Seoul to Busan

Seoul to Busan

Know how to get to and around South Korea's most famous port city.

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The Rundown

  • There's a lot in store for you in South Korea's second largest city.
  • You can get to Busan via train, bus, and plane.
  • Use your T-Money to pay for your subway and city bus fares.
  • Consider getting the Korail Pass to gain more savings!
  • For your convenience, booking links are provided below.

Also read: Korail Pass: Enjoy Nonstop Trips in South Korea

Busan, South Korea

View from Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장).

View from Jagalchi Market (자갈치시장).

Busan is South Korea's second biggest city. With its fancy buildings and reliable transportation network, its cityscape is pretty comparable to Seoul, except that it mainly sets itself apart by being a nice coastal city.

Travelers love Busan for its scenic attractions, such as the Gamcheon Culture Village, Oryukdo Skywalk, Igidae Park Coastal Trail, Yonggungsa Temple, Taejongdae Resort Park, 40 Steps, Busan Aquarium, Gwangalli Beach, and Haeundae Beach, just to name a few.

People also love Busan for its tasty dishes like the milmyeon (cold flour noodles), dwaeji gukbap (pork-based soup and rice dish), and hoe (raw fish). If you love seafood, make sure to visit Jagalchi Market and try the freshest seafood that South Korea has to offer.

Oh, and let’s not forget: Busan is home to the annual Busan International Film Festival, which is one of the most important and well-attended fests in Asia. If you're in town, make sure to watch a film or two!

Seoul to Busan via Train, Bus, & Plane

Busan Station

Busan Station

TRAIN TO BUSAN

Getting to Busan via train is perhaps the most popular option, thanks partly to that awesome zombie flick. Whether you are a traveler who prioritizes savings or the shortest travel time, you will find a train service that's right for you. Below are some rides you can take:

1. KTX

The KTX is a speed monster. A one-way trip via regular trains typically takes 4-5 hours, but the KTX can take you to Busan in just around 2 hours and 42 minutes. This is the perfect option if you’ll only spend 1-2 days in the locale; the KTX could save you more than 5 hours of regular travel time, which is best spent exploring the city.

The KTX also comes highly-recommended since it has the most number of trips per day. Whether you want to travel early morning or late at night, there is a KTX train that you can take.

  • Estimate Cost of a One-way Ticket
    • First Class (Adult): ₩83,700 (around ₱4,063 or $77.5)
    • First Class (Child): ₩53,800 (around ₱2,611 or $50)
    • Economy (Adult): ₩59,800 (around ₱2,903 or $55.4)
    • Economy (Child): ₩29,900 (around ₱1,451 or $27.8)
    • Standing Ticket (Adult): ₩50,800 (around ₱2,466 or $47)
    • Standing Ticket (Child): ₩25,400 (around ₱1,233 or $23.5)
       
  • Estimate Cost of a Return Ticket
    • First Class (Adult): ₩167,400 (around ₱8,126 or $155)
    • First Class (Child): ₩107,600 (around ₱5,223 or $100)
    • Economy (Adult): ₩119,600 (around ₱5,806 or $110.8)
    • Economy (Child): ₩59,800 (around ₱2,902 or $55.6)
    • Standing Ticket (Adult): ₩101,600 (around ₱4,932 or $94)
    • Standing Ticket (Child): ₩50,800 (around ₱2,466 or $47)

If you’ve decided to take the KTX train, you will get to enjoy premium seating and amenities, such as power plugs and handy seat trays. Of course, if you’ve seen Train to Busan or I Am Not a Robot, you’ll sure be familiar with the interior of the trains.

2. ITX-Saemaeul 

Image credit: (L) Kouhosei and Subway06

The ITX-Saemaeul train can take you to Busan in 5 hours and 13 minutes, give or take. Seats are comfortable and you'll find power plugs available for your use.

If you want to save some money, have a decent ride, and do not mind a longer travel time, I'd say the ITX-Saemaeul is the perfect option for you.

  • Estimate Cost of a One-way Ticket
    • Economy (Adult): ₩42,600 (around ₱2,068 or $39.4)
    • Economy (Child): ₩21,300 (around ₱1,034 or $19.7)
    • Standing Ticket (Adult): ₩36,200 (around ₱1,757 or $33.5)
    • Standing Ticket (Child): ₩18,100 (around ₱878 or $16.7)

3. Mugunghwa-ho

Both images by Minseong Kim

Travel time via Mugunghwa-ho is around 5 hours and 26 minutes, which is just a couple of minutes more than that of the ITX-Saemaeul’s. However, this is not the most comfortable train out there since it was built more for standing passengers in mind. The flooring and seats are a bit outdated too, which may not be appealing for some.

However, the beauty of taking the Mugunghwa-ho is that you get to spend less! A one-way ticket from Seoul to Busan only costs around ₩28,600 (around ₱1,396 or $26.5), which is less than half the cost of a one-way economy KTX ticket.

  • Estimate Cost of a One-way Ticket
    • Economy (Adult): ₩28,600 (around ₱1,396 or $26.5)
    • Economy (Child): ₩14,300 (around ₱698 or $13.2)
    • Standing Ticket (Adult): ₩24,300 (around ₱1,186 or $22.6)
    • Standing Ticket (Child): ₩12,100 (around ₱590 or $11.2)

Fact: Mugunghwa is the national flower of Korea.
 

EXPRESS BUS: SEOUL TO BUSAN

Excellent Bus interior. Image credit:  Minseong Kim

Excellent Bus interior. Image credit: Minseong Kim

Buses are also a great way to get to Busan. It feels more intimate since it’s less crowded. Compared to Mugunghwa-ho seats, it's also more comfortable since you get to recline your seats in a better angle. In terms of travel time, it’s not half-bad since express buses only take around 4 hours and 15 minutes to get to Busan (The express types of buses take the expressways and make 1-2 stops).

Fares mostly vary depending on the schedule of your trip and whether you want to take the more premium bus. Here are some options for you:

  • Estimate Cost of a One-way Ticket
    • Regular Bus: ₩23,000 (around ₱1,122 or $21.34)
    • Honest High or Excellent Bus: ₩34,200 (around ₱1,670 or $31.7)
    • Midnight: ₩37,600-48,800 (around ₱1,835-2,382 or $34.9-45.2)
    • Premium: ₩37,700-44,400 (around ₱1,840-2,167 or $35-41.2)
       

GIMPO TO BUSAN FLIGHTS

If your plan is to go straight to Busan from Incheon International Airport, you can also book a flight. Here are some airlines you can fly with for the Gimpo↔Busan routes:

Image credit:  The Korea Herald

Image credit: The Korea Herald

1. Jeju Air

  • Estimate Cost for the Base Fare (promotional and regular rates, excludes tax and additional charges):
    • One-way: ₩29,900-78,000 (around ₱1,460-3,808 or $27.7-72.4)
    • Return: ₩59,800-119,600 (around ₱2,919-5,839 or $55.5-111)

2. AirBusan

  • Estimate Cost for the Base Fare (non-promotional rates, inclusive of tax and additional charges):
    • One-way (Monday to Friday): ₩70,400 (around ₱3,437 or $65.3)
    • One-way (Friday to Sunday): ₩80,400 (around ₱3,925 or $74.6)
    • One-way (Peak Season): ₩86,400 (around ₱4,218 or $80.1)

Note that prices may change depending on the date of purchase, time of purchase, and exchange rate.

Additionally, the peak season rates for AirBusan apply on the following dates:

  • 2018
    • January 1 (New Year)
    • February 14-19 (Lunar New Year)
    • March 1 & 3 (Anniversary of the Independence Movement)
    • April 28-May 1(Labor Day)
    • May 5-7 (Children’s Day)
    • May 19-22 (Buddha’s Birthday)
    • July 22-August 24 (Summer)
    • September 22-26 (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
    • October 6-9 (Hangul Proclamation Day)
    • December 30-31 (Year-end)
  • 2019
    • January 1 (New Year)
    • February 2-7 (Lunar New Year)
    • February 23-March 2 (Spring & Anniversary of the Independence Movement)
    • May 4-7 (Children’s Day)
    • June 6-8 (Memorial Day)
    • July 22-August 23 (Summer)
    • September 11-16 (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
    • October 3-5 (National Foundation Day)
    • December 31 (Year-end)
       

Going Around Busan via Subway and Bus

The subway network in Busan is pretty reliable and can give you convenient access to almost all key attractions in the locale. Here are the fares for Section 1, which is applicable for trip distances that are not more than 10.5km:

For travel distance that exceeds 10.5 km, the following fares apply:

If you’re buying single-journey tickets, proceed to the deposit refund machine near the turnstiles after your trip to claim your ₩500 deposit.

If you want to explore Busan via bus, do so with your T-Money card to save some moolah. Simply tap your card on the sensor near the driver upon boarding, and then tap again on the rear door sensor when exiting. It's that simple.

If you haven’t heard about the T-Money card yet, read: T-Money Your Way in Korea
 

Subway Lockers

Lockers at the Busan Underground Shopping Center.

If you’d like to leave your luggage or shopping bags as you continue to stroll, you may rent a subway locker in Busan. The basic storage time would be 2-4 hours, which costs roughly around ₩2,000 (around ₱95 or $1.8) for the small lockers and ₩4,000 (around ₱190 or $3.6) for the large ones. Keep in mind that since some subway lockers/machines do not accept cash, you must have your T-Money or credit card with you.


BOOK IT!

OPTION 1: Book a KTX, ITX-Saemaeul, or Mugunghwa train ticket

  • Check schedule, buy your tickets, and reserve your seat at Korail's website!

OPTION 2: Get a Korail Pass

  • If you want to save money for your Seoul↔Busan KTX train tickets, avail a Korail Pass!
  • If you'll visit other cities like Daejeon, Daegu, Ulsan, etc., you may avail a Korail pass as well to save you money.
  • Click on the button below to see the various types of passes for you:

OPTION 3: Book a Jeju Air flight to Busan

  • Check fares and book your flight!

OPTION 4: Book an AirBusan flight to Busan

  • Check fares and book your flight!

If you don't have a Klook account yet, you're in luck! If you sign up using my referral code, you can get a discount on your first purchase of the Korail Pass! Click on the button below to create an account.

TIPS!

  • Having a standing room ticket means that you're not assigned a seat. If there is a vacant seat, it's yours until someone shows up and nudges you to claim it.
  • The Express Bus Terminal in Seoul is accessible via subway lines 3, 7, and 9. Here's the actual location of the terminal.
  • Buses usually make a mid-trip stop at the Sunsan Service Area. Make sure to grab a bite of their hotteok (package with sweet fillings) during the quick stopver!
  • You can purchase your Express Bus tickets here, but I'd recommend buying your ticket at the terminal since the site is not that user-friendly for tourists.
  • According to Skyscanner, cheapest months to travel from Seoul to Busan are May through October.
  • If you're coming from Incheon and are headed straight to Busan, you'll most likely have to make your way down to Gimpo International Airport. You may take the All-Stop train to get there, which takes a little over 30 minutes. Here's a Google Maps link for your planning.

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UPDATE: Travel Agencies to Process South Korea Tourist Visa Applications Starting July 1

UPDATE: Travel Agencies to Process South Korea Tourist Visa Applications Starting July 1

NOTICE: Embassy Closed on May 14th

NOTICE: Embassy Closed on May 14th