Trip to Busan Complete Guide: Busan is the second-largest city in South Korea, thus offering many activities, fine dining, nightlife, and more. It is home to the world-famous Honda Beach and Shinsegae, one of the largest department stores for world-class shopping. Busan is the perfect destination for partygoers, or families looking for a chilled beach vacation. Whether you want to indulge in traditional Korean loot such as Korean bathhouses (jimjilbangs), visit temples and cultural villages, or partake in more cosmopolitan offerings, options are abundant in Busan. Use this guide to help you travel to Busan.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit Busan is from May to September. The summer months are the best time to visit the city due to the hot and sunny weather. Tourists can enjoy a lot of outdoor activities and festivals during this time.
- Language: Korean is the official language; however, English is widely spoken throughout the city.
- Currency: South Korean Won is the official currency.
- Getting Around: Busan has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, a metro, and a train network. The city rail network is operated by Busan Transportation Corporation or Humetro.
- Travel Tip: If you are going to Busan after Seoul and you already have a T-Money transport card, this card can also be used in Busan. If you need to purchase a card after arriving in Busan, a prepaid CashBee card is recommended.
Things to Do
From stunning beaches to museums and historical sites, there are so many things to see and do during your visit to Busan. Some great things have been done here.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Busan has the largest department store in the world, Shinsegae Centum City. The storehouses are the famous Spaland, a huge multiplex movie theater, a theme park, and an ice skating rink. This is the place to go to enjoy glamorous shops, fine dining, and relaxation at its finest.
- Visit the United Nations Memorial Cemetery to see the burial grounds of Korean War veterans. It is one of the only United Nations cemeteries in the world and is home to a sculpture park and the Wall of Remembrance, inscribed with the names of 40,896 UN service members who died or went missing during the Korean War.
- Located in the Seungdumal area of Busan is the Oryukdo Skywalk, a cliff-hanging glass bridge. Visitors can watch the waves crashing under the clear floor and enjoy spectacular views of the ocean.
What to Eat and Drink
Busan has a wide selection of foods from around the world. While the port city is known for its fresh seafood, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a wide array of international cuisine and restaurants for tourists to dine on. No matter whether you are looking for a fine dining establishment or traditional Korean street food, you will have many options 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.
Where to Stay
Busan is made up of vibrant, bustling neighborhoods ranging from trendy and artsy ones to more traditional and historic areas. Some of the popular choices for visitors are the Siomyon and Chill Beach areas, located midway between Honde and Gwangan’s Gwangalli Beach.
A top pick of luxurious five-star hotels is The Westin Chosun Busan which is located on Honde Beach. The grand hotel has an indoor swimming pool, spa, and fitness center. Or, Lotte Hotel Busan is right in the heart of Siomion (a district famous for shopping). It offers world-class amenities like high-end restaurants and casinos, spas, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
Busan’s main airport is Gimhe International Airport, which is the fourth busiest airport in South Korea. It serves over 16 million passengers annually, so give yourself enough time to commute via public transportation or self-driving mode. Upon arrival, there are plenty of public transportation options to travel around the city, including buses and the metro operated by Busan Transportation Corporation.
Culture and Customs
South Korea is a country that thrives on tradition and cultural beliefs. In particular, the respect of family and elders is a very important component. The traditional greeting in Korea is to bow after a handshake between men. To show respect when shaking hands, make sure you support your right hand with your left. Korean women may nod as opposed to shaking hands with Western men, but it’s okay to shake hands with other women.
Koreans are very hardworking and value education and success. In a group setting, you may notice that young people do not make direct eye contact with elders, especially if in a social work setting. It is a sign of respect between junior and senior businessmen to avoid direct glances. When dining out, tipping is not required, as is the case in the rest of South Korea.
While Busan is already quite an affordable city, there are many 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 traveling. Below are some ways to stay on budget in Busan.
- Buy a public transport pass for the time of your journey instead of a daily pass. Pre-load a T-Money or CashBee card to move around the city.
- Visitors can choose to stay in dorm-style accommodations or hostels while in the city.
- Instead of eating out at restaurants every day, enjoy the affordable street food available throughout the city.