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Welcome to Busan, South Korea’s enigmatic, second-largest city. Home to over 4 million people, Busan embodies a metropolitan spirit while keeping its cool. In fact, Busan is a well-known summer destination on a Celebrity Asia cruise thanks to its local beaches, parks, and outdoorsy activities.
In Busan, marvel at the skyline from the observation tower at Yongdusan Park. Visit the Diamond Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. It makes the perfect photo op, particularly when lit up at night. Hike a few hours at Taejongdae National Park and stumble upon stunning views of the sea and the dramatic cliffside. The great thing about Busan is that the city blends existing nature with sleek, futuristic elements. Busan is a city that knows its past, but it’s looking firmly ahead.
The Jagalchi Fish Market has become a Busan institution that must be experienced to be believed. Hundreds of fishing vendors and food stands hawk their fresh catches in one of the biggest fish markets in the world. Stands like Jack’s Seafood have been serving the community for years, offering samples and snacks to the thousands who visit the market each day. A real glimpse of local life is waiting for you here.
This Buddhist temple hangs at the edge of the ocean, making it a pretty unique sight to see. Over 600 years of history are packed into the temple, from its seated golden Buddha to its ornate eight-story pagoda. Take in the splendor and enjoy a quiet moment overlooking the sea.
This sprawling national park is built into the cliffside of Busan, making for some pretty dramatic scenery. A giant abstract arrow is said to point in the direction of Japan. The views from the lighthouse stare out into the impossibly blue ocean below. You could easily spend a half day roaming and climbing around the rocks here. When you’re tired of exploring, there’s even a small cafe to rest and grab a snack.
The reputation of Haeundae Beach has quickly grown in recent years. It’s been called Busan’s best beach and is one of Korea’s most beautiful beaches. You’ll have to set up an umbrella or beach towel and see for yourself. Swim in the refreshing waters, or simply sunbathe with skyscrapers to either side of you.
This popular park is home to the nearly 400 foot tall Busan Tower, which offers one of the best views of the city from its observation deck, a top-visited lookout point. The park itself hosts musical events, performances, and rotating exhibition halls each year.
Over 250 marine species are proudly on display at the Busan Aquarium near Haeundae Beach, which is a good time for all ages. The aquarium here has multiple underground levels, and you can see otter, penguin and stingray feedings. There’s even a glass boat experience where sharks will swim right beneath your feet.
On your Busan cruise, don’t leave without experiencing the gastronomical delights Korea is globally renowned for. You might have already tried kimchi and bibimbap, but you probably haven’t truly experienced Busan’s bustling street food scene. While you’re there, you must try hoeddeok, an extra sweet, crunchy pancake filled with cinnamon, honey, and brown sugar. Milmyeon is a cold noodle soup that’ll cool you down on even the hottest beach day. Check out the milmyeon stalls dotting the beach at Haeundae Beach. One of the best selling street foods here is eomuk, salted white fish cakes served on skewers. During your time in Busan, don’t be afraid to eat adventurously.
Busan has been a center for trade as early as the 15th century, when Korea began trading with Japan. Eventually, Japan took control of Busan, and under Japanese rule, the city continued developing as a major port. Its strategic location on the southeast tip of the Korean peninsula made it particularly appealing for colonizers trying to take control of the region. The fishing industry has also had a tremendous impact in the economic success and growth of Busan over the years.
Today, Busan is South Korea’s second largest city. The subtropical climate means Busan is blessed with mostly temperate weather, making it attractive to visitors in their mild winter. Typhoon season usually happens in late summer, but that didn’t stop Busan from becoming a well-known summer and beach town for vacationing Koreans. The Busan International Film Festival happens in the city each year, attracting the biggest stars in the Korean film industry.
On your Busan cruise, you’ll find wifi is typically available at the cruise terminal. The port of Busan is pretty commercial and not well equipped for tourists, though more amenities are beginning to pop up to serve cruise passengers.
Free shuttles are provided from the cruise terminal to the center of Busan, but walking around to the main sights on foot takes a while. Getting around in Busan is what you’d come to expect from a major city: buses, trains, and subways galore. The public transit in Busan is reliable and convenient for travelers to use. Of course, taxis are available in Busan, which you can hail from the street.
Because the port is primarily a commercial one, there’s virtually no shopping near the cruise port. After being shuttled to the city center, you’ll be close to a true Korean mega-mall and some department store chains. Busan is world renowned for its local fish market, the Jagalchi Market, which is the largest market in Korea. Don’t miss out on fresh seafood to eat raw or cook right up.
You’ll use the Korean won when you’re traveling on cruises to Busan, and you’ll find ATMs are popping up more and more in this part of South Korea. You can also exchange currency at a local bank. Tipping simply isn’t part of the culture in South Korea, so don’t worry about tipping your taxi driver, tour guide, or waitstaff at a restaurant while you’re here.