How to Spend 4 Days and 3 Nights in Busan with Only P7,000 in Your Pocket
Busan is a big, sprawling coastal city, but it’s not as frenetic and fast-paced as Seoul. Formerly known as Pusan, it is second to Seoul in terms of population. The bustling metropolis has a laid back vibe, probably because of its proximity to the coast, and offers an eclectic mix of ancient temples, vibrant markets, and city life. If you’re planning to visit South Korea, consider Busan.
How to Go to Busan from Incheon or Seoul
There are no direct flights from Manila, but you can get to Busan easily.
By Bus: You can spend the night near Incheon Airport and leave the next day for Busan by bus. Bus fare costs approximately W44,900. The trip can take up to five hours, and the bus I took only had one stop. If you are already in Seoul, you can take the bus departing from Seoul Express Bus Terminal or Dong Seoul. The bus fare varies depending on class. The fares are roughly W23,000 to W34,200. The trip takes just over four hours.
By Train: The fastest way to reach Busan is by KTX train from Seoul Station. The trip takes just around 2.5 hours. The one-way economy fare is approximately W59,800 for adults and W29,900 for children.
You also have the option to take the ITX train, which is slower than the KTX but is cheaper. The trip takes just over five hours. The economy fare for adults is W42,600 and W21,300 for children. Another cheap alternative is the Mugunghwa-ho train. It isn’t as comfortable as the first two. The trip takes about 5.5 hours. Economy fare for an adult ticket is W28,600 and W14,300 for children.
Once you’re in Busan, you’ll find that it is an affordable city to explore. Many bus and metro stations are within walking distance from the station, reducing your transportation costs. You can buy a day pass to use the subway lines for an unlimited number of times for only W5,000. If you’ll be using the bus, it’s handy to have a Cash Bee or T-Money card to pay the fare. You can get either one for around W2,000 and just top it up at convenience stores or metro stations.
Here are the places you can explore in Busan in four days.
1| Busan Tower
Towering over Busan at more than 100 meters, this iconic structure provides visitors with views of the metropolis below. You’ll also see the sea and the surrounding mountains. You can go up the tower or get a view of it from Lotte Mall or Value Hotel across the bridge.
How to get there: Walk from Jungang or Nampo Stations.
2| Gwanggali Beach
This beach is famous for the view of Gwangan Bridge. It is also a popular place for jogs and long walks along Busan’s beautiful coast. I saw locals surfing here during my visit. You can also visit at night to see the bridge and buildings lit up.
How to get there: Walk from Geumyeonsan Station.
3| Haeundae Beach
This beach is one of the most popular destinations in Busan. It has everything you need for a fun stay with restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and local food stalls nearby. The sand is fine and the views beautiful. You can hang out here, take long walks, go for a jog, or read a book.
How to get there: Walk from Haeundae Station.
4| Haedong Yonggung Temple
One of the very few seaside temples in Korea, Haedong Yonggung Temple is a must-visit despite the crowds. There are Buddhist relics and structures within the complex. The view of the temple along the coast is simply beautiful.
How to go: Make your way to Haeundae Station and take Exit 7. Then, board Bus 181 to the temple.
5| Beomeosa Temple
What I liked about Busan is that it has retained its history and culture as seen in the temples in the city. Beomeosa Temple has a history that goes back to 678. You’ll see Buddhist architecture and relics when you explore this ancient complex.
How to get there: The nearest station is Beomeosa Station. Take Exit 5 and board Bus 90.
6| Tongdosa Temple
This UNESCO-listed temple is one of the most important temples in Korea. In 646, Monk Jajang established this temple when he returned from a trip to China.
How to get there: From Nopo Station, board a bus to Tongdosa. One-way bus fare is around W2,500. From the station, you can walk to the temple. The temple has an entrance fee of W3000.
7| Gamcheon Culture Village
This destination made a name for itself because of the colorful houses built on the side of a mountain. If you decide to stay longer, there are shops, museums, and restaurants to explore.
How to get there: Make your way to Toseong Metro Station and take Exit 6. Walk to the hospital and look for the bus stop. Take Bus 2, Bus 2-2, or Bus 1-1.
8| Jagalchi Market
Jagalchi is the most famous and one of the biggest fish markets in Busan. The building itself is eye-catching if you get to see it from above. Here you’ll find all sorts of seafood for sale or cooking on the spot. Servings are for groups so bring your friends.
How to get there: The closest metro stations are Nampo and Jagalchi. Inside the station, look for the signs that will point you to the direction of Jagalchi Market.
9| Nampodong Market
You can spend half a day or all night in Busan wandering around its markets. Nampodong offers the usual items you’ll see in other markets in Korea.
How to get there: Get down at the Nampo station and look for directions going to the Nampodong Market.
10| BIFF Square
Shop until you drop in this part of Busan. There are also numerous food stalls to sample the city’s street food.
How to get there: Walk from Nampo Station.
This is another shopping district where you can find all sorts of items on sale. There are also food stalls and restaurants where you can try local food.
How to get there: The closest metro station is Seomyeon. There are plenty of signs that will lead you to this popular destination.
There’s plenty of stalls and shops here selling apparel. Look for discounted items.
How to get there: Walk from Nampo Station.
Where to Stay in Busan
Because of the affordable transportation in Busan, where you’ll stay doesn't matter. There are plenty of low-cost, mid-priced, and high-end hotels in the city. Hostels are your most affordable option, which will have dorm beds that cost around W12,000 to W18,000 a night.
Personally, I suggest a stay in areas near Busan Station, Seomyeon (in the middle of everything), or Haeundae Beach. Busan Station is a convenient location, especially if you are departing and arriving via KTX. You’ll also be near the famous markets and shopping and dining districts such as Jagalchi, Nampodong, Gwanbok-ro, and BIFF. If you stay near here, you’ll also be a few stops away from Gamcheon Culture Village and Busan Tower.
Haeundae Beach is a popular place for both locals and tourists. There are many resorts, hotels, and hostels in or near this area, as well. You’ll be close to Gwanggali Beach and Haedong Yonggung Temple.
Where to Eat in Busan
Part of any trip to a different country is the culinary adventure. Busan has a lot to offer in terms of Korean delicacies, some of which include:
Eomuk: You can get this fish cake from many street vendors. It is a local specialty.
Ssiat Hotteok: This seed pancake dish is a popular choice for many who want to try Busan’s street food. You’ll find many stalls selling these in the markets.
Chimaek: This is a combination of the Korean words for chicken and beer. It is a popular snack during happy hour or late dinner.
Dwaeji Gukbap: This pork soup broth is a good choice for cold days.
Eating in Korea is expensive (even in Busan). Street food can easily cost W2,000+ per stick or cake. A meal in a restaurant or even at a food stall costs somewhere between W6,000 to W10,000+.
If you want to save money, convenience stores are a good alternative. A packed meal costs approximately W5,000 while sandwiches are at around W2,200.
Budget for Busan
Busan is an affordable city but still quite expensive when you compare it with the Philippines or other Southeast Asian countries. This budget guide for four days and three nights might help you plan. This only includes expenses you’ll incur when you are already in Busan.
This excludes the bus or train going to and from Seoul or Incheon Airport.
W35,000: Dorm type accommodation for three nights
W15,000: Day pass ticket for the subway (three days at W5,000 each)
W18,000: Transportation including W2,000 for the Cash Bee or T-Money Card
W3,000: Entrance for Tongdosa
W70,000: Food and drinks
Total for four days and three nights around Busan:
W141,000 or roughly P6,500
You can spend more or less depending on what you do, where you stay, and where you eat, and if you plan to shop. Busan is an affordable city to explore and has many attractions to fill your itinerary.