Busan is a city with many faces.
At first glance, Busan is a city where you go for a break. Especially if you’re coming from Seoul, Busan’s seaside city vibe is a welcome break from the unrelenting energy of the capital. You can smell the sea even kilometers away from the seashore, which of course, brings with it promises of a lazy, relaxing, and rejuvenating holiday.
But don’t confuse “lazy and relaxing” with boring. Busan’s beaches are anything but – they’re lined with the trendiest restaurants, bars, cafés, and boutique shops that will definitely keep even the fastest-paced tourists busy.
At the heart of Busan and away from the sea, the city shows yet another different side. Like its sister Seoul, Busan exemplifies the South Korean experience: efficient, dynamic, vibrant, and spoilt for choice. Unlike your typical beach destination, the city doesn’t sleep with the setting of the sun.
Laidback and exciting, rustic and cosmopolitan – depending on what you want to experience, there’s a Busan neighborhood that’s perfect for you. Check out this neighborhood guide and find out where to stay in Busan. Don’t forget to pin and bookmark or share to a friend who’s headed to Busan soon!
Where to stay in Busan, South Korea – neighborhood guide and best accommodations
Quick tips – choosing the best place to stay in Busan
- If you love to party at the beach, stay in Haeundae or Gwangan. These are Busan’s fun beach districts where you’ll find bars, restaurants, and events all day and all night long.
- If you’re looking for a hip, artsy, university vibe, stay in Kyungsung. You’ll be within walking distance of cafes and art shops, as well as vintage and boutique shops.
- If you’re in Busan to shop and eat, stay in Nampo. This district is filled with stores from high-end brands to discount stores. You’ll also find a delectable street food scene here, and plenty of entertainment to keep you busy.
- If you want to be in the heart of Busan, stay in Seomyeon. The bustling neighborhood is centrally located, perfect for travelers who want to see as much sights as possible. You’ll also find lots of restaurants and shops in the area.
For the party-loving beach bum, check out Haeundae or Gwangan
If your idea of an amazing holiday is lying on a white sand beach and mingling with beautiful people, Haeundae is the perfect base for you.
Haundae beach is South Korea’s most famous beach, thanks to its fine white sand and affluent residents. If you choose one of the hotels in the area, the beach is literally right outside your doorstep. You can change from your pajamas into your bikini, lay out a mat, and start soaking up the sun.
There are also rows of restaurants, cafés, and bars at your disposal, including the famous Dalmaji road where you’ll never run out of coffee shops to try.
If you fancy a quick run to keep that bikini body in top shape, you have a long stretch of beachfront at your perusal.
Where to stay in Haeundae – top recommendations
★Travelers’ Pick: If you’re up for a glamorous stay, book a room at Hotel Park Hyatt. It’s got amazing views of the Busan Marina, world-class amenities and service, and superb in-house dining options. They have a spa and fitness center, too, so you can work on that beach body. Double rooms start at USD 180.
These are all within walking distance from Haeundae station on Line 2.
Gwangalli Beach in Gwangan is Haeundae’s low-key sister. While Gwangalli beach is just as beautiful as Haeundae beach, the crowd is more low-maintenance. While you can say Haeundae is a playground for South Korea’s rich and famous as well as the luxury travelers, Gwangalli is where the average mortals go. This is also where expats and long-term travelers stay, so if you want to meet friendly locals and travelers, it’s best to try your luck at Gwangalli.
You will also be treated to a view of the Gwangan bridge when it lights up at night. It’s more centrally-located than Haeundae so it’s easier to go around the city and visit the other attractions.
Where to stay in Gwangan – top recommendations
★Travelers’ Pick: For modern rooms and panoramic views of Gwangalli Beach, stay at Kent Hotel. It’s right across the beach with plenty of restaurants and bars around. Travelers love it for its great value. Double rooms start at USD 90.
These are all within walking distance from Gwangan station on Line 2.
If you like to party but not really into beaches, check out Kyungsung instead. This university-centered neighborhood is a popular nighttime destination thanks to its bars and restaurants, kept vibrant and interesting by the fickle university and expat residents. There are also great shopping spots here, especially if you love vintage and charming boutique shops.
Where to stay in Kyungsung – top recommendations
★Travelers’ Pick: For a truly homey experience, stay in Hotel 7Bricks, an understated hotel in a great location and with warm, comfortable interiors. Double rooms start at USD 80.
For a budget option, check out: Kim’s House (beds start at USD 10)
These are within walking distance from Kyungsung University – Pukyong National University station and Daeyeon station on Line 2.
If you’re a shopaholic, Nampo’s sparkly shopping streets will certainly drive you insane. The Nampo district is a shopping mecca with stores from high-end brands, to discount stores, with a wide variety in between. 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 Jagalchi fish market is adjacent to Nampo, so hop over there in between shopping sprees for some Busan-style eats.
If you want to give your wallet a break and do some sight-seeing, Nampo is close to Taejongdae, a gorgeous seaside park. If you want something closer still, go up Busan tower for a quick view of the city.
Where to stay in Nampo – top recommendations
★Travelers’ Pick: Boutique Hotel YTT 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 double rooms (starts at USD 65!), giving you more pocket money to shop and eat away.
Other hotels to check out are GnB Hotel (double rooms start at USD 120) and Hotel Noah (double rooms start at USD 86). For budget options, check out: Sky Island Guesthouse (beds start at USD 16) and Apple Guesthouse (beds start at USD 15).
These are all within walking distance from Nampo station and Jagalchi station on Line 1.
Pusan National University (PNU) area
If you’re more into vintage shopping, staying around the PNU area is also a great option. With the young university crowd giving life to the area, you’ll also be treated to a good café and bar scene.
Where to stay in Pusan National University (PNU) area – top recommendations
For budget options, check out: Love in Busan Guesthouse (beds start at USD 17).
These are all within walking distance from PNU station and Oncheonjang station on Line 1.
Seomyeon is perfect for those who just can’t stay away from the city for too long. It’s centrally located, so if you plan to see as much sights as possible in Busan, this is your base. But with all the restaurants, bars, and shopping areas crowding around Seomyeon, you probably won’t even need to stray too far.
Where to stay in Seomyeon – top recommendations
★Travelers’ Pick: The Hound Hotel at the center of Seomyeon area is the best choice for both business and leisure travelers. It has a great location just a few minutes’ walk from the Seomyeon subway station, plus its rooms are designed to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Whether you spend the day on official business or beach bumming, the area has plenty of evening entertainment for you. Double rooms start at USD 80.
For budget options, check out: Travelight Hostel (beds start at USD 22)
These are all within walking distance from Seomyeon station on Lines 1 and 2.
Tell us: Where will you be staying on your holiday in Busan?
Top tips for traveling to Busan, South Korea
Booking a hotel – Check that the hotel you are considering is near the subway. The recommendations above 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 accommodation 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 the public transportation. I don’t recommend driving around the city – I did that for a few days and spent more time in traffic and looking for parking than actual sightseeing.
Book at least a few nights’ stay in advance – Busan can get pretty crowded and it’s not fun going from door to door looking for a place to stay. Prices also get high during peak season, so best to beat the holiday rush.
Getting around – It’s easy to go around Busan using the subway and the buses. You can also hop on board the Busan City Tour Bus. For bigger groups of those who want a convenient way around the city, getting a chartered car with an English-speaking driver is a great option.
Staying connected – You’ll want to get a mobile Wi-Fi while in South Korea, especially if you want to plan on the go. This will help you stay connected with your travel buddies and let you navigate Busan’s public transportation system. Plus, they have the fastest internet connection in the world, so that’s fun to experience, too.
Save on conversion fees – Converting to won can rack up a painful amount of bank fees, whether you’re exchanging your money at the bank, withdrawing from international ATMs, or paying with your credit card. To save yourself from that, you can get the TransferWise Borderless Mastercard, an international debit card that lets you enjoy your holiday without the bank fees. You can use it to pay anywhere Mastercard is accepted (not just in South Korea, but worldwide – they currently support 40+ currency balances) and withdraw from ATMs that cater to Mastercard, with the lowest conversion fees ever. You don’t even have to be a financial techie to get a card – opening an account is simple and you can have your card in 3-5 days.
Busan map and subway guide
Read next – adventures in South Korea
Now that you’ve reserved your hotel, it’s time to plan your trip! Here’s a 3-day itinerary in Busan that will give you a perfect overview to the city’s seaside, shopping, and street art scene.
While you’re at it, check out this neighborhood guide to Seoul! It comes with a nifty quiz so you’ll be done with your South Korea trip bookings in no time.
Make the most of your trip to South Korea’s tropical playground with this comprehensive guide on the best hotels and where to stay in Jeju.
South Korea is great for road trips! There’s so much to see outside the main cities of Seoul, Busan, and Jeju and driving your own car is one of the best ways to visit the smaller towns.
Just an hour away from Busan, Gyeongju is South Korea’s ancient capital – home to relics of the Kingdom of Silla and ancient Buddhist art. This is a fun day trip from Busan if you’re yearning for some culture and history.
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I hope this guide helps you choose the best accommodation in Busan, South Korea! Wherever you decide to stay in Busan, I’m sure you’ll have fun. So pack your bags and get ready to enjoy this amazing city!
If you have any additional information or questions, let me know in the comments. If you found this useful, make sure to bookmark and share so others can see it, too. Thanks for reading and happy travels to South Korea!
First published – January 18, 2017
Last updated – May 18, 2018 – added and updated information on hotels in Busan; added trip-planning tips