Ready to dive into the ultimate Busan experience?
This coastal city has it all – sightseeing, shopping, and food-tripping – making it the perfect destination for those who crave excitement and adventure.
Welcome to Busan, where stunning white sand beaches, mesmerizing coastline views, and majestic mountains invite you to kick back and soak in the beauty.
But there’s so much more to discover! Unleash your inner explorer as you wander through Busan’s enchanting art streets, bustling markets, and rich cultural sights. And when the sun sets, indulge in the city’s mouthwatering street food while soaking up its vibrant nightlife.
To make the most of your time in this lively and captivating city, it’s essential to find the perfect home base. That’s where our handy neighborhood guide comes in! Keep reading to uncover the best spots to stay in Busan, ensuring an unforgettable adventure tailored just for you.
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Where to stay in Busan – a quick guide to finding your perfect place to stay
Check out these top recommendations for finding your ideal base in Busan. Click on the option that suits you best, and you’ll be directed to my top accommodation picks.
- For the ultimate Busan experience, stay in Seomyeon. This central location offers easy access to explore the city and is packed with shopping and dining options. Seomyeon is a lively district that lets you make the most of your time in Busan.
- If shopping and food are your top priorities, stay in Nampo. This district is brimming with trendy fashion and beauty brands, bustling markets, and a mouthwatering street food scene. Think of Nampo as Busan’s answer to Seoul’s Myeong-dong.
- If beach vibes are your thing, stay in Haeundae. Home to Busan’s most stunning white sand beach, Haeundae boasts chic cafés, restaurants, and bars. Luxury seekers will find the city’s finest establishments here, all vying for a slice of this gorgeous beachfront.
- Love the beach but prefer a low-key atmosphere? Stay in Gwangan. Located right next to Haeundae, Gwangalli Beach in Gwangan offers equally beautiful scenery with a more down-to-earth vibe. This mid-range alternative to Haeundae has affordable hotels, diverse dining and drinking options, and is closer to the city center – perfect for those who want both seaside relaxation and city excitement.
Plan your trip to Busan with this handy PDF guide.
Map – essential landmarks in Busan, South Korea
Use this Google map to plan your trip and get around in Busan. Take note that Google maps won’t give you driving routes – you’ll have to use an alternative map like Naver or Waze (read more about driving in South Korea here).
Although Busan’s charming seaside atmosphere gives off a cozy, small-town vibe, it’s actually a vast and hilly city that can’t be fully explored on foot alone.
Thankfully, Busan boasts an extensive network of subways and buses to help you navigate its sprawling landscape. To truly immerse yourself in all that this vibrant city has to offer, consider staying in a central district like Seomyeon.
Seomyeon is brimming with shopping and dining options, along with a bustling nightlife scene. With easy access to public transportation, you’ll find Busan’s main attractions just a quick subway or bus ride away. This makes Seomyeon the ultimate home base for your unforgettable day trips throughout the city.
Best hotels in Seomyeon
★Top Pick: Arban Hotel right at the center of the Seomyeon district is a great choice for exploring Busan. It has a great location just a few minutes walking distance from the Seomyeon subway station. They have beautiful, spacious, and comfortable rooms. Spend the day city-trekking or beach bumming, then come home to Seomyeon’s exciting night scene.
If you’re looking to do a lot of shopping, stay right beside the city’s biggest duty-free mall and enjoy the luxurious Lotte Hotel. Or, if you prefer to be nearer shopping streets and authentic local eats, stay at the Toyoko Inn.
If you’re coming to Busan to shop for your favorite Korean brands, snacks, and beauty products, Nampo is certainly your neighborhood. Nampo’s sparkly shopping streets are filled with stores from cult fashion and beauty brands and discount stores. It will definitely take you more than a day to go through the shops in Nampo, and I highly suggest that you make a shopping list before you hit the streets.
Nampo is also famous for its street food scene and, of course, seafood. The famous Jagalchi fish market is right next to Nampo, making it the perfect pitstop for a taste of Busan’s culinary delights between shopping sprees.
If you want to give your wallet – and tummy! – a break, take in some local sights. Nampo is conveniently located near Taejongdae, a stunning seaside park. For a quick view of the city, head up to Busan Tower and enjoy the breathtaking panorama.
Best hotels in Nampo
★Top Pick: YTT Hotel Nampo is easily one of the best hotels in the Nampo district. Bright, cheery interiors welcome you into this centrally located boutique hotel that has most of what you’ll need for a relaxing, comfortable stay. They also have economy rooms (starts at USD 50!) and family suites, giving you more pocket money to shop and eat away.
If your dream holiday involves lounging on a pristine white-sand beach, basking in the sun, and listening to the soothing sound of the waves, then Haeundae is the ideal spot for you.
Haeundae Beach is South Korea’s most celebrated beach, known for its soft white sand, stylish establishments, and entertaining seaside activities. By choosing a hotel in this area, you’ll have the beach right on your doorstep. Simply slip into your swimwear, lay down a mat, and start soaking up the sun.
Additionally, Haeundae offers an array of restaurants, cafés, and bars to explore, including the famous Dalmaji road. With its endless array of charming coffee shops and trendy restaurants, you’ll never run out of delightful dining options to try.
Best hotels in Haeundae
★Top Pick: The Westin Chosun is one of Busan’s most luxurious hotels and is right by the Haeundae beach – perfect for a glamourous beach-bumming holiday. They have spacious rooms with amazing views, an indoor pool, spa, and a fitness center, plus they organize excursions to nearby destinations like Oryukdo Island for their guests. It’s the perfect all-inclusive summer holiday that brings you the best of Busan.
For a mid-range option, Mipo Oceanside Hotel is also right by the beach and has modern and comfortable rooms. If you’re on a budget but really want a piece of Haeundae, stay at Hotel Hyggelig – double rooms start at USD 35/night!
Gwangalli Beach in Gwangan is the more relaxed counterpart to Haeundae. Though equally stunning, Gwangalli Beach offers a more down-to-earth atmosphere.
While Haeundae attracts South Korea’s elite and luxury travelers, Gwangalli is the go-to destination for everyday beach lovers. Consider it a budget-friendly alternative to Haeundae, featuring more affordable hotels, a diverse array of dining and drinking options, and closer proximity to the city center. Gwangan is perfect for those seeking a balance between seaside tranquility and urban excitement.
Gwangalli is also a popular spot for expats and long-term travelers, making it an ideal location to meet friendly locals and fellow adventurers. Be sure to stick around the beach until sunset to witness the spectacular illumination of the Gwangan Bridge!
★Top Pick: We love the H Avenue Hotel, located a mere 200 meters from Gwangalli Beach. This base provides an ideal blend of comfort and convenience for your Busan getaway. The budget-friendly hotel boasts a terrace, an on-site restaurant, and modern rooms. Kick off your day with a scrumptious buffet breakfast and enjoy easy access to nearby attractions. Perfect for couples and families, this is the perfect choice for a memorable stay in Busan.
For a budget option, Wood House is a cozy and comfy little hotel a short walk from the beach. Double rooms start at USD 40.
Tell us: Where will you be staying on your holiday in Busan?
Top tips for traveling Busan
If you can stay longer, Busan is also an excellent base for making day trips to the following destinations:
- Gyeongju – South Korea’s ancient capital
- Tongyeong – the country’s most beautiful port and the place to enjoy the freshest seafood
- Geojedo – an island with breathtaking floral fields, a marine botanical garden, and magnificent sunset views.
Booking a hotel – Check that your hotel is near the subway. The recommendations here are all in convenient locations and within walking distance of a subway station.
Unless you’re staying for more than a week, I don’t recommend moving around and hopping from one neighborhood to another. Choose one base that best fits your preferences and explore the city from there. It’s pretty easy to go around in Busan using public transportation.
Getting around – It’s easy to go around Busan using the subway and the buses. If you’re traveling with a group or want a convenient way around the city, you can get a chartered car with an English-speaking driver. They can drive you anywhere around the city and will also be happy to suggest itineraries for you.
For comfort and convenience, book a private transfer from the airport to your hotel.
If you’re heading to nearby towns and cities, self-driving is an adventurous way to explore the region. Here’s my guide to driving in South Korea.
You can also go by the high-speed Korea Rail to Seoul and the rest of the country. If you plan to move around a lot and visit many cities, a Korea Rail Pass is your best friend.
Staying connected – It’s convenient to get an eSim with unlimited data while in South Korea, especially if you want to plan on the go. This helps you stay connected with your travel buddies and let you navigate Busan’s public transportation system.
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I hope this quick and handy guide helps you choose the best place and hotel to stay in Busan! Get ready for an enjoyable little holiday filled with fantastic coastline views, delicious street and seafood, and lots of sun and sand.
If you have any questions about your trip to Busan, get in touch, and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Happy travels to South Korea!
First published – 18 January 2017
Last updated – 28 May 2023 – updated information on hotels and trip-planning tips