Busan is South Korea’s second largest city, but it couldn’t be more different from Big Sister, Seoul!
Busan, Korea’s second largest city, is a port city on the southern coast of South Korea. It is famous as a summer vacation destination due to it’s mountains, beaches, and shopping. Local Busan residents and Koreans traveling to the area love the laid-back feel and endless activities.
You can easily get to Busan with in just 4:45 by car from Seoul, or by taking a train for only 2:30. With Busan so accessable from Seoul, it’s no wonder the city is so popular!
Even if you only have 2 days in Busan you call still have a great time!
How to Spend 2 Days in Busan:
1. Swim at Haeundae Beach, Busan:
Busan may be a big city but it’s first and foremost a beach town. There are a few different beaches people love in Busan, but Haeundae is the most popular.
At Haeundae Beach all you need to bring is your bathing suit and a towel. You can rent an umbrella, tarp, PFD, and inner tube from one of the TICKET BOOTH stands on the strip. Red umbrellas line the beach front 4-5 deep, so you’ll need to rent one if you plan on being close to the water.
Haeundae Beach is a great combination of the sort of commercial beach atmosphere you may be used to in the States but with a distinct Korean flair. You’ll find food vendors selling odeng (fish sticks) and octopus and locals covered from head to toe around buildings with cartoon sharks coming out of the side and music blaring from restaurants.
Haeundae Beach is also home to many hotels, restaurants, and convenience stores. Budget motels for $30 are kept clean and close the beach, and 7-Elevens carry sunscreen and bathing suit covers in case you forget any necessities.
You can easily spend a huge amount of time at Haeundae Beach, as many people in Busan do! It’s one of the most popular and best things to do in Busan, so be prepared for it to be a crowded location.
Visit Dongbaek Park:
One of the best things to do at Haeundae Beach is to go to Dongbaek Park!
It’s a peninsula near Haeundae Beach where the 2005 World APEC meeting was held. You can visit the home of the APEC meeting, or just follow the walking path around the peninsula for spectacular views of the beach!
Or go to Gwangalli Beach:
If you’re interested in a more low-key beach check out Gwangalli Beach.
Gwangalli Beach is just a few kilometers down the main coastal road. It doesn’t have the umbrellas and inner tubes to rent like Haeundae Beach does, but it also isn’t as big.
You’ll still find soft, white sand and virtually no people, which is kind of nice!
About Haeundae Beach:
- Address: 264, Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan
- Hours: Open swim until 11:00 pm June 1- August 31
- Bring: Bathing suit and swimming gear, cash for umbrella or inner tube
- What to do: Swim, walk around Dongbaek Park
2. Have Lunch at Haeundae Beach Market
One main road separates Haeundae Beach from the rest of the city. Across that road is the Haeundae Market.
At they Haeundae Market you’ll find everything you’d want for lunch or dinner. Air conditioned restaurants offering seafood or fried chicken tend to be overpriced but comfortable.
The real fun of the market comes when you forego comfortable restaurants in favor of Korean street food. And why wouldn’t you? Yum!
Look for a Starbucks on the corner of Haeundaehaebyeon-ro (the main road) and Haeun-daero 608beon-gil (but you probably won’t see a street sign). Follow the road with Starbucks on your right and it will take you to a small road of street food vendors a block away on the right.
Take this opportunity to eat delicious, authentic, cheap Korean street food while at the commercial, glitzy beach!
About Haeundae Beach Market:
- Address: Across the street from Haeundae Beach
- What to do: Eat street food during a break from the beach
- Bring: Cash
3. Walk Igidae Urban Nature Park, Busan
What’s beautiful about the southern coast of South Korea is how the city is built between the mountains and water. It’s a gorgeous landscape, and Busan residents love spending as much time as possible outside!
One of the most popular things to do in Busan is visit Igidae Urban Nature Park. Igidae Park leads right to the ocean and has many walking paths which lead hikers to the water. The view of Busan on one side and the rocky cliffs of Igidae Park on the other is one you definitely don’t want to miss!
Igidae Park was reserved for military use and offered no civilian entry until 1993, so Busan residents are still learning about this relatively new place.
Igidae Park walking paths vary from 2-4 km, and can be easily accomplished whether you have 40 minutes or 3 hours. Parking is plentiful and free in one of the many small parking lots. Parking lots and the park’s rest stop also have wooden signs pointing out usable walking trails.
For those seeking a more leisurely day pack a fishing rod with your hiking gear and spend a day fishing off the Igidae Park coast. It’s an activity you’ll find Koreans enjoying and which will be very peaceful!
About Igidae Urban Nature Park:
- Address: 68, Igidaegongwon-ro, Nam-gu, Busan
- What to do: Hike, Fish
4. Eat and Shop at Soemyeong
This is a famous restaurant area beside the landmark Lotte department store in Busan.
The beauty of Seomyeong district is that it’s in the center of Busan and very easy to get to. The Seomyeon train stop is where the Orange and Green lines connect, so you can get on either line for a direct stop.
Special foods in Busan are any seafood, Dwaejigogi jjigae (spicy pork soup), and Hoddeok (sweet Korean papusa-style desert), which can all be found in Soemyeong!
The streets are easily walkable, just watch for speeding motos carrying to-go meals to Busan residents. It’s a magical sight at night as locals flock the street in search of good food. The street party goes on all night, so we suggest going for dinner and desert to watch the action.
About Seomyeong Market:
- Address: Seomyeong First Street
- What to do: Eat hoddeok or seafood
- Bring: Cash
5. Visit Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village is South Korea’s Santorini. Houses built into the side of a mountain have been painted with bright colors which create a gorgeous vision against the natural landscape.
Residents have taken the colorful imagery a step farther by also creating bold artwork and painting village roads. Gamcheon Culture Village has now earned a reputation as one of the best things to do in Busan thanks to it’s unique look!
If you only have 2 days in Busan you need to make visiting Gamcheon a priority. You can take a city tour bus straight to the village’s information booth or drive yourself. A large public parking lot is available at the official village entrance and only costs 2,000W/ hour.
The information center at the entrance to Gamcheon Culture Village charges to keep one of their paper village maps, but you don’t really need one. Just follow that road up and around to see the main street of the village. You’ll find plenty of statues, wall murals, painted stairs, and even interractive artwork.
Don’t miss seeing statues of The Little Prince and his pet dog at an overlook of the rest of the village!
Be warned, though, this village is in it to make some cash. You are charged for the maps at the information center, charged for stacks of toilet paper in the public bathrooms, charged to take pictures in front of certain buildings, and overcharged for snacks from street vendors.
It’s also pretty busy. Tour buses regularly drop off loads of people at Gamcheon and it’s popular with tourists from China and around the world.
You really don’t need to spend more than an hour walking around, though, and it is definitely worth seeing!
About Gamcheon Culture Village:
- Address: 203, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan
- What to do: Walk colorful streets, photograph
- Bring: Camera, Money
6. Observe and Eat Seafood at Jagalchi Fish Market
Jagalchi Fish Market is Korea’s largest fish market. It’s no wonder that the coastal town of Busan is home to the largest fish market in Korea!
At Jagalchi Market you’ll find many street and building vendors selling all types of seafood; both live and dried. You can even purchase sushi-grade raw fish to eat on the spot! Pick out any fish from the bottom floor and pay a fee to have it cooked for you on the second floor, or visit any of the second floor restaurants for a meal they have on hand.
Be sure to watch for fish experts gutting and fileting pieces of sushi!
Eat at Jagalchi Fish Market:
But wait… there’s more! The top level of Jagalchi Fish Market is a free observation floor to get beautiful views of downtown Busan.
Jagalchi Fish Market is worth visiting even if you are not a seafood lover. There is a smell you’ll have to get used to and the sight of whole fish may be difficult, but it’s a wildly interesting place to be. Where else can you see live, dead, and dried fish, crustacean, and even whale in one place?
Most visitors to the fish market say it was one of the things to do in Busan!
About Jagalchi Fish Market:
- Address: 52, Jagalchihaean-ro, Jung-gu, Busan
- Hours: 5:00 am – 10:0 pm, closed first and third Tuesday
- What to do: Buy and eat seafood, people watch
7. Shop at Gwangbok-dong Fashion Street
If you’re interested in taking an interesting stroll around a neighborhood in Busan than Gwangbok-dong is the place to be.
Gwangbok-dong is Busan’s fashion capital. You’ll find beauty stores and trendy people all over. It’s fun and vibrant to people watch, but also great for authentic souvenir shopping. If you want to pick up some of the local fashion pieces or beauty products while in Busan this is when you want to be!
You can spend as much or as little time at Gwangbok-dong as you’d like, but it’s a great way to see the daily life of Busan against the more touristy attractions on this list.
As an added bonus this neighborhood is also home to Gwangbok-dong Food Street! Here you’ll find around 20 restaurants spanning a 60-year history or street food vendors selling Korean snacks for as little as 1,000-2,000 Won. Remember Gwangbok-dong Food Street is largely cash only, though!
About Gwangbok-dong Fashion Street:
- Address: Sinchang-dong & Gwangbok-dong, Jung-gu, Busan-si
- What to do: Shop, stroll, and people watch
- Also try: Eat at Gwangbok-dong Food Street for lunch or dinner while in town
We hope you enjoy your 2 days in Busan!
If you have any other favorite things to do in Busan in just 48 hours please leave them in a comment for someone else!