North Busan comprises of the districts of Buk-gu, Dongnae-gu and Geumjeong-gu in Busan. Easy to overlook, the north part of the city has fewer tourist attractions and is more sparsely populated. Nevertheless it offers excellent hiking opportunities, as well as vibrant student life around the Pusan National University.
Busan Metro Line 1 runs directly through the north part of Busan, taking you close to most of the destinations.
1 Beomeosa Station is the closest to the Beomeosa temple and the North Gate (see below)
2 Pusan National University Station is naturally close to the University and right in the middle of the action.
3 Oncheonjang Station is the best station to climb to the fortress via Cable Car or bus.
- 1 Beomeosa Temple (Line 1, Beomeosa station. Take exit 5 from the station and make a U-turn, turn left and take bus 90 from the station a few hundred meters up (₩900, 20min ride, every 15 minutes).). One of Korea's great temples, this large complex is located up in the mountains and feels further away from the city than the few kilometers that it really is. The buildings have been destroyed and rebuilt many times since they were founded back in 678, yet they are still atmospheric. The temple does get packed with worshippers, hikers and tourists on weekends. Note that the road from the metro station to the temple is steep and winding, so it is probably best not to try and walk it.
- 2 Geumjeong Fortress North Gate. Offers commanding views over the city of Busan. It can be reached via a relatively steep 2km climb of the mountain behind the Beomeosa Temple.
- 3 Geumjeong Fortress East Gate (Take the 203 Orange bus from Oncheonjang station. Otherwise hike south from the North Gate or hike north from the South Gate.).
- 4 Geumjeong Fortress South Gate (A short walk from the top of the cable car, or a few km from the East Gate, or also the 203 Orange bus from Oncheonjang station).
- 5 Pusan National University (Line 1 - Pusan National University Station. Do NOT mistake this for an earlier station called 'Busan National University of Education'). The area around the PNU is very lively. It is full of students, bars, cafes and fashion shops. You can try Korean student food specialties. Note that it retains the old spelling of 'Pusan'.
- 6 Chungryeolsa Shrine (Line 4, Chungryolsa Station). Take bus number. 29, 29-1, 89 or 129 and walk for five minutes. ₩200 adults, ₩100 children.
- 7 Busan Maritime Natural History Museum (부산해양자연사박물관), 175, Ujangchun-ro, Dongnae-gu, 부산광역시 동래구 우장춘로 175 (온천동) (Oncheonjang Station (Busan Subway Line 1), Exit 1.). Tu-Su 09:00-18:00. South Korea's largest collection of sealife exhibits, with giant squid, whale sharks and oarfish.
- 8 Busan Folklore Arts Center (Behind the Busan Maritime Natural History Museum).
- 9 Oryundae Korean Martyrs Museum (Guseo Station, Line 4). Roman Catholic museum dedicated to eight Christian martyrs who were killed for their faith in 1868.
- 10 Busan Al-Fatah Mosque (한국 이슬람 부산성원), No. 30-1, Namsan-dong, Geumjeong-gu. A mosque established in 1980.
- 1 Hurshimchung Spa (허심청) (subway Oncheonjang - exit 1, cross the street and make a beeline for Hotel Nong Shim; it's connected by a walkway). The spa is closed in May for vacation and re-opens in June.. This massive hot spring complex claims to be the largest in Asia: Noboribetsu might disagree, but it certainly is huge, with hot, tepid, cold and strawberry milk-filled baths, saunas, pools, and an outdoor section. On the 3rd floor is a large jjimjilbang resting area, containing (among other things) a restaurant, a beauty salon, an oxygen room, and three 'igloos' heated to 81°C, 51°C and 0°C. You'll get a key when you come in, use it to open your shoe and clothes lockers and pay for any purchases inside. Men's and women's spas are segregated but the resting area is shared, so pick up a robe before you head downstairs. There's also some signage in English to guide you around. You can stay as long as you want, but it gets quite crowded and noisy on weekends. Entry to the spa is ₩8000, plus ₩2,000 for the jjimjilbang.
- 2 Geumgang Park and Cable Car (Leave Oncheonjang station, exit 1. Probably best take a taxi to get past all the streets to the foot of the mountain.). Nice park at the foot of the mountains in North Busan. There are some small amusement rides for children as well. The highlight is the cable car that takes you to the top of the mountain near Namsam Gate. (Note that some signs call the cable car a 'rope way')
The mountains around Busan have some good hiking trails. Hiking trails are not really well marked in Korea, even if you can read Korean script. Definitely do your research before you hike.
- Geumjeong Fortress. A popular route is to take the subway to Oncheongjang, and then a short taxi ride to the cable car station. At the top of the mountain head towards the South Gate (Nammun) of Geumjeong Fortress and then through the North Gate (Bukmun) and down to Beomeosa Temple. This has a distance of 9 km (Taking between 3 to 4 hours).
- 3 Seokbulsa temple (석불사) (From the South Gate (남문), the path indicated by the Mandeokchon (만덕촌) sign leads to a collection of restaurants and volleyball courts in Namman Village (남만 마을). At one point, the path stops at a court; walk right and pick up the trail on the other side. About 500m down the trail look for a sign that reads in Korean 석불사 입구 (Seokbulsa entrance). You will come to a steep mountain road. Turn right and walk the road 600m uphill to the temple.). An impressive temple about 90 minutes hike from the cable car station. It is often overlooked, but has magnificent statues carved into the mountain itself. Great views over Busan and very peaceful. Free.
The PNU (Pusan National University) has a great deal of shops for students, and you can buy all kinds of clothes and mobile phone accessories.
There are a lot of al fresco dining options in Namman village, not far from the top of the cable car and the South Gate. (Namman means South Gate)
The walk along the mountain tops to Geumjeong Fortress will have vendors selling freshly cooked Korean fish cake. This tastes surprisingly good after some climbing!
- Pusan National University. In the PNU area you can buy a lot of Korean student food specialties, such as Don Katsu and Croquette (Goroke - 고로케).
Your best bet for a drink in this area is at the innumerable student bars around the PNU (Pusan National University).
There are many hotels clustered around Myeongnyun (명륜) Station. However, it is still might be easier to take the Metro Line 1 into Central Busan for a wider range of hostels and hotels.
- 1 Hotel Nongshim. Close to the Hurshimchung Spa and has a German brewery.
- 2 Beomeosa Temple Stay. You can stay at the Beomeosa temple, learning and practicing Buddhism. Note that this is immersive, so not really to be treated like a hotel.
- 3 Love Hotels. The mountain road behind Mandeok is (in)famous for a wide selection of love motels