As the second largest city in South Korea, Busan offers an assortment of things to do during a night out with friends. The port city sits in a stunning location to enjoy fancy cocktails, small bites, and live music near the waterfront or further inland. Visitors can take an evening stroll on the boardwalk in Haeundae and find English-speaker owned bars near Foreigners Street or a host of nightclubs and cocktail lounges. Choose from chic bars to more laid back hofs (German-style beer bars) that line the streets in this bustling, dynamic city. Busan is well-known for its bar culture so the adrenaline-driven explorer can enjoy a nice, fun, and safe evening out here.
The bar scene in Busan is diverse as the city itself. It offers everything you can wish for from hipster spots to jazz and of course karaoke which is a prized activity to do in South Korea. Go bar hopping in hip neighborhoods like Haeundae to play pool and ping pong at one spot and then try an assortment of soju (Korean alcohol made from rice) at another. Many bars are owned by foreigners so you’ll get your pick of the litter of options and various cultures.
Check out some of these bars for a relaxing happy hour or some experimental cocktails:
- Rock N Roll Bar: Just as the name suggests, this is the place to be to rock out over delicious drinks before going club hopping just down the road on Haeundae Beach.
- Lzone: Head to this spot to enjoy affordable drinks while chilling on cozy lounge chairs.
- Thursday Party: This bar located on Gwangan beach road is known for hip parties not only on Thursdays but other days of the week too. It’s a popular spot for the university crowd to enjoy blasting K-pop beats.
- The Commonplace: This chick wine bar is not as common as the name would imply. It features stylish decor, stunning architecture, and a collection of classy wines.
- Eva’s Gwangan: This hip spot is a great place to relax and enjoy a cool drink in a beach vibe bar.
Busan is known for more than just the famous movie, "Train to Busan," it’s also popular for its hip and eclectic party scene. In fact, loads of tourists come to the city for its beautiful scenery and club culture. Koreans and tourists alike enjoy club hopping all around the city in order to party like rock stars. You can find world-class DJs spinning everything from the latest hip-hop beats to house and K-pop. Koreans love B-Boy culture also, so don’t be surprised to see locals partake in a battle of breakdancing as well at the clubs.
Most come as they like, as the dress code is very liberal at most clubs throughout the city. Just come prepared to have a good time and enjoy the vibes. Here is a list of some popular clubs in Busan:
- Output: A club known for its underground DJs spinning hip hop and electronic music under glowing red lights.
- Club Babau: Located in the basement of Paradise Hotel in Haeundae, this modern club caters to those who like to party to EDM.
- REVEL: Situated in the Pukyong National University and Kyungsung University area, this hip-hop club is one of the most famous in the city. It’s split into two areas called Original and All Kind and can hold up to 1,000 party goers.
- Billie Jean: This club is smaller than most, but packs a punch for the party-goers who are looking for a less crowded scene. The music selection goes from hip-hop to funk and high octane jazz.
The best place in town to enjoy live music, as well as shisha, is the laid back Yaman Joint located in Seomyeon. It is known for bringing in a cool international crowd due to DJs spinning hip hop and reggae. The Jamaican-themed lounge is also a great place to sip on fruity frozen cocktails and delicious jerk chicken while enjoying live acts on the small stage performing everything from hip-hop to jazz.
The Vinyl Underground is a long-running bar that is known for having live music performed every weekend. It is located in the Kyungsung University/Pukyong National University area, and it offers performances from everything including house, jazz, hip-hop, or rock and roll.
The Basement is also another strong contender located in the Pusan National University (PNU) area. It is an old school pub that is popular with Koreans and expats due to the independent music acts from all around Korea that take the stage. It’s a great place to chill with a cool drink and listen to music while lounging on the big comfy couch upstairs.
There are countless festivals in South Korea, from everything including the Boryeong Mud festival to the Seoul Lantern Festival. Busan is most known for the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) which takes place annually in October. Busan is a hub for movies and the film festival showcases more than 300 films from all over the world. Screenings take place at six theatres including the Busan Cinema Center.
The second largest festival in the city is the Busan International Fireworks Festival. It features dazzling fireworks displays, choreographed light and laser shows, as well as musical performances along Gwangan beach, near the stunning Diamond Bridge. Last but certainly not least is the Busan Rock Festival, which also takes place at the Samnak Ecological Park. It features both Korean artists and international acts from around the world.
Tips for Going Out in Busan
- Busan has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses and the metro, which runs late into the evening. There is a late-night surcharge so come prepared to pay an additional fee if you’re partying through the night.
- Taxis are also readily available outside of night time establishments such as bars and clubs.
- Tipping is not expected or customary in South Korea, so there is no requirement to do so. Nevertheless, a small token of appreciation is welcomed at bars, especially those that are owned or run by westerners.
- Clubs and bars in Busan are known for offering “service” i.e. free drinks and snacks for big parties. Don’t be surprised if while singing karaoke with your friends if the servers bring a nice, big tray of fruit for free.
- Most clubs do not charge a cover fee. However, it’s a good idea to arrive earlier or make a reservation for a table if you are in a big party to ensure you have space.
- There are no open container laws in South Korea, so you may see people hopping from bar to bar or club to club with drinks in plastic cups or containers in hand. Also, alcohol is sold at most convenience stores with plastic tables and chairs in front. Locals call this set up the poor man’s bar.