seconds of the dishes you like.

8 p.m.

For a breathtaking sight of Busan head up to Dalmaji Hill, which is unparalleled for views on a clear night.  There are plenty of places to grab a drink and many coffee shops to keep you up.  If you’re just looking for dessert there are lots of options too.


8 a.m.

Jagalchi Fish Market is the place to buy fish in South Korea, if you’re in Busan, then you must visit as it is what the city is famous for. The market displays freshly caught fish and various other sea creatures, mostly still alive.  Make sure you head to the roof of the market and take in the views of the busy harbor and many fishing boats below.  To get there take Line 1 to Jagalchi Station.

10 a.m.

Shinsegae Department Store, newly built in Centum City and sporting it’s Guiness Book of World Records stamp of approval as the largest department store in the world is a great place to max out your credit card.  With floors of the latest fashions from your favorite designers to cosmetics, perfume, food and books you’ll find something to buy.  You can even take a break from shopping to go golfing or ice skating within the store.  To get there take Line 1 to Centum City.

2 p.m.

Once you have shopped to your heart’s content rest your feet and get pampered at Spa Land, yes that’s really the name.  It is in Shinsegae and almost as large.  With several different rooms offering saunas at different temperatures, vibration therapy, cold temperature rooms as well as same sex baths and a huge outdoor foot bath there is something for everyone.  Plan on spending your full allotment of four hours to enjoy everything Spa Land has to offer, a visit here will have you relaxed for your next destination wherever it is.


Get a hanaro card to use for buses and subway fares, it won’t get you a discount, but it will make public transport so much easier and hassle free.  They can be purchased at any of the automated machines in the subway stations and they have English.

Use the information stands the staff speak impeccable English and their advice and maps are infinitely helpful.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to call ahead to hotels for you or give you step by step directions to your destination as they would be happy to help.

Book accommodation in advance, we were able to couchsurf in Busan, but budget hotels fill fast and can be pretty pricey.  Also, take into account Korean holidays as this is a favorite travel destination for South Koreans.

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» Dad :
Aug 23, 2011

This is such a great format….well done, although it seems like a months adventures……listening to bojono,while catching up…..saw Joe Sunday with Scottie miller, he asked all about you……love dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, I think you guys would love Busan! It has so much to offer and a gorgeous beach setting. Put it on your growing travel wish list.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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