Busan is the California of South Korea. Here you’ll find skyscrapers, businessmen willing to dish out more money than necessary and lengthy Pacific coast beaches. We stayed here for two nights and it was a real treat—it was the perfect mixture of concrete jungle and ocean life.

What to Expect in Busan

Busan is the second largest city in all of South Korea. With that said, it is nowhere near as jam packed as Seoul but equally as impressive. The city is built along the coast of the largest beach in South Korea. In the distance, you can see the city build up around a hillside. It’s absolutely beautiful.

We visited during the month of October, so naturally, the water was too cold to dive into. However, we still took this time to write our names in the sand and feel the smooth grains of sand on our feet.

Staying in Busan

We stayed in a high rise in Haeundae via AirBnB. This time, unfortunately, we did not have the same kind of experience with our host. The apartment was fairly bare and we had no interaction with our host. We were essentially paying for the views, as we were tens of floors above ground.

Haeundae is a great area to go eat and drink. There are plenty of areas to visit during your stay here—I’d only recommend that you stay in the heart of these attractions as you’ll be walking for a good while otherwise.

Getting Around in Busan

Busan, like Seoul, is very easy to navigate. There are plenty of train stations and walking is a pleasure given the ocean backdrop. The city has a very laid-back vibe with what seems to be, more sun than normal in Korea. When I think about it, it was very much like our experience in Osaka, Japan. We walked to most areas because of this.

Cliffside in Busan: Taejongdae

Maria, Tony and I each had one thing we each absolutely wanted to do. Mine was to visit Taejongdae, a beautiful natural park with cliffs hundreds of feet over the ocean and greenery like you wouldn’t believe.

We climbed narrow pathways, holding onto only some rope, up to this section of the cliff that has an epic drop off. It was quite a workout to finally get up there, but it was so worth it. You’ll feel the ocean breeze and hear the roaring of waves crashing into natural rocks. It’s awesome.

Taejongdae also has an observation deck that towers above the cliffs and ocean. Take a moment to relax, drink some Hite beer and enjoy the view.

taejongdae cliffs

Food in Busan

We were only in Busan for 2 nights. This really didn’t give us much time to explore the local cuisine. However, we did go on an epic adventure to find the cave bar.

While in Dallas, I met a guy at a bar to watch the Florida State football game. He told us about his life and how he lived in South Korea for about a year. During his time there, he found a secret cave bar in Busan where they serve the best Kimchi and Makgeolli (rice wine). We took note and made visiting this cave bar a pivotal goal during our journey.

It was not easy. The cave bar has no Yelp page, no website or coherent location you can find on the web. Instead, we had to Google “Busan Cave Bar” and piece together notes from other visitors. We were supplied with directions based on signs, landmarks and ostensible changes in the landscape. We spent about 30-minutes to an hour carefully following these steps and playing detectives until we walked up a hill to find what looked like a regular house. It turns out, we made it to the cave bar.

The outside perimeter of the cave bar looks like a regular South Korean house in your typical neighborhood. It was relaxed, with barely any signage or foot traffic. When we walked into what seemed like a house, we were greeted by an elderly woman and her daughter. They walked us to the back of the house only to find the legendary cave.

Busan Cave Bar

There is history here. This house was built on the bottom of a mountain, of which sat directly behind it. During the Korean & Japanese conflict, these homeowners partnered with Korean militant groups to carve out a pathway for Koreans to go into hiding. If you go all the way back into the cave, you’ll notice a pathway into a dark corridor that is closed off.

Like what my fellow Nole said, the Kimchi & Makgeolli was amazing. We loved the drinks, banchan and most of all, the feeling of accomplishment finding this hidden gem.

busan-cave-bar

Nightlife in Busan

Being an American in South Korea is a real treat. From our experience, South Koreans were always willing to have conversations with us and ask questions about our life. It was no different in Busan. Maria, Tony and I went into a bar that was playing some loud electronic music. After grabbing

Maria, Tony and I went into a bar that was playing some loud electronic music. After grabbing our first drink, we meet an extremely friendly South Korean and his group. He literally came up to us, yelled “America!!!”, took down a shot and asked us to join his group to dance.

The beauty of being somewhere else other than home is that you can be absolutely carefree. No one will remember or care how silly you looked on the dance floor. No one will care if you’re jumping around to incoherent music with a group equally incoherent due to the lack of vocabulary across languages.

So when in Busan, go get lost and have fun. If you’re usually a more conservative person, let loose and you’ll notice the world is your oyster.

Final Thoughts about Busan

I loved Busan. That’s all I can really say. It was an awesome place to visit while in Korea and I’d highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Korea.

maria and i in busan tower