Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, is a coastal paradise that’s got it all: sandy beaches, vibrant markets, a boatload of cultural treasures, prominent seafood… You name it! Nestled between sea and mountains, the place is a captivating fusion of tradition, modernity, and natural splendor. Travelers often rave about Busan for its delightful blend of traditional and modern elements, and the city’s friendly atmosphere and diverse attractions cater to various interests, making it a well-loved destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure. This place seamlessly blends the hustle and bustle of urban life with stunning natural landscapes and promises an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking an authentic taste of South Korea. One day in Busan will therefore be a day to remember!
What’s the best time to visit Busan?
The most enjoyable times to experience Busan are spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November). These seasons attract moderate crowds, providing a harmonious blend of favorable weather and manageable tourism, making them ideal seasons to explore Busan’s cultural richness and natural beauty.
Spring is adorned with cherry blossoms blooming in early April andfestivals along the Dalmaji Road and Haeundae. Additionally, the Samgwangsa Temple Lantern Festival, which often aligns with Buddha’s birthday celebrations in May, transforms the temple with thousands of vibrant lanterns, illuminating the night sky and offering a mesmerizing sight to behold. Many other festivals take place in spring, so you will have plenty to do if you come during this season.
In autumn, the city bursts into vibrant colors, perfect for outdoor activities and cultural exploration. The main festivals in Busan such as the Busan International Film Festival, the Fireworks Festival, and the Busan One Asia Festival typically take place in October and November.
In contrast, summer (June to August) brings hotter temperatures and higher humidity, which may pose a problem to some travelers. However, there still are many events to attend, such as the Busan Sea Festival from late July to August andthe International Rock Festival in earlyAugust.
The winter months (December to March) are marked by colder temperatures and occasional snowfall, perfect for the Busan Christmas Tree Festival and lively New Year’s Eve celebrations. However, this season is less favorable due to weather constraints.
One day in Busan Itinerary
Busan offers a whirlwind of diverse experiences that immerse you in its culture, history, and stunning landscapes. By following this itinerary, you’ll learn how to spend your one day in Busan wisely, covering the most important sights. These are the best things to see and do while in this amazing city!
Begin Your Journey – Discover Serenity at the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Start your one day at Busan in Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, which is a picturesque Buddhist temple built in 1376 by a great Buddhist teacher. Unfortunately, the temple was almost completely destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion of Korea in the 16th century.
It was only rebuilt in the 1930s, with the Daeungjeon, the main hall, receiving a thorough reconstruction in 1970. The temple entry is free and open from 5 AM till sunset. With the morning sun shining on this seaside temple, you’ll be able to soak up the peaceful atmosphere and enjoy the incredible views of the temple sitting by the cliffs.
The temple is known for its beautiful architecture, intricate details, and the scenic setting by the ocean. Visitors can explore various halls, pavilions, and statues within the temple complex. The main hall is dedicated to the Buddha and is a focal point for prayer and worship. Additionally, there’s a three-story pagoda and a large statue of the Buddha situated towards the back of the temple.
Stop at Colorful Canvas Art – Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan is a unique and colorful neighborhood, often referred to as the “Santorini of the East” due to its vibrant, stacked houses built along the hillside. Take a taxi, which typically takes around 40-50 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. By catching a bus at the nearby Haedong Yonggungsa Temple Bus Stop heading towards Haeundae Station. Once at Haeundae Station, transfer to either Bus No. 100 or 43, continuing until you reach Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop. Upon disembarking, a brief 5 to 10-minute walk will lead you to the village’s entrance.
In 2009, an inspiring transformation unfolded within this village as it became part of a public art renovation initiative. This project summoned art students, professional artists, and local residents to collaborate in maintaining, repairing, and embellishing the area with artistry. Abandoned houses underwent a remarkable metamorphosis, evolving into vibrant art galleries, captivating museums, and charming shops, breathing new life into the community’s cultural landscape.
Discover local creativity at art shops and galleries, where talented artists showcase their unique works, providing an opportunity to bring home exclusive souvenirs. While capturing scenic views from popular spots like the Little Prince and the enchanting Stairs to See the Stars, indulge in a variety of culinary delights offered by nearby cafes and eateries. Don’t miss landmarks like the Gamcheon Culture and Art Center, offering deeper insights into the village’s heritage. You can even enjoy hands-on experiences through workshops and interactive activities organized by passionate local artists and the community.
Enjoy a Seafood Feast: Lunch Escapade at Jagalchi Market
Jagalchi Fish Market is Busan’s largest seafood market and an iconic destination renowned for its rich assortment of live seafood. The market’s bustling ground floor showcases an array of marine life, while the upper levels house numerous restaurants serving freshly cooked seafood dishes. A cultural hotspot, it’s a must-visit for anyone seeking an authentic taste of Busan’s seafood culture. Walking to Yangseong Store and catching Bus No. 87, which operates frequently, provides a direct route, allowing you to reach Jagalchi Station and BIFF Square conveniently.
On the ground floor of the market, you’ll find a bustling hub of vendors offering an array of live seafood. Select your desired seafood such as fish, shellfish, or other marine delicacies. Once you’ve made your selection, tell the staff if you’d like your food grilled, steamed, or served raw, and head up to the second floor to dine and enjoy your meal. The second floor houses various restaurants and dining areas where your selected seafood will be freshly prepared according to your preferences for a delightful dining experience. Don’t forget to complement your meal with local side dishes or accompaniments for an authentic culinary experience.
If, however, you prefer a hassle-free dining experience and want to explore a wide range of traditional and exotic seafood without going through the ordering process, the seafood buffet restaurant on the 5th floor is an ideal choice.
Wander across streets where Cinema, Culture, and Buzz Collide – BIFF Square
A short walk from the Jagalchi Market will get you to BIFF Square, short for Busan International Film Festival Square, known for its vibrant atmosphere, film culture, and celebrity handprints. Embrace the lively ambiance, relish the delicious Korean street food offerings, and immerse yourself in the vibrant energy that defines the place and makes it a must-visit spot for an engaging and culturally rich experience in Busan.
This area is known as Nampo-dong and consists of three dynamic markets including Gukje Market, Jagalchi Fish Market, BIFF Square, and many small traditional and street shopping alleys which are accessible by walking distance. So, if you’d like to do some shopping, this is an ideal opportunity!
Have Fun in the Sun and on Sandy Shores of Haeundae Beach
Haeundae Beach in Busan is a stunning coastal paradise. Its golden sands and clear waters offer a perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and exciting water sports. Along the beach, you’ll find lively cafes, restaurants serving delicious local food, and shops to explore. With its bustling atmosphere and various events throughout the year, Haeundae is perfect for a blend of relaxation and beach activities such as water sports, fireworks, festivals, and more.
Multiple buses operate between Jagalchi Market and Haeundae Beach. You can take buses number 139, 1003, or 1001 from the Jagalchi Market area and get off at Haeundae Beach or Haeundae Station.
Taste Korean Snacks at Haeundae Market
Haeundae Market is a bustling area close to Haeundae Beach, offering a vibrant mix of local goods, fresh produce, street food, and traditional Korean snacks. Here, you’ll find a variety of stalls selling everything from clothes and accessories to seafood and handicrafts. But the best thing to do here is to enjoy an authentic snack or two. Here are some of the most popular choices:
Ssiat Hotteok – a sweet Korean pancake filled with seeds and nuts.
Eomuk – fish cakes served in various ways, such as skewered or in a warm soup.
Kimbap – Korean rice rolls often filled with vegetables, eggs, and meal.
Twigim – assorted deep-fried snacks like vegetables, seafood, or tofu.
Gimbap – similar to sushi but with a Korean twist, filled with rice and various ingredients.
Tteokbokki – spicy rice cakes cooked in a red chili sauce.
Odeng – fish cake skewers served in a savory broth.
Explore the Shore with Busan Blueline Park
The Busan Blueline Park is a must-visit! To reach it, simply walk along the left section of the beachfront. It’s a center of attraction in Busan, offering a unique coastal experience via either the beach train or the sky capsule ride. The park’s regular opening hours are from 9:30 AM to 8:00 PM, but these hours might vary depending on weather conditions, seasons, and the climate.
There are five stops along the ride: Mipo (starting point), Dalmaji, Cheongsapo, Daridol Skywalk, Gudeokpo, and Songjeong Beach, each offering various activities. The sky capsule ride takes you from Mipo to Cheongsapo (about halfway), while the beach train covers the entire route from Mipo to Songjeong Beach. You can mix both experiences, and it’s a fantastic way to explore different stops and enjoy the coastal scenery along the way!
Enjoy Exquisite Dining Delights in Haeundae
For a great dinner, Haeundae Beach and Haeundae Subway Station (Line 2 exit 3/5) are places where an array of dining options awaits. Dive into the flavors of Goresa Eomuk Fish Cake Shop, famous for its delightful fishcakes, a beloved Korean snack. For another unique experience, Goban Sikdang offers an exotic Korean BBQ, showcasing an array of grilled meats and accompaniments.
You can also dive into the ocean’s bounty at Geumsubokguk Haeundae, which specializes in tantalizing seafood dishes. To savor a heartwarming meal, head to Miryang Sundae Dwaeji, known for its Korean pork and rice soup with sundae (Korean sausage). These diverse eateries promise a taste of Korea’s rich culinary heritage and are a wonderful way to bring your one day in Busan to a close.
End your day with relaxing SPA LAND in Centum City
The cherry on top of this Busan itinerary is Spa Land in Centum City, a popular Korean spa (Jjimjilbang) complex offering various sauna experiences and relaxation amenities. It covers two expansive floors, offering visitors a step-by-step experience of Korean sauna culture. Each floor is designed to provide various sauna rooms, pools, and relaxation areas, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the traditional Korean spa experience.
To travel from Haeundae Beach to Spa Land Centum City, you can take the subway from Haeundae Station (Line 2) to Centum City Station (also Line 2). Once you arrive, follow the signs within the shopping center to reach Spa Land, which is usually situated within the same vicinity.
With its extensive facilities, including themed sauna rooms, heated pools, and various spa treatments, Spa Land beckons visitors to unwind and rejuvenate amidst a tranquil and luxurious ambiance. After a long day of sightseeing, this will help you recover all the lost energy.
Where to Stay in Busan
30, Dalmaji-gil, Haeundae-gu, 48099 Busan
Signiel Busan, nestled within the LCT Tower’s 3rd to 19th floors, provides stunning vistas of Haeundae Beach and the Gwangan Bridge. Its balconies offer a breathtaking panorama, ideal for taking in Busan’s beauty. The hotel’s proximity to Jungdong and Haeundae Subway Stations makes exploring the vibrant beach nightlife effortless. With well-appointed rooms, an infinity pool, and a luxurious spa, guests can relax after enjoying the lively scenes, indulging in luxury while rejuvenating for a memorable stay in Busan.
ASTI Hotel Busan Station
7-8, Jungang-daero 214beon-gil, Dong-gu, Dong-Gu, 48733 Busan
Located right outside of Busan Train Station and a subway station, ASTI Hotel Busan Station makes it easy for visitors to get around. But apart from a great location, the hotel also boasts a wonderful bar that provides wonderful views of the harbor. On top of that, the rooms are neat, spacious, and comfortable, with free toiletries awaiting every new guest. And when you go for a walk, you will see that there are many restaurants close by and that the area is quite nice to explore.
Toyoko Inn Seomyeon
39, Seojeon-ro, Busanjin-gu, Busanjin-Gu, 47247 Busan
At Toyoko Inn Seomyeon, guests can expect comfortable and well-equipped rooms during their stay. The hotel provides cozy accommodations with a complimentary buffet breakfast included, ensuring a pleasant start to the day. Additionally, the hotel’s location places it within a 30-minute drive to both Jagalchi Market and Nampodong Shopping District, offering convenient access to these popular spots. Moreover, it’s a 30-minute drive to Gimhae International Airport, making travel connections convenient for guests.
Blue Backpackers Hostel
8-8, Sincheon-daero 102beon-gil, Busanjin-gu, Busanjin-Gu, 47283 Busan
Blue Backpackers Hostel could very well be the best hostel in Busan! It is simple but very comfortable, with personal lockers in every dormitory. Guests can also opt for private rooms, which come with their own bathrooms. The location of the hostel in the Seomyeon area is also great, and you will be fairly close to Busan Train Station. There are many bars and restaurants close by too, and the people running the hostel are lovely and very helpful. You’ll love it!
Day Trips From Busan
For those contemplating a day trip from Busan, several destinations stand out as among the finest choices to explore. Here are the places you definitely have to consider!
Gyeongju is a city in South Korea known for its rich history as the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom. This UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with numerous archaeological sites, royal tombs, temples, and historical landmarks. Visitors can explore places like Bulguksa Temple, renowned for its architectural beauty, and Seokguram Grotto, housing a majestic Buddha statue. Daereungwon Tomb Complex showcases ancient burial mounds, while Anapji Pond offers scenic beauty amidst historical relics.
Tongyeong is a picturesque coastal city renowned for its stunning natural beauty and maritime culture. This charming destination boasts a cluster of islands, offering breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and panoramic views from the iconic Tongyeong Cable Car. Visitors can explore Dongpirang Village, known for its colorful murals, or take a ferry to the enchanting Hansan Island to experience its tranquil charm. The city’s maritime history comes alive at the Tongyeong Maritime Museum, while the local seafood markets and diverse culinary scene delight food enthusiasts.
Jirisan National Park
Jirisan National Park is a stunning natural paradise in South Korea, encompassing majestic mountains, lush forests, and diverse ecosystems. It’s the country’s largest national park and a haven for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and cultural explorers. The park offers various trails, including the famous Jirisan Dulle-gil, allowing visitors to experience serene landscapes, ancient temples like Hwaeomsa, beautiful waterfalls like Cheonwang and Baemsagol, and picturesque valleys. It is a serene retreat amid breathtaking scenery.
Hahoe Folk Village
Hahoe Folk Village, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Korea, maintains ancient Korean architecture and rural life from the Joseon Dynasty. It features traditional homes, thatched roofs, and cultural treasures along the Nakdong River. Visitors experience the Ryu family’s ancestral home, enjoy Mask Dance Performances, and wander through scenic landscapes, immersing in Korea’s cultural history and rural traditions
Extra Tips for Visiting Busan
In South Korea, tipping isn’t customary as service charges are typically included in bills, avoiding potential confusion by leaving extra money. Instead, expect quality service without the need for tipping in most scenarios.
Enhance your experience by learning basic Korean phrases for various situations like restaurants, asking for directions, and shopping.
Consider obtaining a T-Money Card at the airport, along with some cash, to ensure smooth transactions and easy access to transportation in Busan, while also serving as a convenient payment method at convenience stores.
To maintain seamless access to your apps, download a VPN app or subscribe to a service before arrival, ensuring uninterrupted communication networks while abroad.
Lastly, several apps prove highly beneficial for travelers in South Korea, such as Naver Maps for navigation, KakaoTalk for messaging and calls, KakaoMap for location-based services, VisitKorea for attraction and accommodation info, and Subway Korea for navigating the country’s subway systems across different cities.
A Few Facts about Busan
- With a population of almost 3.5 million, Busan is South Korea’s second-largest city and the country’s largest and busiest seaport.
- Its roots go back to the second century AD when the state of Mt. Geochil existed in the area.
- The city has a rich history of hosting prominent sports tournaments, such as the 2002 Asian Games and the FIFA World Cup in collaboration with Japan.
- Busan is also home to the world’s largest department store, Shinsegae Centum City holds this honor, and it was recognized by the Guinness World Records.
- Interestingly, Busan was the only city in Korea that introduced steam trams. However, these were not in use long as electrification came soon after.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Marwah Shaikh is a Travel Relation Executive at a travel marketing company, an Avid Writer and leveraging a passion for East Asian Countries' Culture, Travel, History, Music, and Entertainment. As a Seasoned Writer, Marwah has is contributing Engaging Articles and Content, exploring the colorful tapestry of East Asian societies. Previously published on KpopWise.com, Marwah's Articles resonate with a blend of cultural insights and captivating Travel Itinerary and Plans, aiming to inspire exploration and foster a deeper understanding of this dynamic region.