There is no shortage of shopping to be done in Busan. Be it haggling with old ladies in the open-air markets or browsing the high-end department stores, there are ample opportunities for you to part with your won.
Best Shopping Areas
For bargain hunting and browsing in outdoor markets, the largest shijang (traditional market) is Gukje Market, which is also close to the Jagalchi Market. Smaller open-air marketplaces can be found in most neighborhoods in the city.
There are plenty of fashions on display, but most items are made for petite women, so it may be difficult to find larger sizes. If that's what you need, head for the Choryang Arcade for Foreigners (usually called "Texas Street" or "Foreigners Street" by locals) in Dong-gu, where you may find a larger variety of sizes.
For more stylish fashions, try the boutiques and stalls in the PNU Area of Dongnae, as well as the areas around Kyungsung and Pukyong universities, catering to the college-age crowd. In the college areas are "shopping town" and "beauty town," where you can find the latest clothes, accessories, and cosmetics for fashionistas. A tight group of hip clothing stores is in Gwangbok-dong. The cluster of Nampo-dong shops and restaurants and the popular night market draws a crowd. There are more shops available in Seomyeon as well. The streets and alleys near the cafes on Gwangalli Beach also have shops that attract the younger crowd.
For upscale shopping, Busan's department stores are chock-full of several floors of everything from designer handbags to housewares. Major stores like Lotte and Shinsegae (which made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest department store in the world) can be found in Centum City and Busanjin (in the Seomyeon area). Mega-shopping malls, like Migliore and the Judies Taehwa in Seomyeon or the SfunZ in Haeundae, also have several floors of boutique shops all in one multistoried building or have underground shopping areas. There are some in Nampo-dong and Sasang as well. Duty-free shops can be found near major transportation (at the airport and the ferry terminal) or in luxury hotels, like the Lotte in Busanjin or the Paradise in Haeundae. Also, Rodeo Street in Haeundae is an area dedicated to upscale shops.
Large-scale box marts, like E-Mart, can also be found in major sections of town like Haeundae and Busanjin.
In general, you can find vendors who speak English at hotel arcades, department stores, souvenir and duty-free shops, and on Foreigners' Street. Otherwise, be ready to use a lot of sign language and gesturing to get your point across.
Although there are many more smaller bookstores around the city, you'll find a better selection of English-language books and publications at those listed here. Kyobo Mungo, 536-3 Bujeon-dongjin-gu (tel. 051/806-3501), located on the first floor of the Gyobo Life Insurance building, also has a good CD shop, Hot Tracks, inside. Also in Busanjin are the Dongbo Bookstore, 165-5 Bujeon 2-dongjin-gu (tel. 051/803-8004), and the Yeong-gwang Bookstore, Bujeon 1-dongjin-gu (tel. 051/816-9500), which has a good selection of English-language magazines and staff who speak pretty good English. In Jung-gu, the Munwudang, 3, 4-ga, Nampo-dong, Jung-gu (tel. 051/245-5555), has a small English-language section, and the Nampo Mungo, 2-ga, Nampo-dong, Jung-gu (tel. 051/245-8911), on the first two floors of the Horim building, has some English books.
Contemporary Art & Galleries
Although its claim as South Korea's Montmartre is overstated, the "Art Street" inside the Gukje Underground Shopping Center is a good place to get some insight into Busan's art scene. Take subway line 1 to Jagalchi (exit 7) and walk about 5 minutes. There are also a handful of galleries that exhibit and sell works by contemporary Korean artists in Haeundae, Nampo-dong, and Gwangalli.
One of my favorite places, in the Haeundae area, is Arbazaar, 1467-2 Jwa-dong, Haeundae-gu (tel. 051/704-0151; located right off the Sangsan subway station), which specializes in art by contemporary South Korean artists.
Also, if you happen to be in the Gwangalli area at night, don't miss the Busan New Media Art Museum, 148-15 Namcheon 2(i)-dong (tel. 051/622-4251; http://badavit.suyeong.kr). The outdoor works by such international artists as Jenny Holzer, Jean-Pierre Ratnaud, and Korea's own video artist, Paik Nam-June, span the shores of Gwangalli beach. Take subway line 3 to Gwang-an Station (exit 5) or Geumnyeonsan (exit 5) Station. Buses 20, 38, 49-1, 51, 51-1, 62, 83, 83-1, 108-1, 131, and 155 stop at the museum.
Like any South Korean city worth its salt, Busan has several multistoried department stores that sell everything from housewares to groceries and high-end fashions. If you need a break from shopping, you can go to the basement or top floors for your choice of upscale or down-home food to fuel up.
Your best bet will be to go to Centum City (subway line 2 to Centum City Station), where the entrance to both the Lotte (tel. 051/730-2500) and the 18-floor Shinsegae department stores are easily accessible from the subway. They're both open from 10:30am to 10pm daily.
The largest one is the Lotte Department Store (tel. 051/810-2500) attached to the Lotte hotel in Seomyeon. Eleven stories high, the megacomplex has everything from clothes to cosmetics to sporting goods and jewelry. The ninth floor is reserved for restaurants and the top two floors are the Lotte Cinema. Groceries and Korean-style fast food are available on the first basement floor, with a cafe and sports center underneath. Parking is available on basement floors three to five, with exclusive parking just for women. Take subway line 1 or 2 to Seomyeon (exit 3, 5, or 7). The second basement level of the department store is connected to the subway. They're open daily from 10:30am to 8pm.
There is also another location in Dongnae (tel. 051/605-2500). Take subway line 1 to Myeongnyun-dong (exit 1) and walk about 5 minutes.
Slightly smaller (only nine floors) is the Hyundai Department Store (tel. 051/667-2233), located right in front of the Beomil-dong subway station, near Busanjin Market. It's arranged more like Western-style department stores, with cosmetics and clothing on the bottom floors and housewares and electronics on the seventh floor. Restaurants are on the eighth floor, with cheaper eateries on the second basement floor. The top floor has a health spa, golf center, and swimming pool. Some parking is available on the third basement floor. Open daily 10:30am to 8pm, the store is closed one Monday a month. Take subway line 1 to the Beomil-dong Station (exit 5 or 7). The second basement floor of the store connects to the subway.
In the past several years, large-scale discount stores have become ubiquitous throughout the country. Most conspicuous are the bright yellow and black E-Marts, which have several locations in the city. The easiest to get to is the Haeundae E-Mart, 1767 Gungil 1-dong, Haeundae-gu; take the subway line 2 to Jung-dong Station and take exit 7 or 9. They're open daily from 10am to midnight, but closed Lunar New Year and Chuseok.
Home Plus (tel. 051/532-2080) also has several locations in Busan. There is one in Haeundae, 1406-2 Haeundae-gu 1-dong. Take subway line 2 to Dongbaek Station (exit 1) and walk about 3 minutes. They're open daily from 10am to midnight. The Home Plus in Seomyeon is off of subway line 2, Buam Station (exit 4). It's about a 5-minute walk toward Dang-gam-dong and it's open 10am to 11pm daily.
There is no shortage of clothing stores in Busan. For high-end designer fashions, you can shop the hotel arcades and departments stores. The best for window shopping are the shopping arcades found in various neighborhoods.
The younger crowds are drawn to the area around Busan National University (PNU) in Dongnae, where you'll find a bunch of cute boutiques with the latest fashions, interspersed with restaurants and cafes. A touch smaller, but just as fun and crowded, are the areas around Kyungsung University and Pukyong National University.
For serious shopping, you can go to the mega-shopping malls, fashioned after Seoul's Dongdaemun Market. These super-sized buildings house dozens of wholesale clothing stores vying for your business. Some of them even have movie theaters, bookstores, restaurants, and arcades. One of the most popular for discovering young designers is Migliore, 668-1 Jeunpo 1-dong, Jin-gu (tel. 051/922-0001 or 5), located in Seomyeon. Open daily 11am to 11:40pm, it's closed the first and third Mondays of the month. Take subway line 1 to Seomyeon Station (exit 5 or 6). Another large shopping mall in the area is Judies Taehwa (tel. 051/667-7000), also off the Seomyeon subway station. Open daily from 11am to 11pm, they're closed the second and fourth Mondays of the month.
Save Zone, 380-14 Jung-dong, Haeundae-gu (tel. 051/740-9000), and SfunZ (tel. 051/740-0800) are both huge malls in the Haeundae area. Take subway line 2 to the Haeundae Station (exit 3 for Save Zone and exit 1 for SfunZ). Save Zone is open daily from 10am to 10pm, while SfunZ opens a half-hour later.
Renicite (tel. 051/319-5000) is the huge complex in Sasang-dong. It's open daily 10:30am to midnight (closed on the first Mon of the month). Take subway line 2 to Sasang (exit 3) and walk about 10 minutes.
For jewelry sold directly by factories and wholesalers, look no further than "Jewelry Street," where the vendors have created their own group of jewelry shops in Beomcheon-dongjin-gu. Open daily from 10am to 8pm.
Although a bit overpriced, the Korean Traditional Authentic Food shop is conveniently located at Gimhae Airport (right next to the airport police station). At this shop, open daily from 8am to 6pm, you can find everything from fermented seafood to ginseng and cookies. For better bargains and variety, try one of the large discount stores in town or the Maeil Food shop, 1185-37 Choryang 3-dong, Dong-gu, on the second floor of the Dongbu Goseok (Express) Bus Terminal.
For insam (ginseng) specifically, the Bujeon Insam Wholesale Shopping Center is your best bet for this dried root. Not only is it the largest ginseng market in the city, but the center has grown to include many other health foods. Expect to see a selection of dried mushrooms and other unidentifiable dried products. It's open daily from 6am to 5:30pm. Take subway line 1 to Bujeon-dong and take exit 5.
Worth a look is the Nampo-dong Dried Fish Market, located near the Jagalchi seafood market. You'll see piles of squid jerky, dried seaweed, and other marine products laid out by small streetside vendors.
There is no dedicated area for handmade crafts, artworks, and antiques in Busan like you'd find in Seoul's Insadong area. Most special products and traditional handicraft items can be found in souvenir shops. Although they are usually well made, they are mass-produced and overpriced. A better bet is to try the smattering of shops on the streets between Gwangbok-dong and Daecheong-no. You won't discover any fabulous finds here, but they do have a large selection of traditional ceramics and pottery.
Although they're expensive, you can get authentic traditional antiques at the Korean Antique Gallery Migodang (tel. 051/731-3444) in Haeundae. Take subway line 2 to Haeundae and walk about 10 minutes. The Yegwadang Gallery (tel. 051/752-3016) in Gwangalli has a nice collection of teapots and teacups made by modern craftsmen. Take bus no. 41 to the Seongshim Hospital or get off at the back entrance to the Sehwa Mart. The Busan Crafts & Exhibition Center (tel. 051/740-7588) on the first basement floor of the BEXCO also has a decent selection of wooden crafts, ceramics, and lacquerware. On the second floor of the Busan Department Store, the Arirang Folk Art Center (tel. 051/245-6789) and the Hankook Folk Art Center (tel. 051/555-0092) specialize in folk crafts and traditional wares.
Most souvenir shops can be found in the shopping arcades of major hotels, inside department stores, and in the shopping areas of transportation hubs. You'll find items more expensive than those in open-air markets and most of them are mass-produced. However, the items are usually of good quality, the shops take most major credit cards, and the sales staff can speak English.
Of special note is the Dalwoo Amethyst shop, 1-2, 2-ga, Gwangbok-dong, Jun-gu (tel. 051/243-8085), which specializes in all things made of amethyst or jade.
The Gonglee Art Creation store (tel. 051/516-6755), inside the Home Plus building in Yeonje-gu, has a variety of souvenirs made of wood, paper, mother-of-pearl, and metals.
Traditional & Open-Air Markets
The open-air markets of Busan are interesting places to look for hard-to-find items, to browse the crowded stalls, and to haggle with vendors for the best price.
In addition to the major markets listed below, there are a handful of oil shijang (5-day markets) scattered through the city. The Jwacheon Market is a village shijang, with a fish and cattle market nearby (open on days that end in 4 or 9). Near Gupo and Deokcheon stations is the Gupo Market, another traditional village shijang (open on days that end in 3 or 8). The Gudeok Cultural Market, open Saturday and Sunday near the Gudeok Stadium, is a great place to buy traditional folk art and handicrafts.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.