Planning a solo trip to Busan? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The second largest metropolitan city in South Korea, with a population of around 3.5 million.
- Located on the south east edge of the country, it is one of the world’s largest ports (by container volume).
- It is best known for its natural beauty, from its beaches to its wildlife reserves.
- Nicknames: Santorini on the South Sea, Korea’s Macchu Picchu, Lego Village.
- Currency: Won (KRW).
- Spoken languages: Korean.
- Best time to visit: from April to August for fine spring weather followed by hot, long summer days and the festivals that come with them.
- Arriving via airport: Gimhae International Airport (PUS) is well-connected to the city with several bus lines, limousine buses and an express bus taking passengers to major stations in the city centre. Alternately, taxis charge ₩30,000-40,000.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best Busan hostel for solo travelers: Kimchee Haeundae (close the beach, a short walk from the metro station, and a welcoming atmosphere – perfect for meeting new friends).
- Haeundae is the most popular, attractive and often crowded seaside in Busan, considered to be Korea’s best beach. Wide boulevards are lined with accommodation ranges and dining and entertainment options.
- Gwangalli’s scene is more relaxed while the waterfront is just as scenic, whereas the central Seomyeon offers Busan’s frenetic commercial energy in the form of shopping and leisure perfect to absorb the Korean subculture.
- The Hanaro Card is a smart, contact-less card used for paying transportation fares by pre-loading. It can also be used to pay for toll fares.
- Busan’s metro system is color-coded and consists of four lines. Destinations are called out in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese. Fare for one zone is ₩1400 and ₩1600 for two zones.
- Local buses are efficient, cheap and easy to use. Tickets cost ₩1200 or ₩1080 for transportation cards.
- Taxis run on meter and charge ₩2200 for the first 2 kilometers and ₩143 for each subsequent 143 meters. Dial 600 1000 or 200 2000 to book.
- Drinking age is 20, and last call is 4 AM.
- Kyungsung is a warm, friendly area favored by the student population.
- Nampo-dong is a prolific with bars and nightclubs open till the early hours and favoured by the young and trendy set.
- Geumjong-gu is excellent for its lively music scene and cheap drinks.
- Great bars for solo travelers: The Wolfhound (Irish pub), HQ Gwangan 4F, Beer Shop 비어샵, and 베이스먼트 basement.
- Foreigner-friendly night clubs: Output, Nonmorde, Yaman, and partynextdoor.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Beomeosa Temple located at the foot of Mt. Geumjeongsan is one of the greatest temples in Korea, built around 1300 years ago.
- Busan Modern History Museum reflects the role of the city in the Korean War.
- Yonggungsa Temple stands out along the shoreline of Haedong, and is one of the few Buddhist temples not located in the mountains.
- Dalmaji Hill is a romantic climb above Busan’s famous coastline, a serene getaway from which to admire the city and its magnificent views.
- MoonTan Road is all the more enchanting at night when it is lit up, regaling the forested walk a surreal atmosphere.
- Taejongdae Park was used as grounds for archery practice by King Taejong Muyul. Its white lighthouse is a must-visit for the stunning panorama.
- Jagalchi Fish Market is a feast for the senses, a market that’s renowned for its fresh catch.
- Busan is not all about the beaches. Its fantastic mountain ranges have easy to moderate hiking trails. Some of its best temples are secluded atop remote locations.
- Must-try local dishes are dong-nae pajeon (seafood and green onion pancake) and daegu tang (cod soup). Both are widely available at eateries throughout the city.
- Bokguk is a stew made with the highly poisonous puffer fish. It originated in Busan over 40 years ago and can be sampled at dedicated restaurants.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Kyungsung and PNU offer the best budget meals in town.
- Dangerous areas: Busan is a safe city, with the occasional trouble coming from drunken brawls in the nightlife areas.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days