Busan, South Korea is located at the southernmost tip of South Korea. This port city is famous for its fish markets, culture, temples, and beaches. When visiting Seoul, it is well worth it to take the 2-3 hour train ride to Busan (and no, I’m not talking about the movie). As you plan for your time in Busan, there are so many options of how to spend your day. To save you time and energy, I have compiled a list of the absolute best things to do in Busan, South Korea.
Visit Gamcheon Cultural Village
The Gamcheon Cultural Village is quite a sight to behold. This colorful village on the outskirts of Busan is famous for the unique spread of colors among the houses. The village itself was built as part of the “post-war” reconstruction. In the early 2000’s, the people of the neighborhood and the city joined together to turn the area into a cultural and artistic hub. Since its restoration, Gamcheon Cultural Village has blown up in popularity attracting crowds, instagrammers, and businesses alike.
While spending time in the neighborhood, take time to get lost on the streets and explore the different areas. There is so much to see and wonderful street food to eat. When you arrive (via bus is the easiest and cheapest way from the center of town) you can get a map at one of the street stands that will point out art galleries and cafes that are worth checking out.
Eat the Street Food
Let’s be honest, one of the best parts of Korea is all of the amazing food that you can find all over the country. You don’t even have to pay for an expensive fine dining experience to experience the delicious cuisine of the country! You can simply eat the street food and be regularly blown away by how delicious it is. If you go down to the Jagalchi Fish Market, there are plenty of seafood street dishes that you can stop and try! The street food in Busan can be found all over town.
If something looks good, I highly recommend you try it!
Taejongdae Resort Park
Taejongdae Resort Park is the perfect mix of nature and amusement. Located at the tip of Busan, this park features incredible views of magnificent cliffs that overlook the ocean. This park has trolleys that you can take from one overlook to another that allows you to see multiple views of the ocean and the incredible cliffs of the area. The park itself also contains an observatory, a lighthouse, and an amusement park.
This park is easily one of the best things to do in Busan, but it can be very busy with children and families. Make sure to go early in the day to avoid some of the afternoon crowds. The park itself should take about 2 hours if you do the full loop. Plan for longer if you want to enjoy a meal or stop and sit for a while.
If you go to the observation deck you may even be able to see Tsushima Island of Japan if the visibility is good and it is a clear day!
Explore the Jagalchi Fish Market
When I went to South Korea, it was my first experience in an Asian country. I was truly blown away by so many amazing aspects of the culture, and it made me so excited to see more. One of the really cool things that I saw that I had never experienced in the United States was the Jagalchi Fish Market.
This famous fish market is the source of most of the seafood that is eaten in South Korea. This massive market spans an entire side of the bay and is filled with stall after stall of seafood. One of the unique things about this market is all of the different types of seafood that you can see and experience. Many of the shops have stalls in the back where they will serve you as well if you wish to have your food prepared for you.
Eat Live Octopus
One of the craziest food experiences that I have ever had in my life was eating live octopus in South Korea. It’s not really “alive” persay, but it is still moving and still trying to suction cup your tongue. The octopus are fresh off of the water at Jalgachi so it is easy for you to find a restaurant or back work area of a stall to try one of these delicacies. Be careful though, they are actually one of the more dangerous foods that you can eat! Because the nerve endings of the octopus are still working when you are eating them, the suction cups are in full effect. This means that you have to chew thoroughly or the octopus could suction cup to your throat and cause you to choke. Despite this, these octopus meals are actually incredibly delicious. I would highly recommend adding eating live octopus to your plan of things to do in Busan.
Listen to K-Pop
Are you a K-Pop fan? Well then Busan is the place to be. There are multiple K-Pop Karaoke bars that you can visit to get in the spirit of the cultural phenomenon. If you go to any retail store, it is likely to hear bands like BTS on the radio or see their merch along the walls. K-Pop is a huge part of Korean culture, and your time in Busan would not be complete without enjoying a few songs with the locals.
Go to the Beach
Busan is located right on the southern tip of South Korea. This means that it is surrounded by beautiful beaches and the water of the Pacific Ocean. One very famous beach in Busan is called Haeundae Beach. This beach is the location for many festivals and parties throughout the year as it is dubbed the “Urban Beach.” Even if you aren’t a beach person, this is a great place to people watch and embrace more of Korean culture.
If you visit Gwangalli Beach at night, you can actually see a Black Panther Filming location. From this beach, you can see Gwangan Bridge lit up just like it was in the movie which is pretty cool.
Also, if you like beaches, you can take a short plane ride to the famous Jeju Island. It is the local getaway for many South Korean families, but it is an incredible island. While you are there, be sure to hike the Jeju Olle Trail!
Go Up into Busan Tower
Busan Tower is very similar to the Seattle Space Needle in that it is an impressively tall and thin tower that doubles as an observation deck. This tower was built in 1937 and is 120 meters tall. If you take one of the high-speed elevators up to the top, you will find a small cafe and an observation deck where you can overlook the entire city. It costs around 8000 wan to take the elevators up (around $7 USD), and many say that it is worth it to get a good view of the port.
What other locations in Busan do you think are worth visiting?