South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan has lots of rivers, mountains, ports and bays along with temples, museums, food streets, fashion and shopping destination- each contributing to South Korea’s culture. But if you do not make a planned trip and do not know where to stay that suits your preference, you might end up being confused as Busan is a large city that has its major attractions in its extreme ends. To help you get the most of the beautiful city’s white-sand beaches, coastline, art streets, street food, amusement parks and temples, we are here to help you out, as we list out the major attractions of Busan’s neighbourhoods. Here's where to stay in Busan:

Haeundae

Haeundae
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Haeundae is loved by fashion lovers and the ones those who love beaches. Known for having the most popular beach of Busan, you can also find several luxury hotels and urban cafes by the sea. Although it is a bit far away from the city centre, yet, Haeundae Beach remains the most famous beach and loved by the tourists as well as the locals.

Along with the Haeundae Beach, Haeundae’s Food Market, Dongbaek Park and Sea Life Busan Aquarium is also quite famous. Haeundae is also a photographer’s paradise as places like the Dalmaji Road which is beautified with cherry blossom, and the skyline as seen from Bay 101 is worth capturing. Ferry ride to the Oryukdo Skywalk and Islands attracts lots of tourists as well.
Quite like Gwangan being an autumn attraction, Haeundae is preferred by tourists during the summer as the beach is filled with colourful umbrellas as they gather under the sun to get their summer tan. Along with the beautiful beach views, Haeundae is home to a large number of luxury hotels, resorts and hot spas. Simultaneously with those lavish lifestyle choices, don’t be surprised if you find some cheaper options as well.

It is not just the beach that attracts tourists to Haeundae; this neighbourhood has several chic cafes, trendy restaurants along with museums and art galleries where you can spend your time. Although its location is a bit far away from Busan making it a bit inconvenient for people to explore the rest of the city, Haeundae is perfect for those who want to have a relaxing stay and spend some quality time in its white-sand beach. Along with your luxury stay at its 5-star hotels, you can also shop at the world’s largest store, Shinsegae Centum City, which is just three subway stops away from Haeundae.

Seomyeon

Seomyeon
Carey Ciuro [CC BY]

If you are some who loves to explore modern cities, with urban night clubs and feed off the nightlife energy, Seomyeon is the perfect place for you. Along with convenient location and easy accessibility, Seomyeon has everything you can expect from an urban modern neighbourhood – a big underground shopping mall, retail shops of designer brands, fashionable stores, lavish restaurants and night clubs. Also, Seomyeon’s Art Street isn’t something you would like to miss if you are into modern pop art.

Quite like Seoul’s Gangnam, Seomyon is Busan’s commercial district that is known for its shopping and clubbing experience with a busy energetic nightlife and a business-like feel during the day. Being in the dead centre of Busan, intercepting the two important subway lines of the city, line 1 and line 2, Seomyeon is the most convenient neighbourhood for you to stay, as travelling to other parts won’t pose a problem because of its easy accessibility. Also being the closest neighbourhood to the airport, it adds on to the list of convenience.

The centralised location of this neighbourhood also ensures that you get to explore most of Busan quite easily. With plenty of shopping, dining and drinking options at an affordable price range, Seomyeon is the perfect neighbourhood for anyone who is looking to get the most of Busan in their first trip. It also lies quite close to Busan’s main attractions and provides easy access to important places like Beomeosa Temple, Haeundae Beach, Jagalchi Fish Market, Busan tower, Lotte Department Store and Gwangalli Beach, and you can travel to these attractions by catching one single train. But if you are looking for visiting beaches, staying at Seomyon won’t help you much.

If you are looking for accommodations here, you can easily find many, whatever be your price range as Seomyeon is home to hotels that are luxurious as well as budget-friendly.

Gwangan

Gwangan
BUSAN DRONE / shutterstock.com

Perfect for the ones who want to explore every bit of the Busan, spend some quality time here and get a lovely beach tan, Gwangan welcomes tourists and visitors with its awesome seaside ambience. Mostly famous for the Gwangalli beach, you can also spend your time in the amusement park - Gwangan Beach Land. If you are visiting Busan during Gwangan’s fireworks festival, that takes place during the months of October and November, you are sure to get mesmerized by the views that you can get from the world-famous Diamond Bridge, which is also known as Gwangan Bridge.

Along with Haeundae’s beach, it is probably Gwangan’s beach that is preferred by the tourists amongst the seven beaches of Busan. With its resort-like vibe, Gwangalli beach has lots of bars and restaurants on the coast. Not only during the fireworks festival but also during the other times of the year, the view from the Diamond Bridge is something worth experiencing running parallel to the beach and is the second-longest bridge in Korea with an extraordinary length of 7 kilometres.

Even though it is often compared to Haeundae, Gwangan being relatively close to the other parts of Busan makes a great place to stay if you are in Busan for more than just beaches and white sand. With only a few minutes walk from the subway station, Geumnyeongsan station, Gwangalli beach’s southern side is easily accessible. While on the other hand, from the northern side of the Gwangalli beach, Gwangan station is closer, thus making it all the more accessible from both the ends.

Locals, as well as tourists, often prefer Gwangan over Haeundae for its price options. With cheaper hotels and a vast range of options for dining and drinking, Gwangan is the perfect place for you to stay. The view of the Diamond Bridge when it lights up at night is something worth remembering. The fact that it is close to the city centre is also an added bonus. You can also shop from the Centum City department stores.

Nampo-dong

Nampo-dong
Ken Eckert [CC BY-SA]

Perfect for seafood lovers and street food junkies, Nampo-dong is a paradise for foodies. With a highly energetic ambience and a crowd bustling with energy, Nampo is loved by the shopaholics and the once who wants to shop their heart out. With a market dedicated especially for fish, Jagalchi Fish Market, and an alley of food market - Tin Can Alley, you can understand why one calls it a foodie’s paradise once you get here. This neighbourhood is not only about food but also about fashion and style choices as well, as you can find in the Gwangbokdong Cultural and Fashion Street. Nampo-dong has places with mesmerizing views as well, like the Lotte Mall Gwangbokdong, which is the world’s largest musical water fountain. If you want a serene ambience and a little time for yourself amidst the rush of the neighbourhood, you can visit the Gamcheon Culture Village or the Songdo Beach which is a short distance away. The Yongdusan Park & Busan Tower also attracts lots of tourists round the year and is one of Busan’s major attractions in Nampo-dong.

Tourists prefer staying in Nampo-dong as it is quite close to most of Busan’s major attractions and if not, they are just a subway ride away. Along with Nampo-dong, do visit the Gwangbok-dong area nearby, as quite like Nampo-dong, it is foodies heaven. You can find authentic Korean noodles served on the Gwangbokdong Food Street and Korean seafood delicacies at the Jagalchi Fish Market. With so many attractions and activities available here, do make sure you plan to stay here for a considerable amount of time to get the most of this neighbourhood. That being said, it is important that you plan your trip carefully, as Busan’s other major attractions like the Beomeosa Temple, Gwangalli Beach in Gwangan, Haeundae Beach, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple and a few more attractions are in the opposite side of the city as Gwangan, Haeundae and Haedong are a bit far away from this neighbourhood.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t face any problems on your trip if you plan on staying here, as Nampo is well connected to the other parts of Busan by subway, as Gwangan is just 35 minutes away, while Haeundae being 45 minutes and Beomeosa- 50 minutes. This means that you can easily stay here in the budget-friendly hotels while you shop and eat, and have a nice time during your stay at Busan.

With a lot of retail shops of beauty brands here in Nampo, you can find tourists coming here and shopping as Nampo’s neighbourhood has lots of fashion stores, designer stores, fashion boutiques, and cosmetic shops along with retail shops of Korean beauty brands amidst its attractive street food scene. The best part about Nampo is that not only tourists but also the locals come here and get themselves in a shopping spree while munching on Nampo’s street food choices. If you are here in the neighbourhood do visit the stunning seaside park nearby at Taejongdae. The neighbourhood area has many movie theatres and the Busan International Film Festival is also held here every year.

While you plan on staying here, keep in mind that this district is a bit far away from the beach, so if you are in Busan for its beaches, your stay here can prove to be disadvantageous as you have to travel by subway. Also, as Nampo doesn’t have any luxury hotels, so your stay here will be quite budget-friendly but might not be quite according to your choice if you are looking for a luxury stay during your vacation.

Yeongdo Island

Yeongdo Island
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Directly at the south of the Busan’s city centre, Yeongdo Island is a beautiful island that is loved by the photographers for its grand views. It has a quiet and non-touristy locale, that is a bit away from the city’s actions yet, is quite close and accessible if you want to get involved in the city rush. Here you can find many maritime enthusiasts visiting the island because of the Korea National Maritime Museum in the neighbourhood. Being quite close to Nampo-dong also ensure that you can visit all the attractions of Nampo-dong and have the best of both the neighbourhoods. Along with Korea National Maritime Museum, Taejongdae Resort Park is also quite famous for being a coastal park.

Busan being a port city, staying here, quite close to the port will also give you the beautiful sight of ships sailing around the island. Nampo-dong’s close proximity ensures that you can get quick bites from street food markets in Nampo-dong and Gwangbok-dong and shop from the Fashion Street and BIFF Square. The view from here of the Busan Tower, and the mountains of the central Busan and northern Busan in one panoramic view is beautiful in itself.

Geumjeong-gu

Geumjeong-gu
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Unlike the rest of the Busan, amidst all the beaches, shopping and food districts, Geumjeong-gu is quite unique and distinct for its serene ambience and the nature of its neighbourhood. Perfect for someone who wants to take a look at Korea’s culture and explore Korea’s temples, the Beomeosa Temple area is mostly filled with vegans so the food choices available here are generally vegetarian. If you are looking for a soulful experience and get involved in the South Korean Buddhist culture, Beomeosa Temple area is perfect for you. The neighbourhood itself with its quiet ambience amidst nature creates an environment that is unique and different from the rest of Busan.

With mostly religious sightseeing options, Beomeosa has 11 Buddhist hermitages along with the Beomeosa temple, and also the Seokbulsa Temple which involves a long hike. You can look for temple stays here in this neighbourhood, and get a calming experience of meditation or yoga retreat and learn about Korea’s Buddhist culture. If you want to know more about the country’s religious culture you can interact with the monks here.

With lots to explore in the neighbourhoods and Busan being a large city, you must plan your trip well ahead. Even though the city's main attractions are in its extreme ends, you will not have a problem exploring the entire city as Busan is well connected with its subways and has broad roads for you to travel and enjoy the South Korean culture.

See also: Best Hotels in Busan