Seoul might hold the official title as South Korea’s capital city, but when the sunshine heats up the beaches, Busan is the place to be.
Although it’s not technically summer in Korea, for most of us, it’s close enough. With the thermometer dancing around the 25 degree celsius mark, it’s time to crawl out of hibernation and hit the beaches.
And while Seoul has been working away at improving the Han River waterfront and now has a vast network of riverside parks, if you want to get wet it’s time to hit the Southern coast.
Most of western side of Korea isn’t the most beach-friendly: sediment and mud is pushed up from out of the Yellow Sea, leaving much of the coastline more sticky than sandy. But on the southern tip of the peninsula the water’s fine.
Aside from the landmark Gwangan Bridge, the waterfront along Gwangalli Beach is absolutely packed with restaurants, bars and cafes. At night the skies come alive with fireworks which can be easily purchased at several convenience stores nearby (often you can buy them directly on the beach as well). Since drinking in public has no taboo in Korea, the beaches are often more alive than the night clubs and can be a great place to meet people.
Busan’s most well-known beach, Haeundae is definitely a stopping point for most visitors and is the largest in the Busan region. A word of fair warning, however: it can get rather crowded on hot summer days.
As an added point of interest, the beach is the location for South Korea’s first big-budget disaster movie, appropriately entitled Haeundae, in which one can watch the entire city swallowed by a gargantuan tidal wave.
On second thought, it’s perhaps a film best watched after returning from you vacation in Busan.