Busan is South Korea’s second-largest city, but unlike the massive metropolis of Seoul, Busan is a resort town. Travel here for expansive beaches, forested parks and easy access to the islands and dramatic coastline of Hallyeohaesang National Park.
Come to Busan during the summer to experience the beaches at their best, the views at their clearest and industrious South Koreans at their most relaxed. The long Haeundae Beach is the most famous in the country; on hot summer days it is lined with record-breaking numbers of colorful umbrellas and masses of people. If you prefer a little more space, head west to Gwangalli Beach, which is generally less crowded and offers great views of the Gwangan Bridge, the longest in South Korea.
Discover Busan’s world-class shopping at the 14-story Shinsegae Centum City, the largest department store in the world. After exploring the many stores, boutiques and cafés, practice your golf swing at the indoor driving range, then lace up your skates for a few laps on the ice rink.
Seafood lovers should head to Jagalchi Market, Busan’s massive fish market. Occupying a wide stretch of dock and several stories of a huge warehouse, Jagalchi is the largest seafood market in South Korea.
Busan has recently become a global center for cosmetic surgery and medical tourism. Exfoliate your pores or treat yourself to a full facelift at one of the 160 clinics on Seomyeon Medical Street in central Busan. Or, reserve a spot at the Shinsegae Centum City Spaland to spend an evening relaxing in one of the 22 spas and 13 saunas.
Just a ferry or bus ride away from Busan is Tongyeong, a bustling port town situated on an island to the southeast. From Tongyeong, ride the Hallyeo Waterway Observation Cable Car for stunning views back to the mainland. After enjoying the views, wander through the charming streets of Dongpirang Village, which was destined for demolition until villagers transformed the streets into an outdoor art gallery.
Busan has a metro system, but most destinations are best reached by bus, car or ferry.