South Korea’s second city, Busan, is an essential stop for international tourists, expats, and Koreans alike. What could be better than a summer spent lying around on one of the city’s many beaches? Or eating some of Korea’s best food, miles away from the heaving streets of Seoul?
Here are four great locations to stay in Busan, taking into consideration distance from tourist attractions, festivals, transportation, safety, and most importantly, a great atmosphere. Whether you’re traveling on a budget or looking to splurge a bit more on accommodation, the list below contains something to suit everyone’s needs, without compromising your travel experience.
No trip and stay in Busan is complete without a visit to Haeundae, so why not stay in this bustling coastal area? Haeundae Beach attracts masses of tourists per year — both Korean and international travelers. You can enjoy relaxing by the beach, swimming, and an endless choice of restaurants, cafes, street markets, and bars.
Haeundae is connected by Metro Line 2 (the green line) and the beach is within minutes of the station. The stretch leading from the subway to the beach is lined with restaurants and bars, which makes this a very convenient and exciting place to stay. It is also possible to travel outside of Busan via Sinhaeundae (신해운대) station if you want to take a day trip.
The beach is a popular hangout spot during the summer, which creates a lively atmosphere for both daytime and evening activities. Busan International Film Festival and Haeundae Light Festival are held annually during the colder months so this area is a great option all year round.
Although Haeundae is a little outside of central Busan, the year-round buzz in this area is unbeatable and definitely worth the slight compromise. Below are three options to stay in Haeundae, no matter your budget!
Not too far from Haeundae is Gwangalli, another unmissable beach in Busan. Gwangalli is less touristy and closer to central Busan than Haeundae, which makes it a more desirable location for many travelers. The area is a short distance from popular spots in Busan including Millak Waterfront, Shinsegae department store in Centum City, and Geumnyeonsan hiking trails.
The closest subway station is Gwangan, a short walk from the beach that’s lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. As Gwangan is more central than Haeundae, it’s convenient for those who want to explore more of Busan rather than just staying around one area.
Gwangalli is a good option for young travelers on a budget, families, and those seeking a luxurious experience. The beach is situated between the wealthy district of Haeundae and the lively, downtown area Seomyeon. This means there is a wide range of options for accommodation and activities to suit everyone’s needs.
If you are visiting Busan in autumn, don’t miss out on the Busan Fireworks Festival, held every year on the beachfront. You can expect a stunning show of fireworks over the Diamond Bridge and an amazing atmosphere — don’t forget to get there early as this is an incredibly popular event!
Seomyeon is the ideal location for young travelers seeking a lively and energetic atmosphere. This downtown area is often compared to Seoul’s Hongdae as it is full of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. If you’re looking for a place to eat, drink, and party till the early hours, then you should definitely stay in Seomyeon.
Like Haeundae, this is a great place to meet people, and you can guarantee there will be something happening all year round. If you’re traveling in spring, don’t miss the Lantern Festival at Samgwangsa Temple for Buddha’s birthday.
Both Line 1 (orange) and Line 2 (green) run through Seomyeon, so it is very easy to reach other parts of Busan from there. Seomyeon underground shopping center — connected to the subway — is an essential stop for shoppers to get hold of some cheap Korean clothing, make-up, and skincare.
Although Seomyeon has great energy, it can get extremely busy — especially during the weekends — which can be exhausting for travelers. If you want to base yourself in the area but avoid the crowds, look for accommodation closer to Jeonpo. This area is very close to Seomyeon, but significantly less crowded, and has a bunch of cute cafes to immerse yourself in too!
Another tip to avoid the crowds in Seomyeon is to enjoy a lazy afternoon in the Citizens Park in Bujeon, a beautiful green space that is only a short walk from the bustle.
Here are three options for accommodation in Busan’s lively downtown.
Not a fan of beach holidays? Nampo could be a great location for you. Located a couple of subway stations south of Busan Station (Line 1), Nampo is a convenient option for many travelers — especially those traveling for a short time.
Nampo is central to many tourist destinations including Gamcheon Cultural Village, Jagalchi Fish Market, Busan Tower, BIFF Square, and Nampo Shopping Street. It is also easier to access the less touristy beaches (such as Dadaepo and Songdo) from Nampo, as well as the beautiful Yeongdo and Eulsukdo.
This is the perfect spot to do some shopping for anything from Korean cosmetics and imported branded items to vintage clothing, or even traditional souvenirs. Nampo hosts the Busan Christmas Tree Festival, which makes a great atmosphere for couples and families throughout the winter months.
The area is also known for excellent street food (including Ssiat Hotteok) and seafood markets — one of the many reasons why Busan is often considered the culinary heart of South Korea. Browse through these options for accommodation in this well-connected and vibrant part of Busan.