Built among the eponymous pot-shaped mountain range on Korea’s southeastern coast, Busan is a continually expanding city that takes full advantage of its natural setting while providing all the amenities of modern urban living.
Shopping in Busan
Busan’s most complete shopping experience can be found in Nampo-dong which is just a few subway stops away from Busan’s KTX bullet-train station and international ferry port. The streets are filled with stores featuring the trendiest brands from Korea and abroad. Shoppers looking for bargain products can spend hours in the Nampo Underground Mall which features more traditional mom-and-pop-owned stores. For one of Busan’s more unique experiences, it's just a short walk to Jagalchi Market, Korea’s largest seafood market where many go to try the fresh fare on offer.
Another of Busan’s popular shopping areas is Centum City, an urban development area that has become a hub of Busan’s commerce and tourism. The centrepiece of Centum City is Shinsegae Department Store which holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest shopping mall. In addition to its fashion shopping complex, grocery store and food courts, Shinsegae also contains a luxury spa, an ice skating rink and other cultural centres hosting activities for both adults and kids.
For more general shopping, there are a variety of options for different shoppers. Western products can be found at Costco and the other larger chain stores like Emart and Homeplus. The more discerning shopper can find deals for their fresh grocery shopping among the many outdoor markets scattered throughout the city.
Nightlife and entertainment in Busan
Day or night, Haeundae beach is an attractive spot for both Koreans and expats. During the day, visitors can rent a parasol to relax on this popular beach, or they can check out the array of sea life at the Busan Aquarium and it's efforts towards rehabilitation and conservation of the underwater world. At night, one can hop between Haeundae’s many clubs, bars, and restaurants catering to both Korean and Western tastes. Haeundae also has one of Busan’s three casinos that caters to foreign guests.
Offering a similar atmosphere, with smaller crowds and lower prices, is Gwangalli Beach. While this beach isn’t as popular for swimming during the day as Busan’s other beaches, it offers a view of Busan’s Diamond Bridge made famous in the movie Black Panther. Whether it’s a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop, there are many places from which to see the iconic view of the lit-up bridge against the night horizon. Gwangalli is also the location of the Busan Fireworks Festival. A million people fill the beach each year to see an hour-long fireworks show that incorporates the notable bridge.
At the heart of the city is Seomyeon, Busan’s downtown area. At the junction of Subway Lines 1 and 2, Seomyeon mixes a variety of traditional bars and restaurants with modern stores and clubs. One can wander the many side-streets finding whatever suits their tastes whether it be a dance club or street-side food carts.
Outdoor activities and sports in Busan
With mountains, coastlines and everything in between, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to do in the city. Hiking is one of the most popular activities for young and old in Busan, with countless paths that wind around the Jangsan, Geumyeongsan and other mountains. Coastal hiking trails can also be found in Igidae and Taejeongdae.
With five major beaches, Busan residents have access to many water sports. People can often be seen surfing, kayaking and jet-skiing at Haeundae and Gwangalli Beaches. Expats without a surfboard or kayak can also find rentals at these beaches.
For those looking to play sports, expats can easily find pickup games of beach volleyball or basketball around the city. The city also has clubs for sports including Ultimate Frisbee and Gaelic football.
For those who enjoy being a spectator, going to a Lotte Giants baseball game and being among Busan’s famously energetic fans is a memorable experience. There are also opportunities to see professional football and basketball, among other sports.
►Read Moving to Busan for an overview of the city.
►See Getting Around in Busan for information about the city's transport system.
"I enjoyed the beautiful beaches, the mountains to go hiking in… basically the outdoors! However, in Asia the air quality is very poor (most people wear masks) so as much as I love the outdoors, there are problems with it in South Korea as well. I love the friendliness of Koreans and locals, and the amazing transportation system. Plus the nightlife is great!" Read more about Samantha's expat experience in Busan and what he has to say about life in the city.
Are you an expat living in Busan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Busan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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