Where to stay in Busan: Explore Korea's cool coastal city

Offering up a mix of food, fashion and entertainment, check out to where to stay in Busan to get the most out of your city experience.

Korea’s second-largest city, Busan, is a feast for the senses: imagine streets perfumed with incense, teeny local restaurants serving mouthwatering spicy pork dumplings, neon-lit shopping centres and misty mountains overlooking windswept shores. You can spend the morning hiking to a temple-topped mountain, be back downtown for lunch of succulent king crab at Jagalchi Market, and end the day with some duty-free shopping right at your hotel. Whether you’re interested in picking up luxury goodies at the world’s biggest department store or just want to relax on Gwangalli Beach, this city’s got you covered.

When it comes to hotels, you’ll find cool and comfy spaces from the buzzing city centre to the serene mountains and the sandy shoreline, making accommodation in Busan as diverse as the city itself. Chill out in outdoor spas overlooking the East Sea, or set your little ones free in indoor play zones where they can zoom around in kid-sized BMWs. Foodies can explore tantalising Korean specialties – including Busan signatures like hearty dwaeji gukbap (pork rice soup) and hwe iguksu (noodles with raw fish) – alongside Western and Eastern favourites on the city’s hotel menus before retiring for an evening of drinks on your private balcony.

Where to stay in Busan on the city's famous Haeundae Beach


Paradise by name, paradise by nature: Paradise Hotel Busan is right on bustling Haeundae Beach. After you check in, head up to the outdoor spa for the infinity pool and hot tub overlooking the East Sea. You can visit the sapphire-studded dry sauna before indulging in a treatment at the on-site spa, which offers traditional Japanese services like a sake bath and a five-element mist room.

Dining options at Paradise range from the serene and spacious On The Plate buffet, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over gardens and sea, to local treats at the Boutique Bakery. From your seat in a vintage-style booth at the ritzy Nyx grill, dive into dishes like Sobaeksan beef tenderloin with truffle foie-gras in a perigourdine sauce.

‘Screen golf’, where you can practice your swing on a virtual driving range, has taken off in Korea in the last five years, and Paradise Hotel has its own facility. Didn’t bring your clubs? You can borrow a set, gloves and gear from reception. While you’re improving your game, the kids can rev up mini BMWs at the indoor driving area or challenge each other to video games in the PlayStation Zone – the biggest in the country.

After a day of activity, you’ll be eager to hit your modern guest room to unwind. Our antidote to a long day: savouring a drink on your private balcony over the water before sinking into bed. In the morning, wake to ocean views without having to lift your head from the pillow.

Paradise Hotel Busan

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (2465 reviews)

Where to stay in Busan if you want a plush hotel


The century-old Westin Chosun Busan is one of the fanciest hotels in Busan thanks to amenities like a glassed-in swimming pool and sauna overlooking the sweeping curve of Haeundae Beach. The naturally radium-filled water – said to be great for your health – is pumped from the bedrock of nearby Camellia Island. When it’s sunny, dry off on the rooftop terrace or in the poolside garden after a soothing soak and steam.

In your guest room, mix a drink from the minibar while contemplating hitting the hay early in your bespoke Westin ‘Heavenly Bed’ draped in soft linens. Upgrade to an Executive stay for shoe shining and a Nespresso coffee machine with two different blends of java. If you can bear to leave such luxury, we recommend a visit to Yonggungsa – a functioning, 14th century Buddhist temple complex set on a trail along the dramatic coast.

When you want to indulge your appetite, you can have anything from seafood ramen to Dom Perignon cuvée delivered to your room by 24-hour room service. Or, you can duck into any of the hotel’s five places to eat. Try artfully sliced sashimi beneath ambient oil lamps at Camellia’s buffet restaurant, munch on crispy battered fish and chips at O’Kim’s Irish bar or nibble on sugary afternoon tea at Panorama Lounge. For traditional Korean food, head to Sheobul for dishes like moist and salty galbitang (beef short-rib soup), then finish your meal with rainbow macaroons at the on-site Chosun deli.

The Westin Josun Busan

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (2186 reviews)

Where to stay in Busan when you're on a budget

The boutique-style Hotel Soyu in Busan is a budget option in the city’s central district, so you can save your won for shopping. The chic interior, complete with Chesterfield sofas in the plant-filled lobby, provides a warm welcome. Check in to your clean, modern room and admire the tiled or marble floors on your way to the en-suite bathroom to freshen up. Each room has coffee and tea facilities and a fridge and dining area, so you’ll have space to store and eat the local Korean snacks you picked up at a corner store (our top pick is dried seaweed strips). After watching a show on your flatscreen TV, you’ll enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep in your soundproofed room.

The hotel’s location is an ideal base if you’re looking for things to do in Busan. Nearby are local spots like the famous Jagalchi Market (16 minutes by public transport), the biggest seafood market in Korea. Here you can select fresh seafood before having it cooked – or simply sliced – in one of the on-site restaurants. A favourite dish among locals is sannakji (chopped-up octopus tentacles), a dish so fresh it wriggles on your plate. Ask the staff back at the hotel for tips on where to eat this – they speak English and are happy to help.

Busan is a hub for shopping, so make sure to swing by Gwangbok-dong Cultural and Fashion Street (17 minutes by public transport), keeping an eye out for K-beauty brands like The Face Shop, Tony Moly and Aritaum. It’s worth stocking up on the cutting-edge skincare and cosmetics here as the prices are much lower than in Singapore.

SOYU Hotel

9.0 Excellent (658 reviews)

Where to stay in Busan for downtown relaxation


Hotel Forêt Premier in the Nampo District is a relaxation-focused Busan hotel that begs you to unwind and refresh even in the downtown core. Calm your senses in rooms featuring hardwood furniture, muted colourways and luxury bath facilities with cosy robes for wrapping up own. Snuggle into duck-down bedding while the in-room air cleaner lets you breathe easy after a day of shopping on Gwangbokro Cultural and Fashion Street (just a short walk away). You can upgrade to a Deluxe room for views of neon lights and landmarks like Namhang Bridge – you might even spot Jagalchi Market, only 200 metres away, near the shining water.

Pop into the on-site Starbucks for your first coffee of the day – made even better when you sneak in a cheeky massage in one of the chairs in the lobby. If you’re not so much a caffeine freak, you can grab a refreshment from the complimentary drinks bar. When hungry, fill up on hearty Western dishes made with fresh veggies at the American chain restaurant, Outback, a favourite franchise among locals. We recommend chilling on the terrace afterwards, perhaps with a bottle of makgeolli – a deliciously sour Korean rice wine from the local mini market. For people watching, soak in the views of BIFF Square down below, a section of the city named after the star-studded international film festival held in Busan every year.

If you love hiking and are wondering what to do in Busan, join the locals in their comically neon sports gear for a walk up to Jangsan Mountain. You’ll be greeted with windswept views of the city’s tall buildings hugging the coastline. The base of the mountain is accessible via subway (just head to Jangsan Station), or you can grab a taxi – also a super affordable way to travel in Korea.

Hotel Foret Premier Nampo

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (2044 reviews)

Where to stay in Busan if you want a rooftop pool


Towering over the city’s commercial area, Seomyeon, the sleek Lotte Hotel Busan is right next to the shopping centre of the same name. Pick up designer goodies here, then continue your holiday shopping at the hotel’s duty-free shop, try your luck at the on-site high-rolling casino or practice your golf swing at the 50-metre driving range with automatic tee-up system on the top floor. When you need a break from the excitement, a plunge in one of the hotel’s two swimming pools is in order. You can take a dip indoors under a clear domed roof or soak up the sun in the outdoor pool surrounded by skyscrapers.

La Seine is the hotel’s slick buffet restaurant, where you’ll find over 170 food choices. Located on the fifth floor with floor to ceiling windows, the restaurant dishes up expansive city views in addition to steamed snow crab, gooey Turkish pizza and sumptuous truffle pappardelle. After your culinary tour of the world, head back to your room for some post-dinner rest. You can customise your contemporary sleep space here with five types of pillows to choose from, including one stuffed with buckwheat hull that’s said to stabilise blood pressure for a healthier snooze. You’ll also have panoramas of the lush green mountains that border the city in the distance.

Lotte Hotel Busan

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (2779 reviews)

Where to stay in Busan for a bit of homely luxury


Citadines Haeundae Busan is 10 minutes from Haeundae, the glitzy beach strip lined with gleaming buildings. This apartment-style hotel is ideal if you like a bit of extra space on your trips abroad. You can try your hand at Korean cooking in the kitchen of your private studio or flat – all of which come in calming, muted colours and have sleek hardwood floors. Opt for a Premier Suite with a balcony to start your day with a sparkling sea view. As extra bonuses, you’ll find a self-service launderette if you’re staying long-term and a 24-hour gym if you get the urge to work out at 2 a.m.

Breakfast at Citadines is buffet-style, so it’s super filling, and there are plenty of barbecue restaurants in the local area for taking part in the classic Korean lunch or dinner ritual: cooking soy-marinated cuts of meat over a charcoal grill in the middle of your table. We recommend Anga, a popular spot for foodies, just a few blocks away.

You’ll want to take time out to rest in the residents’ lounge and private garden after a day exploring sights like Gamcheon Culture Village, a former slum given a new lease on life when it was repurposed into a must-see neighbourhood swathed in bright colours – now popular on Instagram! Seek out street stalls and cafés here selling siia hotteok – a sweet fried delicacy sprinkled with sesame seeds – for an authentic taste of Busan.

Felix by STX Hotel & Suite

Top rated
8.7 Excellent (213 reviews)

Where to stay in Busan if you want affordable luxury


If you’re searching for wallet-friendly accommodation in Haeundae, look to SC Helsinki. This Busan hotel is a three-minute walk from the subway station and five from the beach. If you’re travelling by car, leave your ride with the valet service and head straight to your laidback, Scandi-inspired room. Plug in your smartphone to the wireless charger, put on a meditative sleep track and hop into goose-down bedding for a dreamy sleep in your climate-controlled space. Some suites even have freestanding tubs in spacious bathrooms – a rarity in Korea and perfect for winding down at the end of a day of exploring the city.

In the morning, throw on some tunes using your room’s Bluetooth speaker while you map out your Busan itinerary. You should be well fed before you head out – the breakfast buffet at the hotel includes Korean staples like bibimbap – hot-stone bowls of rice mixed with seasonal vegetables and gochujang, a tangy chilli pepper sauce. We recommend checking out Korea’s café culture on the cool and calm Dalmaji Hill, where you can pop by Bibibidang for hobakbingsu, a refreshing dessert made from shaved ice and chunks of sweet pumpkin. Later on, see how much the Korean craft beer scene has exploded thanks to establishments like Galmegi Brewing, Busan’s first microbrewery. You can sit and sip local IPAs and pale ales while you plan the next day’s adventures.

Sc Helsinki