The Modern City Between Seas and Mountains

by Michelle Li

After our virtual visit to Jeju Island in our last K-City TMI, I thought I would take you guys back to the bustling cities. The second most populous city in South Korea after Seoul is Busan, and it’s also the busiest port in South Korea. So of course, they are renowned for their seafood! But there are also places that make Busan extra special and worth talking about. Busan is surrounded by mountains on the north and west and the seas on the south and west. So you really get the best of both worlds when you take a visit, as there are plenty of different activities to do. 


For those who love to sightsee, let’s start off with the 120m high Busan Tower to see an aerial view of the city. There’s also a cafe here for you to eat while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Then move along to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a truly unique and peaceful place to visit. It's actually situated along the shoreline, between the sea and mountain. This was believed to be very prosperous during the time it was built as there was a balance of wind, water, and earth, which would bring happiness to the people. 


And of course, you can’t miss the Gamcheon Culture Village, nicknamed Korea’s Santorini. This destination is known for its endless streets, alleyways, and colourful houses. Look out for the locals that have painted murals and sculptures too! The 'Little Prince and the Fox' is an iconic spot where tourists are swarming to take a photo. But don’t worry because every part of the village is an Insta-worthy place to snap a picture 📷 As it is still a residential area, you get to see a glimpse of the Busan local life too. Trying out Busan’s iconic street foods like their infamous nut-filled sweet pancake, ssiat-hottoek (씨앗호떡) is a must 😋


Busan has six different beaches that you can choose to visit but the most famous for tourists are Haeundae Beach and Gwangalli Beach, offering things to do both during the day and night.  Haeundae beach is a tourist go-to as it’s filled with luxury hotels to enjoy the view and relax. And if you're already there, you might as well take a visit to the Sealife Busan Aquarium. With over 35,000 marine animals and 40 exhibits on display, there are tons of sea animals to see 🐠 And for our foodies, the Gwangalli beach is filled with many cafes, bars, and restaurants for you to eat away while enjoying the beautiful views of the ocean. If you're lucky to catch yourself in Korea during the summer, there are beach festivals that are full of entertainment along the whole coastline of Busan during this time. 


As said, Busan has the biggest port. Hence, trying out their seafood is a must! The Jagalchi Fish Market is the largest one in Korea and it’s your one-stop destination to taste the freshest catches of the day. Not only are there stalls selling fresh seafood caught that very morning but it’s also filled with small restaurants giving you a chance to taste. Of course, having the fresh spicy raw fish cold soup, moolhwe (물회) is essential to truly get the taste of the fresh seafood or you just can’t go wrong with the fried seafood pancake, haemul pajeon (해물파전). Another famous market is the Gukje Market. With over 60 years of history, the Gukje Market is open right from the morning to the night so there’s no excuse to not go. It’s most famous for being the backdrop of the Korean movie “Ode to My Father,” and you will be surprised to see it’s everything you wish for and more. Not only will you find Busan’s specialty eomuk (어묵) fish cake but there’s a whole heap of other things that you may not even know you needed but end up wanting. 


With a contrast between both sea and mountain, there are countless things to do no matter what you prefer. It’s a beautiful place to get a vibe of both and even see them combined together at the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Busan can offer you both Korean culture and the bustling modern cities, the best of both worlds! 

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