Of those who travel to South Korea, I know very few people who have made the journey down to Busan, which is a shame as it is visually stunning – especially once you get away from the main confines of the city; there’s so much unspoilt coastline it reminded me a little of Northern California and The Big Sur.
Busan is a popular holiday destination for Koreans in the Summer time and it’s not hard to see why; though even visiting it off season was fantastic and came with the added bonus of avoiding the crowds.
Haedong Yonggung Temple
On the Northern outskirts of Busan, you can find Haedong Yonggung temple – a beautiful Buddhist temple on a cliff top setting. A little out of the City, but worth it for the breathtaking views.
There’s also a great local market (none of your typical tourist tat and clutter I promise!) at the entrance selling weird and wonderful local delicacies – seasoned snails, insects and Bondaegi (boiled silkworm pupae – yum!). Sadly I wasn’t brave enough to try but it was fun to force my friend to and watch him gag at every bite (evil).
From Haeundae station (Subway line 2, Exit 7) take bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa temple.
Allow a little extra time as traffic in Busan can be painfully slow moving.
Igidae Park Coastal Path/ Oryukdo Skywalk
If you’re looking for “off the beaten track” then you’ve got it here.
In all, this is a beautiful 5KM coastline walk spanning Gwangan Bridge, Haeundae Beach, Baeksan and Jangsan Mountain.
The southernmost part of Igidae park is a nice spot, looking out at the five islands of Oryukdo. If you so wish, you can take a ferry across to Oryukdo. Alternatively, the “sky bridge” is free entry – a glass bottom walkway where you can stroll out to the Middle of the Sea.
This is an area that has escaped the eyes and footprints of tourists – probably because it’s such an arse of a faff to get to but for the patient and outdoorsy you have a couple of options:
- Take bus 131 from Kyungsung University or Busan City Hall – get off at SK view apartment complex.
- Take bus 27 from Busan Station – get off at SK view apartment complex.
Need I say more? Busan’s beaches are so pretty they would rival Los Angeles or Miami.
Great food markets by Haeundae station too (always with the food…)
Jagalchi Fish Market
In a word: Splashback.. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Being a port town, of course Busan was going to have a fish market.
‘Fresh’ is the key word here and you can watch fishermen bringing in their latest catches and fish being sliced, diced, chopped and splayed (that’s a word? Well I like how it sounds) in ways you didn’t think possible – just make sure they’re not still wriggling around when you put them in your mouth (except for the Octopus – it’s O.K. to slice off a cheeky bit of tentacle and eat them live here… in fact it’s kinda the in thing)
At the edge of Mt. Geumjeongsan, the nice thing about Beomeosa is that it’s surrounded by walking trails and hikes, so it’s a little more than ‘just another’ Buddhist temple.
Beomeosa also participates in the Temple Stay program if you fancy a cuppa with the monks and all that lark. (Take a look at my temple stay program review for more info on this)
Take the Subway to Beomeosa Line 1, Exit 5 – take a right and continue that path (about 3 mins on foot) until you arrive at a Bus Depot. Take the Number 90 bus to Beomeosa Temple (approx 10 mins)
Shopping – Shinsegae Centre & Nampo
Shinsegae Centre is perhaps the most notable mall in Busan (it has 14 floors! 14!!) but eh, nothing to write home about. Nampo area is great though, not too far from the horror scenes of Jagalchi, there’s a lot of great quirky boutiques and the area just has a different kinda feel to it too, an International vibe if you will. If you’re feeling a little tired of your bibimbaps and your spicy foods, there’s some great Italian and French restaurants here.
Gamcheon Culture Village
Of course you have to come here! I won’t repeat myself though – have a look at my ‘moon villages of Korea’ post for info on Gamcheon & other Korean Dal Dongnae
Anything you think I’ve missed? What were your highlights of Busan?