The list below (in no particular order) IMO are must-sees when coming to Busan. If time is limited and you can only choose a couple of these, I would definitely recommend visiting Nampondong (which has great street-food at Gwangbokdong Food Street, shopping for everyone and is the #1 tourist spot in Busan). Jagalchi Fish Market is located right next to Nampondong and is the best Fish Market in Korea ( in my opinion 🙂 ).
I guess after that, it really depends what your interests are, in that if you like shopping, Seomyeon and Shinsegae would be for you. On the other hand if you like temples, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple & Beomeosa Temple are places you will want to see. For nightlife and/or restaurants, Haeundae Beach & Gwangalli Beach / Diamond Bridge have you covered as well as the Kyungsung University area ( I met my girlfriend here 🙂 ) which has 2 universities close by so normally has an influx of students at night.
The most famous beach in Korea and is great to visit at all times of the day. There is also a coastal walk here as well which allows you to walk around the coast via wooden walkways which lead past the APEC summit building which is worth a quick 15 minute look. The walk loops around so you will come back to where you started. Haeundae also has 1 main street which has some street food including hand-made dumpling (Mandu). There is plenty of restaurants and bars here as well if you are keen to hang around at night and kick on.
One of my favourite places in Korea (I enjoy looking at and eating seafood so I’m slightly biased on this place) and it happens to be located next to Nampo-dong which is perfect as I will normally visit both on the same day because of their close proximity. I think Jagalchi is quite underrated as it has a lot to offer and has quite a diverse array of seafood on offer. I even prefer it over the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. You can see large squid, stingrays, octopus, slate (one of koreas smelliest foods), eels, hagfish + heaps more!
This place is famous for its street food and you’ll tend to see a lot more foreigners here than any other place in Busan. There is shopping for every kind of budget and generally has a vibrant feel. I would recommend it as a must-see place in Busan.
This is by far one of the best coastal walks I’ve done in Korea and provides a great big breath of fresh air. There is a small old-school train which loops around the area which makes it easier for those unable or not willing to walk the whole way (i think all up its about 3 kms). There is a nice look-out half way around and on a clear day I am told you can see some Japanese islands.
Gamcheon is a unique place which reminds me of the favelas in Brazil. There is a load of arty stuff here including numerous amount of paintings/graffiti all over this small village/town which makes a walk-through great. There are people who actually live there so please keep that in mind when you go there. I think it closes around 5 or 6pm so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to look around.
Its been labelled the largest Department Store in the world and contains not only 2 large shopping centres but also Busan’s largest Spa ( Jjim Jil Bang 찜질방 ), a movie theater and an ice rink. Shopping here is probably the best in Busan as you have all the high-end brands as well as shops catering for smaller budgets.
When coming to Seomyeon make sure you take the subway as you can exit right into the heart of Korean fashion and that is by walking through the endless amounts of underground shops which stock mainly teens/womens clothing of the latest styles. Once you have walked/shopped end to end down there, you can finally arise onto the main area where there are a great selection of restaurants to eat and drink until the early morning. If you’re looking for a night out, here is a pretty good place to start.
For those that like a more tranquil place, Beomeosa has got you covered. Great, clean grounds which have a peaceful feeling and overlook the mountains nearby. There is a bus-stop right at the entrance so this place is easily accessibly by public transport (I did and it was very easy).
Gwangalli is one of my favourites spots to eat and drink as the Bridge provides such a good backdrop and is always lit up at night. Gwangalli also gives you the option to go choose your seafood at the markets close by and then bring it to a small tented restaurant where they will cut it up and serve it. Again, this place has lots of bars/places to eat along the main road looking over the beach/bridge. Would highly recommend a visit here (if time is short, night time is perfect for drinks etc).
Probably my favourite temple in Busan of which I visited many times ( more so because its a nice quiet place – even though a new Lotte Outlet Mall has opened up about 5 mins drive away – great palce for shopping btw 🙂 ). The second time I went was during the Cherry Blossoms season so it was even more beautiful than before. There is also a great restaurant just down the road from this place (on the corner – name is in the blogpost – which is famous for Jja jjang myeon / Jjampong / Tang Suk Yuk) which is worth checking out if you do visit this temple.
If you have time, listed below are more places which I recommended visiting 🙂
I absolutely loved this crab market because it not only sold delicious crab, it was fairly quiet, had a load of different seafood on offer, shop people were incredibly friendly and it just a an all-round good vibe about it. Its in the same vicinity as Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, so may be possible to do both in a day if you hire a car.
This Coastal Walk surprised me to be honest. This place was suggested by my partners father and it was well worth my time. Very relaxing, great views and if you have the time to walk to the end I believe there is a see-through platform at the end overlooking the water (next time I’m in Korea I will do this walk again until the end).
Lotte Mall Dongbusan branch is Asia’s largest premium outlet mall, the multi-shopping complex Lotte Mall Dong Busan Branch opened up on December 23, 2014. I recently visited this mall and was pretty impressed with the shops, food options and general layout of the mall. Parking was super easy and for those wanting to come by bus, there is a stop just across the road.
I still have places in Busan which require a write-up so when I find the time I will add them to this list. In the meantime if you do visit any of these places, please leave a message of what you thought and any experiences you had 🙂