Busan, also known as Pusan, is a thriving city with unique architecture, old temples, beaches and many festivals and events. The Diamond Bridge and Busan Station are impressive feats of engineering and the Centum City Shinsegae department store is considered to be the largest department store in the entire world. Busan will also soon be home to one of the tallest buildings in the world, the Busan Lotte World Tower, a skyscraper over one hundred stories tall. Located on the coast in the south-east of South Korea, Busan has a large fishing industry and the tastiest seafood is available at the Jagalchi Fish Market.
1. Eat seafood. Busan is the country’s largest port, and as such it’s famous for seafood, especially sashimi. Try the “hway” (sashimi) in the traditional Korean style, wrapped in a lettuce leaf and topped with kimchi and gochujan. Ja-galchi Fish Market is the biggest traditional fish market. The area around Millak Town Raw Fish Center has dozens of seafood joints.
2. Hike at Geumjeong Fortress, a historical venue nestled against the mountains. Busan has less to offer than other places in terms of historical sites, but Geumjeong is definitely worth seeing, and one can hike to the exceptionally nice Beomeo-sa Temple.
3. Soak at Hur Shim Chung Spa, which claims to be the world’s largest hot spring complex (though this is disputed by Japan). It’s fairly Western friendly (not very normal for Busan) and offers many kinds of tubs (including a strawberry milk-filled bath) at various temperatures. If you’ve never been to a hot spring resort in Asia before, you may be surprised at just how nice this is.
4. Stroll around Beomeo-sa Temple, which is spread out leisurely along the mountains. Beomeo-sa is picturesque and serene in a way that many temples are not, perhaps more understated and accented by the lush forested surroundings.
5. Hit the beach at Haeundae, Busan’s most famous beach. This area is pretty tourist-friendly and flanked on all sides by a wide variety of restaurants and hotels. Travelers who get off the beaten path and take some of the smaller back roads away from the main drag can find some hidden jewels.
6. Check out the Busan Aquarium, conveniently located beside Haeundae Beach. This is Korea’s largest aquarium, and its proximity to the ocean serves it well – the exhibits are attractive and well-designed, with a nice variety of sea life.
7. Cross the bridge to Yonggung-sa Temple, a somewhat unusual Buddhist temple set against the rocky crags on the coastline. With the water only a stone’s throw away, this is one of the most picturesque temples in South Korea.
8. Shoot off some fireworks at Songjeong Beach. This smaller beach is a popular nightlife spot (especially for cheap dates), and many locals come here in the evenings to drink beer and light fireworks, which are available for purchase in the area.
9. Shop at Gukje Market, which is connected to two other markets: Gwangbok-dong Market and Nampo-dong Market. Apart from department stores and chain stores, there are people selling on the streets and underground, and great deals can be had by negotiating prices down.
10. Picnic at Yongdusan Park, a small but nice park in the city. It is home to Busan Tower, a tourist trap that is, frankly, underwhelming. There are, however, a number of nice spots to enjoy the view from throughout the park.
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