Good tourist information in English is available at the Gimhae Airport. The office on the first floor of the international terminal is open daily from 9am to 5pm (tel. 051/973-2800). The Busan Tourist Information Center office (tel. 051/973-4607; http://english.busan.go.kr) on the first floor of the domestic terminal is open daily from 9am to 9pm.
There are also several tourist information booths throughout the city. The easiest to find is the one at Busan Station (subway line 1, stop 13), located right next to the ticket counters inside the terminal. All booths (tel. 051/441-6565) are open Tuesday through Saturday 9am to 9pm, and Sunday and Monday 9am to 5pm. You'll also find visitor information on the first floor of the International Ferry Terminal (tel. 051/465-3471; daily 8am-5pm); on the first floor of Busan City Hall (tel. 051/888-3527; daily 9am-6pm); and in Haeundae Beach, Woo-1-dong, 629-3 Haeundae-gu (tel. 051/749-5700; daily 9am-6pm). Tourist information in English is also available by dialing tel. 1330 and the foreigner's service center at tel. 051/441-9685. The city's official site is at http://english.busan.go.kr.
Busan is located in the Nakdong River Valley, and mountains separate some of the city's districts. Mt. Geumjeong looms on the western side, with its hiking trails, views, and the famous temple Beomeosa. The city's expansive beaches, the most popular being Haeundae, Gwangalli, and Songjeong, attract visitors year-round, but are positively crawling in the summertime. Its traditional markets and shopping districts are found in Nampo-dong and Seomyeon (what they call the "new downtown").
Busan Neighborhoods in Brief
Songjeong On the far eastern side of the city lies its third-most-popular beach. The northern, rocky part of this shoreline attracts fishermen, but the expansive sandy part draws big beach crowds -- though not nearly as big as the crowds that flock to the beaches of Haeundae and Gwangalli. That's because Songjeong is a bit out of the way. Still, it's worth a visit, and early risers should try to catch the sunrise from Haedong Yonggungsa, the temple perched on the rocky cliffs above.
Haeundae Home to the most famous and frequented beach in all of South Korea, Haeundae attracts several hundred thousand visitors annually. Major resort hotels are perched above the ocean here, and a few offer the rare experience of soaking in an oceanside hot spring. Though it's a bit far from the shore, this neighborhood offers both budget accommodations and a ton of shopping options.
Gwangalli Near Haeundae, the Gwangalli neighborhood is also a hot beach resort location. Its open-air cafe street draws thousands of visitors with its neon lights and views of the Gwangan Bridge. Popular with the younger crowd, the area boasts galleries, a cultural center, and plenty of opportunities to shop. The beach's outdoor stage is also the center of rock concerts and various festivals throughout the year.
Nampo-Dong/Gwangbok-Dong/Jung-Gu The city's major markets are here, including the Jagalchi Market, the Dried Seafood Market, and the Herb Market, and there are inexpensive yeogwan (inns) within walking distance of them all. The Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) is also held every September in (where else?) PIFF Square. Theater lovers will find small, funky productions being put on here, though sadly most are in Korean.
Yeong-Do/Taejong-Dae The island of Yeong-do separates the two halves of Busan harbor. The center of the island is residential, while its harborfront is rather industrial. But the island's southernmost tip belongs to Taejong-dae, famous for its views of the Korea Strait -- on clear days, you can see all the way to Japan.
Songdo The first of Busan's beaches to be used for recreation, Songdo underwent a 1-year coastal maintenance project and reopened in 2005. It's less popular (and less dramatic) than the beaches in Haeundae and Gwangalli, so it's best for those looking to avoid huge crowds (though good luck doing that anywhere in July-Aug). Songdo is famous for Amnan Park and its raw fish restaurants; this area is ideal to relax after a long day of sunbathing.
Eulsukdo/Dadaepo This island in the middle of the Nakdong River channel is the perfect resting place for migratory birds. A sanctuary for these avian visitors is found on the southeastern part of the island. On the western peninsula nearby is Dadaepo beach, the widest in the city. There is also a cultural center, an outdoor concert hall, a drive-in theater, and an inline skating rink.
Seomyeon The busiest area in Busan, the Seomyeon neighborhood has developed in to a sort of second downtown thanks to its open markets, underground shopping arcade, and cheap eateries (especially those in Mokja Golmok ["Let's Eat Alley"]). It's popular any night of the week with college students and young professionals. This is a good area to stay in if you're more interested in shopping and eating well than in hitting one of Busan's many beaches.
Dongnae Located north of Seomyeon, the Dongnae district houses one of the oldest known hot springs in the country. This is a great place to experience South Korea's hot spring and spa culture. The area is also home to Busan National University (PNU). Not surprisingly, the PNU area (Busan Daehak-ap) has the city's newer bars, cafes, and nightclubs.
Geumjeong Geumjeong is home to one of the most famous Buddhist temples in South Korea, Beomeosa. A hike along the walls of the Geumjeong Fortress or a visit to the 500 wisteria vines is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city below. Pack a picnic lunch and don your hiking boots to enjoy a bit of nature and the view.
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.