Busan is home to some of South Korea's most popular beaches, hot spring resorts, and numerous historical attractions. It is the largest port and second largest city in South Korea, and is a quick three-hour trip via bullet train from Seoul to the north.
Busan often goes unnoticed as visitors flock to get a taste of the bright lights and big city feel of Seoul, but many Koreans will tell you that Busan is one of South Korea's friendliest and most relaxed cities.
With its beaches, mountains, and temples, Busan has many attractions on offer. The coastline is one of the main draw cards, with beaches like the beautiful Haeundae and Gwangalli existing as some of the best the country has to offer.
The Busan Aquarium is Korea's largest and best, and is one of the highlights of a trip to the city. Visitors interested in temples and historical sites can visit the Beomeosa and Yonggungsa temples, as well as the Geumjeong Fortress.
The markets in Busan are also an attraction in and of themselves. They offer wonderful photographic opportunities and can sometimes be a real eye-opener, particularly the Jagalchi seafood market, the bohemian Gukje Market, and the Haeundae Market.
Visitors to the city should try and include a trip to one of the local baseball games, a genuine cultural experience. Baseball games are held every weekend during summer. Busan also has great shopping and dining out opportunities. Visitors will find that this seaside city has a lot of heart and may even prove to be the highlight of a trip to South Korea.
Jeju Island is one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Korea and can be reached by ferry from Busan. Found off the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, it enjoys relatively warm weather throughout the year. Visitors generally flock to its beaches, as well as the volcanic Mount Hallasan.
The island is home to a number of interesting museums, including the Folklore and History Museum, the Independence Museum, and the fascinating Haenyeo Museum which provides valuable insight into the tradition of the Haenyeo women divers of the island.
Jeju Island has many fascinating natural wonders, including the Gimyeong Maze, the Manjanggul lava tube cave, the hexagonal-shaped Jusangjeolli cliff, and Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. Iho Beach is made up of both yellow and dark grey volcanic sand, creating beautiful patterns in the tidal waters.
Visitors to Jeju Island can go on numerous tours of the island or they can relax on the beaches or at hot spring resorts. There are many hiking trails and going scuba diving is definitely one of the top things to do on Jeju Island.
The island has a broad range of hotels and accommodation options and there are many small restaurants serving up regional delicacies ranging from live squid to mandarin oranges, mushrooms, abalone, and wild boar.
Busan is home to a number of excellent tourist sites. Yet its standout attractions must be its beaches, which are famous throughout Korea and draw tens of thousands of vacationers annually to the busy port city.
Busan's beaches are best experienced in spring, autumn, and winter, as between mid-June and the end of August (Korea's official beach season) they can become unpleasantly overcrowded. Busan's main beach is Haeundae, which sports a good amount of fine golden sand and good swimming conditions.
The area surrounding Haeundae Beach is also full of trendy bars and restaurants, a wealth of shopping opportunities, and lots of accommodation options, making it the perfect base for a weekend getaway in Busan. The next beach down the pecking order is Gwangalli, which has a great view of the Gwangan Grand Bridge, and on any given day will play host to a number of informal volleyball games.
Slightly more remote beaches, which might not suffer too much from overcrowding, include Songjeong with its cleaner waters and bigger waves (ideal for surfing) and Dadaepo, located in a river estuary about five miles (8km) from downtown Busan which features shallow waters and outstanding natural scenery.
Korea's largest aquarium and one of its most talked about tourist attractions, the Busan Aquarium is a sure-fire winner guaranteed to delight visitors of all ages. The aquarium is a major operation and spread over three levels, with its main tank containing an astounding three million litres of water.
The Busan Aquarium is home to roughly 35,000 marine animals from more than 250 species, and features special exhibitions to showcase rare and exotic creatures such as jackass penguins, clawed otters, electric eels, sharks, piranhas, giant turtles, and an assortment of colourful sea jellies.
Visitors largely view the sea life from the confines of an impressive 260-foot (80m) underground tunnel, through enormous acrylic windows that allow for photography. Of particular interest to younger visitors is the aquarium's 3D simulator located on the first floor, a cutting-edge piece of technology that gives you a taste of what it must be like to explore the ocean floor on foot.
One of the best things to see in Busan and a must for family vacationers, the Busan Aquarium is a delightful way to spend a few hours marvelling at the ocean's riches before heading upstairs and out onto Haeundae Beach to catch some sun.
Unlike the rest of the Korean Peninsula, Busan enjoys a humid subtropical climate. Summers are hot and humid, bringing perfect beach-going weather and temperatures between 64°F (18°C) and 85°F (29°C).
Winters are dry with cold winds whipping through the city. Winter temperatures average between 32°F (0°C) and 51°F (11°C). The temperature rarely drops below freezing and snow in Busan is relatively uncommon.
Busan experiences cool springs because it is situated on the coast. Typhoon season starts in late summer and continues until the end of September. Autumn is the most comfortable month in Busan, with warm, mild temperatures and very little rain and wind.
Busan is less than three hours from Seoul on the KTX (bullet train), while normal and express buses leave every hour between Seoul and Busan. Tourists visiting Busan will easily be able to get to all the main tourist sights, beaches, and shopping districts via the Busan Subway. Concessions for the subway are available for those staying in the city for more than just a weekend. All subway announcements and subway maps are written in Korean and English.
The buses are almost as easy to use as the subway, but English maps of the bus routes are sometimes not available, so buses are only recommended if you know that the particular bus is going where you want to go. There are also a multitude of taxis ready to travel to most areas of the city. Deluxe taxis are available at a higher price and are easily recognisable as they are black.
Of the many attractions that Busan has to offer, its beaches remain at the top of the list of things to see. Koreans and foreigners alike flock to Busan during the summer vacation period to enjoy the city's beautiful beaches and extensive range of delicious seafood options.
Haeundae and Gwangalli are the two most well-known beaches in Busan. However, for a slightly less crowded day at the beach, visitors should take a taxi to Songjeong Beach or try the even more outlying Dadaepo Beach.
Keeping to the oceanic theme, Busan's other great tourist attraction is its aquarium, which is the largest in Korea and has an impressive variety of marine life on display. The gorgeous and very popular Jeju Island is also just a ferry ride away from Busan.
Notable historic and cultural sights in Busan include Beomeosa Temple, one of Korea's Five Great Temples, located in a serene natural setting outside the city. Additionally, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple has a dramatic cliff-top setting while Busan Tower in Nampodong is a great place to take in panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains and ocean.
Other places of interest in Busan include the UN Memorial Cemetery, the Busan Museum of Modern Art, Hur Shim Chung Spa, Geumjeong Fortress, and Taejongdae Island. The Jagalchi Fish Market and Choryang Foreigner Shopping Area are worth checking out for their cultural interest alone.
Busan is teeming with excellent attractions and activities for kids too. For starters, the gargantuan department stores of Lotte World and Shinsegae provide endless hours of fun, shopping, and other mall activities, like video arcades and 3D cinemas.
No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination