Where to stay
- Aventree Hotel Busan, 6 Gwangbok-ro 39beon-gil, Jung-gu; +82 51 260 5004; www.aventreehotelbusan.com. A comfortable hotel located near famous attractions like Busan Tower, Jagalchi Market, and Gwangbokdong Fashion Street.
- Citadines Haeundae Busan, 620 Haeun-daero, Haeundae-gu; +82 51 6628888; citadines.com. It may look like a typical apartment building on the outside but inside, it’s a cozy hotel comprising homey rooms with muted earthy colors, wooden floors and crisp white duvets. Connected to a subway station via a direct walkway, the hotel has easy access to downtown, and the suburbs can be reached via an intercity bus terminal. Best of all, Haeundae Beach is just a short stroll away.
- Gwangjang Hotel, 7 Jungang-daero 214beon-gil, Dong-gu. A small, modest hotel situated mere steps away from Busan station.
- Haeundae Grand Hotel, Haeundae-Beach Rd, 217 Haeundae-gu; +82 51 7400 114; www.haeundaegrandhotel.com. The newly-renovated rooms at this five-star hotel feature elegant furnishings and scenic views of either the city or the ocean.
- Novotel Busan Ambassador, 292 Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu; +82 51 743 1234; www.novotel.com. A luxe five-star hotel with a beachfront setting, making it ideal for weddings and functions. Other features include a natural hot spring spa and an indoor pool.
Where to eat
- An Ga, 1276-1 Jung-dong, Haeundae-gu. What’s Korea without experiencing a Korean barbecue? An Ga literally means “comfortable home”, and the restaurant is said to serve some of the best meat in the city.
- Café Droptop, 692-4, Jeonpo 1(il)-dong, Busanjin-gu; +82 51 808 7731; www.cafedroptop.com. Try the café’s specialty white bean sesame waffle, which comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Café Ean, 35-33 Namcheon-dong, Suyeong-gu, +82 51 628 5791. Tucked away in a side lane, the quirky café serves up classic options like eggs and bacon, pastas and French toast. Its crêpes are also bestsellers, with both sweet and savory renditions to choose from.
- Dongnae Halmae Pajeon, 43-10, Myeongnyun-ro 94beon-gil, Dongnae-gu; dongraehalmaepajun.co.kr. This 50-year-old family-run restaurant that was rumored to have served kings. True or not, it is best known for its dongnae pajeon (pan-fried green onion pancake). Also highly recommended are the nurungji tangsu (browned rice stew with seafood) and sweet, chewy ddeok (rice cakes).
- Fingers & Chat, U-dong, Haeundae-gu; +82 51 726 8888. Enjoy fresh, piping-hot fish & chips – we highly recommend the seabass.
- Haeundae Market, 1394-193 Jung 1(il)-dong, Haeundae-gu; +82 51 746 3001.The perfect place to get acquainted with Korean street food on a budget. Try dongnae pajeon, a savory pancake filled with seafood and scallions and fried to a golden-brown, and the quintessential tteokbokki (rice cakes in a spicy sauce).
- Jagalchi Market, 52 Jagalchihaean-ro, Jung-gu; +82 51 713 8000; jagalchimarket.bisco.or.kr. Every seafood lover’s dream. There are super-fresh clams, mackerel, king crabs and more to be had , and you can ask the restaurant on the second floor of the market to cook your bounty for you.
- Jaws Jjimdak, Bujeon-dong. Try the Korean-style chicken in soy sauce. It comes with glass noodles, but you have the option of adding toppings such as cheese and fried squid.
- Mango Monster, various locations. Order the mango shaved ice dessert, which boasts a perfect, cotton candy-like consistency. It’s topped with fresh sweet mangoes and a scoop of mango sorbet – perfect for beating the heat during summer.
What to do
- Beomeosa Temple, 546 Cheongnyong-dong, Geumjeong-gu; +82 51 508 3122. Located on the slopes of Mt. Geumjeongsan, this Buddhist temple complex is one of South Korea’s most renowned places of worship. It also serves as the northern starting point for trails across the mountain.
- Busan Aquarium, 266 Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu; +82 51 740 1700; www.busanaquarium.com/en. Besides 35,000 marine animals, the museum also offers interactive and educational exhibits for kids and adults alike.
- Busan Tower, 37-30 Yongdusan-gil, Jung-gu; +82 51 257 9771. Head to the top of the 118-high tower for fabulous views of the metropolis.
- Busanjin Market, Beomil-dong, Dong-gu. Browse and buy clothes, fabrics, crafts and souvenirs at this market.
- City Tours. Hop on a city tour bus (www.citytourbusan.com), which will ferry you to some of Busan’s major attractions.
- Dongbaekseom Island. For a change of scene, head west past the Westin Chosun and check out the coastline on a stroll along the pretty clifftops of Dongbaekseom Island. Contrary to its name, the island is now part of the mainland, thanks to the accumulation of silt which formed a land bridge over time.
- Gamcheon Cultural Village, 177-11, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu; +82 70 4219 5556; www.gamcheon.or.kr. Also known as the Santorini of the East, this picturesque village is dotted with hundreds of colorful houses perched on hills. It’s a hub for artists, so you’re sure to stumble across murals and art installations while wandering its narrow streets.
- Gwangalli Beach, Gwangan 2-dong, Suyeong-gu. Visit this beach in the evening to get a gorgeous view of the city, especially of the Gwangan Bridge, a suspension bridge that lights up at nightfall.
- Gwangbok-dong Cultural & Fashion Street, Sinchang-dong and Gwangbok-dong, Jung-gu. This is a prime shopping destination stretching from the foot of Yongdusan Park to Gukje Market, with well over 100 shops selling everything from traditional folk crafts to high-end cosmetics.
- Haeundae Beach, Haeundae-gu; +82 51 749 4000; eng.haeundae.go.kr. This 1.5km-long white sand beach is probably the most famous beach in the country, and is popular with locals and tourists alike.
- Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, 416-3, Sirang-ri, Gijangeup, Gijang-gun; +82 51 722-7744; www.yongkungsa.or.kr/en. This seaside Buddhist temple affords visitors with beautiful views of the coast. The paper lanterns at the temple also add a fun pop of color to the landscape.
- SEA LIFE Busan Aquarium, 266 Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu, +82 51 740 1700. Here, you’ll find more than 250 species of marine animals on display. You can also ride a glass-bottomed boat and even go diving with sharks.
- Seokbulsa Temple, San 2, Mandeok 1-dong, Buk-gu. You’ll have to navigate two hours’ worth of steep terrain to reach the temple, but you’ll be rewarded with astounding views at the top.
- Sonjeong Beach. This peaceful beach is popular with surfers and families, and there are excellent seafood shacks lining its 1.2km-long stretch.
- Spa Land, 35 Centumnam-daero, Haeundae-gu; +82 51 745 2900. Relax and unwind with a visit to this modern jimjilbang (gender-segregated bathhouse with hot and cold soaking pools). The water in the baths and pools is pumped from underground springs, and is supposed to have curative properties.
- Taejongdae Park, 24 Jeonmang-ro, Yeongdo-gu; +82 51 405 2004; taejongdae.bisco.or.kr. This scenic park boasts a pebble beach, majestic cliffs and astounding views of the sea.
- Yongdusan Park, 37-55 Yongdusan-gil, Jung-gu; +82 51 860 7820; yongdusanpark.bisco.or.kr. Scale the 118-meter tall Busan Tower for panoramic views of the city.