Busan: 10 reasons to love Korea's second largest city

Busan: 10 reasons to love Korea's second largest city

Busan Haps Magazine

Busan may not be everyone’s first choice as an Asian travel destination, but there’s a lot of fun things to do in South Korea’s second largest city.

Equally part shiny and gritty, Busan is a city of contrasts — from glitzy new 90 story apartment buildings to post-Korean war housing — it’s a place that’s transforming everyday. And while Busan’s reputation may span from being called “a big fishing village” to “cutting-edge cool”, it’s a city that has gradually been moving on to the Asian tourism hot spot maps.

So what’s the allure of Busan then, you ask?

HAPS gives you ten reasons why you’ll love it.

1. The chaos – Nobody will ever accuse Busan of being orderly — in a city of nearly four million people, there’s bound to be some mayhem on the streets. But hey, this is Asia, and it is a big, crowded city and everyday can be an adventure into the unknown. While this might not seem fun in some respects, you’re bound to see some pretty wacky things and you’ll never be short of stories beginning with “Oh my god, you’ll never believe what I saw today!”.

2. The beaches – Busan is surrounded by seven beaches, from the quiet and secluded during the winter to the crazy, jam-packed in the summer. And have you ever met a traveler from another city in Korea who visits here say, “Man… These beaches and the views of the water here suck. I’m so happy I don’t live here!”? — Neither have we.

3. There are mountains everywhere – Not only do you get the beaches, but also the numerous mountains with great hiking trails easily accessible by the city’s public transportation. You’ll see some outlandish hiking fashions for sure, however, don’t skip out on the chance to drink some makkeolli and chat with the locals if you’re out for an afternoon climb.

4. It’s a mix of the old and new – Busan has grown a lot in the past decade to have some pretty impressive architecture, with most of it around the Haeundae area. Though, there are some cool-looking buildings popping up in many places around the city nowadays. You can also head on out to the old traditional markets, older villages or visit a temple for a serene look into the history of the city.

5. Great food – While the international cuisine may not have all the options as Seoul, we’ll take the Busan local cuisine over the capital city’s any day of the week. Busan’s foods tend to be spicier and more garlicky than in the north with much more abundant flavor. You can find some great hole-in-wall restaurants on the back alleyways all over the city if you get off-the-beaten-path.

6. BIFF – Busan is home to the Busan International Film Festival, arguably the biggest film festival in Asia. Every October, hundreds of thousands of people flock to movies, good and bad, for a very cheap 6,000 won ticket price. From a film industry point of view, the festival is almost unparalleled in its laid back nature, access to film industry people and overall fun.

7. Shopping… it’s everywhere – Busan has a pretty diverse shopping scene — from the high-end department stores to 1,000 won shops filled with everything from unique stationary to household goods on the cheap. You can also hit some of the great markets dedicated to whatever you need — from textiles in Jin Market, electronics and computer supplies in Sasang and Gaya or Kkangtong Market in Nampo-dong for some cheap, international goods.

8. It’s a sleepless city – Busan is a great place to party — whether you’re at a bar, club, or the beach — you’ll have many-a-morning wondering how you got home or why your shoes are still on when you wake up. And to top it all off, you can still get a bite to eat relatively easy at any time of day or night — even delivered to your home.

9. There’s a great transit system – It’s cheap and easy to get around the city which is always a very nice bonus. The subway is super efficient and the buses are easy to deal with — though the taxis can be a little petrifying at times. You might feel like you’re on a Formula 1 racecourse, but you’ll get to your location relatively unharmed 99.9% of the time.

10. There’s a lot of cool, free stuff – Busan has a lot of free activities to do — from museum exhibits and festivals to concerts — there’s plenty of free options to go around. And while there may be a million people or so at the beach during the fireworks in October sharing the experience with you, it’s a pretty amazing 45-minute show that you don’t have to pay a dime for.

And as a bonus

11. The weather – Sure, we’ve all heard about Korea’s unique four seasons, but Busan’s weather may be the best in the country. We don’t get the frigid, snowy winters, but it’s chilly enough that the cold-climate lovers can still enjoy it. And summer’s are much cooler than the rest of the country, with much less humidity. The fall and spring? Absolutely perfect.

Let us know why you love Busan!

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