5 Ideas for Busan – Things to see Busan
Busan hasn’t always been my favourite city in Korea – and it still isn’t. Memories of getting my legs shredded my rocks on the (over-rated) beach, horrible hangovers, taxi rides during nights out on the town (never good) and being packed in like sardines during the annual Fireworks Festival have all meant that I’ve never been the biggest fan of the city.
It’s still not my favourite, but at least it’s been elevated from, “Busan sucks” to, “Busan is actually pretty cool.”
A couple of weeks ago, I went with my co-workers on an outing to Busan, and I discovered a whole new side to the city. One that made me not despise it. One that made me see why people rave about it and go there whenever they have the chance.
So, what can you do in Busan? Here’s my low-down on the five things that you need to see, do and experience in the city on the sea.
1. Fish Market
Being a port city, Busan has a natural affinity for seafood, and it’s served up in all shapes and sizes. You can smell the place from a mile away, and when you finally make your way there, you find a living, breathing, crawling world of nautical wonder.
I’m not joking about the crawling. An octopus had escaped and was making its way across the street, prompting the woman who intended to slice it up to run after it, start hitting it, and shouting “bad octopus!”, before flinging it back in its tank.
The reason we went to the fish market was largely due to the fact that my co-worker wanted to try live, baby octopus. I thought to myself, “that’ll be pretty hard to find.”
The first restaurant we came across in the covered section of the market sat us down and whipped up some fresh, crawling, moving baby octopus with the suction cups still active.
2. Boat Ride
After successfully managing to avoid the tentacled monstrosities of the fish market, my co-workers then announced that we were going to a place called Taejeondae (태정대). When I asked, it turns out that it was a cliff.
Those who’ve been reading my blog for a while may well know that I have a deathly fear of heights, so a trip to a cliff didn’t sound like my idea of a good time, especially as the taxi continued winding uphill, the roads becoming ever steeper.
Luckily there was no walking on the cliff and I was able to not plummet to my death onto the rocks below. Instead, it turned out we were going to Taejeongdae for a boat ride. We would observe the cliffs from onboard the boat.
Now, boat rides I can handle. I snapped photos of the cliffs, got photo-bombed by seagulls, and stalked one adorable Korean couple in matching red t-shirts. And by “stalked”, I mean “checked out the guy whilst wishing that the girl wasn’t there.”
The boat ride was a great way to see a little bit of nature without really being in nature – perfect if you’re a city slicker at heart like me. It was a little cloudy during the boat ride, so I’d love to do it again on a sunny day to see the colours that come out.
3. More Food
If you caught Expat Kerri‘s post on Friday, you’ll have noticed that street food is a pretty big part of Korean culture. This is no exception in Busan.
Busan’s street food has a slightly different feel than elsewhere in Korea – especially the hook (호떡), a kind of pancake. Usually flat, sugary, and covered in cinnamon, in Busan they’re thick, with only a bit of sugar and bursting with sunflower seeds. Busan hook is by far and away from the best I’ve ever tried.
If you’re unsure which of the many street carts to choose from, then go with the one with the biggest line.
4. Diagon Alley
OK, OK, so it’s not the Diagon Alley (calm down, Potterphiles), but there are a couple of pretty decent markets worth checking out that have all manners of oddities and intricacies.
The International Market is a place where you can fulfil your need for Hello Kitty themed merchandise, fish heads, lanterns, silverware, raspberries and ten kinds of kimchi all in the same place – and witness an ajumma fight if you’re lucky, like me.
5. Busan At Night
By far my favourite thing about Busan was how the city looks at night. Glitzy high-rise apartments and hotels transform and light up the skyline.
You can take a walk on a wooden boardwalk above and around the sea, which gives you amazing views of the city. I won’t say much more other than putting a few photos up and let them speak for themselves.