Go F____ yourself guide to Busan in a day!
I’m a former Busan native, and I’d like to offer some of my unasked for advice on how to GO FIND YOURSELF in Busan in a DAY!
(If you have a few days, feel free to keep clicking on days 2 and 3 if you wish to use my suggestions to create an itinerary).
Primer: I’m not gonna bother telling you about the history of such-and-such place, or its significance. If you care about that stuff, I encourage you to read the signs while you’re there, or yawn yourself to sleep with the official information here.
I’m only writing this to tell you where to go.
So, you’ve got one day to do Busan? Well, that’s unfortunate, because this city has a lot more to offer than you can see in 24 hours. All too many times I’ve had a couchsurfer drop in or message me and ask what they can do in 1 day here. Whether they figure that exploring Busan for a day before they take the ferry to Fukuoka would be a good fun, or whether they put in all their time in Seoul… well, that wasn’t very bright, was it? However, I’ve got you covered. Here’s a good way to take advantage of your minimal time in Busan.
First off, go to
Haedong Yonggungsa temple.
I know, I know. “You’ve seen one temple, you’ve seen ‘em all”. You’ve been to a few already, and Korean Buddhist temples are by no means the most ornate in Asia. However, I’m gonna insist that you stop by this one. Seriously.
Also known as the ‘Water temple’ (NOT this water temple, sorry), this place is very picturesque, peaceful (other than the human traffic), and all around memorable temples in the country. Here’s some pics from the innumerable times I’ve been:
So, spare me your cynicism and give it a shot.
As for getting there, you have a few options:
Bus: Get off the subway (map at the bottom of the post) at Haeundae station (Exit 7), and take the 181 bus until you’re at Yonggungsa (용궁사)
Taking a taxi from Haeundae station. You can tell them to take you there on your own, but if you’re feeling particularly inept at Korean, just copy and paste this into your phone’s notepad:
해동 용궁사 가주세요 (haedong yonggungsa ka ju se yo)
Once you get there, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how to get around. You can spend an hour or two taking in the sights. There are a myriad of wonderfully tacky and inexpensive souvenirs if you’re feeling like knocking some relative off of your ‘bring me back something Asian’ gift list.
But, there’s much more to see:
If you didn’t pony up a taxi on the way down, I recommend taking one on the way back. Buses back usually involve lines and are packed. If that doesn’t sound like your kinda party, just head out to Haeundae Beach. Again, for the Korean impaired, copy and paste this little number:
해운대 해변 가주세요
Haeundae Beach is just impressive on its own. You can spend a few hours relaxing there, or walk all the way to (and around Dongbaek Island). That’s all on you and your physicality. However, there’s a lot of really good Korean and Western food there. If you’re up for some nice raw fish, the fish market is up here If you’re up for If you fancy some Western food, There’s Sharky’s or The Booth Pizzeria (right across the road) on the main road up to the subway. Both places I recommend if you’re looking for good quality foreigner food. Sharky’s is all about a good variety of food, and they’re regarded as the best Western food in Busan. The Booth is all about pizza and beer. In fact, The Booth has their own taps, which is nice. Korean beer is well-renowned for its lack of taste, and The Booth is one of those places that bring a variety of good beer into life in Korea.
Or, just go buy some drinks and hang out on the beach all day.
No worries. I’d recommend staying here until the early evening. Haeundae is no great night life spot (comparatively), and when the sun goes down, your time would be a lot better spent at
One beach over, Gwangalli has a whole whack of places to catch a drink or a bite to eat, and has that iconic bridge stretching across it. Honestly, it’s worth getting a drink and just sitting on the beach at some point. It’s a wonderful place to wind down your evening, whether it’s watching soccer or rugby in a charming dive like Beached Bar, or in any of the other ex-pat friendly places that line the entire beachfront. However, if you’re a beer aficionado, I’m gonna insist that you stop by
Wonderful beer, passable pizza. This place may have made a less than wonderful name for itself in terms of décor, but its beer is altogether outstanding. I haven’t had a bad beer from there. These days, they’re expanding their operations, and that’s good news for Busan. Its venue requires a little bit of searching, which is why you should click on the link to their page to get better directions (I apparently can’t make custom maps in this country. Thanks, National Security Law).
However, do yourself a favour and stop by. There are plenty of hostels to stay at in Gwangan (or Haeundae, if you like) that are perfectly fine, so check here for a list of hostels in the area. For people who like to be up at sunrise (either through stubborn determination or sensible sleeping schedule), Gwangalli is one of the best places to have the kind of reflection on life that a sunrise provides. Plus, I’ve ‘had a short nap’ on the beach there post-sunrise, and people tend to wake you up before the sun really gets going. Thanks, everyone.
IF you want to go out that night, and Gwangalli isn’t enough for you… If you’re the kind of person that wants to take to the streets until you end up witnessing first-hand when McDonalds actually switches to the breakfast menu, then you’re after
KSU or PNU.
On the weekends in particular, you can pretty much follow the steady stream of people to and from a good mix of places.
KSU is an impressive party for Busan, whereas PNU is a smaller cluster of intertwined (and co-operative) bars with everything from live music like the basement or to dance until the first subway arrives DJ nights. Busan Awesome High five! has a good index of the venues, so I’m not gonna waste anyone’s time pretending it’s worth my while to re-list them. Here’s some places in PNU and KSU as summarized by them. Don’t worry, if you’re here for two days, the other option can wait until tomorrow.
Here’s a tip you should probably already know, always take the business card of the place you stay. Almost all Korean hotels, motels and hostels have them. No matter how drunk you get, just flash the business card to the cab driver to get home safe and efficiently. Otherwise, happy drinking!
When you wake up, if you’re in the mood for some proper, back home breakfast, The Wolfhound in Haeundae will fix you up. A range of breakfast from a veggie friendly plate to a properly decent steak and eggs are available to set you right. Now you should be good to head out.
I’m sure you know your way to the KTX or ferry (Busan Station and Jung-ang dong, respecitvely. If not, you’ll find them on this handy subway map
Anyway. That’s how I would do Busan in a day. Think I missed an essential that can’t wait for day two (if you have one? Tell me in the comments below.
Got an extra day or taking off later in the day? Click here for day 2!