PLANNING A TRIP TO BUSAN? YOU'RE GONNA WANT TO READ THIS!
Finally, you've booked your dream vacation in the beautiful city of Busan, South Korea. Smart move! However, now comes the dizzying task of hotel searching, site discovering, and restaurant hunting. Have no fear, we've done the work for you and found out where to stay in Busan for your next trip!
At first glance, Busan seems like the perfect place to indulge in some rest and calm. Its oceanside city atmosphere is a welcoming break from the relentless energy of Seoul. You can smell the soothing salty air from miles away, providing promises of relaxation and rejuvenation.
However, Busan is a city of many faces. Despite its laid-back chill vibes, Busan is anything but boring. Busan's beaches are lined with the hippest restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars. Its vibrant nightlife is sure to make even the most seasoned night owl beg for a bed.
At the center of Busan, the city reveals a different face. Like its sister, Seoul, Busan illustrates the South Korean experience: resourceful, lively, energetic, and full of options.
Relaxed or vivacious, rustic or cosmopolitan—regardless of your individual preferences, there is a Busan neighborhood perfectly tailored to your suit your vacation needs.
Now, check out this neighborhood guide and find out where to stay in Busan.
Location, location, location! You can’t get any more centrally located than Seomyeon. Containing numerous restaurants, bars, cafes, and shopping (above and underground), this area is known for its nightlife. It’s South Korea’s “city that never sleeps.”
The Seomyeon train station connects subway Line 1 and Line 2, meaning that you can jump on the train to several locations. Some locations include: Busan University, Beomeosa Temple, Kyungsung University, Gwangalli Beach, Haeundae Beach, Dongnae, Centum City, and Nampo-dong). No need to change trains!
The disadvantage to staying in Seomyeon is access to both beaches (Gwangalli and Haeundae) require a lengthy subway ride--a minimum of ten subway stops.
If your idea of the perfect vacation is lying on a white sand beach surrounded by beautiful people, staying within walking distance to South Korea’s most famous beach front—Haeundae Beach—is a no brainer!
The white sand beach is approximately one mile long (1.5 kilometers) and over 131 feet wide (40 meters). This creates a beautiful coastline which opens up to a shallow bay, making it perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
Haeundae Beach features a significant number of hi p restaurants, cafes, and bars. It is also home to many affluent residents; Haeundae Beach is a playground for South Korea's rich and famous as well as luxury travelers (think South Beach in Miami, Florida).
Haeundae Beach is the perfect place for shopping aficionados. The beach is only three subway stops away from Centum City (Shinsegae), Korea’s first department store and the largest department store in the world. Dalmaji-gil, known as Korea’s Montmartre, is also in the Haeundae area. The street is famous for its many coffee shops as well as its stunning views of the blue ocean, white sand field, Camellia forest, and pine tree forest.
Gwangalli Beach, another very famous beach in the area, is only six subway stops away. Another area frequented by tourists and featuring shopping, eating, and entertainment is the Kyungsung University Area, which is only nine stops via subway away.
Accommodations from luxury hotels to private guesthouses make Haeundae Beach an area to which thousands of people flock each summer. The area is also famous for various cultural events and festivals held throughout the year. Besides the beach, other points of interest in the area include Dongabek Island, Busan Aquarium, driving courses, and more.
The only disadvantage of staying in the Haeundae Beach area is the fact that, although you could spend your whole trip here without getting bored, it is not necessarily close to other main areas; getting there would require a substantial subway ride or taxi ride.
If you want to have easy access to both the city and the beach, staying in the Gwangalli Beach area may be the best fit for you. Both Centum City department store and the Kyungsung University area are only three subway stops away, which is super convenient. Trendy Seomyeon is also relatively nearby as well.
Gwangalli Beach is an awesome place with a popping nightlife yet a laid-back vibe. There are tons of coffee shops, stalls offering authentic Korean food, and various restaurants to appease whatever cravings you may have. This area is also perfect for meeting fellow travelers as well as locals.
The Gwangandaegyo Bridge (Busan 66, also called Gwangan-daero) is over four miles long (7.4 kilometers) and stretches from Namcheon-dong to Centum City. It is the longest bi-level bridge over the ocean in South Korea. Equipped with thousands of LED lights, the bridge features a stunning nightly light exhibition that changes with the seasons. This beautiful bridge is a sight to see both during the day and at night and attracts many locals as well as tourists.
While South Korea’s rich and famous and more affluent travelers flock to Haeundae Beach, Gwangalli Beach is a lot more chill and relaxed. It's where the average mortals go.
The beachfront is a little shy of one mile (1.4 kilometers) and is famous for its fine sand. After undergoing an intense water cleaning program, the beach is pristine, drawing the affection of many young tourists. The Gwangalli area features many romantic restaurants and cafes as well as various stores selling well-known fashion brands.
This area does not offer as much shopping as Seomyeon or Haeundae Beach. If shopping is your primary goal, you probably be better off staying elsewhere. Also, if you are not particularly fond of the beach, you may want to consider staying somewhere else as beach vibes define this area.
Nampo-dong Market is perhaps the #1 tourist attraction in Busan. It is known for its wide variety of shopping--high fashion brands to imported goods to local discounts--and its many street food vendors.
Nampo-dong is also the theater district of Busan and is packed with movie theaters and playhouses. Every year, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is held in the area, and to commemorate the BIFF, each year's winners contribute copper plates imprinted with their hand and footprints (similar to Hollywood's Walk of Fame). These copper plates are stretched across the plaza walkways.
Across the street from Nampo-dong is Jagalchi Fish Market, which is arguably the best fish market in South Korea and definitely the best in Busan. You can easily walk through the entire fish market in not much time, and depending on where you stay in Nampo-dong, you can walk there in less than five minutes. Jagalchi Fish Market is the place to go if you want to eat some fresh seafood or snack on some of South Korea's best street food.
You can also get a birds-eye view of Busan from the Busan Tower in Yongdusan Park for only 5000 won (USD 4.50), or if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, you can visit the Choryang Arcade for Foreigners.
Plus, Nampo-dong is only two subway stops away from Busan Station, which is great because you can just hop on a train and literally travel anywhere in South Korea from Busan Station.
One of the downsides about staying in Nampo-dong is its considerable distance to the beaches. You are also required to switch subway lines if you do go to the beach. Also, if seafood is not your thing, then you ought to consider staying somewhere else as the Jagalchi Fish Market contributes significantly to Nampo-dong's appeal.
If you’re seeking a university party vibe but aren’t really into beachy atmospheres, come to Kyungsung.
Haeundae has the class, Seomyeon has the downtown vibe. However, Kyungsung has the people, bars, and restaurants to keep you entertained for all seven nights of your week.
This university-centered neighborhood has a pretty vibrant nightlife thanks to its many bars and restaurants. Most of these locations are kept upbeat by stimulating university students and expats. There are loads of shopping opportunities in the area. If you have a soft spot for cheap antique and vintage shops, awesome cafes, and charming boutiques, this is the place for you.
If you’re up for streets crowded with trendy-looking students during the day and drunk-looking students during the night, Kyungsung will feel like paradise to you.
The Kyungsung area is also relatively close to Igidae Park. This beautiful park is one of Busan’s lesser-known scenic trails. It can be trekked inland or around the coast, teetering precariously over jagged boulders. Look straight, and you can see Haeundae Beach, and to the left, you'll see Gwangalli Bridge.
Igidae is made to be a relatively short, easy, and beautiful casual hike, and that it is.
If you're looking for a more authentic and less touristy experience in South Korea, you may consider visiting and staying in southern Nam-gu.
Nam-gu features a cluster of grand buildings and well-groomed parks. It is one of Busan's top tourist destinations. However, the south portion of the neighborhood is less frequented.
The road to Dayeon-dong’s main intersection is speckled with several chicken restaurants and upscale cafes. If you are into nature, Peace Park or Igidae Park are definitely must-visits. You can also pay a visit to the Busan Museum, which traces Busan's vast history in detail.