BusanNamed East Asia Culture City in 2018, Busan has recently risen to prominence internationally, visitors now flocking to South Korea's second city even outside of the busy International Film Festival week each October. There is more to do and see than can fit in a space of a few days: traditional spas, local eats and endless shopping all leave but a little time to take in the rugged Busan coastline on seaside nature hikes.
The CityBusan is a sprawling metropolitan area that encompasses several clusters of interest, each with its own set of attractions. The unmissable showpiece is Busan's famous Jagalchi Fish Market, which supplies nearly 50% of all seafood across Korea. There is an abundance of scenic coastal walks, lively nightlife, and a never-ending supply of local eats, from finger food served at street stalls to elaborate meals that necessarily come with a trayfull of various pickles and condiments.
Do & See
Our top picks for a short stay in Busan include the expansive Jagalchi Fish Market (plus a meal at one of its seafood shops), exploring Nampo-dong and enjoying a snack off street stalls in BIFF square, plus completing one of the coastal hiking routes followed by a relaxing couple of hours at the spa.
A substantial acquaintance with Busan's culinary offerings can easily take a few weeks, but if you only have a handful of days, try and work in a meal at the Jagalchi Fish Market, a traditional Korean barbecue session, and a snack on street food: fishcake ("eomuk" or "odeng") is a popular choice that holds somewhat of a cult status in Busan, and is followed closely by "hotteok", a stuffed fried pancake sold at multiple stalls across town. If you're feeling especially adventurous, try "sannakji": an octopus dish immortalised by the movie "Oldboy", which consists of chopped up tentacles that still squirm and stick to the plate (and possibly even the insides of your mouth) as you eat them.
There is no shortage of cafes all around Busan. If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, you might want to stop by a Sulbing outlet and savour a quintessential Korean dessert of shaved ice with various toppings.
Bars & Nightlife
Gwangalli is the area to be once the sun has set, Seomyeon and Haeundae also remain fairly busy. It-places shift from one year to the next, although HQ Gwangan seems to have been able to maintain its patron base through the years. Galmegi Brewing and Gorilla Brewing are favourites for craft beer.
Busan is home to the world's largest shopping complex (at the time of writing in late 2019): Shinsegae Centum City. This retail mammoth is the place to go for everything from international luxury clothing brands to world-famous Korean cosmetics and other products. Busan's most popular spa centre is also located here, and the complex also features an excellent food court with offerings from all across the world.