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Choose between the public transportation options of South Korea – Flights, Trains, Express, and Buses!
Many tourists coming to South Korea plan to include cities like Seoul and Busan in their itineraries. Some people just want to go to Seoul, while others want to travel to other cities in South Korea.
There are several ways you can travel from Seoul to Busan.
From Seoul to Busan by Public Transport – Train
The quickest and easiest way to travel from Seoul to Busan is by taking the train. Many locals choose to take express and bullet trains when they are traveling to Busan from Seoul. Well, if you are thinking, “how do I take the train in Korea?”, then this guide is gonna be helpful.
There are many different types of trains in Korea, which can get a bit confusing some times. There are – types of trains in Korea. These include the express trains (KTX and KTX-Sancheon), regular trains (ITX-Saemaeul and Mugunghwa), and KORAIL tourist trains. KTX trains are packed full of amenities, which include ergonomically designed seats, clean toilets, vending machines, and even Wi-Fi connectivity.
From Seoul to Busan – KTX
High-speed train takes 2 hours and 18 minutes to travel from Seoul to Busan, and its even lesser by nine more minutes when the train runs non-stop.
- Price – 59,800 won (~US$49) one way (economy)
- Duration – 2.5 to 3 hours to Busan from Seoul
From Seoul to Busan – Mugunghwa
Mugunghwa is the cheapest train that runs between Busan and Seoul. It takes a long time, so it’s better to choose this option if you have a lot of time and are traveling on a budget. It is a fun ride if you are traveling with a group of people. If you are traveling on this train, then you get an opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Korean countryside.
- Price – 28,000 won (~US$23) one way
- Duration – 5 to 6 hours
From Seoul to Busan – ITX-Saemaeul
The ITX-Saemaeul takes 4 hours and 10 minutes from Seoul to Busan.
- Price – 42,600 won (~US$35) one way
- Duration – 4.5 hours
- You can book the tickets and pay online. You don’t need to take a print out of the ticket. E-ticket is acceptable as long as you can scan the voucher from your phone.
- The fares mentioned here are for economy class and reserved seats. The fares are approximately 2000 won cheaper if you just book a Standing/Non-reserved seat.
- You can check the schedule and purchase train tickets one month before the train departure. That gives you enough time to make a proper detailed itinerary before your trip to South Korea.
It is a rail pass for foreign visitors, which allows them to explore and discover Korean by trains. The KORAIL pass does not include SRT, metro, and temporary tourist trains. The pass is exclusively meant for tourist use, and Korean nationals are not allowed to use it. You can book the pass from the KORAIL website. For seat reservations using KORAIL pass, a printed out KORAIL Pass and valid passport is needed. The Pass is non-transferable. It offers unlimited use of all trains, including the KTX, for a selected number of days.
- Three-day KORAIL consecutive rail pass (138,000 won): Unlimited train rides at all levels for three straight days after the date of commencement
- Five-day KORAIL consecutive rail pass (210,000 won): Unlimited train rides at all levels for five straight days after the starting date
- Two-day KORAIL Select / Flexible Pass (121,000 won): From the starting date, choose two out of ten days to take unlimited train rides at all levels
- Four-day KORAIL Select / Flexible Pass (193,000 won): From the date of commencement, choose four out of ten days to take unlimited train rides at all levels
From Seoul to Busan by Public Transport – Bus
The next option to travel to Busan from Seoul is by Express Bus or an Intercity Bus. Express Buses are also another preferred mode of public travel by local Koreans. Compared to traveling to Busan from Seoul via KTX and other trains, you can save a lot of money. You can also opt for a late-night bus so that you can arrive in Busan early in the morning.
These buses run on expressways and may stop at a rest area, but they rarely make a stopover in a city other than the set destination. Udeung buses offer additional comfort with wider seats.
You will arrive either in Sasang Station on Busan subway line 2 or Nopo Station on Busan Subway Line 1. From there, you can reach the city in about 15 minutes via subway. You can even travel to major Busan attractions such as Gwanganli without changing the train.
The Express Bus generally departs from Gyeongbu Bus Terminal at the Express Bus Terminal (Seoul Subway Line 3, Line 7, and Line 9).
Express Bus to Busan from Seoul – General Express Bus (ilban)
The General Express Bus to Busan from Seoul roughly takes about 4.5 hours.
- Price – 24,200 won (~US$20) one way
- Price – 26,600 won (~US$22) one way for a late-night bus ticket
- Duration – 4.5 hours
Express Bus from Seoul to Busan – Luxury Express Bus (udeung)
- Price – 36,000 won (~US$29) one way
- Price – 43,200 won (~US$35) one way for a late-night bus ticket
- Duration – 4.5 hours
Express Bus from Seoul to Busan – Premium Bus
- Price – 39,800 won (~US$32.5) one way
- Price – 43,700 won (~US$36) one way for a late-night bus ticket
- Duration – 4.5 hours
A regular bus is a cheaper option, but very tiring. These buses make stopovers at smaller cities while on the way to their destination. You can take a non-stop bus that runs from one region to its destination without any stop. These buses are referred to as jikhaeng (direct route) or mujeongcha (non-stop).
- They are susceptible to traffic jams, especially on holidays and weekends. You can expect longer travel times on holidays.
- You can book a bus from Seoul to Busan online, but it requires a Korean mobile phone number.
- On-site booking is also an option, but the availability of the bus seat is not guaranteed.
From Seoul to Busan by Public Transport – Flights
Busan Gimhae Airport is not only an airport for international flights, but it also connects many Korean domestic flights. You can find dozens of flights daily to Busan from Seoul. To get to Busan via flight, you’ve to take a flight from Gimpo Airport in Seoul to Gimhae Airport in Busan. The travel time is about one hour to Busan from Seoul. You need to add 30 minutes to the overall travel time as you have to reach the airport about 30 minutes to an hour before check-in.
From Gimhae Airport, you can then take the subway to reach Central Busan (30 minutes approximately).
- Price – The price varies depending on the airline you choose, but the average price ranges from 40,000 won to 70,000 won (~US$33 – US$57). You can get a cheaper deal if you keep track of low-cost airline clearance sales.
- Duration – 30 minutes – 1-hour arrival at the airport plus 1 hour flight
We have covered the public transportation options for traveling between Busan and Seoul. You can choose between trains, buses, and flights.
Photo Credits: VisitKorea