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Jagalchi Fish Market

Jagalchi Fish Market

This legendary market will blow the mind of anyone who happens to have even a passing interest in seafood. The sheer variety of sea creatures sold here must be seen to be believed: apart from Korean favourites like crab and eel, there are the myriad types of fish and shellfish (try the 'kalguksu' noodles with clams, or 'bajirak'), plus essentially anything that can be extracted from the deep waters washing over Busan. Take a stroll around to gawk at the market's curiosities, such as the sea worm ('gaebul'), whose visual similarity to the male reproductive organ has earned it the apt nickname of 'penis fish'. Then, select the seafood that tickles your fancy and have it be cooked right then and there by one of the shops inside the market, many of which have a seating area in the second floor. Get all your seafood from a single vendor if you can, then proceed upstairs to be served your selection accompanied by sauces and side dishes (a few the latter can even be served on the house if you're in luck). Mind that a cooking charge applies, and the price on side dishes is listed per person. Given the upsurge in tourist numbers, prices at Jagalchi have reportedly gone up in recent years, leaving it for travellers who aren't exactly on a budget. Do not despair: most of what you'll see at the market is also served at nearly any seafood restaurant in town, and at a lower charge in some cases.
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Nampo-dong & BIFF Square

Nampo-dong & BIFF Square

Taking its name from the Busan International Film Festival, BIFF is certainly at its liveliest during this esteemed annual event, but remains a happening place throughout the rest of the year. It's best known for the street food stalls dotting the area and the 400+ metre-long street itself, with a plethora of Korean specialities cooked up by the skilled vendors (look for Gwangbokdong Food Street for the biggest selection). Our top pick among those would have to be the ubiquitous 'hotteok' pancakes stuffed with a sweet mix of crushed seeds and brown sugar. Nampo-dong is the greater area around the street itself, packed with a dizzying array of restaurants, shops, cafes, movie theatres, and more. Evening is the best time to come.
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Gamcheon Culture Village

Gamcheon Culture Village

2009 saw Gamcheon turn from an area of budget housing for refugees of the Korean War into a premier tourist attraction, all thanks to a collective effort by local students and artists, who transformed the neighbourhood with colourful wall painting and street art. Today Gamcheon even has a tourist office of its own: stop by on your way in to pick up a detailed map of the village's attractions; collect a stamp at each and you'll receive a small prize from the tourist office on submission. There is a small museum telling the neighbourhood's story, and a number of shops, cafes and street food stalls. When wandering the maze of Gamcheon's streets, please respect the privacy of family homes.
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Beomeo-sa Temple

Beomeo-sa Temple

This spectacular urban Buddhist temple (the head temple of the Jogye Order) is a highlight on any Busan itinerary. A pleasant uphill hike through quiet nature will take you to temple grounds, with beautiful ornate pavilions, Buddhist statues and worshippers, which include both temporary visitors and monks who reside here permanently. Temple grounds tend to get busy during holidays and weekends. You can either make a few hours' trip or – for full cultural immersion – book an overnight stay that includes an introduction to monastic life, complete with joining a formal dinner and pre-dawn chanting. Stays must booked in advance via the website, and there are several different programmes available. If you opt for the full experience, do mind that the (silent!) wake-up hour is at 5am.
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Dongbaekseom Park & Haeundae Beach

Dongbaekseom Park & Haeundae Beach

Explore the wood walkways traversing Dongbaekseom Park and take in the spectacular views of the coastline from several viewing platforms along the way. It's a very pleasant, scenic walk in the shade of pine trees that lends itself well to photos; you'll see Busan's own mermaid statue looking out longingly to the sea soon upon entering. Busan's most popular public beach, Haeundae, is right next to the park. It gets rather busy during the summers (in August especially so); bring your own sun umbrella if you plan to stay longer.
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Igidae Coastal Walk

Igidae Coastal Walk

Igidae Coastal Walk makes for a wonderful hike along the shore of the Sea of Japan. The path itself is of moderate difficulty, with some parts featuring pedestrian bridges and others running directly through natural terrain. The entire path is about 4km long and should take about 2 hours to complete in its entirety, but there are access points along the way which you can use to cut through to a nearby bus stop. The trail can be done both north to south and vice versa, although heading north is reportedly easier and comes with an added bonus of finishing the hike at the scenic Oryukdo Skywalk, standing on a see-through platform and looking down onto the rocky shore.
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Jjimjilbang (Spa)

Jjimjilbang (Spa)

Jjimjilbang culture holds firmly in Korea, with the Busan area alone boasting around 450 spa centres (the largest number compared to any other region). It's important to note that the absolute majority of spas require that guests of both genders remove all of their clothing prior to accessing any of the baths or hot springs (this includes swimwear). Heosimcheong Spa is the largest of kind in Asia (and extremely reasonably priced), but there are other options for a slightly more refined experience that's still very affordable (the luxurious Spa Land Centum City, to name one). Some spas (such as Hill Spa, for example) remain open 24/7; these are sometimes used as a place to spend the night in lieu of a hotel room. For a lighter version of the experience, visit a "foot-only" spa, where anyone can sit down and soak their feet in hot thermal water for a few minutes. Dongnae Spa Outdoor Foot Bath is one address to experience this.
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