Busan is the second biggest city of South Korea with over 3.6 million people. It is located in the Southern East part of South Korea. Flying over Busan from Jeju Island is the easiest and cheapest way to get there. There are a couple of things to explore such as the Haeundae Beach, the Gwangalli Beach, the Yongdusan Park, the Jagalchi Market or the Gamcheon Village. The Nampo, Seomyeon and Bujeon are probably the most vibrant districts.
Busan is also the last city I visit in South Korea before flying over Myanmar.
Let’s be blunt. I don’t like to beat around the bush. South Korea is the least interesting country I have ever traveled to. This is a sort of politically correct phrasing. I have always been interested in discovering South Korea. The country is mainly known for its economic performance moving from a third world country to a world leading economy in the last 50 years. I was really looking forward to learn more about the South Korean people and explore the country’s wonders.
While South Korea might be the last destination one would think of when traveling Asia, the government is working hard to development its travel economy (2018 Olympic Games, digital marketing campaigns and a 3 months visa exemption). I thought South Korea was one of these nature wonders that are still underrated. I extensively explored 15 different places across the country for nearly 2 months. I still can’t believe how BAD the experience was!
Landscape-wise the country is extremely disappointing. Nothing is really worth it except for the Seoraksan National Park and the Jeju Island. I made it through South Korea in summer which is probably the worst season. Landscapes are embellished by the yellow/red/brown foliage in autumn, by the snow in winter and by the blossom in spring.
Only Seoul stands out for its vibrancy as a city. South Korean cities have no architecture or design, no vibe or atmosphere and finaly no real historical heritage. Cities are just extremely ugly. The country developed at such pace over the last 50 years that design has never been a priority.
Any historical heritage site is being destroyed to rebuild a brand new one or sights are being massively renoved. Landscape sites are equipped with platforms and fences. Not only it looks horrible but you are legally entitled to stay within the designated path. Traveling South Korea really felt like being a 8 years old in a Kindergarden.
Let me phrase this last point correctly since I do not want to sound judgmental. The South Korean society, its values and its education scheme are defining people mentality. South Korean are extremely shy and quite nationalist. Let’s just say that you can’t expect any level of interaction or curiosity as you would get in any other country in the world. Only the ones that have had an international exposure are willing to exchange but finding these people is just like looking for a needle in a haystack. I understand that all of that is cultural differences but this played a big role in the fact that South Korea was the most boring travel experience I have had.
To leave on a positive note, food is definitely the real highlight of South Korea. If you handle spicy food, it is quite various. For all of these reason, I can’t really recommend South Korea as a travel destination unless it is part of a bigger Asian trip. A week and a half would be more than enough to get around Seoul, Seoraksan and Jeju.