Busan is everything you’d expect from a seaside city and more.
Home to gorgeous white sand beaches, breathtaking coastline views, and majestic mountains, it’s the perfect destination to kick back and enjoy the view. If you’re looking for more adventures, you can spend days exploring Busan’s charming art streets, lively markets, and cultural sights. Nights are for gorging down the city’s street food and enjoying the vibrant nightlife.
There’s definitely a lot to experience and enjoy in this cool and vibrant city, and you’ll get to do all that by choosing your ideal base. That’s where our quick and easy neighborhood guide comes in – here’s where to stay in Busan.
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Where to stay in Busan – a quick guide to finding your perfect place to stay
Here are quick recommendations to help you choose your base in Busan. Click on what sounds the most ideal to you to quickly navigate to my top accommodation recommendations.
- If you want to experience the most of Busan, stay in Seomyeon. This is the most central location in the city and the perfect base for you to explore as much of Busan as possible. It’s a vibrant district with plenty of shopping and dining options, plus easy access to the rest of the city.
- If you’re looking to chill at the beach, stay in Haeundae. This is where you’ll find Busan’s most beautiful white sand beach, as well as chic cafés, restaurants, and bars. It’s also the place to look for a luxurious stay as the city’s finest establishments all want a piece of this beautiful beach.
- If you love the beach but want to keep it low-key, stay in Gwangan. Right next to Haeundae is Gwangan’s Gwangalli Beach – just as beautiful, but with a more down-to-earth vibe. Think of it as a mid-range Haeundae, with more affordable hotels, a wider range of dining and drinking options, and a lot closer to the city center. It’s a great base if you want the best of the sea and the bustling city.
- If you’re in Busan to shop and eat, stay in Nampo. This district is filled with stores from cult fashion and beauty brands, as well as markets and a tasty street food scene. If you’re looking for Seoul’s Myeong-dong in Busan, this is it.
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).
While Busan’s rustic seaside vibes may make it feel like a small village where everyone knows everyone and everywhere is within walking distance, it’s actually a vast, sprawling, hilly city that’s impossible to explore entirely on foot.
Fortunately, the city is well-connected and served by subways and buses. If you want to make the most of your stay and see as much of the city, it’s best to stay in a central district like Seomyeon.
Seomyeon has plenty of shopping and dining options, plus a lively nightlife scene. Busan’s main attractions are a quick subway or bus ride away, making this the perfect base for day trips around 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 Residence Mumun Hotel.
If your idea of a fantastic holiday is lying on a white-sand beach, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the sound of the sea, then Haeundae is the perfect base for you.
Haeundae beach is South Korea’s most famous beach, thanks to its fine white sand, chic establishments, and fun seaside activities. 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 down 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 cute coffee shops and trendy restaurants 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 Haeundae’s low-key sister. While Gwangalli beach is just as beautiful as Haeundae beach, the vibe here is a lot more down-to-earth. While you can say Haeundae is the beach of choice for South Korea’s rich and famous as well as the luxury travelers, Gwangalli is where the average mortals go. Think of it as a mid-range Haeundae, with more affordable hotels, a wider range of dining and drinking options, and a lot closer to the city center. It’s a great base if you want the best of the sea and the bustling city.
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. Make sure to stick around the beach until the sun sets to see the Gwangan bridge light up!
★Top Pick: We love the Hound Hotel, and their Gwangan property is just as beautiful as the one in Seomyeon – with the addition, of course, of a kickass view. Comfy beds, modern amenities, a great location, and plenty of dining and drinking options all around make this the perfect base to get to know Busan’s best features. Double rooms start at USD 70.
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.
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, as well as 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 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 – and tummy! – a break, do some sightseeing. 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.
Best hotels in Nampo
★Top 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 rooms (starts at USD 40!) and family suites, giving you more pocket money to shop and eat away.
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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 – 21 May 2022 – updated information on hotels and trip-planning tips