Wondering – Is Busan worth visiting? Well, you’ve landed in the right place because this is the ultimate guide to Busan – the city that’s got a little bit of everything, and then some.
Picture this: city vibes that’ll give Seoul a run for its money, combined with beaches that make you want to ditch everything and just lounge by the waves.
You should be.
From the secrets of the coastal parks to the hidden gems in the bustling markets, we’re diving deep into the heart of Busan.
And we’re not just about the sights – we’re talking seafood adventures, cultural immersion, and practical tips to make sure your Busan experience is nothing short of epic.
So, if you’ve ever pondered, “Is Busan worth visiting?” – stick around. I will give you unfiltered insights into what it’s actually like to travel to Busan (and as a solo female traveller).
DO YOU HAVE THESE ITEMS FOR YOUR TRIP?
✔️ Flights: Book your flights on Skyscanner
➡️ Car rental: Rent your car on Discovercars
✔️ Travel insurance: I recommend World Nomads
➡️ Accommodations: Book your stay at booking.com
✔️ Activities: Arrange your adventure trips and tours
My Trip to Busan
I embarked on a solo journey to Busan in October 2023, and let me tell you, it was the trip of a lifetime. Busan was my first stop on a trip that included Seoul and parts of Japan and trust me, it was love at first sight as soon as I arrived.
Busan is home to gorgeous beaches, vibrant markets, and a sense of laid-back coastal charm that I found hard to resist. I was drawn to Busan to soak in the sun and uncover the hidden gems of the coastline.
The colourful Gamcheon Cultural Village was another major drawcard for me, and spoiler alert, it didn’t disappoint.
I stayed in Seomyeon which is a trendy city centrally located in Busan. It was the perfect base to explore the key attractions at a relatively fast pace.
I got lost walking the streets of Nampo Dong and strolled through the Jagalachi Fish markets, I lay by the beach in Haeunde and visited the picturesque Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. There is so much I jam-packed into a few days.
For a full itinerary, check out my 5-day Busan itinerary.
Busan Travel Essentials
- Grab the Visit Busan Pass, exclusively available for international travellers, and save money! Enjoy free access to 40+ attractions, tour buses/trams, and discounts for tours & restaurants.
- Now, staying connected is a must, right? Pick up a 4G SIM card with unlimited data (KT) or 4G SIM (SKT) at Seoul or Busan airport. But if you prefer to connect multiple devices, rent a 4G Pocket WiFi. Reserve in advance to save time!
- Grab your T Money Card from the airport to make getting around South Korea a breeze. Your T Money card is your ticket to Korea’s subways, buses and taxis. Easily top up your card at the subway station machines.
- Buy a discounted KTX pass for unlimited high-speed train rides. It’ll whisk you from Seoul to Busan in under 2.5 hours. Now, that’s the way to travel!
- Book your airport pickup in advance for a more cost-effective journey. Gimhae Airport is far from the city centre and Uber’s aren’t available, plus a taxi will cost you big bucks.
- Google Maps, Rome 2 Rio and Kakao Maps will be your best friends for getting around South Korea
⭐ Love my travel guides and itineraries? I’m here to design a custom itinerary tailored to your travel dreams! Fill out the contact form below, and let’s plan your dream trip! ⭐
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Is Busan Worth Visiting?
If you’re contemplating a visit to South Korea and find yourself at the crossroads of whether or not to include Busan in your itinerary, let me assure you – Busan is absolutely worth the journey.
Located on the southeastern coast of South Korea, this vibrant city blends city sophistication with coastal living, which means there is so much to do and see!
One of the key reasons Busan stands out is its stunning coastal landscapes.
The city is framed by beautiful beaches like Haeundae and Gwangalli, offering not only sun-soaked relaxation but also a lively atmosphere with beachside cafes and water sports.
The coastal parks, such as Igidae Park and Taejongdae, provide gorgeous views of the sea, the perfect backdrop for nature lovers.
Beyond the sun and sand, Busan is home to a rich cultural heritage that allows you to explore South Korea’s past history and current culture. Temples like Haedong Yonggungsa allow you to delve into the spiritual and historical fabric of the region.
The Gamcheon Culture Village, filled with stunning murals and narrow alleyways, provides a unique blend of artistry and history…and makes for awesome photos.
Now, let’s talk seafood because Busan takes it to a whole new level. Jagalchi Fish Market is basically a seafood wonderland. Fresh catches, vibrant stalls, and the aroma of the sea.
Even if you aren’t the biggest seafood fan, a visit to the markets is a must to immerse yourself in the market culture, it’s truly fascinating.
Worried about getting there? Don’t be. Busan is just a smooth KTX train ride away from Seoul. And once you’re there, buses and the metro make navigating the city a walk in the park. Plus most public transport options have signs in English!
10 Reasons To Put Busan On Your Bucket List!
Let’s now cover the 10 reasons why I think you need to start planning your trip to Busan!
Busan boasts some of the most stunning beaches in South Korea.
Haeundae Beach, with its golden sands and vibrant atmosphere, is perfect for sunbaking and water sports. Spend your days by the shore surrounded by the lively energy of beachgoers.
Scenic Hikes and Views
If you’re a nature lover, Busan has got you covered.
Take a hike up the trails of Geumjeongsan Mountain for panoramic views of the city and the sea.
Along the way, the trek offers gorgeous scenery. The perfect day outdoors.
Jagalchi Fish Market
Seafood enthusiasts, this one is for you!
Jagalchi Fish Market is a seafood haven where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant marine culture. From live fish auctions to enjoying the freshest sashimi, this market will make any foodie’s jaw drop.
Cultural Gems at Gamcheon Culture Village
Imagine a village filled with colourful houses stacked against a hillside, each telling a unique story.
Gamcheon Culture Village is a stunning site, offering a blend of art, culture, and history.
Get lost in its narrow winding streets filled with street art and quirky installations. And don’t forget to take plenty of photos of the views.
Spa Paradise at Spaland
Need some pampering? Located in the Shinsegae Centum City department store, one of the world’s largest shopping complexes, Busan’s Spaland is a premier Korean spa experience.
Relax in a variety of saunas, hot tubs, and unique themed relaxation zones for the ultimate rejuvenating experience.
Mouthwatering Street Food
Busan is a paradise for street food lovers.
From hotteok (sweet pancakes) to odeng (fish cake skewers), the local street food scene is full of flavours.
Explore the markets and alleys to discover traditional and modern bites.
Oceanfront Serenity at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Dive into Busan’s rich history at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a seaside marvel that isn’t your average temple experience.
Perched on the coastline, this temple offers stunning views of the sea and an opportunity to explore Korean Buddhism and architecture dating back to the 14th century. It’s a stunning escape where spirituality meets the ocean.
Thriving Art Scene at BIFF Square
Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Square is a vibrant hub worth visiting.
Stroll through the square which features handprints of Korean movie stars, and catch a film at one of the unique movie theaters lining the street.
Island Escape to Oryukdo Skywalk
For a gorgeous seaside experience, head to Oryukdo Skywalk.
Perched on the edge of the coastal cliffs, the transparent walkway offers unbeatable views of the ocean and surrounding islands.
It’s an Instagram-worthy spot for those seeking a touch of adventure.
Warm Welcoming Locals
Last but certainly not least, the people of Busan are known for their warm hospitality.
Whether you’re navigating the bustling markets or seeking directions to a hidden gem, the locals are friendly and always ready to share their love for their city.
Where To Stay In Busan
I’ve got to admit, I found choosing where to stay in Busan a little tricky. It was a showdown between Haeundae’s beachy scenes and the trendy hustle of Seomyeon’s city centre, where getting around is a breeze.
Personally, I opted for Seomyeon to be my home base. Why? Because it’s the most central spot and makes getting around a lot more convenient.
Seomyeon Station is a major hub where Lines 1 and 2 intersect, making it a sweet launchpad for daily adventures.
So, if you’re the type who, like me, wants to squeeze loads of attractions and activities into a finely tuned itinerary, Seomyeon is your spot.
And let me tell you, the vibe of the city really surprised me. Trendy spots, cool restaurants and loads of shops? They’re practically on every corner.
But hey, if you have your heart set on early morning beach strolls or sipping cocktails as the sun sets, Haundae might be best for you.
Sure, it’s a tad further from the city centre and the major cultural attractions, but on the flip side, you’re just steps away from one of Busan’s most famous beaches.
Top 3 Recommended Stays in Busan
- ⭐ Shire Hotel Seomyeon (Where I stayed): The perfect affordable hotel
- HOTEL LENITH Seomyeon: Excellent mid-range hotel in a great location
- Felix by STX Hotel & Suite Haeunde: Mid-range hotel near the beach
5 Things to Know Before Going To Busan
Let’s now cover 5 essentials you need to know before hopping on the plane to Busan.
1. Navigating with T-Money
Grab a T-Money card to streamline catching public transport in Busan. This rechargeable smart card can be used on subways, buses, and even in taxis.
Pick up your Tmoney card at the airport when you arrive or head to one of the many convenience stores to purchase your card.
When it’s time to top up your card, use one of the machines in the subway stations (don’t worry you can select English) or head to a convenience store.
From Haeundae to Gamcheon, this card ensures hassle-free transport, so you can focus on exploring instead of fumbling for loose change.
2. Language Basics
While English is understood in tourist areas, a few Korean phrases can go a long way.
Learn essentials like “hello” (안녕하세요 – Annyeonghaseyo) and “thank you” (감사합니다 – Gamsahamnida).
Locals appreciate the effort, and it can be especially handy in markets and local eateries.
I was pleasantly surprised in Busan, a lot of signs had English translations, and communicating with the locals was relatively smooth. It’s pretty amazing how you can communicate with someone who only knows the basics of your language, you just make it work!
3. Cash is King
While cards are widely accepted, having some cash is necessary, especially in smaller restaurants, cafes, and markets.
ATMs are readily available, and major credit cards are accepted in most places, but having a bit of Korean won on hand ensures smooth transactions.
And remember, credit and debit cards often incur an international transaction fee, the same goes when withdrawing cash so I suggest you get enough cash out before you go.
And never get cash out at the airport, the rates are notoriously bad.
4. KTX Reservations
If you’re travelling to Busan from Seoul, I recommend making a reservation for the KTX train.
I travelled from Busan to Seoul via the KTX and it is incredibly easy to navigate, especially if you purchase your tickets online and can skip the ticket machines at the station.
This high-speed option offers great scenery but also ensures you have a seat during peak travel times. Plus there is luggage storage.
If you have a few trips planned around South Korea you can also purchase a discounted KTX that offers unlimited train rides, similar to the JR rail pass. It’s a great value for money!
➡️ Buy a discounted KTX pass for unlimited high-speed train rides.
5. Staying Connected
Stay connected by renting a portable Wi-Fi device or picking up a SIM card.
With reliable internet access wherever you go, you can easily navigate using maps, translate on the go, and share your adventures in real time with friends and family.
This is particularly important if you are a solo female traveller like me!
But if you prefer to connect multiple devices, rent a 4G Pocket WiFi.
FAQs: Is Busan Worth Visiting?
Moving onto some commonly asked questions surrounding – Is Busan worth visiting?
Is it worth it to go to Busan?
Busan is like the cool coastal cousin of South Korea.
Think stunning beaches, delicious street food, and a mix of ancient temples and modern vibes.
If you’re up for a blend of relaxation and exploration, Busan is a definite yes.
Which one is better Seoul or Busan?
Well, that’s like comparing kimchi and bibimbap – both incredible, just in different ways!
Seoul’s the bustling capital with skyscrapers and palaces, while Busan brings you beaches and a more laid-back coastal feel.
There’s so much to unpack when comparing Seoul and Busan so for a detailed comparison, check out my post that will help you decide where next to travel, Seoul or Busan.
How many days do we need in Busan?
At least two to three days should do the trick. You’ve got time to hit the beaches, explore temples, and try some amazing seafood, but you will feel a little rushed.
So if you want to take it slow and soak in the coastal goodness, explore beyond the most popular attractions I recommend four to five days! There truly is so much to see!
Is Busan or Jeju better?
Ah, the coastal showdown!
Busan brings an excellent mix of city vibes with a side of beachy bliss, while Jeju is an island paradise with waterfalls and volcanic wonders.
In Busan, the city Seomyeon pulses with life – think loads of shops, modern architecture, and diverse food.
And then, just a hop, skip, and a jump away, you’ve got beaches, like Haeundae and Gwangalli, perfect to kick back, soak up the sun, and dip your toes in the calm waters.
It’s like having the best of both worlds – city vibes for ample things to do and beaches for the laid-back soul.
Jeju’s slower pace on the other hand lets you explore hidden gems like Loveland or unwind on picturesque beaches like Jungmun Saekdal. Nature truly takes centre stage on a trip to Jeju. It is also known as one of the safest places in South Korea.
It depends on what floats your boat – city adventures or island escapades.
Can’t really go wrong with either!
So Is Busan Worth Visiting?
In conclusion, if you’re still on the fence wondering, is Busan worth visiting, let me assure you—it absolutely is!
From the sun-kissed beaches and scenic hikes to the rich culture woven into its streets, Busan is a destination that promises a dynamic and fulfilling experience. The city offers a little something for every type of traveller.
Whether you’re indulging in the vibrant street food scene, finding peace at historic temples, or sipping cocktails by the beach, Busan has a way of capturing your heart.
So, add Busan to your bucket list without hesitation. It’s a place I instantly fell in love with and the more I explore the more it excites me.
Trust me, the question is not whether Busan is worth visiting—it’s when can you start planning your trip to this captivating Korean gem?!