Getting to Seoul from Busan
Getting a ticket at Busan KTX Train Station is fast and convenient. You can, also, book tickets online.
If you are booking the Express Train to Incheon International Airport, please book it online 2-3 days in advance. The train is, usually, fully booked by locals going to Seoul instead of Incheon. There are only 5 scheduled train to Incheon daily. These 5 scheduled trips to Incheon are also the part of the daily 59 trains scheduled from Busan to Seoul.
If you are heading to Seoul, there plenty of trains that leaves about 10-15 intervals and you could get a ticket easily. On a typical day, there are 59 scheduled express train trips direct to Seoul. Cost of normal seats for Busan to Seoul is about 59,800 won.
We had to book an earlier train 1st class seats to Incheon as all normal seats are fully booked. Normal seats price should be about 75,000 won while 1st class is about 100,000 won. For 1st class, you get better seats and more leg room, free bottled water and free wifi.
There are about 10 platforms and the directions signs and boarding platform are clearly indicated on the schedule board. The schedule board are in Korean and English language.
Within the train station, the fish cake shop is very popular. We didn't buy any as the queue was very long and slow moving about 1pm. There is another outlet, adjacent to it, that sells the items in nice packaging for gifts.
There are many food outlets within the station.
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Physical Map of Busan
This is a pretty good physical map of Busan powered by Googlemap. Zoom in and zoom out. This is helpful when planning out your itinerary, especially, when you have only a few days and want to plan carefully what to see in a certain part of town.
Street Map of Busan
This is a good interactive map for Busan. The link below takes you to Dynamic Busan site and in the middle of the page you will see Busan Tourism Maps. Click on view of Busan City Tourist Map.
Your hotel will also provide you some excellent street maps of Busan.
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Regular Train to Gyeong-ju
We took the train to Gyeong-ju, then to Ulsan and then back down to Busan. The last train from Ulsan to Busan was at 10pm or so.
The train ride from Busan to Gyeong-ju was about 2 hours and cost about US$10 per person. From Gyeong-ju to Ulsan about 45 minutes. Train ride fares change for the same distance depending on the time you are taking the train.
There is a KR Pass. Korean non-resident (foreign) pass for railroad travel by tourists. You wil need to show your passport. For 3 days, about US$76 and 5 days, about US$114 and additional costs of 50% for sleeping cabin and KTX First Class. So, do your math first to see if this is worthwhile for you. We did not purchase the KR Pass.
KTX Bullet Train
Korail operates the KTX (bullet train) and Korail (regular train). To sit in first class costs about US$20 more per person. The seats are more comfortable and lots more leg room. IT IS WORTH IT!
We traveled back to Seoul after a few days and I forgot to purchase the first class tickets. We ended up in tiny seats, legs jammed into the seat in front of us, more people filled in the seats. When traveling the KTX for a long distance like we did, make sure to select a direct route. The train will still stop at other stations but no detours that would cause your trip to take longer than necessary.
See my travelogue album on Train Ride to Busan for more pics.
Metro in Busan
The website below might help you with information not provided here.
We bought our tickets at a ticket booth and we used the vending machines. At a ticket booth, you explain which station you want to arrive at. One travel is generally 1,300 won in Busan (a little more than what it costs in Seoul). To use the vending machines, select English, select which direction and the number of tickets. You can then put bills or coins into the machine to pay. Don't use a denomination that is too large. The machine will give you change. Allow a minute for the machine to generate your tickets and your change.
You put your ticket in the gate machine and it spits back out after you pass through the gate. GRAB this ticket because you will need it later on to exit the Metro station.
Most subway maps are written in Korean, Japanese and English.
Foreign currency is not accepted at subway ticket windows, so make sure you have Korean Won.
Senior citizens, handicapped persons and children have priority seating. Senior citizens will also cut in front of you to enter the metro first and will also cut in line to get a ticket at the ticket booth. Complimentary ticket machine gives free metro tickets to senior citizens.
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Tour Guide Taxis
Taxi Drivers in Busan want to be your tour guide and will slow down to show you things and/or take the longer way to your destination - the scenic route. So, you should indicate you want to get to your destination by the shortest route. The valet at your hotel could probably relay this message to the taxi driver for you because most taxi drivers do not or will not speak English.
Do not take photos while riding in a taxi. The taxi driver will stop so you can take your picture and all the while, the meter is still runing.
Have your destination written down in Korean (if possible) so you can show the taxi driver where you want to go. If you don't speak fluent Korean, there is a HUGE possibility the taxi driver doesn't understand you.
There is no tipping in South Korea. You do not have to tip the taxi driver.
Book a citytour or do it on your own ?
When you come to Pusan on a cruise you might ask yourself: should I really book a citytour through the (mostly a bit overpriced) touroffice onboard or will I ab able to do it easily on my own ?
For Pusan it is easy to answer: you can do it on your own, when you are fit enough to do some walking and when you also change some local money for entrance-fees like the Pusan Tower !
The Pusan Tower is a sight you can see from your ship, our next stop by tourbus was the famous Fishmarket, where we were guided trough, then we walked to another market and around the PIFF-cinemas we had some time to walk around on our own.
All of that you could do on your own as well, much cheaper and with a lot more flexibility, as all of these sights were in quite a short distance from the cruiseship (IF the ship is docked in the centre of town !!!)
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ferries to Japan
There is a regular Ferry between Pusan and Japan. We met this ferry in the wide port-area, when we left Pusan.
Pusan is the clostest to Japan of South Korea's six largest cities. The distance from Busan to Tsushima Island in Japan, is just about 49.5 km (=31 mi), to Fukuoka, on the mainland of Japan,the distance is about 180 km (112 mi), that is much closer than the distance to Seoul which is about 314 km (195 mi).
Camellia Line Ferry sails between Fukuoka (Hakata), on the island of Kyushu in Japan and Pusan.
This Ferry goes both ways 3 times each week, departure is in the late afternoon and arrival is next morning.
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The Metro of Busan
The metro is a perfect way of transport in Busan and it includes 4 subway lines that are running every day between 05.30am and around 01.00am. Busan spreads over 526 square km and has around 3.600.000 inhabitants.
And for western tourists it is easy to read the infos and station-names, that are indicated everywhere in english as well !
You will find more infos about the public transport of Busan in the link below !
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When you take a cruise to Busan
Small ships like the M/S Delphin Voyager with less than 22.000 GRT are able to dock in the centre of town with just quite a short distance of maybe 500 meters to the towncentre and places like the TV-tower. (see our ship in my main picture here) Ships that are a lot bigger need to dock at another place, that we saw when we left the port, that is about 3-4km from the towncentre.
Port-formalities had been easy and relaxed.
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Ferries to/from Japan (Fukuoka)
Many other posters have commented on the fact that there are fast ferries between Busan and Japan (Hakata terminal in Fukuoka).
However, few have posted the proper phone numbers, either if calling from Japan or from Korea.
From Korea : 051-441-8200
From Japan : 092-281-2315
Travel time is scheduled at 2h55m on the fast Beetle ferry. Cost will be $75, plus $10~$15 for fuel surcharges and terminal fees. Fees are different depending if departing from Busan or from Hakata.
If the fast ferry is not your preference, nor within budget, Camillia Lines Ferries offer ~14hour slow trips between Busan and Fukuoka (Hakata port).
telephone - 051 466 7799
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Depart: Hakata (Japan) 19.00 ~ Arrive: Busan (Korea) 8.30
Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
Depart: Busan (Korea) 19.00 ~ Arrive: Hakata (Japan) 8.30
One-way prices 9,000 yen - 18,000 yen
092 262 2323 (Hakata/Fukuoka)
051 466 7799 (Busan)
Busan International Ferry Terminal is 5~10 minutes walk from Jungang-Dong subway stop.
Subways: getting around Busan
The subway is the most convenient mode of transport in going around Busan or in Seoul and in Gyeonggi-do areas. It is operated from 530am-1am. Currently there are 4 subway lines operating around Busan. You won't get lost since the stations are labeled in Korean, English and Chinese and numbered as well. Single fare costs 1,000KW and depends on the distance you wish to travel.
There are a number of subway rails that connects a city. You just have to make transfers in order to get there but with the use of the T-money Card, I guarantee you that everything will run smoothly.
You can track the remaining balance of your T-money card in the card reader as you exit the subway or get off the bus and it will beep that will show your current balance (fare was already deducted
There are maps in every station that you won't get lost. In case you're still lost, there are a lot of friendly locals very happy to answer all your queries.
- Adventure Travel
The subway is the most convenient mode of transport in going around Busan or in Seoul.
It is operated from 530am-1am. Currently there are 4 subway lines operating around Busan.
You won't get lost since the stations are labeled in Korean, English and Chinese and numbered as well. Single fare costs 1,000KW and depend on the distance you wish to travel.
By the time we arrived in Busan, I thought that the T-money card and the disposable transportation card look the same. I was about to buy the T-money thinking that it looks like the Octopus card of Hong Kong... I inquired about the T-money with the lady in the store even though we had a hard time communicating since she can't easily speak English. Luckily, one of the subway's staff was on the floor, she became the answer to all of my questions!
I then realized, the T-money Card is not literally a "card" like what I imagined.
So what happened was, I bought this T-money card (the lady said that I may choose the mini mirror or the mickey mouse shaped card) for 7000KW then recharged it using the self-service charger in the subway by another 10,000KW. Yes, you are right! The T-money card and the balance are sold separately!
As I've always say about the many signs of heart or anything that symbolizes love in South Korea... I noticed that the T-money card I purchased was embossed with the word "LOVE"!
The T-money card is a rechargeable transportation card and varies in sizes/shapes.
The term rechargeable means that you can "reload" amount of the money you have in your card, after numerous deductions of fares you had within the day so you can be able to use it all over again. You can "recharge" the T-money card in any convenience stores/subway stations. The
T-money card used in Busan can also be used in Seoul. It can also be used in riding buses, paying entrance fees in museums, cultural facilities, palaces, etc.
The only disadvantage in using the T-money card is that you can't have any refund of the remaining balance in it unlike (again) in using the Octopus card. So just always check the amount you have in your card so you can only recharge it with the appropriate amount you need while staying in the country.
How To Use: place the T-money card in the card reader as you get on a bus or subway and it will beep indicating your current balance after the fare was deducted.
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KTX Busan-Seoul/ Seoul-Busan
We took the KTX from Busan going to Seoul since it's cheaper than by plane. We were booked online by our hostel owner (we asked this kind Korean owner to book us around way tix). Our tickets cost KW23,900 each going to Seoul, we had a discount at that time (maybe because we bought the tix on a Thursday night). You can book online via www.korail.com. I heard that tickets are more expensive on Fridays- Sundays.
I find it weird though at first, that the subway staffs aren't checking our tickets but it made me realize that it's not necessary since the time and the seat number are indicated in the ticket. You cannot cheat in changing your seat/train number since the booking online generates an automatic ticket giving only the available seats at the time/date you wish to depart. The system gives a 100% guarantee of seat reservation. You will also be able to view in the website if the time you wish to travel has not yet been fully booked.
Time travel from Busan to Seoul/ Seoul to Busan takes about 3.5 hrs. KTX is faster than taking the bus since it will take you 6-8 hrs of time travel. Taking the bus maybe cheaper but if you think about the time you'll be spending in traveling, think again. Time is gold. You can earn money but it can't buy time.
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