Welcome to Busan, South Korea
Busan is a seaside town and is the second largest city in South Korea. Bursting with a plethora of beaches, mountains, seaports, hot springs, seafood and more. Travellers often come to this region to hike and to visit the Buddhist Temples located deep within the region’s mountains. Busan is a good destination for those seeking a more laid-back atmosphere.
Things to See
Gamcheon Culture Village started in the 1950s as a settlement of refugees fleeing from the war that would eventually split Korea in half. This community underwent an art project to decorate the houses in bright murals, creating a village straight out of a child’s storybook. The stacks of houses have also earned the village the nickname “the Santorini of Busan.”
The village is dotted with interesting things to see. The narrow alleys offer craft experiences in addition to the colourful murals. Of the many crafts, writing a personal message or creating a special drawing to put on a bracelet is a popular one, both special and inexpensive. Visitors to the village can also enjoy a multitude of unique street foods and snacks.
A great way to explore the village fully is to take part in the Gamcheon Culture Village Stamp Tour. Maps can be purchased from the tourist information centre at the entrance of the village for just 2,000 won. With map in hand, follow the winding course to each of the stamp locations. A completed stamp tour shown to the staff at the final location will be rewarded with a souvenir postcard of Gamcheon.
Oryukdo Island is named for its changing appearance, seeming to be a grouping of five or six (o and yuk being “five” and “six” in Korean, respectively) islands depending on from where they are seen. The best place to see the islands is Oryukdo Skywalk, built on a cliff high, with nothing but a transparent floor between you and the ocean waters below. The skywalk is a great place to take photos and on clear days, you can even see as far as Japan’s Tsushima Island.
A coastal walking trail connecting Oryukdo Skywalk with Igidae Park offers stunning views of the sea and the city of Busan. Built along the sharp cliffs above the ocean, the approximately 4 km-long trail features various sections, including a cloud bridge, wooden deck, stone pathway, and trails through the forest.
The main starting point is Igidae Park but many people also start from Oryukdo Skywalk. If the full 4km seems too long, walk a short bit to the section of your choice before turning back. Strolling along a section of the coastal trail with a cup of coffee in hand is enough to create a beautiful and romantic memory of your time here.
A major attraction of Busan, Haeundae is more than just Haeundae Beach! The area also encompasses the multipurpose Marine City and other skyscrapers, Dongbaekseom Island that bursts with red camellia blossoms in winter, and Gwangandaegyo Bridge, crossing the ocean landscape like a second horizon line. Marine City serves as a great background for souvenir photographs, and Dongbaekseom Island is perfect for a leisure stroll.
Just a short walk away from the beach is Haeundae Traditional Market. Despite the small size, visitors can fill up with tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), twigim (fried food), eomuk (fish cake), mandu (dumplings), dakgangjeong(glazed fried chicken bites) and other popular street foods.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. This superb attraction offers visitors the rare find of a temple along the shoreline; most temples in Korea are located in the mountains. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was first built in 1376 by the great Buddhist teacher known as Naong during the Goryeo Dynasty. Haesu Gwaneum Daebul (Seawater Great Goddess Buddha), Daeungjeon Main Sanctuary, Yongwangdang Shrine, Gulbeop Buddhist Sanctum (enclosed in a cave), and a three-story pagoda with four lions can all be seen looking out over the ocean.
Other special sites at the temple are the 108 stairs and stone lanterns lining the rocky landscape. After going down the 108 steps, one will be delighted with the beauty of the temple. Midway down the 108 steps, one can stop and enjoy the calming sounds of the waves, and view the majestic sunrise.
Things to Do
Geumgang Park, located at Geumjeongsan Mountain, serves as a rest area for Busan citizens throughout all four seasons. The lush forest threaded with beautiful birdsong provides a refreshing feeling. A ropeway connects Geumgang Park to Geumjeongsanseong Fortress. Riding in the ropeway also offers fantastic views of Busan and the mountainside.
Kkangtong Market opens in the day, but more people visit in the evening, leading some to call this a night market. The market is famous for selling unique, delicious street foods at inexpensive prices. Some of the more unusual street foods for Korea include Scotch eggs, hardboiled eggs wrapped in sausage and bacon before frying; French fries over sausage and cheese, all drenched in sauce; soup served in a bread bowl similar to pane pasta; and steamed corn so addictive it’s earned the nickname “narcotic corn.” All these foods are sold for just 3,000 to 5,000 won.
Just a short walk away from Kkangtong Market is BIFF Square Culture Street, a gathering of movie theatres in the center of Busan’s Nampo-dong. The more popular street foods include ssiat hotteok(seed-filled griddlecake), dak kkochi (chicken skewers), tteokbokki, and croquettes.
Jagalchi Market was formed by the people who populated the area after the Liberation in 1945 and the Korean War. As one of the largest seafood markets in Asia, the market offers all kinds of seafood to visitors. It is crowded by merchants and visitors every day and a popular attraction among tourists who want to taste the fresh seafood. Its Live Fish Section is the most popular section in the market among visitors enjoying fresh sashimi. Visitors can choose live fish to their likings and eat it sashimi-style.
Hwangnyeongsan Mountain is located in the heart of Busan and stretches across Busanjin-gu, Nam-gu, and Suyeong-gu Districts. With an altitude of 427m, the mountain is the second highest mountain in the Geumnyeon Mountain Range. The mountain is mostly made up of andesite and the summit is relatively flat. Some parts of the mountain are also characterized by exposed bedrocks.
Hwangnyeongsan Mountain isn’t very high so it only takes about two to three hours to get to the top. At the foot of the mountain, one can find a citizen’s recreation area and a youth training centre. Choosing which mountain trail to take depends on the transportation options available to you.
The bongsudae (beacon fire station) constructed on top of the mountain was an important means of communication for the military in 1422. This bongsudae was used to communicate with the bongsudae on Haeundae’s Ganbiosan Mountain (east), Gubongsan Mountain (west), and Beomeosa Temple and Gyemyeongsan Mountain (north). Every year, events such as the sansinje (ritual for the mountain god) and the beacon lighting ceremony are held on Hwangnyeongsan Mountain.