While the city of Busan offers plenty of attractions, restaurants, and pristine beaches, there are also a variety of destinations close by that are great for day trips. Experience South Korea’s unique history with cultural museums, sunbathe at one of the island destinations nearby, or visit historic temples. You’ll find plenty of exciting adventures surround the city of Busan.
Oedo Island: A Botanical Garden Wonderland
Oedo is an island off the coast of Geoje city in the Gyeongsangnam-do province of South Korea. It is situated in Hallyeohaesang National Park and is a massive marine botanical garden that locals and tourists travel from far and wide to visit. Oedo is well-known as the first island to be privately owned and developed by a local family in the 1970s and is coined as “the paradise of Korea” due to its immaculate beauty. The entire island is made up of colorful manicured gardens, flowers, beautiful sculptures, and small water features.
Getting There: The island is accessible from Geoje island, which sits off the coast of Busan. The best way to travel there is booking a tour which travels by a 30-minute ferry ride to the island.
Travel Tip: Make sure you to catch a glimpse of Windy Hill in route to Oedo island. It’s famed for being where popular K-dramas, such as Eve’s Garden, are filmed.
Gyeongju: Home to Temples and Palace Ruins
Gyeongju is situated just 50 miles north of Busan. The city is known as “the museum without walls” due to being home to loads of historic relics. These include ancient temples, tombs, pagodas, and Buddhist artifacts. In addition to amazing architecture and temples, the city also features the Gyeongju National Museum and Tumuli Park (aka Daereungwon Tomb Complex) where many retreat to for relaxation near the large grassy tombs.
Getting There: Gyeongju can be reached via the train at KTX Busan Station to Singyeongju Station, with a short bus transfer to Cheonmachong. Total travel time is about an hour.
Travel Tip: If you can, check out Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond located near Banwolseong palace site in the center of the city.
Daegu: Night and Medicine Markets
Daegu is South Korea’s fourth largest city and an incredible option for a day trip from Busan. It is home to the Yangnyeongsi Herbal Medicine Market which is chock full of quirky cures to common ailments. Tourists can taste delicious street food and stroll through bustling flea markets selling handicrafts and clothing. Seomun Night Market is home to Daegu’s regional food specialties as well.
Getting There: Take the train via Dongdaegu Station to arrive at Daegu from Busan, which takes just under an hour.
Travel Tip: Make sure you try Daegu’s famed spicy dukbokki, a spicy rice cake.
Yeosu: Host of the 2012 World Expo
Yeosu is a maritime city famous for hosting the 2012 World Expo in South Korea. It also features spectacular landscape views and a striking coastline that extends far and wide. Many are fascinated by not only the sea views but also the archipelago of the more than 300 islands in the area. Hyangiram Hermitage, known as the “small temple facing the sun,” is a standout attraction for tourists visiting Yeosu. It is a quaint Buddhist temple that sits atop a forested coastal cliff and offers miraculous ocean views.
Getting There: Travel to Yeosu via the Busan Sasang Bus Terminal to Yeosu Bus Terminal.
Travel Tip: Cross the bridge at Yeosu Port to visit the tiny put compelling Odongdo island famous for camellia blooms & bamboo trees.
Suncheon: Joseon Dynasty Houses and Wetlands
Suncheon is a city known as the ecological capital of South Korea due to its untouched lands and ecosystem. Tourists can enjoy hiking between Buddhist mountain temples Seonamsa and Songgwangsa. Then, stop at Suncheon Bay’s Reed Field, an ecological park encompassing one of the world’s largest wetlands. The bay area is also home to Suncheon Bay National Garden, which is home to about 860,000 trees and flowers.
Getting There: Take the train from Sasang Station in Busan for two and a half hours to Suncheon Station.
Travel Tip: Stop at Naganeupseong in order to view the small village of thatched-roof houses that date back to the Joseon Dynasty.
Boseong: Green Tea Plantations
Boseong is made up of lush green hilly terrain that is famed for its green tea plantations. Visitors can enjoy the most famous of these with a trip to Daehan Dawon Plantation.Additionally, you can learn about how to make green tea and sample an array of teas at the Tea Museum of Korea. End your visit with a scoop of the green ice cream served at the restaurants onsite at the museum.
Getting There: Take the bus from Busan Central bus terminal to Boseong via Suncheon.
Travel Tip: Parts of the Korean drama "The Legend of the Blue Sea" were filmed here; if you're a fan, take time to seek out the recognizable backgrounds.
Tongyeong: Spectacular Hiking Trails
For anyone seeking either a chill seaside getaway or a more adventurous escape, a day trip to Tongyeong is the perfect choice. It is located two hours from Busan and features sparkling green seas and evergreen trees. Islands surround the town and can be accessed via short ferry rides from the central terminal. The island has a variety of levels of hiking trails with spectacular views.
Getting There: Travel by bus from Busan Sasang Bus Terminal for 1.5 hours to Tongyeong Station.
Travel Tip: Take a short ferry ride from the central terminal to Somaemuldo Island, known for its famous lighthouse.
Ulsan: Waterfalls and Black Sand Beaches
Better known as the industrial capital of Korea, Ulsan offers some hidden treasures for tourists who are interested in going off the beaten bath. It is home to a 15 meters high Pareso waterfall and the black pebble beach Jujeon Mongdol Beach. Bangudae Petroglyphs, which are ancient etchings engraved on rocks on the Taehwa River is another must see in Ulsan. There are over 200 carvings of animals, hunting passages, vessels and fishermen, and other prehistoric Korean ceremonies imprinted into the structure.
Getting There: Take the Busan for 1.5 hour from Busan Station to Ulsan Station.
Travel Tip: Enjoy the catch of the day at Jujeon Mongdol Beach which serves some of the freshest fish in town.
Hadong: Agyang Village
The Hadong region is famous for its delicious organic teas which date back to over 1300 years ago. For tourists interested in the natural benefits of organic tea and how it is made, Agyang Village is the place for you. The stunning rolling green tea fields are a sight to behold, making it a fantastic Instagram worthy location.
Getting There: Take the S-Train from Busan Station to Agyang-myeon via Hadong Station.
Travel Tip: If you’re visiting in the fall, make sure to check out the Toji Literature Festival which takes place there.