Busan, also formerly known as Pusan, is South Korea’s second largest metropolis after the country’s capital Seoul. To date, it is also the fifth largest port city in the world. It is famous for its beach attractions, temples, cultural and historical sites, restaurants, shopping districts, and nightlife spots. It is widely known for its thriving film community — the country’s film capital. It annually hosts the prestigious Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and Busan Short Film Festival.
Busan became the host city for a number of renowned sports events and world leader gatherings including the 2002 Asian Games, the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and the 2005 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. It continues to be a center for international conventions in the country.
Climate and Location
Located on the southeasternmost tip of the Korean Peninsula, this seaport city has a humid subtropical climate and has an average snow fall of only about six days a year. It faces the Korea Strait and its location offers many interesting narrow valleys and hills.
Unlike other areas in Korea, Busan’s climate yields more towards the tropical because of its location. From July to September, Busan is at its hottest and most humid. Rain and typhoons visit the city during these times. The months of October to December are generally cool and a bit dry. During these autumn to early winter seasons, you can generally expect clear skies and cool breeze. The annual Busan International Film Festival, acknowledged as the biggest film festival in Korea and is frequently dubbed as the counterpart of Cannes Film Festival in Asia in terms of its scope of films, attendees, and events, is scheduled every October.
Being a seacoast city, Busan is best known for its seafood dishes. One of the must-tries in Busan cuisine is the “dongnae pajeon” a seafood and green onion pancake with scallions, sliced chili peppers, and various kinds of seafood offerings. Busan is also known for a great variety of fresh fish and sashimi. Many local seafood restaurants offer affordable but really great tasting choices of Korean food. Popular Korean dishes like “bulgogi,” “bibimbap,” and “kimchi jiggae” are also widely available in Busan restaurants.
Tourists can buy a wide variety of souvenirs, clothes, jewelries, food products, and other merchandise items in different commercial districts throughout the city. Most of the popular ones are located near busy intersections, subway stations, and universities.
The two largest shopping and entertainment districts in the city are Seomyeon and Gwangbok-dong/Nampo-dong. These areas are easily accessible through the Busan subway, buses, and taxis. Adjacent to Seomyon is the Bujeon Market which is known as the largest traditional market in Busan. Other famous shopping districts include Busan Dae Hakap and Haeundae. Busan is also home to the Shinesegae Centum City, a Guinness Book of World Records titleholder for being the biggest department store complex in the world as of this writing.
Buying a traveler’s card or tour cards in Busan is ideal for tourists as it provides the convenience of paying a lump sum to get around the city and various attractions at discounted rates. For instance, the Busan Tour Pass can be used to pay for the subway, bus, highway toll fees and even to buy a number of merchandise items and visit parks, museums, and other tourist attractions.
Busan’s subway system allows you to go just about anywhere around the city. The routes are color-coded and signs and destination announcements are made in both English and Korean. You can pay taxi fares via credit and debit cards. Major express bus lines including the Nopodong Bus Terminal and the Seobu Bus Terminal also link Busan with other major cities around Korea. The KTX (Korean Train Express), the country’s high-speed rail system, effectively connects Seoul to Busan.
The city is served by the Gimhae International Airport. Travelers coming from outside Korea may either come from Incheon International Airport from Korea’s capital Seoul, then ride a connecting flight to Gimhae to get to Busan, or they go straight to Busan via Gimhae.
Places to Check Out
Nightlife in Korea is always filled with glittering lights, lots of food and drinks, disco music, and dance floors often filled with party-goers, especially during weekends, holidays, and days and weeks with scheduled festivals, conventions, and other major events. From restaurants to clubs, Busan provides a wide array of dining and drinking places all over the city.
In Nampodong, the cinema street around the BIFF Square, is filled with a number of theaters and diverse film selections. These are usually packed during the film festival season every October. This place is also famous for the Jagalchi Seafood Market, a must-visit destination for travelers who want to experience Korean culture through seafood products and Busan native items.
The Hauendae Beach offers the sight of a beautiful coastline, white sand, and five star hotels. A few miles away by the south end of the beach is Dongbaek Island, which provides a marvelous view of the sea and the entire seaport city. The Gwangalli Bridge in Gwangalli Beach, a popular spot for water sports, trendy cafes, and seafood shops, is the largest bridge in Korea to date. It is a famous landmark destination for tourists wanting to take pictures, especially during the evenings, because of the delightful lights surrounding the bridge.