Filed under Adventure, Culture, Curiosities, Food Culture, Travel Tips
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This was the only other place in Korea that I had heard about prior to moving here. Beaches, boardwalks, sailboats and sushi; does any of this sound familiar? I thought so. But what did I really know about South Korea’s second largest city? Nothing actually, as my trip this past weekend proved. Busan (or is it Pusan?) is dominated by two major industries, fishing and tourism. For a glimpse of both sides, try sightseeing for a day along the city’s lengthy coastline.

We started in Haeundae (해운대), Busan’s most famous beach resort area. Enriched with tourism, you can find a wide variety of restaurants among other things in this area. Two that looked especially appealing for an afternoon margarita or taco were Fuzzy Navel and Breeze Burger. Unfortunately, given their prime location just one block up from the subway station towards the beach, both could not accommodate even two more patrons. Although the beach is quite beautiful, it’s small and overdeveloped. This must surely be a slithering mess of lathered bodies during the busy summer season. Walk the boardwalk along the beach towards the magnificently expense Westin Chosun Hotel, and you’ll find a well maintained footpath wrapping around the inlet, offering some excellent ocean scenery. The footpath ends at the circular APEC building, and from here we aimlessly wandered through side streets and boat yards until finally reaching Gwangalli Beach (광안리); a cab would have been a lot more sensible. Here we found a row of bars and restaurants a mile long, right across from the beach, and much less crowded. The feeling was that we were in less of a tourist trap, and in more of a hip Korean hangout.

The last leg of our day trip involved a subway ride away from the resort area to the southern portion of the coastline, and the famous Jalgachi Fish Market (자갈치시장). As South Korea’s largest marine product market, this massive warehouse doubles as a restaurant.  As we casually splashed our way down the aisles, a vendor jumped out with a net holding giant fish that was just flapping away. “Best fish for sashimi or bbq!” Jalgachi is famous for both. We bought it (negotiate first!), and a woman ushered us upstairs while the ‘chef’ killed our lunch. Expect to pay at least 40 USD to eat sashimi for two, and there is a $5 additional service charge, but it really doesn’t get much fresher than this. For something even more adventurous, venture down the adjacent alleys outside of the market. Here you’ll find a more local side of the fishing industry; uncountable rows of makeshift orange tents which awaken during the evening hours to serve a variety of strange and spicy looking concoctions. Judging by the amount of people who were staring at us, it’s probably fair to say that few Westerners venture down these back alleys for a late night snack.  Expect to drink soju or cheap beer. Do not expect to see or hear any English.

Some travel tips:

  • If you are already in Korea and coming to Busan by bus, you may arrive at Sasang or Nopo-dong. The latter has easier subway access and is much cleaner, but is farther away from the city center. Sasang station is underneath a shopping mall with a generally bleak and depressing vibe. Not a good way to begin (or end) a journey, but it is much closer. High-speed trains also runs from Seoul to Busan a few times a daily.
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  1. By Busan Korea in the Spring « Screw War Let's TeachNo Gravatar on June 14, 2010 at 7:35 am

    […] had almost as many bootlegs as we saw at the Silk Street Market in Beijing, China. Being that Busan is the largest port city in South Korea, I suspect containers of counterfeit goods arrive on a […]

  2. By Memories of Busan | Screw War Let's Teach on June 6, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    […] there today. So in memory, I posted a few previously unpublished photos from our day of following a trail of two cities: from the Haeundae (해운대) resort area, and around the bend through a marina to the beautiful […]

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