Let your cares float away while you bob on a tube just off Korea’s most famous beach, where locals and tourists come to see and be seen.
On sunny days in July and August, Haeundae Beach is the most popular spot in Busan. Fields of colorful umbrellas line the entire 0.9-mile (1.5-kilometer) stretch. Masses of visitors float on bright yellow tubes. Regularly, more than 100,000 people come here each day during the summer. On particularly hot days, the beach has hosted up to a million sun worshipers, making it as much a place to people-watch as a place to swim.
Watch for women wearing high heels; this type of footwear is prevalent despite the sand. Also, public displays of affection, which are typically frowned upon in South Korea, are common here. Gaze toward the horizon for some of the most beautiful views in the city. Look east along the curving beach to see the forested Dalmaji Hill. Look west to see the futuristic towers of Busan’s main skyline. On a clear day, look out to sea and you might even make out the Japanese island of Tsushima.
When you get hungry, order from one of Busan’s pizza places and ask them to deliver to your umbrella. Thirsty? Open a beer. It’s perfectly legal to drink alcohol on the beach. In spite of the many visitors and the relaxed food and drink regulations, Busan’s city government keeps Haeundae Beach very tidy. Notice the team of employees scouring the beach to clean up after beach-goers.
If you don’t like crowds, come early in the morning. Crowds start to arrive by 9 or 10 a.m. When you tire of the beach, explore the attractions that surround it. The Busan Aquarium, the largest in South Korea, looks out over the beach, as do many great restaurants.
Access to Haeundae Beach is free. Tubes and beach umbrellas can be rented at stands and automated machines along the beach. Don’t bring your own gear; vendors are known to harangue those who bring their own umbrellas or tubes.
Haeundae Beach has a large parking lot, but you’ll need to arrive early to get a spot. The beach is accessible by bus directly from the main Busan train station.