As South Korea’s largest port and a hub for refugees during the Korean War, Busan developed a very different character from Seoul. Exploring the city with a local guide offers an understanding of its history and culture that can be hard to grasp on your own.
This private full-day tour introduces you to Busan’s markets and parks, bohemian suburbs and rugged coastline, giving you a broad overview of the city and a good grounding for further independent exploration.
Take in views from the city’s highest point, get expert advice on what local delicacies to try at street stalls, visit the country’s largest fish market and take a boat tour of the bay to see unusual volcanic formations. Along the way, you’ll hear about Busan’s role as one of only two cities to remain in UN control during the Korean War and how this shaped the city you see today.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel at the start of the day and take you around Busan’s sights in a private vehicle. The tour is flexible, so your guide can alter their planned itinerary for the day if you have particular interests — just let them know.
The first stop is usually Yongdusan Park, on top of Dragon’s Head Mountain. Here, you can take in a panoramic view of the city from the Busan Tower and learn more about how Busan has grown and expanded over the years. You’ll also see the memorial to Yi Sun-Sin, Korea’s greatest military commander and national hero, and hear about why he’s so revered.
From Yongdusan, you’ll drive to the Gamcheon Culture Village, which lies in the foothills of the mountains to the north of the city. This village, built in the 1920s and 1930s to accommodate poorer laborers, became a refugee camp during the Korean War, and Busan’s role as a safe haven for fleeing citizens became a crucial part of its history, which you can learn more about while here.
Recent renovations and artistic contributions have turned the district into an art and cultural hub. Bright murals line the walls, you come across sculptures in unexpected places and can enjoy great views from the top of the village, from where the blue roofs and brightly painted houses spill down the hillside in irregular concertinaed rows.
Your next stop is at the Bupyeong Market, where you’ll find all manner of local foods. Your guide will explain the basics of Korean cuisine, point out particular dishes of interest and help you choose the best stalls to try some Korean classics and Busan specialties for lunch.
From there, you’ll move on to Jagalchi Fish Market, the largest in Korea, to see the Busan fishing industry in action. If you’re still hungry, you can buy fish or seafood from the stalls and have it cooked upstairs in one of the many restaurants.
Finally, you’ll board a shared cruise around Busan Bay, taking in views of the rugged coastline along the western part of the bay. Here, geological history is laid bare in the cliffs, where you can see columnar basalt formations and unusual lava fields.
After the tour, your guide can either take you back to your hotel, suggest further destinations for independent exploration or drop you off at a local restaurant.