Four Must-Sees of Busan
When thinking about South Korea, most people can tell you the capital is Seoul. Seoul is a great place to visit for a day or more, but what about any other cities or provinces? How many can you name? The majority of people who have never been to Korea couldn't even tell you the name of the second biggest city in Korea.
Busan is South Korea's second biggest city, and yet it has more to offer than the capital itself. It is one of the most popular tourist locations in Korea but still one of the most unknown destinations to the outside world. Five months into my move to South Korea, I found myself wondering why I hadn’t visited Busan yet.
So why should visitors to this country take a venture towards Busan on vacation? Here are four things you can find in Busan that you must see today.
Relax at the Temple by the Sea
Haedong Yonggungsa is a Buddhist temple located right on the beach. It has been nicknamed "the most beautiful temple in Korea," and I'm sure you can see why. Not only is the temple's architecture wonderfully built, but the ocean view is phenomenal, as well. If you are up for it, I personally recommend going before the sun rises. The temple opens at 5 am, and the view at sunrise is unbelievable! I spent two hours taking it all in - and taking all the pictures, too! Plus, it's the only time during the summer that it isn't scorching hot. This temple isn't just a great place to see. It's THE place to see in Busan.
Witness a World Record
Have you ever wanted to see a world record in person? How about the world's largest department store? Good news! It's in Busan. That's right: Busan is home to the largest department store in the world - Shinsegae (Centum City). It even holds the Guinness World Record title for it. This doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but just try to take a walk around it, and you'll see differently. I only went here to purchase some items from The Body Shop, but it took me an hour to find the exit because I got lost - not once, not twice, but three times.
Shinsegae has 16 floors (including the two underground) and contains more than the normal department store. There are options for luxury shopping, as well as kids' wear and home supplies - but this place goes even further than shopping. Among the great store options, there are also many restaurants and repair services for clothing, electronics, and automobiles. There is even a golf range on the top four floors. You could spend a whole day at Shinsegae Centum City, and you still wouldn't be able to see or experience everything. But it's definitely something you must see for yourself.
Visit the Best Beach in Korea
Haeundae Beach is the most famous beach in South Korea. There are many things to offer at this beachfront location. The beach itself is huge, understandably so. The number of people who visit this beach demands a large enough piece of land to hold them all. It is also the location of more sun umbrellas and leisure water tubes than you will see anywhere else.
Besides the amazing beach itself, this location also contains something that most beaches around the world do not - a view of the city skyline. It makes for wonderful pictures and can often provide shade during the early and later parts of the days. If you only see one beach in your life, it should be Haeundae Beach.
Find a Great Place to Sleep
Because Busan is a huge Korean tourist destination, there are many options for accommodations. From 4- and 5-star resorts to hostels and Couchsurfing options, you are sure to find somewhere to stay. As a solo traveler carrying only one bag with me, I chose Guesthouse 710. It is a 1-star hostel located on the third and fourth floor, and it takes public accommodation to the next level.
Upon entering, I was greeted by a friendly face at reception. He spoke almost perfect English - which is surprising in South Korea. I was given an outside shoe locker as well as a key to a private locker in the room for my things. He also provided me with two small towels (which are the kind of towels they use for showers in Korea). He gave me a tour of the facilities and showed me the bed where I would be staying.
I stayed in a female room on the third floor with 6 beds - 3 bunk beds. The room was clean and air-conditioned, and the decor around the facility was friendly and fun. There were a kitchen and a living area on the fourth floor with more guest rooms. The place was very well-kept and clean. The bathroom was coed and definitely could have been cleaned more - but what else would you expect from a communal bathroom? The lockers are a great idea. It may be difficult to fit a traditional suitcase in them. This is when traveling with only a backpack comes in handy like I often do. Any bags from OneBagVagabond would fit in these lockers perfectly.
(Side note: I am a huge proponent for minimalist traveling, and I love traveling with only one bag. It feels great knowing that I have everything I need in my 45L backpack that doesn’t have to be checked at an airport or stowed in the trunk. I highly recommend traveling this way!)
Overall, the place was great, and I would stay there again. I highly recommend it to any travelers, but especially those with a similar minimalist-packing mindset to me.
Busan is a great place to spend a vacation or even just a weekend, no matter how long you stay. With all that this wonderful city has to offer, it’s a shame that more visitors aren’t aware of it. Even with the four hours, it took me to get there, Busan introduced me to beautiful scenery and great new friends. Overall, I’d say the memories were worth the trip. Hopefully, it is as enjoyable for you as it was for me.
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-graduated with a Master’s in Teaching (Secondary Education, Music) in 2017
-currently an ESL teacher in South Korea
-traveling when she’s not teaching