Set along South Korea’s enchanting southeastern coast, Busan is replete with natural beauty, rich history and vibrant urban culture. Singapore Airlines is resuming its route to Busan in August, so it’s the perfect time to plan that end-of-year holiday to this charming city. We’ve got four fantastic one-day itineraries, hand-picked to suit everyone.
Creative, cutting-edge culturalistas
Fans of the quirky and unexpected will love Gamcheon Culture Village in the south of the city – a picturesque settlement with steep rows of colourful buildings that’s been transformed into a living gallery, with surprising art installations, murals and mosaics dotted along its labyrinthine alleyways. Formerly abandoned houses have been turned into galleries, creative workshops, cafés and restaurants.
Visitors are perhaps most familiar with Korean culture through its cinema, and Busan, as a UNESCO City of Film, is just the place to learn about it. Ten minutes’ drive from Gamcheon, film fans can visit the Busan Museum of Movies. Here you can learn the history of Korean film, and even make movie scenes yourself, battling with dinosaurs or jumping into an action sequence. The Trick Eye Museum upstairs is full of fun optical illusions that use augmented and virtual reality.
Continue chasing eye-catching spectacles a 30-minute drive away at Gwangalli Beach, where the unique Gwangalli M Drone Light Show features hundreds of drones flying in formation to create spectacular designs in the night sky. The 10-minute shows take place twice every Saturday evening, with a different theme every week. Watch from a table at one of the restaurants lining the beach and follow the show with some delicious grilled clams.
Love riding the surf, or always wanted to try? The unique topography of Songjeong Beach, to the east of Busan’s centre, makes it a popular destination for surfers. This long, beautiful curve of white sand has plenty of board rental and surf classes on offer, and its shallow waters make it a great spot for beginners to take to the waves.
An invigorating hour’s hike along a coastal path (or about a 20-minute drive) north brings you to the historic Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, which sits on rocks overlooking the ocean. The main temple area is reached down 108 steps. The reward: stunning views and beautiful serene grounds full of various statues and shrines where you can pray for your heart’s desire.
After taking in the natural splendour of the coasts, take the car about 40 minutes inland to the lush greenery of Ahopsan Forest. This verdant nature reserve has been managed by nine generations of the same family for over 400 years, and is home to many centuries-old trees and dense plantations of statuesque ancient bamboo. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and carry water and insect repellent as you explore the trails for an hour or two.
Insta-addicted view collectors
If scenic vistas, spectacular sunsets and colourful little streets are your reason to travel, you’ll find plenty to love in Yeongdo-Gu, a lush island just south of Busan. Start by strolling down the Jeoryeong Coastal Trail, a three-kilometre route hugging the island’s western coast. Stop at its various lookout points for stunning sea views. For Insta-worthy photos, strike a pose by mosaic-tiled murals and the multicoloured Piano Stairs, painted like a colourful keyboard.
After about 800m on the trail you’ll find yourself at the entrance to the Huinnyeoul Culture Village. This cliffside village was once home to Korean War refugees but has been transformed into a vibrant cultural destination. Take some time to wander the narrow alleys to spot colourful murals, street art and mosaics that make perfect selfie backgrounds.
A 25-minute walk from the village will take you to Yeongdo Sky Observatory, a scenic perch that offers unparalleled coastal views – and views straight down through its glass floor! If you time your visit just right, you can end your day with snapshots of a spectacular sunset over the East China Sea.
Hungry shopaholics and mall prowlers
Before embarking on your retail therapy, fuel up for a day of shopping at Jeonpo Cafe Street. This colourful lane is lined with countless cafés and restaurants, with favourites including drip-coffee house Grampaa, roastery/café Daunt and “croissant boutique” Crashop.
Next, get some serious shopping done at Lotte Premium Outlets at Dongbusan, 30 minutes away by car. This sprawling shopping mall has a striking blue and white design, inspired by Greek Island chic, and is home to retail outlets for popular international and local brands.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, take a short walk to the Misigilsang Food Hall Busan where you can eat some of the city’s favourite foods, such as 101 Namsan’s pork cutlet and Mealtop’s bingsu, a Korean shaved ice dessert.
For more information on Singapore Airlines flights to Busan, click here.