Third time’s a charm! It’s my third time back in the beautiful city of Busan, and this time with my partner Fong. Since we only had a day to explore this time around — I wanted to show him all my favourite spots in the city but at a leisurely and relaxed pace. In reality, I have to say it was really hard to actually narrow everything down to a must-see and a can-miss — but in the end, I felt like he had a good time (most important) and a little glimpse of what Busan is all about. This was our itinerary.
The City of Busan
The city of Busan is South Korea’s second largest city located on the south-eastern tip of South Korea. What I love about Busan is that it is filled with many many beaches; and is culturally rich and blessed with beautiful landscapes and landmarks like gigantic shopping malls, temples on cliffs and mountains, villages on hillsides and skywalks over raging seas. And so much variety of food — all of that delicious Busan food. Read my other previous articles on Busan here.
Stay in Seomyeon
I would say that the best place to be based while in Busan is the area of Seomyeon. It’s practically in the middle of most of the interesting places in Busan; and connects the popular beach resort of Haeundae to the city center and the bustling Nampo-dong. Seomyeon itself is one of my Top 10 places to visit in Busan, as it is the commercial hub and busiest area of the city. Despite the area being a little messy and crowded, it’s got a thriving nightlife, plenty of restaurants, and is great for a round of shopping. During my visit this time, I stayed in the 3-star designer Dublin Hotel (book with Agoda) — it’s affordable, it’s convenient, it’s comfortable, it’s got the essential facilities, which more than makes up for it being in a dodgy-looking back alley in Seomyeon.
One Day in Busan
We arrived in Busan from our trip to Jeonju (read about it here) at night, and after dinner we checked-in at our accommodation in Seomyeon for an early night — because it was to be an early morning and full day in Busan the next day!
Breakfast at Egg Drop (에그드랍)
The day began at 8am when we made our way to a breakfast place that we spotted the night before — Egg Drop. It is a small little cafe squeezed between the many restaurants and shops in Seomyeon, but I noticed it because it sells one of my favourite things in the world, which is a yummy egg toast! We arrived just as it opened and managed to get our order through the self-ordering kiosk (also available in English). I got myself the Bacon Double Cheese (with scrambled eggs and an extra onsen egg) for KR₩5,400 (~MYR20), and Fong had the same as a set with coffee for KR₩7,800 (~MYR28). Other options include toasts with teriyaki bbq meat and avocado. It was super delicious — crunchy on the outside, and soft and juicy on the inside! The cafe got super crowded as we were leaving.
Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을)
And then it was time to leave Seomyeon and head for our first stop of the day. We walked over to the Seomyeon Station and took the subway to Toseong Station. From there, we decided to cab it straight to the entrance of the Gamcheon Culture Village; but you can also head out Exit 6 and look for the bus stop in front of the Pusan National University Hospital to take Bus 1-1, 2 or 2-2 (fare is about KR₩1,000). Or if you’re up for it… walk the uphill and downhill road over to the village.
The Gamcheon Culture Village is a pretty pastel-colored village on a hill overlooking the city, a stark contrast to the modern Busan. Founded in 1918, the village has now become a culture art space — with murals on the walls, photo corners, themed cafes, and arts and craft workshops. Every time I visit Busan, I always end up at the village — so this is my third time back. The first time I visited I took a map and explored all the important sites; the second time was to explore the many workshops and cafes; and this time, I just walked about its winding alleys and enjoyed the views (even then, we managed to spend almost 3 hours here). It’s really such a precious little village and I’ll never tire of coming back again and again! There is no entrance fee to the Gamcheon Culture Village.
Lunch at the Jagalchi Fish Market (자갈치시장)
From the Gamcheon Culture Village, we took a taxi all the way to the Nampo-dong area, where the Jagalchi Fish Market is located. It was time for lunch! I love the fish markets in South Korea — especially the fresh seafood meal I get to dine on every time I visit. And because Busan’s Jagalchi Fish Market is the largest seafood market in Korea, it’s also one place I never fail to visit every time I’m in the city. The many fresh seafood stalls inside the market overflows to the outside of the market building — and you’ll see a long street of seafood vendors selling everything from crabs, to fish, to shellfish and other weird looking sea creatures that I’ve never seen before.
What I wanted to eat at the market — was the Snow Crab. So once inside the Jagalchi Fish Market building, I chose a random vendor to buy a live snow crab from (for about KR₩40,000 ~ MYR140), and then she sent my fresh meal to a restaurant on the first floor of the building to have it prepared and cooked. And as it always is — the snow crab was so wonderfully delicious that I wished I didn’t have to share it with Fong! A cover charge of KR₩4,000 (~MYR14) per person is added at the restaurant for the use of their table and services, and for the banchan (side dishes). Though a meal at the fish market is probably a little more costly than a restaurant elsewhere in the city, I really do enjoy the market experience.
BIFF Square (BIFF광장) and Nampo-dong (남포동)
So with only the snow crab in our tummies — it was time to hunt for more food and where else better than the street food stalls that line the streets at BIFF Square. Located just opposite the Jagalchi Fish Market, this area of Nampo-dong is always bustling with people who visit to browse through its many shops and boutiques, eat at its many restaurants, and get a taste of the South Korean street food in alleys like the Changseon-dong Meokja Golmok (Eatery Alley). So while at the BIFF Square, we went on an eating spree! I had grilled shrimps, tteokbokki (Korean rice cake), and the popular Busan snack called ssiat hotteok — which is a Korean style sweet pancake with a bunch of seeds as fillings.
Haeundae and Beach (해운대)
The subway ride from the Jagalchi Station to Haeundae Station takes almost an hour (with a transit at Seomyeon); so by the time we arrived in Haeundae, it was late afternoon. Though the district of Haeundae in eastern Busan is a little further away from the main city area of Busan, it is a must visit as it is a popular beachside location and my favourite place in the city! The last two times I visited Busan was during summer, so the 1.5km long Haeundae Beach was always packed with people taking shade from the sun under the many many colorful parasols that line the entire beach. That’s probably my favourite view of the beach — but on this cold autumn visit, the parasols were, as expected, missing. There were still quite a number of people crowded around the beach though, who were mostly taking pictures rather than swimming or sun-bathing.
Fong and I strolled along the main stretch of Haeundae lined with tall buildings housing offices, restaurants and hotels, and then spent some time by the beach watching the sun go down. When it got dark, we headed towards the Haeundae Market in search of dinner.
Dinner at Haeundae Market (해운대시장) for Grilled Eel
The Haeundae Market is filled with many stalls selling fresh food, Korean snacks, street food, and some pretty weird looking stuff. Some parts of the market is really not for the faint hearted — you’ll see huge pieces of meat hanging from the stalls, creepy crawly silkworms, and squirmy eels being fished from the tank and skinned alive to be eaten. I was pretty appalled the first time I visited Haeundae Market; but the second time round, I decided to get a taste of this particular Busan specialty, the grilled eel (hagfish). And it was so good that one time that I knew I had to have it again on this third visit, and I had to bring Fong to try it too! As horrified as he was when he first saw how the dish was prepared, he ended up enjoying the meal — and even said that he’ll have it again if he ever returned to Busan (which was exactly how I felt back then)! The medium plate of grilled eel we had at one of the random restaurants along Eel Street cost KR₩35,000 (~MYR125).
Supper at Haemul-Wang (해물왕) for Oysters
After dinner, we got on the subway and headed back to Seomyeon; and had a quick roam about the area before heading back to the hotel for the night. But our day didn’t end there! At midnight, we were hungry again and decided to head to the restaurant located right next to our hotel (that we have been eyeing every time we passed by) for one last meal before we leave Busan early the next day. The Haemul-Wang Restaurant seemed to be always filled with patrons, who come to the restaurant for their specialty — oysters. They serve their oysters in all kinds of ways — steamed whole oysters (5kgs), raw oysters in half shells (3kgs) and shucked raw oysters. The restaurant also serves various kinds of seafood like octopus, abalone and squid. We decided to go the easy way and had the completely shucked oysters with pork slices and napa wraps for KR₩26,000 (~MYR90) for a medium set. It was such an awesome supper and the slurpiest way to end our day in Busan!
We had a super early flight the next day on AirAsia X, so it was still dark as we made our way from Seomyeon to the Gimhae International Airport (via subway in about 30-40 minutes) for our journey back to Kuala Lumpur — ending our wonderful autumn trip to South Korea with the Korea Tourism Organization Malaysia. Read more about my entire journey through these posts:-
Jeollanam, South Korea: An Autumn Weekend in Yeosu
Jeollabuk, South Korea: Mynn’s Top 10 Things to Do in Jeonju
Jeollabuk, South Korea: Three Days in Jeonju
Autumn Foliage at the Naejangsan National Park, South Korea
*She Walks the World went to South Korea under the banner of the Korea Tourism Organization of Malaysia, to promote the DKYW 2019 coupon booklet and encourage free and easy travel in South Korea to Malaysian travelers. As always, all opinions stated here are my own. For more information, visit www.visitkorea.com.my.