South Korea’s second city and largest port, Busan has become the anti-Seoul. A city full of character, Busan has many of the traditional features that the capital is losing in its rush for modernity. Thanks to the fact that it was not touched during the Korean War, Busan gives a glimpse of the Korea pre- 1950s in a way that other places can’t. With mountains, beaches and temples to enjoy, exquisite seafood to taste and excellent markets to browse, Busan is South Korea’s laidback city destination.
Busan’s two best Buddhist temples are completely contrasting in their locations – one on the edges of the city on the slopes of Mt Geumjeong and the other on the shoreline of the Korea Strait. Hoedong Yonggungsa is a series of caves, grottos and shrines right on the water’s edge – the sounds of the waves gives an added tranquillity to the atmosphere. Beomeo-Sa, whose current buildings were built in 1613, may be in the city but the mountainous backdrop and the serene atmosphere will make you feel a million miles from it.
Haeundae beach is legendary in Korea, the beach that everyone wants to visit and be seen on. Just 20 minutes from downtown Busan, the beach sits in front of the affluent and trendy Haeundae district which is best known for the annual Busan International Film Festival. The beach itself is a 2 kilometre stretch of white sand that can get very crowded in the summer but is the perfect place to feel the sand between your toes whilst still being in the city.
To get an overview of the city from above head to Yongdusan Park and ascend the 118 metre Busan Tower, which gives particularly good view of the port. The summit is reached by high-speed lift and there is a little café at the top for refreshments as you enjoy the view. Yongdusan Park itself is also lovely to explore – there are a number of statues scattered throughout this mountain park, which is also home to 70 species of tree. Head to the Exhibition Hall of World Model Boats for an exhibition of over 80 models. You can also swing by the Jagalchi Market, the largest fish market in Korea, to inspect the morning catch and tuck into a deliciously fresh seafood lunch.
Set on the sandy shores of Haeundae Beach the Paradise Hotel is ideally located in the centre of the trendy Haeundae district. Relax by the gorgeous pool or soak in the outdoor hot springs and hone your swing at the golf practice range before spending the evening dining in one of the excellent restaurants where you can choose from Korean, Chinese and Japanese cuisine.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.