The colorful village on the hill

Your Trip to Busan: The Complete Guide

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Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, thus offering a host of activities, fine dining, nightlife, and more. It is home to the world-famous Haeundae beach and Shinsegae, one of the largest department stores for world-class shopping. Busan is the perfect destination for party goers, or families looking for a chilled out holiday on the beach. Whether you want to indulge in traditional Korean spoils like Korean bathhouses (jimjilbangs), visit temples and cultural villages, or partake in more of the cosmopolitan offerings, the choices are abundant in Busan. Use this guide to assist you on your journey to Busan.

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Busan is from May through September. The summer months are peak travel time to the city, due to warm and sunny weather. Tourists can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities and festivals during this time.
  • Language: Korean is the official language; however, English is widely spoken throughout the city.
  • Currency: The South Korean Won is the official currency.
  • Getting Around: Busan has an extensive public transportation system that comprises buses, a metro, and train network. The city rail network is operated by the Busan Transportation Corporation, or Humetro.
  • Travel Tip: If you are visiting Busan after Seoul and already have a T-money transport card, this card can be used in Busan as well. If you need to purchase a card once arriving to Busan, the pre-paid Cashbee card is recommended.

Things to Do

There are plenty of things to do and see during a visit to Busan, from stunning beaches to museums and historical sites. Here are some of the best things to do.

  • Busan is home to the world’s largest department store, Shinsegae Centum City, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The store features the famous Spaland, a massive multiplex movie theater, a theme park, and ice skating rink. It’s the place to go to enjoy glamorous shops, fine-dining, and relaxation at its finest.
  • Visit the UN Memorial Cemetery to view the burial grounds of veterans from the Korean War. It is one of the only United Nations cemeteries in the world and is home to a sculpture park and Wall of Remembrance, which is inscribed with the names of 40,896 UN service members who died or went missing during the Korean War.
  • Located in the Seungdumal region of Busan is the Oryukdo Skywalk, a glass bridge suspended over a cliff. Visitors can watch the crashing waves flow beneath the clear floor and take in stunning views of the sea.

Discover more attractions with our full-length articles on the top things to do in Busan and the best places to shop in Busan.

What to Eat and Drink

Busan has an eclectic selection of foods from around the world. While the port city is known for its fresh seafood, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a wide array of international dishes and restaurants for tourists to dine upon. No matter if you’re looking for a fine-dining establishment or traditional Korean street food, you’ll have many options in Busan.

Check out this article regarding an unconventional but delectable restaurant option to consider while in Busan.

  • Located in the Park Hyatt Busan hotel is the Dining Room, a sophisticated steak and seafood restaurant. It’s a perfect choice for those looking to try local catches as well as high-end cocktails and desserts.
  • Situated in the Haeundae area is Mad for Garlic, which is known for just that—delicious garlicky twists on favorites such as pizza, pasta, and steak.
  • Mugunghwa is a traditional Korean restaurant located in Lotte Hotel Busan. It caters to an upscale crowd interested in trying Korean BBQ and the famed samgyetang, aka ginseng chicken soup.

Learn about the best dishes to try while in town and also the top restaurants in Busan.

Where to Stay

Busan is made of up vibrant, bustling neighborhoods, from trendy and artsy ones to more traditional and historic areas. Centrally located Seomyeon and chill beach areas of Haeundae and Gwangan’s Gwangalli Beach are a few popular options for visitors.

A top pick of luxurious five-star hotels is The Westin Chosun Busan located right on Haeundae beach. The ritzy hotel features an indoor swimming pool, spa, and fitness center. Or, right in the center of Seomyeon (a district famed for shopping) is Lotte Hotel Busan. It offers high-end restaurants and world-class facilities such as a casino, spa, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

For more hotel options in Busan, check out our full-length article.

Getting There

The main airport in Busan is Gimhae International Airport, the fourth busiest airport in South Korea. It serves more than 16 million passengers annually, so give yourself plenty of time to arrive via either public transport or self-driving modes. Upon arrival, there are plenty of public transportation options to travel around the city, including buses and the metro operated by the Busan Transportation Corporation.

Culture and Customs

South Korea is a country that thrives on tradition and cultural beliefs. In particular, family and respect to elders is a very important component. The traditional greeting in Korea is to bow followed by a handshake among men. To show respect while shaking hands, make sure you support your right forearm with your left hand. Korean women may nod as opposed to a handshake with Western men, but with other women a handshake is fine.

Koreans are very hard-working and value education and success. In a group setting, you may notice that younger people do not make direct eye contact with elders, especially if in a social work setting. It’s a sign of respect between junior and senior businesspeople to avoid direct eye contact. When dining out, no need to tip, as is the case around the rest of South Korea.

Money-Saving Tips

While Busan is already a pretty affordable city, there are numerous ways to save money during your time in the energetic city. The city offers an incredible amount of cheap eats and food stalls, as well as cheap pubs to enjoy while on a trip. Below are some ways to stay on a budget while in Busan.

  • Purchase a public transport pass for the amount of time of your visit instead of daily passes. Pre-load a T-money or Cashbee card to move about the city.
  • Visitors can opt to stay in dormitory style accommodations or hostels while in the city.
  • Instead of eating out at restaurants every day, enjoy affordable street food that is located all over the city. Some Korean faves include kimchi pancakes, fish cakes, and Jogae Gui (grilled clam
Article Sources
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  1. Guinness Book of World Records. "Largest Department Store."

  2. American Battle Monuments Commission. "Busan Korean War Monument."

  3. Britannica."South Korea Daily Life and Social Customs."