Just a 3-hour train ride away from Seoul is the coastal city of Busan— the second largest city in South Korea. Despite being a metropolitan city, the lifestyle in Busan is much more laid back than that of Seoul. It’s most famous for its ̶z̶o̶m̶b̶i̶e̶s̶ beaches and serene hiking spots making it a popular tourist destination during the summer. But no matter the season, there are always plenty of things to do in Busan! Here are 6 of the best cheap things to do in Busan.
1. Visit Gamcheon Culture Village
This is by far my most favorite place in the whole of South Korea. Gamcheon Culture Village is like an art museum with brightly painted houses, narrow streets, and tiny alleys. It’s a giant art exhibit spread out in a residential area making for a fun experience with locals and tourists! I highly suggest for you to grab a map for 2,000 won (PHP 100 or 2 USD) at the tourist information center right near the entrance. They have a quest where you visit all the landmarks in the map to get a stamp. Not only do you get a postcard for majority of the landmarks on the map, but you get to explore the entirety of Gamcheon Culture Village. This may take the whole day because the area is just massive and walking around under the heat is pretty exhausting. So make sure to allot one day for this! Don’t forget to spot the Little Prince along the way!
2. Find the Mermaid of Busan
Also known as the Mermaid of Busan, the statue of Princess Hwangok from Naranda in Dongbaek Island symbolizes the legend of mermaids and tritons that once lived in the sea. It’s the story of how Princess Hwangok longed for her beloved home after moving away to live in the kingdom of the king he married. As displayed by the statue, Princess Hwangok is said to come out every full moon to gaze at the open sea as she yearns for her lost home. The statue actually reminds me of the famous mermaid statue in Copenhagen! Entrance is free so make sure to visit this iconic landmark in Busan.
3. Hike along Dongbaek Island
One of the things I love about Busan is the seamless combination of the city and nature. On the far side of the beach, there’s a trail that will lead you to different viewing spots of the city. This is actually where you can find the mermaid of Busan. Again, the entrance is free and the walk along the trail is really nice. It’s not exhausting and the views are just spectacular. By the end of the trail, there’s a lighthouse with a view of the beach to your left and the city to your right. It definitely should be part of your things to do in Busan!
4. Eat street food and fresh seafood at tent restaurants
Being a coastal city, it’s no wonder that Busan is famous for its mouthwatering fresh seafood. People from Seoul flock to Busan just to have a taste of the ocean. And one of the most popular ways to do so is by eating at tent restaurants. If you’re a fan of k-drama, then you’ve definitely seen this scene a couple of times. Usually set in winter, the main actress drowns herself in soju inside a tent restaurant after being brokenhearted by an arrogant handsome oppa; only to be rescued by another irresistible oppa.
The experience of eating at a tent restaurant was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Seafood is much cheaper in Busan than in Seoul and of course, it is more fresh and delicious! Better include this in your list of things to do in Busan!
5. Lounge at Gwangali Beach
After a long day of hiking with a full stomach, it’s best to just chill by the beach. Here in Gwangan Beach, you can get the view of the famous Gwangan Bridge while having a sip of your favorite drink. There are tons of bars and pubs along the streets so if you’re looking for nightlife, then here is the place to be. Although the water here is relatively clean, most people only swim at the next beach in Haeundae in the summer.
6. Watch street performers at Haeundae Beach
Haeundae beach is the hottest spot in Busan during the summer season as people all over South Korea come here for the beach. But that’s not the only thing you can do here! Since Haeundae Beach is a touristy area, many street performers come here to try their luck in the entertainment business. You’ll find musicians, poets, boy bands, and all sorts you can imagine! My friends and I once secretly danced silly behind this singer and he called us up in front to dance for him. It was embarrassing but super fun. So make sure to include your visit to Haeundae Beach in your things to do in Busan!
These are just some of the cheap things to do in Busan, South Korea. Of course, there’s more to the city than what I wrote here so I recommend for you to explore it yourself.
If you haven’t found accommodation yet, I suggest the following:
For solo travelers: Hostel is the way to go. Not only is it the cheapest option but it’s also the best place to make new friends. You get to meet travelers from all over the world and most of them are traveling solo too! I have an affiliate link with hostel world and if you book through the link, you can get a discount!
Alternatively: If you’re traveling in a group and want more privacy, you can stay at a hotel and split the costs. This may be cheaper for you. You can find great deals at Booking.com and if you click on my link, you can get 10% OFF! It’s an affiliate link so you get a 10% discount and I also get a small amount in return. It’s a win-win!
But Airbnb can even be cheaper! You can get both privacy and cheap prices when booking with Airbnb. I personally prefer using Airbnb since I usually stay at apartments of locals so the locations are fantastic. If you don’t have an account yet, click here to sign up and get up to $40 credits after booking your first trip!
If you have any more suggestions, feel free to comment down below. Have fun in Busan!