The Best Things To See And Do In Busan, South Korea

Late Afternoon at Haedong Yonggung, Busan, South Korea © Chris Wary
Late Afternoon at Haedong Yonggung, Busan, South Korea © Chris Wary
Photo of Maria Iotova
9 February 2017

You may hear the South Koreans say that Busan is the contrary of Seoul, or is it the opposite? We don’t usually like to meddle in others’ affairs but you won’t regret going south. The benign climate, the most fervent of people and the helpful information below will make your sojourn a memorable one.

Haeundae Beach

You will know it’s a holiday when you feel the golden sand on your feet and the sea breeze on your skin. At Haeundae Beach, it seems as though it is always the weekend. Here you’ll find street art performers, bars with outdoor seating stretched across the beach, families and friends picnicking or competing in footvolley and rugby. When you look up, you will see many kites coloring the sky as kite flying is a sport in South Korea.

Sunny Day at Haeundae Beach | ©Yu-Seok Oh

Yacht Not Required

At Café Marine Terrace, just off Haeundae Marine, you will see breakfast in a whole new light. Let feelings of guilt aside, and go for the baked slices of apple with cinnamon and cream, which are subtly added to the richness of a freshly made waffle. If your willpower is high, then start the day with their organic blueberry yogurt smoothie, the compromise is only in the amount of sugar.

Gwan-an-ri Beach in Busan | ©Daniel Lee

Stretch your legs

If you would like to see a panoramic view of Haeundae from a more secluded environment, then take the 30-minute walk around Dongbaek Park Coastal Promenade. The path is easy and meanders through high trees and it is ideal for joggers too.

For Your Vegetarian Friend

Time passes by fast in this boisterous city, and the smells of freshly cooked fish, Dwaeji Gukbap (Busan’s signature dish, which translates as pork soup) and pajeon (Korean pancake) will make your stomach growl, but not your vegetarian travel buddy’s. A place that everyone can enjoy, Namaste Indian Nepali Cuisine is the place to go. The ambiance is that of a stale basement, but the palak paneer and fluffy buttered naan are out of this world.

Korean pajeon puffle | ©Joy

Ice Cream Just Like Cotton

What is great about Café Creamã is the minimal and elegant style, in design and flavors. Mascarpone, salt, coconut or citron, the ice cream of your choice is prepared with liquid nitrogen right before your eyes. If your endurance to cold is commendable, the bingsu, Korea’s traditional ice shaved dessert, is a definite must try.

A Taste Of Japan

Busan by night is the ultimate street party experience, there are even mini cocktail bar stalls setup on the streets. Visit the Snow of Sapporo, a Japanese bar and restaurant. Have a seat at the bar and watch the chef prepare your dishes, you will totally forget about him after a few grapefruit sojus. The side dishes won’t stop coming your way, on service as the Korean call it.

Snow Festival of Sapporo | ©Charles Lam

Seokbulsa Temple

If you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle and see the city’s pristine face, visit Seokbulsa Temple, a glittering gem located outside the urban districts of Busan. Lace up your boots, fill your water bottle and get mentally ready for this perilous trail to the 40-meter-tall Buddha sculptures etched into Geumjeong Mountain. The final, steep 600 meters of your climb will be a seminal accomplishment of your life. But the utter serenity coupled with endless vistas of mountains, sea and sky are worth the aches you’ll feel the next day.

Seokbulsa Temple | ©Isabelle Plante

Visit Centum City

Have you ever thought of an exclusive paradise for women? Busan has, and you can easily access it by metro. Because size matters here (at least when it comes to shops), you will also find Shinsegae, the world’s biggest mall.

Shinsegae | ©Jordi Sanchez Teruel

An Urban Oasis

You have quenched your fashion and style passions and cannot wait to show off the new addition to your briefcase collection to the office. Now it’s time to treat your body and soul in a deluxe Korean bathhouse that preserves the beneficial effects of hot springs and saunas. Spa Land offers the ultimate experience in soaking, scrubbing and relaxing. When you’ve had enough of the heat, escape to the secluded, cool outdoor rock pools.

Things to note are the heated floors across the three levels of the spa, the beach-like relaxation area with chaise longues, the Bali hot steam hall that cools you down gradually and the entertainment room with personal TVs for the beginners in mindfulness.

A Treat A Day, That’s The Way

Before you cross the exit doors of Shinsegae, stop at Billy Angel Cake Co., which features goods and treats made (and consumed) with a passion for the craft. Try the red velvet and citrus slices, and kindly accept this advice: don’t take your partner’s offer to share. The recipes allow the exact balance of sweetness between the satin cream and the smooth sponge.

Cake Display | ©snowpea&bokchoi

Dureraum (aka Enjoying The Movies Together)

This year’s Busan International Film Festival has just closed its doors, but you can steal some of the glitz with a visit to the Busan Cinema Centre. If you find yourself there at night, you will witness an unforgettable performance of 42,600 LED lights on the Big Roof. Take a seat in one of the 4,000 available seats of the outdoors cinema, and imagine it filled with people for the screening of Juliette Binoche’s movie The Wait.

Busan Cinema Center©Tuomas Lehtinen | Shutterstock

View Is Complimentary

It’s time for a romantic dinner; there isn’t a better place than the Seven Springs organic gourmet buffet restaurant on the 28th floor. You may have to book in advance, as the window seats are customers’ number one preference. There are vegetarian and non-vegetarian options based on Korean traditional cuisine and international fusions. The citrus sushi salad with salmon is highly recommended. You have never felt lighter dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Busan at night | ©David Peterson

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