Nature & Parks History & Culture Food Markets Shopping Outdoor Activities market beach temple South Korea > Busan

Busan On A Budget: Superb Food, Sights & Culture All In 3 Days - Updated 2020

busan on a budget
Rachel
Rachel
Updated

South Korea is one of the favourite tourist destinations in Asia, thanks to the aggressive promotion of K-pop culture, or Hallyu Wave in short. Seoul, its vibrant capital is usually the first place that comes to mind for many travellers planning a visit to the Land of the Morning Calm. But there is more to Korea than just Seoul. Busan, the country’s second largest city located in the southeastern coast of the Korean peninsula, has plenty of interesting spots to explore too. Besides, the thriving port city enjoys a lower cost of living than Seoul. Join me on a 3-day budget tour to Busan to enjoy superb food, sights and culture!

Day 1: central Busan

Busan is known for being a large port city with fresh seafood in abundant supply. Furthermore, the Busan Film Festival held annually is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. As all these attractions are situated within central Busan, let’s check them out on your first day in the city.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

First stop of the day: Jagalchi Market

Jagalchi Market, Busan, South Korea
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kok Leng Yeo used under CC BY 2.0

As Korea’s biggest seafood market, Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장) is a must-visit for any seafood lover. Even if you are not, I strongly recommend you to visit for an eye-opening experience. Find all sorts of live sea creatures here, including those that you never thought were edible. Housed in a 7-storey complex, on the first floor is a fresh fish market, while the restaurant and dried fish zone is on the second floor. On the higher floors are more restaurants, as well as a guest house and skypark.

As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. So, get there early for the freshest catch right from the sea as the market opens from 5 am. Take your pick from the huge variety of affordably priced fresh fish, sea squirts, crabs and so on. Next, proceed to the restaurant zone where you can get the fresh ingredients prepared into a tasty seafood breakfast. Try the sannakji (raw octopus) for an unforgettable Busan dining experience! Expect to spend around 10,000 KRW (8.80 USD) or less per person for a hearty meal to kickstart your day.

Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장)

Address: 52 Jagalchihaean-ro, Nampo-dong, Jung-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: 5 am to 10 pm. Closed on first and third Tuesday of each month.

Price: free admission.

Access: 5-minute walk from Jagalchi Station (Busan subway line 1), exit 10.

Contact: +82-713-8000

Website: Jagalchi Market

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Hop over to Gukje Market for some great bargains

Gukje Market - panoramio (2)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user kajikawa used under CC BY 3.0

After an eye-opening experience at Korea’s biggest seafood market, return to Jagalchi Station and cross over to the opposite end of the road to find Gukje Market (국제시장). The market was set up following the Korean War in 1948, when refugees who fled to Busan set up stalls here to make a living.

As one of the largest markets in the country, it lives up to its name, which means “international” in Korean, with its diverse array of goods. Find almost everything you need right here, from clothing to handmade furniture, electronics to yummy Korean food. Goods here are pretty affordable and you can also try your luck at bargaining for even lower prices! Immerse yourself in the old-fashioned market spirit as you check out the many alleyways crowded with interesting stalls and check out the locals’ way of life through this traditional market.

Gukje Market (국제시장)

Address: 36, Junggu-ro, Jung-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: 9 am to 8 pm. Closed on first and third Sunday of each month.

Price: free admission.

Access: 5-minute walk from Jagalchi Station (Busan Subway Line 1), exit 7.

Contact: +82-54-270-2842

Website: Gukje Market

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Continue to Nampo-dong Street to explore Busan’s theatres

Nampo-dong Busy Street
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ken Eckert used under CC BY-SA 4.0

As you leave the traditional Gukje Market, feel a change in the atmosphere as you enter the theatre district in Busan. Nampo-dong Street (남포동거리) is packed with movie theatres and playhouses, home to the annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) held in October. Look out for the copper plates imprinted with hand and foot prints of the BIFF winners along the pavement. During the annual festival, the streets are particularly crowded with fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars as well as the nominated films. There are also many chic cafes and restaurants for a pit stop. Or simply snack on the go, with delicious street food such as the popular ssiat hotteok, a Busan-style sweet pancake filled with a variety of healthy nuts and seeds (1,200 KRW / 1.05 USD).

Nampo-dong Street (남포동거리)

Address: Nampo-dong, Jung-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: Always open. Shop opening hours vary.

Price: free admission.

Access: Nampo-dong Station (Busan Subway Line 1).

Contact: +82-51-253-8253

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Visit trendy Seomyeon district in the evening

Busan-subway-Seomyeon-station
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user LERK used under CC BY 3.0

Located slightly up north from Busan’s central district is Seomyeon (서면), the trendy downtown shopping and dining district. Being the busy interchange for two metro lines — line 1 and 2, Seomyeon makes an ideal place to meet friends and people-watch. Boasting one of the biggest underground shopping malls in Busan, ladies will be delighted with the variety of internationally renowned stores and local clothing brands here. Situated below Lotte Department Store and the Seomyeon road junction, prices here are certainly more competitive than popular shopping districts like Myeongdong and Gangnam in Seoul.

Seomyeon Underground Shopping Center (서면지하도상가)

Address: 737, Jungang-daero, Busanjin-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: 10 am to 10 pm daily, except the second Tuesday of each month.

Price: free admission.

Access: directly connected Seomyeon Station (Busan Subway Line 1, 2), Exit 12.

Contact: +82-51-713-8261

Website: Seomyeon Underground Shopping Center

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Day 2: eastern Busan

Besides renowned for its abundant supply of fresh seafood, a visit to Busan would not be complete without checking out its beautiful beaches and coastal landscapes. On your second day in the coastal city, we shall focus on eastern Busan where you can enjoy a day of sun and fun.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Discover a beautiful temple by the sea: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

Haedong Yonggungsa, Busan
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user midnight.here used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Korea is home to numerous centuries-old Buddhist temples, but most of them are located in the mountains. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사) is one rare find of a Buddhist temple constructed by the sea. Head to this ancient religious site built in 1736 during the Goryeo Dynasty for a refreshing change.

Strategically set along the city’s eastern coast, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is the perfect place to catch a spectacular view of the red sun rising through the horizon to brighten the day. Furthermore, the temple looks especially mysterious and gorgeous amidst the early morning fog. With the tranquil sea and Bongrae Mountain in the background, such picturesque views are certainly worth waking up early in the morning for!

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사)

Address: 86, Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan

Opening Hours: 5 am to sunset daily. Yaksajeon Hall & Bangsaengteo Site are open all day.

Price: free admission.

Access: From Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2), Exit 7, take Bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa Temple Bus Stop.

Contact: +82-51-722-7744/ 7755

Website: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Get some sun and fun at the famous Haeundae Beach

"Hae-Un-Dae" Beach, Sunny Day.(Busan City, Korea)
Source: Photo by user yuseokoh used under CC BY 2.0

Being the most famous beach in Korea, the 1.5-kilometre (0.9 mi) long Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장) is the perfect playground for sea sports lovers to indulge in activities such as swimming, windsurfing and sailing. Or you can simply relax and lounge on the sandy beach and enjoy the sea breeze and sun. The beach is most popular during the Busan Sea Festival in summer, which offers various cultural events and unique hands-on programs.

Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장)

Address: 264, Haeundaehaebyeon-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: 9 am to 6 pm daily.

Price: free admission.

Access: Walk straight for about 6 min from Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2), exit 5 or 7.

Contact: +82-51-749-5700

Website: Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Catch the mesmerizing sunset at Hwangnyeongsan Mountain

Cherry Blossoms Path on Hwangnyeongsan Mountain (황령산)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dionitius Jonathan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Feeling tired after an exciting time in the outdoors at Haeundae Beach? Let’s move back closer towards the heart of Busan and visit Hwangnyeongsan Mountain (황령산) for some quiet moments. With an altitude of 427 metres (1,401 feet), Hwangnyeongsan’s summit is relatively flat and its terrain is dissected by river valleys. Depending on your energy level, you may choose to hike up the mountain for about 2 to 3 hours, or opt for the easy way out with a short taxi ride to its summit.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to reach its summit before sunset! Relish in sweeping views of the beautiful city coastline including the impressive Gwangandaegyo Bridge on a clear day. Mesmerizing views of the sun disappearing into the horizon atop Hwangnyeongsan Mountain would definitely linger in your mind for a long time.

Hwangnyeongsan Mountain (황령산)

Address: Jeonpo-dong, Jin-gu, Nam-gu, Suyeong-gu, Yeonje-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: always open.

Price: free admission.

Access: 9-min taxi ride (around 6,000 KRW / 5.30 USD) to the mountain from Yangjeong Station (Busan Subway Line 1), exit 2.

Contact: +82-51-851-7851

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

End your day with a romantic night at Gwangalli Beach

Gwangalli Beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chelsea Hicks used under CC BY 2.0

Fascinated by the splendid lit views of the longest bi-level bridge — Gwangandaegyo Bridge atop Hwangnyeongsan Mountain? Let’s proceed downhill for a gorgeous close-up view of the bridge stretching over the ocean from Gwangalli Beach (광안리해수욕장). Whilst not as famous as Haeundae Beach, Gwangalli Beach is popular with locals seeking respite from its renowned cousin.

Every evening at 8 pm, watch out for a free dazzling 10-minute lights show on Gwangandaegyo Bridge accompanied with soothing music for a romantic touch on the beach. Follow the locals and buy some fireworks (2,000 KRW / 1.75 USD) at the convenience store, so that you can shoot it towards the ocean. At Gwangalli Beach, you definitely do not need to pay big bucks for a romantic night out!

Gwangalli Beach (광안리해수욕장)

Address: 219, Gwanganhaebyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: always open.

Price: free admission.

Access: about 10-min walk from Gwangan Station (Busan Subway Line 2), exit 3 or 5.

Contact: +82-51-622-4251

Website: Gwangalli Beach

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Day 3: southern Busan

On your last day in Busan, discover more stunning sights and culture in the southern region of this charming city!

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Soak in the artistic mood at Gamcheon Cultural Village

Gamcheon Cultural Village
Source: Rachel G.

Formed by colourful houses built on the foothills of a coastal mountain in a staircase-fashion, Gamcheon Cultural Village (감천문화마을) is affectionately nicknamed Korea’s Machu Picchu or Korea’s Santorini. The village was built with none of the houses blocking the view of the house right behind, because the 800 families that moved here were influenced by the Taegeukdo traditional culture of allowing others to prosper.

Start your day with a visit to the quaint Gamcheon Cultural Village and allow yourself at least 2 hours to explore this artistic village. A stamp tour map of the village for 2,000 KRW (1.75 USD) is available at the information office near the village’s entrance, so that you can have fun locating the prominent murals and sculptures to collect stamps at each destination. If navigating your way through the many alleys in the hilly village without a tour map excites you, just skip the map. Be in for pleasant surprises as you roam around and soak in the charming atmosphere at Gamcheon Cultural Village. Do remember not to raise your volume as you move about in this village where locals are still living.

Gamcheon Cultural Village (감천문화마을)

Address: 203, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: always open.

Price: free admission. 900 KRW (0.80 USD) for the short bus ride from nearest metro station.

Access: 10-min mini-bus ride (Saha 1-1, Seogu 2 or Seogu 2-2) to Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop from Toseong Station (Busan Subway Line 1), exit 6.

Contact: +82-51-291-1444

Website: Gamcheon Cultural Village

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Marvel at majestic sea cliffs at Taejongdae Cliff Park

Koreanet_Honorary_Reporters_Busan_20161026_29
Source: Photo by user Republic of Korea used under CC BY-SA 2.0

In the afternoon, visit the magnificent Taejongdae Cliff Park to the south of Busan’s coast. This natural site may be a bit out of the way but trust me, it’s definitely a must-do! You can either hike through the lush forests with over 200 species of trees including pine trees to reach the cliff, or take the Danubi train (2,000 KRW, 1.75 USD) and alight at Yeongdo Lighthouse for breathtaking view at the cliff.

The stunning coastal scenery makes a wonderful natural setting for enviable Instagram-worthy shots. Find your favourite spot at the iconic lighthouse at the cliff for great shots. Listen to the splashing sounds of waves on the huge natural rocks as you gaze out into the soothing ocean. On clear days, you can even observe Japan’s Tsushima Island from the observatory.

Taejongdae Cliff Park (태종대유원지)

Address: 24, Jeonmang-ro, Yeongdo-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: March to October: 4 am to midnight; November to February: 5 am to midnight.

Price: free admission. Refer to website for detailed Danubi train charges.

Access: Refer to website.

Contact: +82-51-405-2004

Website: Taejongdae Cliff Park

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

Walk over the sky at Oryukdo Skywalk

Oryukdo Skywalk
Source: Photo by user S099001 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Last but not least, proceed to Oryukdo Skywalk, which is designated a Busan monument together with Taejongdae. Set up over a 35-metre (115 feet) high coastal cliff, the Oryukdo Skywalk is a 15-meter (49 feet) glass bridge. Look under your feet to see the soaring coastal cliff and the rhythmic waves and feel like you are walking over the sky! As you reach the furthest point on the skywalk, count the mystical Oryuko Islands out in the ocean. When viewed from the east, it looks like a cluster of 6 islands, although it is really just 5 islands made purely of stones.

Oryukdo Skywalk

Address: 137, Oryukdo-ro, Nam-gu, Busan

Opening Hours: 9 am to 6 pm; 12 pm to 6 pm during public holidays. Last admission at 5:50 pm.

Price: free admission. 10,000 KRW (8.80 USD) per adult for a 40-minute cruise round the islands.

Access: From Busan Station (Busan Subway Line 1) near exit 10, take bus 27 and alight at Oryukdo SK View Humun (Backgate) Bus Stop (25 stops). Walk ahead about 275 metres (3 minutes) to reach the attraction.

Contact: +82-51-607-6395

Website: Oryukdo Skywalk

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Busan, South Korea and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Busan, South Korea

In love with Busan

Skyline of Haeundae, Busan, South Korea in August 2010
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Closenoble used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Generally, Busan is not an expensive city, as you can see above that most of its lovely attractions are free for all to enjoy. Furthermore, the public transport system comprising the metro and buses is reliable and affordably priced, making travelling between different spots convenient and cheap. Even with a tight budget, it is possible to enjoy fabulous food, sights and culture all in 3 days. Hurry and plan your next trip to Busan now!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

Rachel has forgotten when and exactly how she caught the travel bug. What she does remember is the triumphant feeling she enjoys when she sees the fascinating world out there with her own eyes. She...Read more

Have a question? Ask fellow travellers and travel experts here.
 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Busan
Good things are meant to be shared!