A family getaway at Haeundae, Busan

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Mar 21, 2019 - 17:00
Updated : Mar 24, 2019 - 10:28

Although not a traditional resort town, Busan has the ABCs of a quick weekend getaway: the accommodations, the beach, and celebrated tourist attractions that are accessible by public transportation.

The great thing about Busan is that it is big enough to have something for everyone -- from 24-hour bars and super clubs to scenic walking trails.

One major attraction is the beach at Haeundae, one of the most popular sites in the city of 4 million. Located in the southeast part of the city, it has one of the best walking routes in Busan, from Dongbaek Park on land-tied Dongbaek Island all the way across the kilometer-long beach.

While the summer is when the beach is infamously packed with tourists, a visit there in the spring offers a peek at some of the coastal city’s most memorable features.


Upon arriving at Haeundae Station, instead of walking toward the beach and the towering buildings, turn around and take a gander at the street packed with small shops, cafes and restaurants. You have reached the road known as Haeridan-gil.

Like Seoul’s famous Gyeongnidan-gil, Haeridan-gil is home to hip eateries and cafes popular with the younger generation. It takes around half an hour to look around this area. 

A woman poses outside a shop on Busan’s trendy street Haeridan-gil. / Paradise Hotel Busan

Popular shops here include Moru Pound, specializing in Japanese-style pound cakes that cost 2,500 won ($2.22) a slice, the macaron shop Pegcaron and Noe Bakery.

Unlike its Seoul counterpart, Haeridan-gil has not yet been marred by gentrification. Thus the dishes are affordable, the shops are not too crowded and the owners are nice. It is definitely a place worth checking out.

A children’s paradise

One fad among couples and young families in Korea is the “hocance” -- a word coined by combining “hotel” and the French word “vacance” -- a short vacation spent enjoying a hotel’s features.

One recommendable destination in the southern lands is Paradise Hotel Busan, simply because it made me jealous that I was not a kid.

Last month, Paradise Hotel Busan launched a service it calls “Paradise Kids Time,” consisting of a child care service staffed by employees professionally trained to oversee educational games. The service runs between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., for diminutive guests aged between 5 and 8.

Children have fun driving and learning about road safety at the BMW Kids Driving Zone in Paradise Hotel Busan. / Paradise Hotel Busan

It is not your routine day care center, though. Hotel guests can access Paradise Kids Village at no extra charge, so their children can enter the BMW Kids Driving Zone and PlayStation Zone, Haba Kids Lounge & Woongjin Book Club. Day guests dining at the hotel’s On The Plate and Nyx grill restaurants can also apply for the service.

An ensemble dinner at the grill restaurant Nyx / Paradise Hotel Busan

As an adult, every now and then there are “I was born too early” moments. Stepping inside the BMW Kids Driving Zone was one of them.

Children visiting the zone can step inside fully operational plastic cars, designed like BMW sedans, and drive around a racetrack. That looked so much more fun than the equivalent when I was a kid, sitting on a couch holding a bucket pretending to drive -- #screwthe90s.

The 50-minute program, offered three times a day, consists of a 20-minute class on road safety, 15 minutes on practice crossing the street properly, and 15 minutes of actual driving. Needless to say, the last segment blew the kids’ minds.

Older children could slip into the PlayStation Zone, which consists of popular games from the Sony platform. A particularly impressive feature was the PlayStation VR corner, which offered a virtual reality experience with games kids could jump into.

Each child using the Paradise Kids Time service also gets a premium meal box set, the Paradise Kids Yumbox.

While the kids are away having the time of their lives, the parents can relax at the ocean spa, Cimer, located in full view of the ocean. Swimsuits are available for rent.

Cimer, the outdoor spa at Paradise Hotel Busan / Paradise Hotel Busan

Cimer, the outdoor spa at Paradise Hotel Busan / Paradise Hotel Busan

The hotel’s gym and its outdoor swimming pool also offer ocean views.

Among the peculiar features at the Nyx grill is the newly presented “ensemble dinner,” a packaged meal comprising both Western- and Eastern-style dishes under the direction of chef Daniel Hwang. For example, a main course of medium-rare steak can be accompanied by sushi or the Korean noodle dish “naengmyeon.”

For guests who would like to try all the aforementioned features, Paradise Hotel Busan offers a Haeundae Gourmet package consisting of a room, access to the spa and pool, a food coupon worth 20,000 won that can be used at eateries Haeridan-gil and Haeundae, access to Paradise Kids Village and the hotel’s Leo (Leisure Activity Organizer) program, a bus tour that hits the city’s most scenic routes.

For more information in Korean, English, Chinese or Japanese, visit https://www.busanparadisehotel.co.kr.

Other attractions in Busan

Although the blazing hot summer is when most people visit the beach, Haeundae also has a lot to offer from April to June. The annual Haeundae Sand Festival takes place in May, and the Centum Beer Festival runs May 31 through June 16.

The beer festival offers events like K-pop performances, a dance contest, an electronic dance music party and -- most importantly -- beer, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. at KNN Tower.

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)


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