Thursday, March 03, 2011

Ask a Korean! Wiki: What to See Around Busan?

Dear Korean,

I will be in Busan in May for business and will be going on a tour of Oedo Island & Hallyeo Marine Nat’l Park and a tour of Bulguksa Temple, Tumuli Park and Cheomseongdae Observatory in Gyeongju. I will have 4 or 5 days for myself for day trips and am wondering where you would recommend to travel. I think I would like to go back to Gyeongju and see other areas as well. Are there national parks near Busan that are recommended? I would love to be with the nature and do some hiking and photography.


Dear P.,

The Korean Father is from mid-east Korea. The Korean Mother is from southwestern Korea. The Korean lived in the heart of Seoul for all of his life in Korea. That means that southeastern Korea -- which encompasses Busan and Gyeongju -- is a huge blind spot for the Korean. He does not know anything about southeastern Korea any more than any travel book can tell you.

This apparently is Busan. The Korean wouldn't know.

Readers, did you enjoy any part of southeastern Korea? Any recommendations? Food recommendation would be particularly welcome, as the Korean found most food in Daegu to be completely inedible. (He has heard very nice things about Andong, however.)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. The Busan Aquarium is a must-see.

  2. I've never lived in Busan but I've traveled there from Japan twice. Although Jagalchi Fish Market and the surrounding market area was more impressive for sightseeing, I recommend actually ordering food from the fish market just past the north end of Gwanalli Beach and eating on the nearby stone pier. The food is just as fresh but you get a great view of Diamond Bridge and the surrounding city, especially at night.

    If you want to go shopping Nampu-dong is alright, but for nightlife I enjoyed the Samyeon area more. Haeundae can be fun but I found it too crowded and the nightlife too much like Tokyo where I live and not something I wanted to do on my vacation.

    The Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (Eastern Sea Dragon Palace) is worth visiting as well. Its location right on the coast and tons of dragon and buddhist iconography makes it one of the more impressive temples in Korea. I'd go again just to eat lunch and have a drink on the rocks/shore by the temple.

  3. Busan Must See's and Do's:

    Dont bother with the Busan Aquarium; there are similar aquariums in every big city of every country in the developed world.

    As far as temples go, I'd definitely head for Yonggungsa near to Jangsan. It is beautiful - especially in the spring when all the cherry blosoms are out - and set right on a stone cliff overlooking the sea. You can find directions/transport details on Google.

    Taejongdae 'Park' at sunset I would really, really recommend. It's also known as the 'suicide cliff's. There are absolutely stunning views of the container ships coming into the port from here, as well as a lighthouse and a little trail down to a cluster of rocky cliff tops.

    Jagalchi and Nampodong have some great fish and clothes markets - I wouldn't leave Busan without checking them out. The more commercial area of Nampodong is probably one of the 'cleanest' and most 'modern' shopping areas in Busan. This commercial area is nice, but feels a little European to me. So .. it depends what you're looking for.

    The Busan Port Authority run a free short boat toar around the port if you wanted to see it from the sea. You can also take inexpensive boat toars from the far right side of Haeundae beach to various destinations. Both Haeundae and Gwangali beach are lovely, especially at night.

    Yes Seomyeon's a great area for shopping and generally experiencing the bustle of Korean city life. It's not so scenic, but it is personally one of my favourite parts of the city.

    There's also Shinsaegae - the largest shopping mall in the world - and, inside, a gorgeous Jimjilbang (spa). If you fancied getting nekkid and experiencing a Korean sauna, this is the place to go.

    Finally, Geumgang park has a cable car running up the side of the mountain from which there are great views of Busan, and a few temples and things you can hike to once you're at the top. Get a subway to Oncheonjang and ask any taxi driver for the 'cable car' and they will take you.

    Phew. I could go on and on, but I won't. Hope it helps!

  4. Oh dear, it looks like all the big places have been spoken of. Having been to Busan five times (or is it six now?), all of the above are excellent places to find. I'll plug my own blog here ( as a source of directions - and an easy way to find all the posts about the city.

  5. I did a write up of several spots in Busan after my last trip there.



    Nurimaru APEC House

  6. Right near the entrance to Taejongdae 'Park' there's a great Duck BBQ restaurant called Ori Maeul, check it out! =D

  7. I was in Busan for a whirlwind self-guided tour for two days. I blogged about all the big sights I saw. I recommend checking it out here:

  8. Anything for the greater southeastern Korea? Daegu? Gyeongju? Andong? Two places that the Korean is hoping to visit are Andong and Choongmu.

  9. I went to a really great restaurant when I visited Gyeongju. It's called 홍시 (Hongsi), and it's a Korean style restaurant, but the sheer amount of side dishes there is amazing! I'm pretty sure it won an award too. I found out where it is, and the first link there shows pictures of the beautiful food.,+Gyeongsangbuk-do,+South+Korea&cid=0,0,17332334798243364886&z=16&iwloc=A

  10. Busan is capable of to become beautiful place at night time, looking at the bridge, especially the event when the tons of fireworks are up to the sky all together once an year. By the way, I read an interesting news article that indicates what republican's proposing is killing US economic growth. I thought of exactly opposite way, seeing them as to try to cut the deficit US currently has. Here's the article address. I hope you'd have a chance to look at it and tell me whether the article is telling right thing or I was right.
    I very appreciate all the work you've done and your posts.

  11. If you do a beach stop, I recommend Gwangangli Beach (the one with the bridge; hope I'm spelling it right). Been there at least three times and found it pleasant, even in the middle of summer.

    Haeundae Beach is very popular, but when I went there it was too crowded, and trash everywhere. I went there in summer as might be nicer in the off season.

  12. This might sound a bit crass... but Gyeongju is only fun if you are into shrines and temples and oooh so exotic. It's certainly a historically significant place though.

  13. Check out by far the most comprehensive listing of what's happening in Busan

  14. I live in in the non-Busan Southeast, and over the years I've discovered several cool places.

    The Andong Hahweh Maeul (안동하회마을) is pretty cool - an old, preserved village, tucked into a bend in the Nakdong River. It'd especially make for a nice Spring stroll and lunch; it's all outdoors, and covered in cherry blossom trees. I also had the best fried pepper pancake (고추전) ever there.

    If you're looking to get a workout with your sightseeing, Gajisan (가지산), the highest peak in the Yeongnam Alps, located at the corner of Ulsan, Miryang and Cheongdo, makes for a great hike. I went there with my yoga class once. When we reached the top, we found a little lodge with picnic tables, run by some old due with the gnarliest Korean mutton chops I'd ever seen. We sat and ate our lunches and drank our makgeolli there, and it was awesome.

    For an overnight stay, Benegol (베네골), in Yangsan (양산), offers mountain resort-type fun - nice views, four-wheeling, paintball, and rental cabins, called Pensions (팬션?).

    Geoje-do (거제도) is also really cool; it's one of the only places I've been in Korea where you can find nice, sandy, beaches outside of a huge metropolis. Rolling, green hills make up the scenery surrounding Geoje-do's beaches. Geoje-do's downtown contains some unique places, like a Norwegian bar and a Turkish restaurant, that cater to foreign engineers working in Geoje-do's shipbuilding industry.

    And while I'm proud to represent the non-Busan Southeast, Busan does have some cool places. My favorite place to eat is Taco's Family, a tiny (we're talking four tables) Mexican restaurant near Pusan National University. They offer the best and biggest refried bean burritos in Korea, no contest. I dig just chilling, drinking a beer or two on the beach at Haeundae and Gwanganli at night, too.

  15. I think the better question to ask is: What's to eat around busan?

    answer is: plenty! there's tons to do around Haeundae 해운대.

    I'd recommend you visit the Pojangmacha Town 포장마차 마을. they have some of the most freshest food that most foreigners wouldn't dare to dry.

    also make sure to visit Jagalchi Market for some more fresh seafood.

    Word of warning though, when they see foreigners they try to grab you by the arms to bring you in their booth. Just tell them I'm not here to eat at first and take a long stroll around the whole area before deciding where to go.

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  17. Ztrader: Neither. It's Busan. Your mother's birth certificate probably says Pusan because that was the spelling under the old Romanization (McCune-Reischauer), used before 2000.

    (in regards to the post) if you're a sports fan, you could go see the Lotte Giants (baseball). Busan also has a football team (Busan I'con) although the stadium is pretty poor and the crowds too.


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