If you’re looking for things to do in Busan, there will be no shortage of options. One of the most popular tourist attractions along the Haeundae Beach stretch is the Busan Aquarium. When I fist came to Busan I took one look at the facility and gave it a pass. Why? From the road it looks like a small round building and why would one want to pay to look at a single tank? Well, like an iceberg, there’s more to the story than lies on the surface. The Busan Aquarium has more than 250 species of marine life, totaling over 35,000 specimens in nearly 3 millions liters of water housed in subterranean levels. So the entire facility is under ground. That in and of itself is pretty cool.
Almost immediately you’re surround by aquatic life. The initial tanks have an assortment of fishes swimming around and I noticed something strange while filming – they seemed to watch me. Seriously, as I would stand in front of the tank with my camera, they would look at me and swim towards the camera. It was an odd experience. In total, the Aquarium has more than 40 different exhibits that include penguins, otters, jelly fish, and sharks. These areas also have benches since they draw a lot of people. Why do people flock to these areas? Well, most likely be cause the penguins and otters are so damn cute. Also, they feature feeding shows which delight visitors of all ages. However, my favorite was the large amphitheater situated in front of the main tank. The tank spans both sub-levels and is a great place to just sit and relax.
Two adventure programs are also available. The “tame” glass bottom boat ride, where visitors climb into a small boat and are ferried along the surface by a guide. Usually these trips are limited to a dozen or so at a time and two boats are on the water concurrently, making it a little noisy. However, the guide has a portable speaker to make sure everyone understand what’s going on… if they speak Korean. About halfway through the trip, participants are given some chum (fish bits) to toss overboard. However, if you really want to get up close and personal with the marine life, then the Shark diving program is what you’re looking for. It’s Operated by Scuba In Korea. It’s overseen by Michael Jones, a PADI Dive Instructor. For W110,000 won (90,000 won if you’re certified) you can attend his mission briefing and education class. Then undergo some water training before getting wet in the main tank and go for a swim. The entire excursion lasts about 5 or so hours. The dive experience fills up fast, so make sure you book it in advance.
One of the last things you’ll see in the center is the 80 meter-long aquatic tunnel. It’s often billed as the seabed tunnel and is the longest one in Korea. Many pause here to snap pictures of animals in the main tank without getting wet. There’s even one section with a mirror on the opposite wall so couples without friends can take a picture of themselves by positioning the camera viewer in the mirror. Some opt for the easier way of just taking the picture in the mirror itself, but that is pretty lame.
Despite its size, the aquarium feels small. It’s a great facility, but I can’t help but think it’s missing something. Aside from the main tank area and the shark dive, I really felt that the aquarium was lacking something. It may be due to the fact that I’ve been to so many in the past, but this facility just didn’t capture the wow factor of the COEX.
Address: Busan-si Haeundae-gu Haeundaehaebyeon-ro 266 (Jung 1-dong 1411~4)
Phone: +82-51-1330 or +82-51-740-1700
Hours: Mon.-Thu.: 10:00-20:00; Fri.-Sun. & Holidays: 09:00-22:00
- Adults (ages 19 and up): 19,000 won / Group: 15,000 won
- Youths (ages 13-18): 17,000 won / Group: 12,000 won
- Children (ages 3-12): 15,000 won / Group: 10,000 won
* Group: 20 people or more
Subway: Get off at Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2), Exit 3 or 5. Walk 10min towards Haeundae Beach.
Bus: From Busan Station, take bus 139 or 1001 to Haeundae.