Seoul to Busan: Train, Flight, & Bus Options

Seoul to Busan: Train, Flight, & Bus Options

Head on over to Busan via the KTX high-speed train when you purchase your Korail Pass here.

The Rundown

  • Busan is South Korea's second largest city. It was also hailed as 2018’s Best Asian Destination by Lonely Planet.

  • You can easily go from Seoul to Busan via train, bus, and/or plane.

  • Consider buying the cost-effective Korail Pass if you plan to go to this coastal city via train.

  • You can also get a T-Money Card or the South Korea Railplus Transport Card to pay for your subway and bus fares in Busan.

  • To help you complete your Busan itinerary, we included a a map display of hotels in Busan below.

Also read: LIST: Best Jjimjilbang in Busan

Top Things to Do in Busan (부산)

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.

If you’re building your itinerary, here are the top 5 recommended activities and tours that you can easily book for your Busan trip:

The Little Prince at Gamcheon Culture Village. Screengrab from  Klook

The Little Prince at Gamcheon Culture Village. Screengrab from Klook

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 movie fests in Asia. If you're in town, make sure to see a film or two! If you’d like to attend the Busan International Film Festival 2019, dates to block off are Thursday, October 3-Saturday, Oct 12, 2019.

Also read: Lonely Planet Picks Busan as Best Asian Destination for 2018

How to Go from Seoul to Busan

Busan Station

Busan Station

1. Seoul to Busan via Train (KTX, ITX-Saemaeul, or Mugunghwa-ho)

Going to Busan via train is perhaps the most popular choice among travelers nowadays. Thanks to that awesome zombie flick, the train ride from Seoul to Busan has become quite an experience (I admit I daydreamed about fighting off a bunch of the zombies while on board.). But what I liked about my train to Busan experience (the KTX train, to be specific) was that it was very comfortable and took me right to the destination much faster than the other train options. Below let’s look at three types of train that you can take you from the capital of Korea to Busan:

A. KTX Train to Busan

The KTX Train is a speed monster. A one-way trip to Busan via a regular train typically takes 4-5 hours, but the KTX can take you there 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 Haeundae, Jagalchi, or Gamcheon Culture Village.

The KTX train to Busan 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 KTX Train Ticket (Seoul to Busan)

    • Standing Ticket (Adult): ₩50,800 (around ₱2,466 or $47)

    • Standing Ticket (Child): ₩25,400 (around ₱1,233 or $23.5)

    • Economy (Adult): ₩59,800 (around ₱2,903 or $55.4)

    • Economy (Child): ₩29,900 (around ₱1,451 or $27.8)

    • First Class (Adult): ₩83,700 (around ₱4,063 or $77.5)

    • First Class (Child): ₩53,800 (around ₱2,611 or $50)

  • Estimate Price of a Return KTX Train Ticket (Seoul to Busan)

    • Standing Ticket (Adult): ₩101,600 (around ₱4,932 or $94)

    • Standing Ticket (Child): ₩50,800 (around ₱2,466 or $47)

    • Economy (Adult): ₩119,600 (around ₱5,806 or $110.8)

    • Economy (Child): ₩59,800 (around ₱2,902 or $55.6)

    • First Class (Adult): ₩167,400 (around ₱8,126 or $155)

    • First Class (Child): ₩107,600 (around ₱5,223 or $100)

If you’ll go by the KTX high-speed train, you can either purchase your single-journey tickets at the Korail website or Seoul Station. Alternatively, you may also want to purchase a Korail Pass. The Korea Rail (Korail) Pass is a transportation card that’s designed for foreign tourists who are planning to make their way to cities and provinces outside Seoul. With Korail, you can book unlimited trips to popular destinations like Daegu, Daejeon, and Busan for a set duration of time. Getting this transportation card will definitely save you more money if you’ll be traveling across the country. Here are more details:

Use your Korail Pass to travel all around South Korea without worrying about purchasing individual tickets. Screengrab from  Klook

Use your Korail Pass to travel all around South Korea without worrying about purchasing individual tickets. Screengrab from Klook

  • PRICE: around ₱5,345 or $102.8

  • Flexible pass that can be used for two (2) dates of your choice within a 10-day period

  • Each Korail pass holder is entitled up to two (2) seat reservations per day and unlimited standing tickets

  • Seats are not guaranteed during the peak season/holidays.

  • Get access to KTX, KTX-Sancheon, ITX-Saemaeul, Saemaeul, Mugunhwa, Nuriro and ITX-Cheongchun trains.

  • The Korail Pass cannot be used in metro subways located in Busan.

If you’ll take KTX train, know that 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 definitely be familiar with the interior of the trains.

B. ITX-Saemaeul Train to Busan

Image credit: (L) Kouhosei and Subway06

The ITX-Saemaeul train runs from Seoul to Busan in 5 hours and 13 minutes, give or take. Seats are comfortable and you'll also 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 for Seoul to Busan is the perfect option for you.

  • Estimate Cost of a One-way Ticket (Seoul to Busan train)

    • 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)

C. Mugunghwa-ho Train to Busan

Both images by Minseong Kim

The travel time for a Seoul to Busan trip via Mugunghwa-ho train 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, 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 (Seoul to Busan train)

    • 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)

Fun fact: Mugunghwa is the national flower of Korea.

2. Seoul to Busan via Express Bus

Excellent Bus interior. Image credit:  Minseong Kim

Excellent Bus interior. Image credit: Minseong Kim

Buses are also a great way to go from Seoul to Busan. It’ll feel more private and intimate since it’s less crowded. Compared to Mugunghwa-ho seats, the express bus can offer more comfort since you’ll get the option to recline your seats. In terms of travel time, it’s not half-bad since express buses only take around 4 hours and 15 minutes to get from Seoul to Busan.

Moreover, the express types of buses take the expressways and make 1-2 stops. Mid-trip bus stop/s are usually done at the Sunsan Service Area. Make sure to grab a bite of their hotteok (pancake with sweet fillings) during the quick stopover!

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

  • Estimate Cost of a One-way Ticket (Seoul to Busan bus)

    • 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)

You can check the bus schedule and purchase your tickets for Seoul to Busan at the Seoul Express Bus Terminal (recommended). They are located at 194 Sinbanpo-ro, Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea. You may also try booking your Seoul to Busan bus ticket online by clicking the button below.

3. Seoul to Busan Flights: Gimpo Airport to Busan

Want to take a flight from Seoul to Busan instead? Yes, you may! Here are some of the airlines that can take you from Gimpo Airport to Busan:

The flight schedule above is from Jetradar, which is a flight search engine like KAYAK and Skyscanner. By selecting any of the options above, you should be taken straight to the ticket vendor’s portal or airline company’s website to do the purchase.

Before reading further and planning your Busan itinerary, you might be interested to know that the cheapest months to travel from Seoul to Busan are May through October, according to Skyscanner,

A. Jeju Air: Seoul to Busan Flights

Jeju Air is a budget Korean airline that has frequent and multiple flights from Seoul to Busan via Gimpo Airport. If you’re coming from the Philippines, you may also want to book their Cebu to Busan flight. Jeju Air also offer routes for Manila to Seoul and Clark to Seoul.

  • Estimate Cost for the Base Fare (Seoul to Busan flight)

    • 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)

    • Range includes promotional and regular rates, excludes tax and additional charges

B. AirBusan: Seoul to Busan Flights

You may also want to check out AirBusan’s flight offerings for Seoul to Busan via Gimpo. Here are the estimate prices:

  • Estimate Cost for the Base Fare (Seoul to Busan flight) 

    • 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)

    • These are non-promotional rates, inclusive of tax and additional charges.

Note that prices may change depending on the date of purchase, time of purchase, and exchange rates. Additionally, peak season rates for AirBusan apply on the following 2019 dates**:

  • 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

What are the public transportation options and fares in Busan?

The subway network in Busan is pretty reliable and can give you convenient access to almost all key attractions in the city. If you’ll be traveling by subway inside Busan, here are the regular and discounted fares so you can budget your Korea trip well:

  • Busan Subway Fares for T-Money Korea cardholders (Section 1)

    • Section 1 rates cover a travel distance of up to 10.5 km only.

    • Adults: ₩1,300 (around ₱60 or $1.1) per trip

    • Teens: ₩1,050 (around ₱48 or $0.9) per trip

    • Children: ₩650 (around ₱30 or $0.6) per trip

  • Busan Subway Fares for T-Money Korea cardholders (Section 2)

    • Section 2 rates apply for those traveling a travel distance of more than to 10.5 km.

    • Adults: ₩1,500 (around ₱69 or $1.3) per trip

    • Teens: ₩1,200 (around ₱54 or $1.05) per trip

    • Children: ₩750 (around ₱34 or $0.7) per trip

If you’re buying single-journey tickets, you will need to put down a deposit of ₩500, which you can refund upon exit at the machine located near the subway turnstiles. (You won’t have to go through this hassle with T-Money!)

Busan bus.

Busan bus.

If you want to explore Busan via bus, do so with your T-Money card to save some money. 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.

For more details about the T-Money card, read: T-Money Your Way in Korea
 

Best Hotels in Busan

Looking for the top hotels in Busan? Check out this listing of hotels and hostels that you can book for your trip:

Booking.com

Subway Lockers in Busan, South Korea

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.


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.

  • 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.

  • 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 the Google Maps search link for your trip planning.


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

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

NOTICE: Embassy Closed on May 14th

NOTICE: Embassy Closed on May 14th