Although diminutive when compared to the South Korean capital Seoul, second city Busan is a lively city with its own take on Korean urban culture that has a palpable influence from close neighbour Japan. Thanks to its seafront location, there are stretches of sandy beach near Busan and excursions to islands like Geoje-do offering plenty of good options for day tours from the city.
Busan is spread out but remains well-connected by a metro system. Haeundae (beaches) to the east, Nampodong (shopping) to the south and Seomyeon (city centre) to the north all have something to offer travellers. Great traditional villages and water-borne tours are also popular ways to explore this ascendant city in style.
FROM: $41/per person
This is a good value for money tour that takes guests on a full day tour of Busan and the local area. The price includes all transportation and entry fees, as well as the experienced guide. Time is built into the well-ordered schedule for lunch, although this is not included in the fee. However, it will be at Songdo Market, so there are plenty of cheap eating options to be found there. Sights included on the itinerary are Taejongdae cliff, Songdo skywalk, Gamcheon cultural village and Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Pretty much all the major sights of Busan.
From $65/ per person
There is a prim elegance to large, modern cities at night and Busan certainly fits that bill. The city’s ultra-modern side is even more evident at night when the skyscrapers are lit up and reflect off the water. The tour is conducted in an air-conditioned coach, starting at Mt. Hwangryeong to get a great overview of the whole city lit up. Gwangalli is next up with its vibrant beach culture and many bars and restaurants. The Gwangan Bridge curls out over the water and makes for an impressive sight. The tour ends at the fancy Marine City area.
From $30/ per person
There’s no better way to get to know a city than through the advice of a local. Better yet, this private tour means that you can customise the itinerary to your own preferences. The tour is on foot however and is limited to places easily accessible by the metro or local bus. Guides speak either Spanish, English or French and you can arrange for the guide to meet you at your hotel or hostel. Tours can last between two to four hours and are especially useful for getting better acquainted with a particular neighbourhood.
From $90/ per person
Much like the aforementioned night tour, this excursion takes in the Busan Cinema Centre and offers a great view over the city from Mt. Hwangnyeongsan. It is the 90-minute boat ride though that adds a unique flavour to this tour. Busan is a city built to be viewed from the water, and the cruise takes them all in, including Nurimaru APEC House and Dongbaek Island, via Haeundae Beach. The cruise and transportation are included in the price. Usually there is an experienced photographer guide too to give advice about how best to snap the city at night.
From $260/ per person
This is a more substantial tour for those who really want to pry deep into the region. Although accommodation is not included in the price, there is hotel pickup and drop-off. Each day the tour lasts roughly eight hours and highlights include the UN Memorial Cemetery (for UN soldiers who died in the Korean War), Samgwang Temple, Jagalchi Fish Market and Haeundae Beach. Markets, beaches, temples, shopping and natural wonders all feature heavily in this tour, which usually operates with only small numbers of people, although the minimum must be two people for the tour to run.