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Is Busan Safe? My Personal Experience As A Solo Female Traveler

WONDERING – IS BUSAN SAFE FOR SOLO FEMALE TRAVELLERS? I’M HERE TO SHARE PERSONAL INSIGHTS AND TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE.

So you’re considering a trip to Busan, perhaps as a solo traveler or with loved ones and you’re wondering – Is Busan Safe?

Stepping onto the streets of Busan, South Korea, as a solo traveler for the first time, I was filled with both excitement and a few nerves!

Armed with research and recommendations, I kick-started my trip to South Korea this vibrant coastal city and it truly lived up to its reputation as a safe haven for travelers, especially solo female adventurers like myself.

Having explored its Jagalachi Fish Markets, wandered through Gamcheon Culture Village, and chatted with the friendly locals, I’m here to share my firsthand experiences and insights on the safety of Busan.

Let me tell you the truth behind the question: Is Busan safe?

Busan Travel Essentials For Solo Travelers

  • 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 center and Uber’s aren’t available, plus a taxi will cost you big bucks. 
  • Google MapsRome 2 Rio and Kakao Maps will be your best friends for getting around South Korea

Exploring Gamcheon Culture Village as a solo female traveler I felt very safe

Is Busan Safe? My Experience As A Solo Female Traveler

I traveled to Busan solo in October 2023 and it was my first time in South Korea. I knew before I visited that South Korea is very safe for female travelers but I still need some extra research to be safe which is what I’m here to share with you today!

So did I find Busan safe as a solo traveler? Absolutely! I found the people to be very friendly, and happy to lend a helping hand, yet they would often mind their own business and go about their day.

On a couple of occasions, locals would actually come up and offer me help in the most kind and respectful way, I must have looked really lost (cause I was!).

I stayed in Seomyeon which is the trendy city center and whilst I did feel safe, there were a few instances that made me a little uncomfortable. The first was just strange. It was my very first day and a girl, maybe around 17 came up to me begging me to practice her English with me. She looked very uncomfortable and the whole interaction just felt very off, so I politely declined and walked away getting lost in the crowds.

The second thing that happened was I was waiting outside of my hotel with my luggage for a taxi I had booked on Kakao (again in Seomyeon) and this man in a beat-up taxi kept driving past me insisting I ride with him.

At first, I thought this was the car I ordered, but I checked the license plate and it wasn’t. He gave me a very bad vibe and continued to circle the block. I just had to continually say no. I knew the hotel was right behind me if I needed to go in, which made me feel less on edge.

I also found the roads to be quite chaotic with drivers not stopping at street crossings. Crossing the road was actually when I felt the least safe in Busan, which is saying something!

So whilst I loved Seomyeon and still recommend solo female travelers stay there, it was the only place in Busan where I ran into a few uncomfortable situations. It is a big city after all and with all big cities, it is essential to stay vigilant!

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Crime Rate in Busan

Busan, much like its reputation suggests, is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. With low crime rates compared to many other cities globally, solo travelers often find themselves at ease while exploring.

Statistics indicate that crime rates in Busan have remained relatively stable in recent years, with incidents primarily centered around petty theft. According to Numbeo, Busan has a crime index of 22.52 which is lower than Sydney, Australia at 34.52, and has a safety index of 77.48 which again outperforms Sydney at 65.48.

You’ll also find plenty of police throughout the city, which contributes to your sense of safety.

During my stay in the city center of Seomyeon, while the overwhelming majority of interactions were positive, I did run into a few isolated incidents that underscored the importance of staying cautious no matter where you are.

Is Busan Safe at Night?

During my solo adventure to Busan, one question loomed large in my mind: Is Busan safe to explore after dark?

The verdict? Yes, Busan is generally safe at night, but like any city, it’s essential to exercise caution and common sense. I spent a few evenings going out for dinner after dark and I felt very safe.

If you avoid dimly lit shortcuts and stick to areas with plenty of people around you should have no issues.

And whilst I didn’t stay out too late, more so cause I was exhausted, nightlife goers should have no worries. As with any city you aren’t familiar with, avoid drinking too much, take a taxi home late at night, and ideally go out with a group of people. Organized pub crawls are great for this!

Looking for the Best Places To Travel In Your 20s On A Budget in 2024? Spoiler alert one of them is actually South Korea! Read my detailed guide next!

Safe Places To Stay in Busan as a Solo Traveler

During my travels to Busan, I explored various neighborhoods that are perfect for solo female travelers looking for a safe place to lay their heads at night.

The top two neighborhoods I recommend you stay in are Seomyeon and Haeundae.

If you are looking for a relaxing holiday by the beach, perhaps with a couple of cocktails to end your day of exploring, Haeundae is perfect. Just keep in mind that it is quite far East so getting to all the top attractions will take a bit longer.

Where to stay in haeundae
Haeundae Beach is one of the safest places to stay in Busan

Shilla Stay Haeundae

Located just 230 meters from Haeundae Beach and 200 meters from Busan Aquarium. Enjoy access to the fitness center, 24-hour front desk services, and on-site restaurant and bar.

If you are on a time crunch and are looking for the most convenient way to get around, Seomyeon is the base for you. I chose to stay in Seomeyon so I could tackle a jam-packed 4-day itinerary. Plus the neighborhood is a trendy city with plenty of shops and restaurants!

Where to stay in Seomyeon
Seomyeon is one of the safest places to stay in Busan

Lotte Hotel Busan

Indulge in affordable luxury at Lotte Hotel, just a short walk from Seomyeon Subway Station. Enjoy top-notch service and amenities like an on-site duty-free store, indoor and outdoor pools, and a variety of dining options!

Check out my full guide to the safest places to stay in Busan here.

Is Busan safe? Jagalchi Fish markets is one of the best and safest attractions in Busan

10 Essential Safety Tips for Busan

Let’s cover my top 10 safety tips for traveling solo to Busan. Whilst some of these are generic safety tips, it never hurts to be reminded of basic solo travel safety essentials! Plus, as we’ve covered, Busan is a safe place!

1. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

Keep an eye on your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or unfamiliar neighborhoods. Basic, but important!

2. Keep Valuables Secure

Ensure your belongings, including passports, wallets, and electronics, are secure at all times. I personally leave my passport in my luggage safe in my hotel.

3. Use Reliable Transport

Stick to licensed taxis, public transport, or reputable ride-sharing apps like KakaoTaxi to ensure safe and reliable transportation around the city. Also, check the license plate before hopping into a ride share!!

4. Stay Connected

Keep your phone charged and carry a portable charger to stay connected in case of emergencies. Share your itinerary and your GPS location with a trusted friend or family member and check in regularly.

5. Know Emergency Contacts

Familiarize yourself with emergency numbers such as 119 for police, fire, and medical emergencies. Additionally, know the contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate in Busan.

6. Avoid Dimly Lit Areas at Night

While Busan is generally safe at night, it’s best just to avoid poorly lit areas and stick to well-populated streets. Trust your instincts and consider using reputable transportation after dark.

7. Learn Basic Korean Phrases

Knowing a few basic Korean phrases can be helpful for communication and navigation. Locals appreciate the effort, and it can help you in various situations, from ordering food to asking for directions.

8. Be Cautious of Drinks

When socializing or enjoying nightlife in Busan, be cautious of accepting drinks from strangers. Keep an eye on your drink at all times to prevent tampering or drugging.

9. Follow Traffic Rules

Busan’s streets can be busy, so always use designated crosswalks and follow traffic signals when crossing the road. Be cautious of reckless drivers.

10. Trust Your Instincts

If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance from authorities or locals if you feel unsafe. Remember, it’s better to be rude than to put yourself in dangerous situations!

Haeundae Beach is a safe place to spend a day as a solo female traveler

Local Contacts and Emergency Services

In Busan, it’s always wise to familiarize yourself with local contacts and emergency services to ensure a smooth and safe trip.

The first point of contact in case of emergencies is the nationwide emergency number, 119, which connects you to police, fire, and medical services.

Additionally, it’s helpful to know the contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate in Busan in case you encounter any legal or consular issues during your stay.

For non-emergency situations or general inquiries, the Tourist Information Centers scattered throughout the city offer valuable assistance and guidance in multiple languages.

Haedong Yongungssa Temple is one of the top attraction on Busan's east coast

Guided Tours For Solo Travelers

Whilst I myself got around the city on my own easily enough without a guide or a tour, I thought I’d leave a few fantastic options for those who want to simply sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

Busan One-Day City Tour Of The East Coast

Get ready to explore the best of Busan’s East Coast. There are multiple packages to choose from to adjust your itinerary to cater to the attractions you most want to see. Check out all the package options here!

Tour Highlights (Package A):

✔️ Take the Taejongdae Danubi Train to visit the lighthouse, observation deck, and Taejongsa Temple
✔️ Visit Gamcheon Culture Village
✔️ Drop by Haedong Yonggung Temple
✔️ Take a Sky Capsule along the Coast of Busan where the East Sea meets the South Sea

💲45.99 USD

➡️ Book the One Day Busan East Coast Tour here!

Language Barriers in South Korea

Navigating language barriers in South Korea can be a challenge, especially for someone like me who doesn’t know any Korean.

While English is taught in schools and understood in tourist areas, it’s not always widely spoken, particularly in more remote or traditional parts of the country.

Despite this, I found that South Koreans are generally patient and accommodating when it comes to communication. Simple gestures, basic Korean phrases, and phone translation apps were invaluable tools for overcoming language obstacles and connecting with locals.

Plus most signs are in both Korean in English, particularly on public transport which is a lifesaver!

I personally managed fine communicating with locals who have broken English. Some hand gestures and simple communication are often plenty for getting your point across.

Birdseye views of Busan from Busan tower

FAQs: Is Busan Safe?

Moving onto some commonly asked questions about: Is Busan safe?

Is Busan safe for solo female traveller?

Absolutely! As a solo female traveler myself, I found Busan to be very safe.

The city has a reputation for being welcoming to visitors of all backgrounds, and I personally experienced the friendliness and respect of the locals during my stay.

Of course, it’s always wise to stay vigilant and take common-sense precautions, but overall, Busan offers a safe and enjoyable experience for solo female travelers.

Is Busan foreigner friendly?

Yes, Busan is incredibly foreigner-friendly. From my own interactions with locals to the availability of English signage and tourist information, I found the city to be accommodating and welcoming to visitors from all over the world.

Whether you’re navigating the bustling markets or seeking recommendations for local cuisine, you’ll likely experience helpful and friendly locals eager to assist you in enjoying your time in Busan.

Is Seoul or Busan better?

This is a matter of personal preference! Both Seoul and Busan are incredible cities and I personally loved both! Seoul, as the capital city, is home to incredible traditional temples sitting in a modern city, with iconic landmarks such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and bustling shopping districts like Myeongdong.

On the other hand, the coastal charm, stunning beaches, and relaxed atmosphere Busan is known for provides a different kind of trip.

Ultimately, it depends on what you’re looking for in your travel experience – whether it’s the hustle of a big city or the laid-back coastal vibe of a seaside city.

Read more about my ultimate comparison of Busan and Seoul!

Do people speak English in Busan?

While English may not be as widely spoken as in some other major cities, I found that many people in Busan have at least a basic understanding of English, especially in touristy areas.

Signs and transport information often include English translations – which is a huge help!

Plus Google Translate app can be extremely helpful for bridging any language gaps such as reading menus and shopping at the supermarket.

Overall, while fluency may vary, language barriers are generally manageable for travelers in Busan. You’d be surprised how two people can communicate well without sharing a language!

✔️ 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

The Wrap-Up: Is Busan Safe For Solo Female Travelers?

Writing this post makes me truly miss Busan! From the markets to the pretty beaches, Busan is still my favorite city in South Korea.

So, is Busan safe for solo female travelers? Absolutely.

Busan has a low crime rate and friendly locals happy to lend a helping hand. But as with any major city, you need to be careful and stay vigilant. Even I ran into a few uncomfortable situations, so whilst you don’t need to be worried as such, you still need to trust your instincts and use common sense.

Hope that clears that up! Safe travels to Busan and as always if you have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments below!

Read more about Busan travel!

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