Busan travel guide: 24 hours in Korea’s magical port town

By Nicole Moraleda

Home to beaches, fresh seafood and beautiful Instagram-worthy backdrops, the second-largest city in the country is the perfect place to spend a day

By Nicole Moraleda |

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The colourful Gamcheon Culture Village is the perfect place to brush up on your photography skills.

The South Korean city of Busan always seems to come second to the country’s vibrant capital, Seoul – but it has just as much culture to offer. Tuck into local delicacies, take some Insta-worthy snaps at a multi-coloured village, and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of this beautiful port city.


Start your day bright and early at Jalgachi Market – South Korea’s largest seafood market – and get first dibs on the freshest catch of the day. There are two ways to get fed: select your seafood of choice from the ground-level stalls and take it up to be prepared at one of the restaurants on the level above, or simply order straight from the restaurant’s menu.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider trying the Korean delicacy san-nakji, aka live octopus. Try not to be too alarmed when you’re presented with a plate of wriggling tentacles; the nerves in the tentacles can continue reacting to external stimuli even after being detached from the body, which is why they are moving. Talk about fresh!

You can get the best and freshest seafood at Jalgachi Market, including live octopus.
Photo: Stock photo


From the market, head to Gamcheon Culture Village. Because of its impressive display of technicolour houses scattered across the mountainous area, this place has earned the nicknames the “Santorini of the East” (the Greek island is known for its brightly painted houses) and “Lego Island”.

Until a decade ago, Gamcheon was a shanty town that housed refugees during the Korean War. Now, Instagram lovers from around the world flock to the village to pose against the backdrop of brightly coloured houses and murals. When you need a break from climbing steps and wandering through alleyways, you can take a seat in the Little Prince and Desert Fox Cafe, which was inspired by Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s beloved children’s book The Little Prince.

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Back in downtown Busan, take a quick trip on the subway to Haeundae Beach, where you can chill on the sand with the locals until it starts to get dark. If you get hungry, there are plenty of seaside restaurants to choose from. We recommend heading to Choonha Choodong Milmyeon – which is a short distance from the beach – for a refreshing bowl of cold wheat noodles, one of Busan’s specialties.

For your last stop of the day, make your way to the 120-metre tall Busan Tower, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and its sparkling port once you reach the top.

Haeundae beach is the perfect place to relax and spend an evening.
Photo: Shutterstock