The second largest city in South Korea with more than three and a half million inhabitants, Busan is best known for its magnificent beaches, hot springs, national parks in the surroundings and vibrant port city life. Sailors from all over the world give Busan a unique “crossroads of the Earth” atmosphere. However, Busan is not at all as cosmopolitan as it might seem at first glance – compared to Seoul, it is charmingly shy in a provincial way, and the “pale-faced” tourist here will be furtively examined, giggling among themselves. Among the local attractions are a huge fish market, easily giving odds to Tokyo, the magnificent Pomosa Buddhist temple and, of course, excellent beaches, rightfully considered one of the best in Korea.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of South Korea is 51.74 million (2021).
How to get to Busan
From Seoul to Busan, you can get domestic flights of Korean Airlines or Asiana – the sides rise into the air every half hour, the flight time is 1 hour. The destination is served by Seoul Gimpo Airport (not Incheon). From Russian cities, you can fly directly to Busan from Vladivostok, and from Busan, in turn, it is easy to fly to Jeju – flights depart approximately once an hour, and about an hour will also have to be spent on the way.
You can get from Busan Airport to the city center by light subway (about an hour on the way), Limousine Bus airport shuttle buses (a little slower, a ticket will cost 9000 KRW) or municipal buses for only 1400 KRW. A taxi to Busan city center during the day will cost approximately 16,000 KRW.
The Korean capital and Busan are also connected by rail. The journey on the KTX high-speed train will last about three hours; Trains depart from Seoul Station every half hour to an hour. A ticket will cost approximately 70,000 KRW. Fans of the rhythmic “tudukh-tudukh” are also invited to slowly get to Busan on a regular Saemael train in 4.5 hours, and for fans of this type of transportation, on a “turtle” Mugungwa train, in 5.5 hours!
How to navigate in the city
Busan is a huge city divided into 16 districts. Of interest to tourists are: central Busanjingu with all the pleasant “chips” of the heart of the city, somehow – a lot of restaurants and shops and an active nightlife; Tonnegu – old and prestigious, famous for its huge spa complex; Huendegu, where the best beaches of the city and tourist attractions are concentrated, as well as Geumjong, where the temple complex of Pomos is located.
What to ride
Busan’s transport system is developed to a solid five. The city’s services include metro, light rail, municipal buses, taxis and bicycles. The Busan Metro has four lines, and its stations are conveniently located at all sites that can arouse tourist interest. The fare is from 1400 to 1600 KRW depending on the distance; a day pass with no limit on the number of trips will cost 5,000 KRW, and a ticket for a week and 20 trips will cost 21,000 KRW. Seats for elderly passengers and pregnant women can be occupied, but if they are in your field of vision, you must immediately give up your seat.
Unbelievable but true, a taxi ride in Busan often takes less time than a similar subway ride.
The light rail (purple subway line) should be used to travel from/to Gimhe Airport. The bus route network covers all of Busan and goes beyond. A trip with cash will cost 1300 KRW, on country express trains – 1900 KRW. Destinations are marked in English.
In addition, there are a lot of taxis in Busan – they can be found at taxi ranks, called by phone or simply stopped on the street. The first two kilometers will cost 3300 KRW, then every 300 meters of the path will run 150 KRW. At night, the rate is 20% more expensive. When getting into a taxi, you should definitely make sure that the driver has turned on the meter.
You can also rent a bicycle to get around Busan (on the beaches of Haeundaegu, tourists can do this for free upon presentation of proof of accommodation at the hotel, only a deposit is charged). But it’s not very convenient to explore the city on your own two feet – it is very large and, in addition, it is located on the hills.
Cuisine and Restaurants in Busan
The main pride of the Busan “chefs” is the mass of fish and seafood dishes. Among the traditional dishes is Daegutan, a thick cod soup with vegetables, which is customary to eat in the restaurants of the alma mater, the Haeundaegu beach area. It is also worth trying the local version of Japanese puffer fish, also cooked in the form of a soup called bokguk. Establishments that serve the poisonous creature are marked with a sign depicting a spiny fish inflated like a balloon. Well, pancakes with seafood and donne green onions are suitable as a beach snack.
Busan is famous for its raw fish dishes, an analogue of Japanese sushi. The best restaurants of this specialization are located in the multi-storey Millak Town Raw Fish Center on Kwanalli Beach. The products here are not just fresh, but sometimes alive – do not be surprised to see a moving octopus on your plate.