Busan is South Korea’s second largest city in terms of population and it is known for its friendly culture, variety of seafood, and glorious outdoor activities. As the world’s 9th most bustling port city, Busan is rich with commerce and tourism.
Being a port city means Busan has many ocean-related things to do. Summers draw in many locals and visitors alike to one of Busan’s handful of beaches. There are also many markets offering fresh seafood caught from that morning’s bounty if food is what you’re into.
Besides the ocean, Busan also has a rich geography of mountains for hiking or hot spring bathing. Unlike Seoul, Busan is south enough to have moderate climates all year long.
History of Busan
In the 15th Century, the Korean government designated Busan as a trade port with Japan and it was later a Japanese settlement during the Japanese invasion of Korea in the late 1500’s. Once Korea was free from Japanese occupation, Busan continued to be an important international port.
Later during the Korean War, Busan, along with Daegu, were the only two cities that had not fallen to North Korea. Thus, Busan was an important location for refugees of the war to find safe haven in and was even a temporary capital for South Korea.
Food in Busan
There are several seafood markets where you can order live shellfish, fish, and other ocean critters and take them to nearby restaurants that will cook and serve it to you for a fee. Seafood stews and grilled dishes are a favorite in Korean cuisine. Live octopus is also a crowd favorite for something maybe out of your comfort zone!
Want to get your mind blown by fish cake? Visit fish cake specialty stores to see more varieties than you could fit into your stomach in a single trip.
For a delicious spin on the Korean sweet dessert, hotteok, try Busan’s Ssiat Hotteok which is filled with ground seeds rather than brown sugar. This version of hotteok is healthier and earthier.
Attractions of Busan
If you’re looking for a place to slow down and take a break from beaches or hiking, try heading to Nampo-dong which is a cafe-filled shopping district. There will be hip, young, college students from nearby schools.
Head over to Haeundae Beach, one of the most well-known in Korea, to soak up some sun or get a whiff of the salty air. During summer months, the beaches may be pretty packed with schoolers off on summer vacation and outside visitors who also want to get some beach time.
Perhaps during cooler months, Busan offers hot springs through resorts or spas. Water is heated underground by the hotter core of the earth and has minerals beneficial to your skin and joints. It is believed by locals and Koreans that the hot springs have some healing abilities in curing aching joints and bones.
There are also many spiritual areas consisting of temples and shrines that are worth visiting if you’d like a slower pace some time during your visit. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in particular offers a beautiful scenic view of the ocean as it sits on a cliffside.