Getting between cities in South Korea is easy. The Korail train is on par with the fastest bullet trains and whisked me from Seoul to Busan in just 2.5 hours.
Busan is a city which has developed around its geography, growing around the hills over time into a seven million person metropolis. As such it has no obvious city centre but has a number of districts with their own distinct identity. During the Korean War it was one of the few areas which didn’t change hands and served as a temporary capital city.
I had escaped the uncomfortable humidity of Seoul and ended up in the more pleasant but still searingly hot Busan. A good way to see any new place and gain your bearings is to view from up high, and the Busan Tower, located in Jungu, is perfect for this – it was my first stop. The tower has a 360 degree view over the docks to the east, the financial district north, the harbour south and everything in between.
Having spent a week in Seoul, it meant I only had one night in Busan before catching a ferry. I had done hardly any research on Busan other than booking a hotel near-ish to the port, and in hindsight realise what a mistake this was. There is certainly a lot to see and do, and a few days is needed to make the most of a visit here.
But with my one night in Busan, I started on the fairly lengthy walk from Busan Tower to Gamcheon Culture Village.
The route to Gamcheon Village, if you decide to walk it, goes up some extremely steep hills and is a good test of fitness. It’s a former slum turned arty district, and is an area which attracts visitors due to some quirky shops and cafes, a relaxed atmosphere and some nice views. Buying a map of the area is a good idea to help find your way around.
Heading back into the city after a few hours, I walked along Gwangbok-ro. This street and the surrounding area, just on the south side of the Busan Tower, was packed with restaurants and bars reminiscent of areas like Insa in Seoul. The food market was a wonderful assault on the senses and it was tempting to try a bit of everything.
The following morning I took a walk to the ferry terminal and found it, thankfully, to be far better than the one in Dalian. Busan passenger port is more like an airport terminal, with a variety of routes onward to Japan and elsewhere.
And just like that, my short time in Busan was over, but it certainly left me wanting more. I treated it purely as a stopover for the ferry and should have spent more time there, if only to enjoy the weather, visit the beach and eat more of the food. Instead it was another ferry ride, and time to say cheerio to South Korea.