Gwangalli is a summertime sensation
Flanked by Namcheon-dong (neighborhood) and Millak-dong, Gwangalli has quietly established itself in recent years as a must-visit destination for folks looking for an alternative to Haeundae, its more famous fellow beach further east.
Gwangalli's sand and surf bring not only sunbathers and swimmers, but jet skiers, people watchers and trendsetters, as well. For your next trip to the area, here are some options for an excellent adventure.
Stand-up paddle boarding
This summer, check off "stand-up paddle boarding" from your "When in Korea" to-do list.
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is an ocean sport that sends participants out to sea on a surfboard. It has gained popularity in recent times among Korean water warriors.
Because it doesn't require professional training, unlike kite boarding and wakeboarding, even beginners can easily become capable paddle boarders in much less time than they might have believed possible.
In Gwangalli the waves and winds are gentler than other beaches in Busan, providing a better learning environment for the sport. SUP lessons here allow even first timers the chance to go out on the sea.
To capitalize on the growing interest, the Suyeong-gu district office is offering free two-hour SUP lessons every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Sept. 30. Personal clothes, towels or shower preparations should be brought while boards, paddles, life vests and leashes can be rented on site for free.
English application inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org as applications available at leisurebusan.or.kr are not provided in English. Safety training and paddling instructions are provided before getting on a SUP board. Note: arrivals must be ready at least 30 minutes before scheduled lessons.
- Location: the WPA tent on the sands on the Samik Beach Apartment side of Gwangalli Beach
- How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exits 1 or 3. Walk down the cobblestone road toward the beach.
Where the streets have no cars
When night falls on Gwangalli in the summer, traffic grinds to a halt.
While that might sound terrible during rush hour (or, if you're the one in the car at any time), it's wonderful for walkers and bike riders on Gwangalli Beach's beachside road weekend evenings from July 1 through Aug. 27.
Amid the sounds of outdoor musicians basking in the moonlight and colorful displays from Gwangan Bridge, Gwangalli's beachside road has been designated a "car-free zone" summer weekend evenings for 11 years. Traffic control on the 800-meter road begins at 9 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday nights.
With the road free of vehicle traffic, many makeshift stages pop up for events, including local musicians, magic shows and "b-boy" dance contests. Various other booths selling trinkets, caricature drawings and other curios can also often be found.
Programs for children are especially popular here this year, including free rides on compact electric cars, chalk art, balloon art and an outdoor library. In August, people are invited to laugh with performers from Comedy Street, a program offered in conjunction with the Busan International Comedy Festival held at the end of August.
Millak Waterfront Park
From Gwangan metro station, head left once you get to the beach. There, you'll find Millak, home to a large raw fish center and Millak Waterfront Park.
Purchase fresh raw fish and head to the waterfront park. Find a seat and savor just how good locally-caught, fresh fish can taste. Of course, no raw fish meal would be complete without at least a little soju, making this a true Busan beach experience.
From this side of the beach, Gwangan Bridge seems so much bigger, like the moon when viewed from different angles and from different parts of the world. No wonder the spot is popular for amateur photographers posting masterpieces on Facebook and Instagram.
Before you leave the area, make sure to check out the soaring parking tower near Millak Port, where a large, meticulously-drawn depiction of a fisherman stands 56 meters tall. It's quite a dramatic sight and a good landmark to tell people about if they get lost!
Have fun! But, remember to have a care. That means garbage in, garbage out. For your convenience, a dumping ground for trash is nearby.
- Location: 361, Gwanganhaebyeon-ro, Suyeong-gu
- How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 1. Take bus 83-1 or just walk to the beach, heading left once you arrive. Or, Suyeong Station (Metro lines 2 and 3), exit 5. Take bus 210 near the exit and get off at the Millak Waterfront Park bus stop.
Hwangnyeongsan Observation decks
The Hwangnyeongsan Mountain observation decks, near Gwangalli, are one of the best ways to see the mass and majesty that is Busan.
The observation decks on Hwangnyeongsan Mountain offer sweeping views of large swaths of the city, from Gwangalli to Haeundae, Seomyeon to Dongnae. Beacon mounds from the Joseon Dynasty era remain at the top of the mountain, with the observation decks located below.
An indoor lounge made entirely of glass is nearby, with refreshments for those parched from the climb. Of course, if the thought of climbing Hwangnyeongsan Mountain doesn't sound refreshing, it's easy to get to the top from a taxi hailed at Geumnyeonsan Station.
Additionally, a transmitter at the mountaintop was decorated recently with bright, colorful LED lights, providing a unique sight.
- How to get there: Geumnyeonsan Station (Metro line 2), exit 6. Tell the taxi driver to take you to "Hwangnyeongsan Jeonmangdae (황령산 전망대)."
Suyeong Paldo Night Market
Located close to Gwangalli near Suyeong metro station, this regular daytime market transforms from 7 to 11 p.m. every day except Sunday. Operated by young merchants from the area, the Suyeong Paldo Night Market specializes in many kinds of tasty street food, served in a true Busan market environment.
About 20 stalls tempt tastebuds with cube steaks, bulgogi (marinated beef) burgers, samgyeopsal (pork belly), tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake), takoyaki (Japanese-style seafood-filled balls laced with sauce or other toppings) and pad Thai (stir-fried Thailand-style noodles), among other popular snacks. Prices range from 3,000 to 5,000 won.
There are tables to relax at the market. Pull up a chair and dive into your dish with a cold beer or bottle of soju purchased from one of the nearby convenience stores. Expect a wide-variety of customers, from college students, to tourists, to seasoned Suyeong stalwarts seeking a tasty, price-conscious meal in a congenial, festive environment.
Yeopjeon, a special brass coin worth 500 won, can also be purchased at the market and can be used for purchases within.
- How to get there: Suyeong Station (Metro lines 2 and 3), exit 1. Walk into the market alley leading from the exit.