Busan (Pusan), South Korea

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South Korea’s second-largest city (after the capital, Seoul), Busan is located in the southeastern corner of the country along the Sea of Japan. It combines a vibrant, big-city atmosphere with a famously laid-back attitude and subtropical landscapes. Often described as the "San Francisco of Korea," thanks mainly to its hilly terrain and close-knit neighborhoods, it offers visitors a little of everything: fashionable boutiques, dynamic culture and buzzy nightlife, as well as sandy beaches, hot springs and nearby mountains crossed with hiking trails and dotted with temples. Cultural highlights include the Gamcheon Cultural Village; the spectacular Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, built into the side of a cliff; and Art Street in Sinchang-dong, which hosts art competitions, exhibitions and cultural events such as the annual Busan International Film Festival. Those who enjoy hiking can explore the famed cliffs of Taejongdae Park, while the white sand beaches at Gwangalli and Haeundae are ideal places to relax by the seashore. Foodies will love Busan, too, not just for its excellent restaurants but also for the many atmospheric markets: the low-key Millak Hoe Town Market, tourist spots like Jagalchi Fish Market and the market at Haeundae with its ramshackle stalls selling gukpab (a traditional rice soup).