Most people visiting South Korea arrive at Incheon Airport and spend most of their trip in the capital Seoul. I was just like those people, and my first two trips to South Korea I only explored Seoul. Being in Seoul as an exchange student, however, has presented me the opportunity to do some traveling around South Korea, and I decided to visit two of the destinations on my bucket list, Jeju Island and Busan. While I loved both destinations, I think it is easier to include Busan in any travel plans, as spending just three days there is enough.
The first destination anyone will mention when talking about Busan is Haeundae Beach. Compared to the beaches I am used to visiting in the Netherlands, this beach is quite small, however, it is also absolutely beautiful. The water is a gorgeous shade of blue, and the overall atmosphere is amazing! The beach is not that crowded and offers a great view, so one can easily spend the afternoon there just enjoying the view and the beach life. On the way to Haeundae beach from the station you pass along many good restaurants, where there are also many take away options, so nothing is holding you back from enjoying some delicious Korean fried chicken while getting some much-deserved sun.
One of my personal favorite destinations in Busan was the Beomeosa Temple. It takes a little effort to get there, but the temple is absolutely worth it.You can either reach it by taking the metro to Nopo station and then transfer to a bus which will take you to the entrance of the temple, or you can hike there. I personally went with public transport, because I had limited time in Busan and wanted to do as many things as possible, however, seeing the view from the temple I strongly believe the hike up there is worth it. The overall atmosphere at the temple is amazing, it feels so serene and you are just taken away by the beauty of the landscape. If you are interested in history or temples, I think this is a must-visit destination!
Cheongsapo Dartidol Observatory
This is one of the harder destinations to reach, however, once you get there you will realize the trip was more than worth it. For the final part of the journey you need to take a neighborhood bus, and these do not feel like the safest vehicles. At the time I went there, this was also during rush hour, so we were squeezed into the bus like sardines in a can. Being a little grumpy thanks to the discomfort of our trip, my mood turned around completely when I saw the surroundings. To me, this place really did feel like heaven on earth. You arrive at a small port, and from there you need to walk a little bit before you can climb up a pair of stairs and reach the observatory. From the observatory, you can see quite far out, and the view is amazing to enjoy. Beware, however, of the wind as it can be quite strong, so make sure to wear something that can cover you up!
Shinsegae Centum City
If, like during my trip, your trip is threatened to be spoiled by rain, don’t worry! Busan also has great things to offer if the weather does not allow outdoor activities! There are several things to enjoy such as a spa or a museum, however, my personal favorite is Shinsegae Centum City. This department store is every shopaholic’s dream! This department store is listed in the Guinness World Records book as the largest shopping complex in the world, and you can really shop till you drop. I spent over six hours in the store and I still believe I have not seen everything. And, if you are tired after a long day of shopping, there is a spa connected to the department store, so you can go there to relax.
While this is a very limited overview of what one can do in Busan, these were my personal favorite places during my trip there. In a couple of weeks I will visit Busan again, so who knows maybe I will find some new gems!