48 Hours in Busan: The Ultimate Itinerary

Haeundae beach, Busan
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Busan is growing in popularity of destinations to visit in Southeast Asia. As the second largest city in South Korea, it boasts an array of things to do, delicious restaurants to dine at, and a bustling club scene. Also known as the "Miami of the Far East," Busan offers plenty of pristine beaches—which host events such as the Sand Castle Competition—and has a traditional fish market, where you can eat some fresh catches of the day. From the best restaurants to the most exciting attractions, here’s how to have a fantastic 48 hours in Busan, South Korea.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Haeundae beach landscape, Busan
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9 a.m.: Upon landing at Gimhae International Airport, head over to your hotel and get checked in if you’re able to do so early. If not, then drop off your bags before heading out for the day. The Paradise Hotel Busan offers great views of Haeundae Beach, one of the top places to relax in the city. Featuring an outdoor hot spring, casino, and indoor golf range, there are plenty of ways to unwind here, whether you’re visiting Busan in the summer or winter months.

11 a.m.: After getting freshened up at the hotel, have a bite to eat at one of the three onsite restaurants offering international cuisine. Nicks Steak & Wine offers Italian- and American-style options for brunch, while Nampoong reinterprets authentic Cantonese food by fusing it with Korean fare. Additionally, there's a Japanese restaurant that serves up Omakase sushi and features a live teppanyaki corner.

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Modern exterior of Shinsegae Centum City

Allan Baxter

2 p.m.: After filling up on a hearty brunch, head outside and enjoy the stunning 0.9-mile coastline of Haeundae Beach up close. It's the perfect place to relax after a long flight, whether you want to lounge on the white sand or go for a swim—if you have enough energy, that is. The beach is famous for its cultural events; depending on when you visit, you might come across live performers on the beach or a sand castle contest.

4 p.m.: Get cleaned up at the hotel before heading over to Shinsegae Mall, the largest department store in the world. Encompassing 31 acres of floor space, the mall houses 622 world-famous brands as well as leisure activities ranging from a skating rink to a multiplex movie theater. The most famous place to relax here, however, is Spa Land, which has 13 themed jjimjilbangs (Korean bath houses and saunas), including an open-air foot spa.

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

Jagalchi Fish Market, Busan, South Korea
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7 p.m.: Check out Korea’s largest seafood market Jalgalchi Market. The market is an exhilarating sight to see, as sellers display everything from squid to sea squirts (also known as ascidians, be careful not to get squirted on while passing a seller showing you how they work). The market also has a host of restaurants to try in the area, including Nampo Samgyetang, which serves traditional Korean chicken ginseng soup. Jalgalchi Market isn't the only place to get your fix of fresh fish, though. Tourists can also try traditional Korean seafood at Halmae Gaya Milmyeon, which is known for its cold wheat noodles.

10 p.m.: A city that hardly sleeps, Busan's nightlife is definitely worth experiencing while you're here. The city features clubs and bars that spin tunes by DJs from the world over, so choose wisely. Located in the basement of Paradise Hotel, Club Babau is a viable option for sipping a few drinks before stumbling back to your room. The music played here is generally EDM, so prepare to rock out a bit before your night is over.

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Cityscape of Busan, Busan, South Korea

Busan Drone

11 a.m.: After enjoying a night of partying in Busan, you’ll surely want to sleep in and devour a big hearty breakfast before starting your day. Consider ordering room service from your hotel or head down to Haeundae Beach to dine at Hands Coffee or brunch at Restaurant MINI. Restaurant MINI offers an all-day brunch, with American and British offerings such as a traditional English breakfast of eggs, sausage, and beans. It's a great option for Westerners who desire a taste of home while traveling.

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Gamcheon Culture Village, Busan, South Korea


2 p.m.: When you've finished with brunch, head around the corner to marvel at aquatic life at the SEA LIFE Busan Aquarium, which features more than 250 species of sea creatures such as sharks, jellyfish, otters, and penguins.

Afterwards, make your way to the number one tourist attraction in the city, Gamcheon Culture Village, a colorful conglomeration of historic houses, shops, and painted murals. Built in the 1950s by Korean War refugees, the village started out as a shanty town, but has transformed over the years into what it is now referred to as the "Machu Picchu of Busan." Today, resident artists—including the likes of cartoonists, painters, and pottery sculptors—conduct workshops across the village. Come to get lost in the streets and snap as many Instagrammable pics as your heart desires.

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

Gwangan Bridge
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6 p.m.: If local fare is of interest to you, then check out The Party Haeundae, one of Busan's best restaurants and just a stone’s throw from your hotel. Visitors can enjoy the ambient setting along with vast selection of menu offerings, including grilled sushi, beef sushi, and traditional Korean dishes such as kimchi jjigae. For a more upscale dining option, then consider the Living Room, located in the Park Hyatt Busan. The restaurant features stunning views of Haeundae Beach and a fine selection of French cuisine.

8 p.m.: Next, take an evening stroll to Gwangalli Beach to see the Gwangan Bridge—which runs from Haeundae to Suyeong—beautifully lit up. Along its nearly mile-long stretch, the beach boasts a number of street food stalls and bars, one of the best being Beach Bikini rooftop bar. As you sip on a cocktail (served in a cup that's a miniature version of the Gwangan Bridge), you'll be treated to stunning views of the bridge. The rooftop also has DJ parties and live performers.

10:30 p.m.: Finish off the evening by going to a couple more party spots, including the famed HQ Gwangan. While some may consider it a dive bar, HQ Gwangan is a popular establishment frequented by both locals and expats. It’s a cool place to unwind with friends while meeting people and enjoying Western food and weekly quiz nights. Continue the laid-back party vibes through the evening by heading to Output, a trendy club hosting underground DJs playing the finest in hip hop and electronic music.