(Last Updated On: October 31, 2020)

Haeundae Beach is the jewel in Busan’s already incredible crown and even in winter, this huge stretch of glistening white sand and aquamarine ocean edged by monochrome skyscrapers and bustling markets is a spectacular sight.

Around Christmas time, this most famous section of Busan’s coastline is decorated in coloured light installations and the plumes of steam coming from the fresh seafood stalls just off the town’s main street are inviting.

While this part of Busan is a distance to get to from the lively Nampo-dong and Jagalchi area, I promise you that the just-over-an-hour train ride is worth it – even in winter.

There’s a reason that South Koreans love this coastal city, which is immediately evident when you arrive at Haeundae.

Getting to Haeundae

Bus

From Busan Station, prepare yourself for a lengthy bus ride of around 50 mins to get to Haeundae Beach. For just under an hour, take the 1003 bus line from the station all the way to Haeundae Beach. This will set you back around 1,700 KRW and is the easiest way to get to the ocean front.

Train

If the subway is more your jam, then take the orange line 1 train from Busan station to Seomyeon station and change to the green line 2 train headed towards Jeonpo station. Ride that train all the way to Haeundae station (16 stops) and then there’s a short walk to the beach from there. This route is slightly cheaper than the bus at 1,500 KRW and there really isn’t that much difference in journey times.

Taxi

Alternatively, if you’re not keen on public transport and don’t mind shelling out a bit more cash, then Taxis in Busan are really clean, safe and reliable. In just 38 minutes, it’s possible to get from Busan Station area to Haeundae. A taxi using no tolls will cost around 15,800 KRW and with tolls (which is only 5 mins quicker) will cost around 17,200 KRW.

Navigation Tip: Google Maps doesn’t work well in Korea. Instead download the app NaverMaps which gives you fantastic and up to date information about the public transit system and walking/driving travel including journey times and cost.

What to do in Haeundae in Winter

Explore the beach

Haeundae Beach is absolutely magical in Winter. There is something so nice about avoiding hordes of tourists in the peak summer heat and experiencing a more isolated, deserted and wild looking version of Busan’s main beach.

Being an Australian, I’m used to gorgeous beaches, but this skyscraper-clad stretch of sand is quite unique. It feels like a beach in the middle of a city; highly populated and a mix of business and pleasure. 

The area is also famous for hot springs, so you’ll notice along the boardwalk a foot spa that’s available for people seeking a little natural luxury, though it was shut down in the Christmas and New Year period when I visited.

Check out the Christmas Lights 

South Korean’s love their Christmas light displays, and Haeundae Beach is a perfect example of just how breathtaking and elaborate these festivals are. By day in Winter, the beach is a wild and windy affair but when the sun goes down the pure magic of the sand strewn with blue icicle lights and installations is palpable.

The main street in Haeundae is covered too in brilliant lighting with the feature being an archway tunnel leading from an illuminated 2019 through to 2020 with a giant Christmas tree at the end of the walkway.

Eat Street Food at the Haeundae Market

Busan is a market city and Haeundae is no exception. The area here is thick with haze from tiny street vendor stalls and outside many are bubbling fish tanks loaded full of octopus, hagfish and shellfish; their inhabitants just waiting to accept their fate as someone’s dinner. 

For those with a strong stomach, there’s little that is more uniquely Korean than watching the bizarre eel like hagfish being scooped up from the tank and then skinned alive and chopped up, still wriggling. From there, the pieces of fish wind up on the grill, ready to be cooked and eaten. Though hagfish are found in many parts of the world, only the Korean’s are known to eat them. 

Busan’s Haeundae Beach is a must-visit at any time of year, but there is something special about it in Winter. Christmas lights, warming street food and a spectacular sandy beach are just the beginning of the fun here. 

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