The second-largest city of South Korea has plenty to brag about, but the city tends to get overlooked when compared to Seoul. Having visited Busan many times, I’ve realized that Busan has a few things over on Korea’s capital city.
- Haeundae. The country’s largest beach is less crowded during the winter, but the bars and restaurants around make it an attractive year-round destination. The beach is recognized by Guinness World's Records as having the most umbrellas (parasols) on sand– 7,937 to be exact. Although it gets crowded during peak summer season, Gwangnalli Beach and Songjeong Beach are nearby and worth visiting.
- An easier subway system. Seoul’s behemoth system has fourteen lines, several hundred stations, and has destinations in three different provinces. Busan has three distinct lines (and a fourth coming soon), 89 stations, and a mere handful of transfers. It still gets crowded, but covers the area well while being a lot less intimidating.
- Japan. Living in Busan makes a weekend trip to Japan quite plausible. You can catch a three-hour ferry to Fukuoka for a mini-vacation or hop on overnight ferries to Osaka and Tsushima Island. Being on the southern coast also makes a ferry over to Jeju (Korea’s largest island) a lot simpler.
- Tourist-friendly. Being the cosmopolitan salutatorian means you have to try a little harder to get people to check it out. The result: more English spoken to you, more English seen at tourist destinations, and an attitude that appreciates the tourists. You can still find your fellow foreigners if you’re looking for them, say at Haeundae, but there are plenty of places where you will be the only foreigner.
- PIFF. Held annually, the Pusan International Film Festival is Korea’s most recognized film festival. With entries from all over the world – many with English subtitles or audio – it’s easy to feel sophisticated while watching an excellent movie your friends back home have probably never heard of.
This list doesn’t include the tourist attractions around Busan – Beomeosa temple, a Museum of Modern Art, Hurshimchung Spa, Jagalchi Fish Market, Taejongdae (cliffs), and an excellent Busan Aquarium within walking distance of Haeundae. If you have the chance to take a job in Busan, don’t hesitate – take it!
Chris Backe is an ex-pat living in South Korea with a penchant for blogging and travel. Like about 20,000 other foreigners in Korea, he teachs English as a full-time job / source of income. When not teaching, however, he is out exploring the dynamic society that is Korea. Chris makes it a point to visit one new place, event, or festival every week. You can read more about what's going on in the land of the morning calm on his blog Chris Backe - AKA Chris Backe in South Korea!