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South Korea's vibrant second city, Busan, has temples, bustling shopping areas, sizzling street food and mountains that rise above neon-lit cityscapes. Haeundae Beach buzzes with nightlife and festivals year-round, and nearby Gwangalli Beach overlooks the landmark Gwangan Bridge. The annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has left its mark on the city, from celebrity handprints in BIFF Square to sculptures in glitzy Centum City.
Whether you're here to party all night or shop till you drop, hostels in Busan cater to the occasion. You can stay in a hostel with sea views over Haeundae Beach, modern accommodation with space for 200 guests or a contemporary Busan hostel with a small garden. Rooms tend to be well soundproofed and some hostels have underfloor heating to keep you cosy on cooler nights. Free toiletries are common and some Busan hostels offer extra features such as a jjimjilbang (a traditional Korean sauna), free bike hire or barbecue facilities.
Haeundae Beach is one of Busan's best-known neighbourhoods, with restaurants serving food from all over the world and bars that stay busy until the early hours. Seomyeon is Busan's downtown area, known for its chic cafés, while Gwangalli Beach is home to craft beer bars and live music venues. In the evening, take a stroll along the beach here to listen to buskers or see Gwangan Bridge lit up. Busan Station is the city's most international district, with a historic Chinatown and lots of Russian and Filipino restaurants.
As well as its beaches, Busan's attractions include colourful Gamcheon Culture Village, packed full of murals and brightly painted sculptures by local artists and Jagalchi Fish Market, the largest seafood market in the country. Busy BIFF Square is a popular spot to eat street food such as ssiat hotteok, a specialty pancake filled with sweet chopped nuts and seeds. Further along Busan's rocky coastline, Haedong Yonggungsa is one of the only oceanfront temples in South Korea.
Gimhae International Airport is approximately 45 minutes by subway from Busan city centre. High-speed trains run regularly between Busan Station and Seoul, and it's well connected by bus to locations throughout South Korea. It's easy to get around on the extensive subway system and local buses, or you can hail a metered taxi from the street. At subway stations, you can buy a T-money card, which can be topped up and used on buses, trains and taxis across South Korea.