Korea

10 Free Things to Do in Busan this Summer

Busan, sometimes referred to as the “Miami of South Korea” is, without a doubt, the most popular Summer destination in Korea. And for good reason, too. There aren’t many cities in the world were you can climb a mountain, meditate in a buddhist temple, laze on the beach, get lost in supersized departments stores and enjoy fresh seafood all in the same day!

Luckily for budget travellers in Korea, Busan isn’t just a playground for the rich. (Although, if you do have cash to burn, Busan is a pretty good place to loosen your purse strings!) The city is chock-a-block with things to do for absolutely free. There are more than enough free things to do in Busan to keep you occupied for a whole weekend. There’s probably even enough to keep you occupied for at least a couple of weeks!

Shamelessly, I have only taken advantage of about half of these things. So, to help me out with this post, I called along some of my favourite bloggers & vloggers based in Korea. If you are looking for more tips and posts about travel and expat life then check out their profiles!

Haedong Yonggunsa Temple

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One of the most beautiful temples in Korea is Haedong Yonggungsa in Busan. At the entrance of the temple, you will be met with numerous tents. You can buy everything from food to drinks to souvenirs- make sure you try the hot pancakes from one of the tents! Before the gate, you will greeted by many zodiac animal statues. Once inside, you will see many people on the bridge tossing coins into a wishing statue. Take the stairs to the viewpoint and you’ll get a panoramic view of the whole temple and the sea.

If you want to learn more about Haedong Younggunsa Temple, check out John from Roam with John‘s youtube video here. He has a ton of super informative videos about Korea- perfect for a bit of weekend inspiration! Make sure you suscribe to his channel, and follow him on facebook and instagram.


Gamcheon Culture Village

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Wander through streets of candy coloured houses at this charming mountainside art village. Not only aesthetically pleasing, the village also has a vibrant history. Back in the 1950s, in the midst of the Korean war, the village was created as a safe haven for refugees in this once-poor area. The village was named Taegeuk-Do after the religion that the residents followed. People still live there to this day, but it’s extremely different now!

The houses were painted in their unique pastel hues in 2009 as part of a project by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. These days, Gamcheon is huge tourist attraction, and you will see hundreds of art lovers there on any given day. This area is also a great place to pick up arts, handmade crafts and souvenirs from local, independent artists. I thoroughly recommend spending a day there getting lost among the murals!

Read more about Gamcheon Culture village here.


Seokbulsa Temple

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Going to Seokbulsa requires a hike of an hour, but only the view of Busan you’ll encounter is already worth that. However, the view isn’t the most spectacular thing you will see if you do decide to climb all the way up.

If you visited a few Buddhist temples in Korea before, you’ve probably noticed they all kind of look the same. It’s always the same wooden buildings with the same green paint job. However, Seokbulsa is totally different. The name itself already reveals what you are about to see: Seokbulsa means Stone Buddha Temple.

Upon arrival you’ll see a temple building that’s already a bit out of the ordinary; it’s not wooden, but stone and looks totally different from other temple buildings in Korea. However, the real attraction of this place is behind the temple building. There you’ll be greeted with some monumental Buddhas carved in the side of the mountain and two small caves with a shrine. It really is a magnificent scene and because it’s not overcrowded with tourists (as some other temples are) the atmosphere of the place makes it one of the most spiritual places in Korea you can find.

Emre is a photographer based in South Korea. To see more of his work, and learn more about his life in Seoul, check out his blog KanikKoreaansFollow him on Facebook to make sure that you don’t miss any of his posts. You’ll be glad to hear that he is also on Instagram– his feed is a real treat for the eyes!

Dadaepo Beach

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Located on the outskirts of the city, Dadaepo Beach is a peaceful alternative to the main city beaches of Busan. The journey to get there is admitedly a bit of a trek. But you definitely won’t regret it!

For a beach that’s only an hour away from the city centre, you’ll be amazed at how close you feel to nature.The beach is both long and wide meaning that there are plenty of spots to sunbathe. If that’s not your thing, there are even waterside hiking trails by the ocean. Come here to escape the crowds and enjoy the sea in a uniquely peaceful environment.

There is also a lightshow at the fountain by the beach every evening, which is perfect for anyone who decides to camp, too! Just a 5 minute walk from the beach, there are an array of restaurants selling both Korean and Western cuisine, as well as a multitude of convenience stores.


Igidae Park

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For a relaxing, scenic walk along the coastline away from the crowds in Haeundae, visit Igidae Park. Along the coastal walk you have views of Haeundae Beach across the water, Gwangali Bridge, and the city’s skyscrapers. You only need about and hour or more to enjoy walking along the casual coastline. There are small bridges that take you from boulder to boulder and even resting places to stop and enjoy the view and take photos. If you’re in the mood, pack a bottle of makgeolli and enjoy the beauty like a local.

Megan and Scott make AMAZING hyperlapse videos of their time in Korea, and their adventures around the world. I highly recommend that you suscribe to their youtube channel– but I warn you that it’s a bit addictive! They also write about their adventures over on their blog, Bobo and Chi-Chi . Follow them on Facebook and Instagram so that you never miss an update!

Free Kayaking at Gwangalli Beach and Suyeong River

Free Things to Do in Korea

Not a lot of foreigners seem to know about this, but from May until October you can enjoy kayaking for absolutely FREE at Gwangalli Beach and the Suyeong River!

Gwangalli Beach is famous throughout Korea for it’s diamond bridge that illuminates at night. Now you can see it from a totally new angle by kayaking around the bay. For a more urban kayaking experience, head to Suyeong River were you can kayak between some of Busan’s most iconic buildings, in the Centum City area.

To book your free kayak experience, visit this website. The information is all in Korean, so you may need to ask a Korean friend to help you. You can also call them on (051) 743-5589. The centre is open from 9am to 5pm from Wednesday to Sunday.


Dongnae Eupsong Fortress and Ancient Burial Mounds

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Tucked away in the middle of the Dongnae district of Busan are two of the best kept secrets the city has to offer: Dongnae Eupseong Fortress and Ancient Burial Mounds. Battles with foreign invaders destroyed the wall over time, but the wall has been rebuilt and is now the site of a beautiful park. One of my favorite things to do is climb up the stairs along the fortress and sit on the edge of the wall, overlooking the bright green burial mounds below.

The Bokcheon Museum lies within the complex and offers free admission. Inside the museum you can see interesting finds from the excavation of the tombs. Be sure to walk around the tombs, sit in the lush grass and take in the impressive views of the city.

To read more about this hidden gem, check out Meagan’s blog Life Outside of TexasShe has an absolute wealth of information about all of the best weekend spots around Korea. Great for a bit of trip information! You can also follow her facebook where she blogs all about her expat life!

Get Lost Among Umbrellas at Haeundae Beach

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The most famous of all Korea’s beaches, Haeundae can attract up to 1 million visitors on its busiest summer days! While I wouldn’t recommend it as a place to relax and get lost in book, it’s definitely a unique cultural experience. With amateur photoshoots taking place at every corner, couples in matching clothing strolling along the waterside and fully clothed Koreans going for a dip in the ocean, it will probably be one of the most memorable beach trips of your life. The things I see at Haeundae never fail to take me by surprise!

For the perfect beach day grab yourself an umbrella, get some fried chicken and beer delivered to your sun lounger, and do some of the best people watching you’ll ever do in your life! (Edit- while wandering around the beach is free, obviously renting an umbrella and getting fried chicken isn’t!)


Dalmaji Hill

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Dalmaji hill is a beautiful little hike from Haeundae Beach filled with quaint coffee shops and restaurants. At the very top of the hill, you find yourself in the midst of a traditional market selling everything from trinkets to Korean clothing and toys. On your way up the hill, there are various lookout points for photo opportunities where you can catch a breathtaking view of Haeundae Beach and the surrounding mountains. Although Spring is the best time to enjoy Dalmaji Hill’s cherry blossoms, it still has it’s charm through all seasons.

Chelsea is an expat who lives and teaches in Busan- so you can be sure that she is an expat! For lots more inspiration for things to do around the city, check out her blog, Chelssology! She’s also on Instagram where she shares lots of beautiful snaps of Korea.


Haeundae Market

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Unidentifiable seafood, as well as sweet treats and Korean street food classics await you at Haeundae market. While this market often plays second fiddle to it’s famous big sister, Jagalchi Market, it’s definitely worth a visit.

This is one of the best places in the country to sample the famous live octopus- if you’re brave enough! People travel from all over the country to taste Busan’s famously fresh seafood, so you should definitely take advantage while you’re here. For those on a budget, or who aren’t such a fan of unknown ocean creatures, grab yourself some tteokboki and marvel at the chaos that surrounds you.

To read more about all the things you can see at Haeundae Market, check out this post here.


So, as you can see, there is absolutely plenty for budget travellers to do in Busan. I’m sure that there are so many more things than we’ve already mentioned here. If you know something amazing and FREE to do in Busan, leave me a comment and let me know all about it!

Want to find some accommodation in Busan for under 10,000 won per night? Check out these properties!

Kimchee Busan Guesthouse, Busanjin-gu, Busan, South Korea

Popcorn Hostel Haeundae, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea

Popcorn Hostel Nampodong, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea

Pobi Guesthouse, Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea

(Prices may vary from season to season.)

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    22nd July 2016 at 4:13 pm

    This is a great round up of things to do in Busan! Especially since they are all FREE!!! I wish we had this when we took our trip to Busan, we’ve only done a few of these things. I loved Gamcheon Village and Igidae Park the most! Thanks for including us in your awesome post!
    Megan Indoe recently posted…Sweet Street for Seoul’s EliteMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th July 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks so much for being a part of it! I have also not even done most of these things! I’ve not been to Idigae Park- I blame the fact that it is always raining at the weekend lol. Gamcheon Culture Village is so cool! I really loved it too 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz
    22nd July 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Nice!!! You know I love Busan so much and will definitely be back — it’s great to know that there’s a lot more to explore. Maybe next time I’d stay put in the city. 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th July 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Haha yes! It’s a sign that you need to come back again lol!

  • Reply
    Barilee Traveling
    23rd July 2016 at 1:26 am

    *Dadaepo
    *Dalmaji

    “Grabbing an umbrella” at Haeundae beach is not free, have to pay your rent them!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      24th July 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Yup, and neither is getting fried chicken, which I also mentioned. It’s absolutely free to wandering around the beach and people watch. If you want to have an umbrella and get chicken and beer then of course you have to pay more. Thanks for your comment, you should become a professional proof reader 😉

  • Reply
    Spencer
    24th July 2016 at 3:04 pm

    I enjoyed the post and a great reminder that I really must make more trips south to Busan.
    Spencer recently posted…10 Must have Apps for KoreaMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th July 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks Spencer, Busan is a great city- well worth the trip South!

  • Reply
    April
    24th July 2016 at 4:35 pm

    It’s so funny that while I’m reading your post right now, we are wearing the same tshirt on your profile. haha. but anyway, i love your photos! Jeju has always been one on my bucket list. Your post inspires me more. Thank you 🙂

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th July 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Hahaha what a coincidence!! Thanks for your comment. Jeju is really beautiful- I hope you get the chance to visit!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Sometime Traveller
    24th July 2016 at 10:22 pm

    I love the look of Gamcheon Village, it’s so colourful. And the beaches as well – I would never have thought of South Korea for beaches!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th July 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks for reading, Korea has some really great beaches! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kaylene
    25th July 2016 at 9:32 am

    This looks like such a fun destination, so much to do and see! I really love the photo of the Gamcheon Culture Village! I think I’d really enjoy roaming the streets there.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      25th July 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks, Busan is a really cool area in Korea 🙂

  • Reply
    Margot Guilbert
    25th July 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Awesome tips! If I ever go to Korea I know where to go in Busan to satisfy my pastel eye! Thanks for sharing!
    xx
    Margot from The Pastel Project

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th July 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Haha definitely get yourself to Gamcheon 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Castaway with Crystal
    25th July 2016 at 8:20 pm

    OooHHHhhh I love the look of Gamcheon Village. I really love brightly coloured hillside villages! Great post 🙂
    Castaway with Crystal recently posted…Guide to the Northern TerritoryMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th July 2016 at 1:34 pm

      Me too, Gamcheon is so cute! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
    26th July 2016 at 4:44 am

    I’ll admit, I had never heard of Busan before! It’s definitely on my list now, thanks for sharing 🙂
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren recently posted…Photo Essay: A Sunny Afternoon At The AlhambraMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th July 2016 at 1:21 pm

      I hadn’t heard of it until I started researching different cities in Korea- it’s such a cool city! I’m so happy to live so close to it 🙂

  • Reply
    Paul
    26th July 2016 at 5:25 am

    Great post! As budget travellers ourselves we love posts like this, and are hoping to visit South Korea towards the end of this year!
    Paul recently posted…Hostel Review: Moreto & Caffeto, Sofia, Bulgaria! An amazing adventure with amazing people!My Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th July 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Amazing, I hope you get the chance to visit! Get in touch if you need anymore budget tips 🙂

  • Reply
    Eostories
    26th July 2016 at 6:54 am

    Great suggestions! If I make it there one day would love to visit these places! And free kayaking?! Nice!!!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th July 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Free kayaking is a great deal! I’ve still not had the chance to take advantage of it yet, though!

  • Reply
    Travelling Tom
    27th July 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Wow! There’s a lot to see and do in Busan. I think that bridge would be high on my priorities, as well as the beaches as well! Thanks for sharing!
    Travelling Tom recently posted…11 unusual places to visit in New ZealandMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      28th July 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Yeah, the bridge is really cool! You can kill 2 birds with one stone and see the bridge and hang out at the beach at the same time if you ever get the chance to visit 🙂

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    Meagan | HappilyEverExpat.com
    6th August 2016 at 3:03 am

    This is such a great list of free things to do in Busan. It really makes me miss my old stomping grounds too! One of my absolute favorite places in Busan is Hwangnyeongsan. The mountain isn’t far too from Gwanganli Beach and the views from the top are AMAZING! You get a great view of the Diamond Bridge, but also Seomyeon and even Nampo-dong. I really could spend hours up there just taking in the views. It’s free if you walk up, but a taxi ride shouldn’t set you back much either.
    Meagan | HappilyEverExpat.com recently posted…30th Birthday Cake Smash — You Can’t Look at These Photos Without Smiling!My Profile

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