The port city of Busan is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. The coastal town offers a scenic city and ocean views totalled with beautiful beaches, the largest fish and seafood market in the country and the colourful Gamcheon Culture Village. Wondering how to go to Busan from Seoul? The typical method of transport to reach this vibrant and lively city from Seoul are by plane, train or bus.
Let’s explore each method of transport in details.
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Train from Seoul to Busan
Travelling from Seoul to Busan by train is by far the easiest option. The railway system is one of the best in the world and easy to get around. There are several train types in South Korea: high-speed trains like KTX Sancheon and slower trains like ITX Saemaeul and Mugunghwa. The journey’s duration will depend on the type of train you choose (between 2hrs 15 mins and 5hrs 50 mins) and your budget (the slower the train, the cheaper the fare).
a) KTX from Seoul to Busan
KTX (Korea Train Express) is a high-speed train equivalent to the TGV (France) or Shinkansen (Japan). It’s my favourite choice to get around South Korea and travel from Seoul to Busan. The journey from Seoul Station to Busan Station only takes around 2 hours and 41 minutes.
Not only the train is comfortable (with WIFI, power sockets etc.) but with trains running every 20 minutes from 5 am to 11.30 pm, you will have plenty of choices. A KTX train ticket to Busan is higher than the other trains and express bus options. Depending on the day of the week, time of day and type of tickets, the fare will be as follow:
- Economy Class (with reserve seat): ₩59,800 or £36 (adult) / ₩29,900 (child age 6-12)
- First Class (with reserve seat): ₩83,700 or £54 (adult) / ₩53,800 (child)
- Economy Class (non-reserve seat): ₩50,800 or £32 (adult) / ₩25,400 (child)
You can purchase your high-speed KTX, ITX Saemaul and Mugunghwa tickets from Seoul to Busan online via the Korail website, at the station’s ticket desks or from ticket machines. The easiest and and time-saving way is to purchase your tickets online, this can be done a month in advance.
b) Seoul to Busan with a slower train
Travelling in a slower train is a good option for those travelling on a budget. There are two types of slow trains, you can choose from: Saemaeul (ITX) and Mungunghwa. They take between 4 hrs 40 mins and 5 hrs 50 mins, and lthough it takes longer to reach your destination, it is more affordable.
The slow trains usually have a different departing station than the KTX train. For example, when travelling to Busan in a slow train, you will likely depart from Suseo Station, Yongsan Station or Yeongdeungpo Station. These stations are a little farther from central Seoul but are easily accessible from public transport.
The ITX Saemaeul train is a modern train with comfortable seats and power sockets. It’s preferred if you want an enjoyable trip and don’t mind the long journey.
Mugunghwa is a slow commuter train that makes several stops along the way, especially during public holidays and weekends. Avoid this his option if you have heavy and oversized suitcases as you won’t find a place for them.
Just as the time of travel, the cost of the train will depend on the time, date of travel and length of the journey. Fare for the slower trains are:
- ITX Saemaeul: ₩42,600 or £27 (adult) / ₩21,300 (child)
- Mugunghwa: ₩28,600 or £18(adult) / ₩14300 (child)
Even though the tickets don’t sell as fast as the fast KTX, I recommend you book in advance for peace of mind. You wouldn’t want to be standing on a 5 hrs 50 mins train, would you?
c) Korail Rail Pass to Busan
If you plan to do most of your travel within South Korea by train, the cheapest way would be to purchase the Korail Rail Pass. The KR Pass allows international travellers to get unlimited travel within the designated duration period (2, 3, 4, 5 days). In addition, depending on your preference, you can select either the Consecutive Pass ( 3 or 5 consecutive days) or the Flexible pass (2 or 4 selected days).
The Korail Pass is available on high-speed trains (KTX), regular trains (ITX, Mugunghwa, Nurio) and tourist trains. However, it is not available on the Super Rapid Train (SRT).
The pass gives you access to standard seats if available or to standing seats at all times. The pass costs between 121 000 won (£76) for the Flexi 2 days to £210000 won (£135) for the Consecutive 5 days. You can purchase the Korail Pass easily on KLOOK or on the official Korail website.
Flights from Seoul to Busan
Depending on the season or date of travel, flying to Busan might be cheaper than taking the KTX train. However, it is less environmentally friendly and can be time-consuming, as you will need to go through airport security. Several airlines serve the second-largest city in Korea.
It takes less than one hour by plane to get from Seoul Gimpo Airport to Busan Gimhae Airport. For the budget, plan around £25 for a one-way ticket with low cost airlines like jeju Air or T’way (the cheapest fare found was £17 with T’way). Other airlines like Korean Air or Air Asiana will cost a little more (roughly around £45 ). Check out the best fare via Skyscanner.
a) Gimpo to Busan flights
Gimpo airport is the easiest and cheapest option when choosing to fly. The airport is located closer to Seoul and can be accessible by public transport or taxi in less than 55 minutes. As Seoul’s second airport, you can fly to Busan with Air Busan, Jeju Air, T’way, EVA Air, Eastar Jet, Korean Air and Air Asiana.
b) Incheon to Busan flights
This option is better as a connection rather than departing the airport. For example, you are planning to go to Busan, but your airline only deserves Incheon? In that case, choose this airport. However, bear in mind that Incheon is more expensive than Gimpo. Therefore, you can transfer from Incheon International airport to Gimpo airport if you are not in a hurry.
Express bus from Seoul to Busan
Travelling from Seoul to Busan is worth considering if you are travelling on a tight budget or are in no rush. It’s the cheapest way to get to Busan but also the longest in terms of time. Similarly to the train, different categories: standard (ilban), luxury (udeung) or night buses. A bus journey will cost anything from 23,000 won (£15) to 56,000,000 won (£35) depending on the class of the bus ( economy express, excellent express and premium express). You can purchase the tickets directly at the bus terminal station or through the Kobus (Korean Bus) website.
Express buses in South Korea are generally excellent, comfortable and have good WIFI. The latter is very useful to kill time during the 4 hours or more bus journey. Furthermore, the large storage capacity means that you can travel in a big suitcase.
There are several express bus terminals in Seoul: the Seoul Express Bus Terminal, the Central City Terminal, Nambu Terminal, the Dong Seoul Terminal, and the Sangbong Intercity Bus Terminal. All buses Busan bound will depart from Seoul Gyeongbu Bus Station and arrive at Busan Station.
From Seoul to Busan by car
Renting a car is not the best idea, due to the massive traffic jams in Seoul and major cities. However, if you plan to venture into places that are not easily accessible via transport like Jeju Island, then a car is your friend. You can get by without a car in Seoul and Busan. Besides, travelling from Seoul to Busan by car can be stressful rather than relaxing. It is an expensive option as well as you will need to take into account the car rental cost, toll charges and other costs associated like petrol or insurance. If you choose this option, note that an international driving license is required. Check out the car rentals here.
So here you have it, the different ways to reach Busan from Seoul. Each option has its good and bad points, so you should consider them carefully when planning your trip to make the most of it. I enjoyed travelling on the KTX. The train was so convenient, spacious and more importantly on time!
Before you go, this section will give you all the answers to your questions at a glance.
Frequently asked questions at a glance.
How much is a train ticket from Seoul to Busan?
Train tickets from Seoul to Busan start from £18. The cost depends on various factors like time of travel, line or class. Usually, booking in advance reduces the fare cost.
What is the cheapest way to get from Seoul to Busan?
The cheapest way to get to busan from Seoul is to take the take the bus which costs £15slow train and takes 5 hrs 50 mins.
What is the fastest way to get to Busan from Seoul? How do I get from Seoul to Busan the fastest?
The fastest way is by taking the KTX train. The quickest train only takes 2 hrs 15 mins.
Are there any direct services between Seoul and Busan?
Each of the three transport options has direct services. For example, flights from Seoul Incheon and Gimpo are direct to Busam Gimhae, whereas the trains and express buses also offer direct services to Busan Station. The average travel time is 2 hrs 41 mins but can take longer with a bus.
How long does it take to get from Seoul to Busan?
The train from Seoul to Busan by the high-speed train KTX takes on average 2 hrs 41 mins. The fastest journey takes 2 hrs 15mins and the longest 3 hrs 25 mins.
Where do I catch the Seoul to Busan bus from?
Seoul has several bus terminals. To catch the Seoul to Busan bus, you will need to head to Seoul Express Bus Terminal (Gyeongbu) station, also known as Gangnam Express Bus Terminal. It’s Seoul’s main bus terminal where most of the buses depart from
Train or bus from Seoul to Busan?
The quickest way from Seoul to Busan is by train and will take on average 2 hrs 41 with a cost ranging from £18 to £54. The bus, however, takes about 4 hours or plus depending on traffic and will cost about £15 to £35.
How to book Seoul – Busan train tickets?
To ensure you have a seat during your train journey, we recommend that you book your tickets in advance. You can either make your booking directly via the Korean Rail website.
Hope this article helped you to make a choice on the best way to travel from Seoul to Busan. If you have travelled to Busan, what was your experience? Let me know in the comment section below.