Train to Busan

Guest Post By: Maansa Jayaraman, a Junior studying Finance, CISB, and Korean. She studied abroad through a Foster Exchange and Direct Enroll at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, during Autumn Semester 2022.

When I was studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea during Fall Semester, I decided to take a two-day trip to Busan with one of my friends during our Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays. Busan, South Korea’s second-most populous city, is known for having beautiful beaches with sparkling blue waters, one-of-a-kind temples, and bustling street markets. 

To get to Busan from Seoul, you have two main transportation options. The first choice is to take the KTX (Korea’s high-speed railway system). While it is more expensive and you may have to reserve seats in advance, the travel time is the shortest – clocking in at around 2.5 to 3 hours. The second choice is to take an express bus. These can take around 4 to 5 hours depending on the traffic that day, but you will get to experience Korea’s highway rest-stops. These rest stops are special spots where travelers can stop by to have a short break from their long-distance travels, re-fuel cars, purchase items of interest, and most importantly, eat something from the wide variety of amazing Korean snacks sold! 

Once in Busan, some places I highly recommend stopping by are the following:

  • Haeundae and Gwangalli Beach  

Haeundae is the most famous beach in Busan, and it is known for its silver-colored sands. Since it is quite popular, I recommend visiting the beach in the morning. Not only are there less tourists and you can relax to the peaceful sound of waves, but the views of the sun rising above the waters are absolutely stunning.

Compared to Haeundae, Gwangalli is a bit less known amongst tourists. But it is certainly worth a visit thanks to its breathtaking scenery and welcoming ambiance. The lights at night, as Gwangan Bridge lights up, makes the view from the beach unforgettable. There are also busking performers who sing along the beach, and many trendy cafes and restaurants nearby. 

  • Gamcheon Culture Village  

Gamcheon Culture Village, also known as “Korea’s Santorini” or the “Machu Pichu of Korea” is an area known for its layered streets and brightly painted houses and murals which have been restored in recent years to attract tourists. Gamcheon Culture Village is one of Korea’s few remaining dal-dong-naes or “moon villages”. These regions once housed some of the country’s poorest people. However, in an effort to convert the village to a cultural hub, houses and alleys were painted in vibrant, eye-catching colors, murals were drawn, and colorful art installations were included such as scenes from the book “The Little Prince”. Empty homes were also converted into cafes, museums, shops, and galleries, making the village one of the most popular attractions in Busan. 

Overall, if you have time, I highly recommend visiting Busan while staying in South Korea. The two days I spent here were really memorable and felt too short to visit the abundance of culturally significant sites you can find here.