considering this is the furthest city located at the South-Eastern corner of the K.PenninsuLa
it is a good idea to have a car at hand
to drive out of city limits, hugging the Southern /OR/ Eastern coast in the weekends,
where much of the stiLL naive towns & nature awaits .
serving the 2nd Largest city in the PenninsuLa
at the West-end of Pusan .
only the NakDong River separates it from the City of Pusan
but will take a good 30 minutes' drive into downtown .
the airport is consists of 2 separate buildings
serving Domestic vs.InternationaL .
stiLL, the smaLL airport has minimaL facilities .
God, this IS suppose to B The OfficiaL 2nd City of S.Korea
AND THE major port as well as THE summer beach destination,
stiLL the airport would remind U of a small town in the States (duh)!
meaning .. 1 good news though :
absolutely NO hassle NOR waiting on check-in counters ;)
because this ain't a major metropolis :
once you have decided on an area to stay in
many people opt.for a moped or bike .
most of foreigners living here temporarily rarely have license
since local police prefer to let them go for language barriers .
stiLL new compared to other metropoLis
the Pusan Subway only has 3 major lines that inter-cross at 2 conjunctions,
therefore only ample in reaching major areas of the city .
and because this is a stiLL a small city
no major crowd-packing during traffic hours
in the likes of SeouL, and even Tokyo .
simply called "Pusan"Station,
should be differentiated from the subway station of the same name
which is however only minutes apart by foot .
the new bullet train KTX will whisk you from the capitaL of SeouL
in just less than 3 hours .
Driving from Seoul to Busan is easy using Gyeongbu Highway, passing Daegu tourist district.
It is a great way to see South Korea as there are many UNESCO sites, palaces and temples along the way to Busan. All the major exits have Korean and English names. I found that Korean alphabets are easy to learn, so there is no harm in learning how to read "Seoul", "Busan" in Korean alphabets. All the car registrations plates have their place of origin in Korean and so it is good fun when you are following a vehicle to practise your Korean alphabet identification skills.
Busan has a lot of ferries going to Japan, mostly Fukuoka, but also Shimonoseki, Osaka,Hiroshima, Kitakyushu and Tsushima.
We used the Beetle service between Fukuoka (Hakata port) and Busan. It takes just under 3 hours.
Rather than go into too much detail on here: Check out the website and link to Travel for Foreigners.
To get to Busan from Seoul head for the Seoul Station (Taxi drivers all know where it is), there are two types of trains that head south. One takes about three hours and is perfect for a weekend getaway, the other takes twice the time (if you don't get your ticket ahead of time you'll end up on the slow train so plan at least a week out).
Seats are comfortable, the ride smooth, and plenty of snacks from vendors on board. Plus you'll get a view from top to bottom of South Korea depending on the time of day that you travel. Both Seoul Station and Busan train station's are linked to subway lines and easy to maneouver from.
Tickets Seoul>Busan can be purchased from 3-10 day increments and Student IDs can give an added discount. Remember to check for Korean holidays as the trains will be booked. (KR passes for foreigners also get you discounts to other venues so check out the added benefits with the card)
Just like in Seoul, taxis in Busan are plentiful. Basic fare on a regular taxi is 1,800 KRW and 4,200 KRW on a deluxe taxi for the first two kilometers.
Due to Busan's good subway network (please refer to the next tip for details), you shouldn't be in the need for a taxi unless you are going to stay out late at night or like exploring some of the city's outskirts.
However, taxis can provide you with a fast ride to the airport:
I was at Haeundae and originally intended to take the airport limousine bus. However, I ended up waiting for my bus, who was seemingly stuck in traffic jam, for more than 20 minutes and a big risk of not being able to reach the airport on time (the bus ride takes an hour). Hence, the hotel concierge recommended me to take a taxi, which was supposed to take only about 40 minutes... we made it in less than half an hour!!!
The ride was incredible... rather like being part of a Formula One race. Maybe I shouldn't have told the driver that I was in a hurry. ;-)
Anyway, I arrived safely and with time to spare.
Cost: 20,000 KRW
Korean Air and Asiana Airlines offer almost 40 flights per day (!) from Seoul's Gimpo airport to Busan's Gimhae airport and vice versa. Flight time is only about 45 minutes and you will have some good views onto the Korean peninsula as the entire flight goes right across the country.
As compared to traveling by train, it must be said that Gimhae airport is situated at a slightly remote location about an hours drive (by bus) from the inner city. If you would like to speed things up a little, I recommend to take one of Busan's taxis (please refer to the next tip for details).
Ticket fares vary by season but start at around 60,000 KRW.
It was only much later that I found out that Busan Station was newly built in September 2003 to accomodate the new speed train from seoul. Expect to see lots of space and fiddle with automatic ticket vending machines. The subway station is just outside of the train station so that will get you downtown.
If you plan on staying in Busan for an extended period, pay the 2000 W and get a Hanaro metro card. The card is an automated debit card that debits money whenever you use public transit (subway or bus). You can deposit any amount you want ahead of time (I recomend only about 10000 W at a time, because if your card demags, there's no way to get the cash back). The cards are great because you don't have to carry change for the bus or subway around with you, and you don't have to worry about purchasing the correct type of subway ticket. This is especially beneficial on the weekends: no line ups for tickets, and no worrying about having enough change after your 5th ride to get to your next location.
Buses and subways stop before midnight...after that you must take a cab.
Cabs are EVERYWHERE so it is easy to get one...and they are cheap.
Korea has two trains...normal train and a 'bullet' train....the bullet tends to get you to your destination MUCH MUCH faster for maybe $10 more...it's worth it during long distances. However, the 'normal' train is more comfortable. Train prices aren't cheap but are affordable....and scenary is great.
Getting into a Taxi in Busan is easy since they are resonably cheap and numerous. Getting to your destination is not always as easy since most drivers don't speak any English. Have a Korean friend, who can speak English, explain to the driver where to take you if your travelling home alone from the bar etc. Busan's taxi drivers are generally honest and all cabs have a meter. Traffic being a big problem in Busan should be taken into account for possible delays.
Busan has quite a developed public transport network of two subway lines and multipal bus routes. There isn't as yet it seems map available showing bus routes like most major cities have.
Firstly the subway. There are two lines (Line 1 and Line 2) with the third now underconstruction, but running well behind schedual and due to be completed in 2006. The subway runs frequently and is easy to use with all stops clearly marked in English along with a number, aswell anouncement in English. The interchange point is at bustling Seomyeon station. Some stations are close togeather such as Jagalchi / Nampo-dong / Jung-ang-dong, which are also linked by a long walk through shopping arcade. There are readable maps and helpful "exit" plans on display inside all subway staions.
Buses, although quite frequent are a little more difficult for the first time user. The Hanaro card (see below) can be used, waved over the electronic register at boarding from the front entrance. Notes are eccepted, but avoid having 10,000 notes as often the drivers don't want to hand out change. Drivers also generally don't speak a word of English, and it seems are not to good at reading city maps. The departure point and destination along with a route number are displayed on the front of the bus. If your got the time getting on the wrong bus can be a good experience to view some of the city. Like the subway buses can be very crowded. They can only be boarded at designated stops, look for the green sign with route numbers on it.
The best method to travel on Busan's subway and buses is to purchase a Hanaro Card. They are available at all subway station ticket offices and initially cost 12,000 won, 2000 goes for the card, which can be refilled with credit once necessary.