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Things to do in Busan – Korea’s beautiful city

things to do in busan

Busan is, hand’s down, one of the best cities in the Asia for travelling and living.  One side are towering mountains for hiking, the other side is spotted with beautiful beaches.  Giant skyscrapers hang on to the strip of land in between.  You’ll find there are endless things to do in Busan.  Famous as one of the best cities in Asia for expats it has all the hustle and bustle you could want but is full of friendly locals too.  Here are five of my favourite places in Busan.

Jagalchi Fish Market

The Jagalchi Fish Markets are one of the most local things to do in Busan.  Bringing in the freshest of the fresh seafood it’s the place the local’s go for good food.  Taking a walk through the narrow streets will show you more fish and shellfish than you probably thought existed.  Fish are kept in tanks and the locals can pick out what they want for dinner later that day.  The markets have an old world charm to them and most of the customers and sellers are the older generation of Korean’s.  The younger generation tend to shop in department stores or mega-markets these days.

It’s easy to get lost in the back alleyways but if you can find the waterfront on the edge of the markets you’ll get a taste of authentic Korea.  This area really shows the juxtaposition of modern Korea, a country that was literally catapulted from war torn third world to one of the worlds most powerful and technology advanced countries in the space of a generation.  You’ll see buskers playing old style Korean music and street vendors selling snacks all under the shadow of next door’s massive department store.  You can find more information about Jagalchi Fish Market here.

Geumnyeongsan Mountain

Geumnyeongsan is one of the best things to do in Busan because it will give you a stunning 360 degree view of the city.  It’s quite a hike to the top but once you reach the summit you’ll be able to take in all of the surrounding city as well as the spectacular Gwangan bridge.

The summit is also home to some very interesting history of Korea.  You’ll find the place where the ancient cauldron was set alight to signal war or danger.  A series of these were set up across the entire country so that Busan and Seoul could communicate to each other in just a few minutes hundreds of years ago.  Guards were stationed on peaks throughout the country and the fire from each would signal the next.

If you are in need of a break stop by one of the many food stalls near the summit to have spicy ramen noodles with the locals.  You can find more information here.

Haeundae Traditional Market

Sitting on at the back of Haeundae Beach sits the famous traditional market.  It’s the place to go to try Korean food and even people from Seoul make the trip down to stand in line for the pork soup.

As you walk down the street each and every store will try and entice you in and from my experience there are no bad options.  But if you’re looking for the best head to the shop with the most locals in.  In saying this be warned as the shop with the most locals can often mean a shop that has a line of a hundred people outside.  The shop owners are incredibly fast and get people in and out as quick as possible so these lines do move quickly.  Possibly the best thing about the traditional market is that you’ll be lucky to spend over $10 and you’ll be full.  You can find more information here.

Shinsegae Centum City

The largest shopping centre in the world is the place to be if you’re looking for indoor things to do in Busan.  You can lose a day or two in here if you can’t find an exit.  The centre has a few food courts, an indoors ice skating rink and a rooftop park.  You can buy anything you could ever want here and it’s a great place to do your souvenir shopping.

Shinsegae Centum City is also right next door to the Busan International Film Festival centre.  If you have time stop by and catch a film.  It’s an amazing place just for a walk around.

Centum City is a very new part of Busan and is very much created to be an international hub for the city.  Taking a walk around here will give you an idea of how fast this city is really growing.  You can find more information here.

Dongbaek Island

Dongbaek Island is sandwiched somewhere between the dizzying heights of hundred story plus iPark buildings and the white sands of Haeundae beach.  It’s a small island (although connected by a neck of land to the foreshore) which is an oasis away from the speed of the city.  You’ll find quiet walk ways in between the beautifully landscaped trees.

At the tip of the island you can stop by the UN conference centre which juts out over a cliff.  A quick look inside shows you that Korea takes the responsibility of being a G20 Country seriously on the world stage.  The conference centre also gives you a great view of the city and the endless stream of fishing boats and container ships that pass by.

Continue your walk around the island and you’ll see the locals doing a spot of fishing with famous Haeundae beach as their backdrop.  Stop by Western Chosun hotel for a coffee or drink if your wallet can handle it.  You can find more information about Dongbaek and the surrounding area here.

There are enough things to do in Busan to keep you busy forever.  There is a reason why it’s such a popular expat city for engineers and English teachers.  You’ll find a number of them have made a life here and built a community around bars, cafes and restaurants that they have set up.  If you have any questions about more things to do in Busan sign up here and we’ll be in touch.

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