Miles away from Busan’s famous beaches and located in the south of the city, is Nampo-dong. This is the center of shopping in Busan and tourists flock to this area every year to shop, eat, drink, and enjoy the unique atmosphere. The area offers all the great things about old and new Korea. Several markets, which built up during the war, are still thriving with business decades later, and tourists continue to visit the famous BIFF Square, and enjoy traditional Korean street food. However, there are also a large number of imported brands and international cuisines available in this area, which creates the perfect balance between the traditional and modern in Nampo-dong.
This neighborhood is full of life all year round. Whether it’s in summer, when you can hang out in a cafe and enjoy some retail therapy, or in winter when the Busan Christmas Tree Festival attracts masses of visitors — there is something for everyone, all year round, in Nampo.
How to get to Nampo-dong in Busan
The main bustle of Nampo can be accessed via Metro Line 1 to Nampo Station. Leave the station from exit 7 and you will find yourself in Nampo’s central shopping street. The street is lined with international and domestic brands, restaurants and cafes, and winds all the way over to Jagalchi.
Take a break from shopping and have a coffee in Yudong Coffee (유동커피). This cafe has an extensive drinks menu and a mouth-watering selection of cakes, pastries, and breads. The cozy atmosphere in this cafe is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Nampo.
As you approach Jagalchi — the next station along from Nampo — you will notice the number of fashion and beauty stores decline and are gradually overtaken by restaurants. You can try a variety of cuisines in Nampo-dong including traditional Korean, Japanese, Italian, and Indian food. It’s hard to choose just one restaurant, so stop by No. 18 Wandang (18번완당집)for a menu that combines elements of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine. You can try homemade dumpling soup, buckwheat noodles, kimbap, and more in this busy basement restaurant.
Although the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is now held annually in Haeundae, the original location was Nampo-dong. BIFF Square was built in 1996 and remains a popular tourist attraction for “Star Street” (the handprints of famous Korean actors and actresses) and the street food. Don’t forget to try Ssiat Hotteok (씨앗호떡) — Busan’s famous sweet pancake filled with seeds and syrup.
Wander down toward the water and you will find Jagalchi Market. This fish market has an incredible selection of live and dried fish and is an important cultural spot in Busan. Behind the market, you can enjoy a peaceful view of the water and sometimes catch a street performance!
Heading back toward Nampo Shopping Street, grab some ice cream from Cali Soft Serve Ice Cream (캘리소프트서브). This 100% organic milk ice cream is the perfect break on a hot summer day. The ice cream and the shop itself are both incredibly vibrant — you will not be able to resist snapping a picture before you tuck into the ice cream!
In keeping with the theme of shopping in Nampo-dong, the next stop is Gukje Market. This is the largest traditional market in Busan and has everything from household items and electronics to snacks and second-hand clothing. The market is a perfect example of the chaotic, bustling side of Korean culture and a great opportunity to pick up some souvenirs, too!
While Gukje Market offers a huge range of imported and domestic goods, there has recently been a rise in vintage clothing shops in this neighborhood which are definitely worth checking out. Locating these vintage shops can feel like hunting for Pokémon — start with Vintage Showroom, which has an excellent range of vintage clothing, and continue exploring the narrow streets around that area for more fabulous finds.
Although it’s only a short walk from the shopping area, Yongdusan Park (용두산공원) offers a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. If you visit in the evening, head up to Busan Towerfor an incredible night view.
Finish the evening with Korean rice wine, or makgeolli (막걸리), and a bite to eat at Deokbune (덕분에). This hidden gem offers a large selection of fruit flavored Makgeolli and dishes to pair with the alcohol such as savory pancakes, soups, and stews. Customers can sit on the floor for a more authentic experience — this is also great in winter when the floor heating system is in use!