In this post, we will discover all the different ways to travel from South Korea’s capital Seoul to Busan in the south of the country.

There are three main ways to get from Seoul to Busan; flying, by train and by bus. We will explore each option in detail below. But first, a quick synopsis of the pros and cons of each:

Flying

Pros: can take more luggage.
Cons: after check-in and security, the journey will take longer than going by road or rail.

Train

Pros: at just 2h15m by KTX, this is the fastest option to get from central Seoul to central Busan.
Cons: KTX can be expensive depending on season and ticket type.

Bus

Pros: cheapest way to get from Seoul to Busan.
Cons: slower than the train.


Why go to Busan?

Things to do in Busan
Busan, South Korea

Busan is South Korea’s second-largest city and is an excellent destination thanks to its many beaches, cultural areas like Gamcheon, and street food. It is also the ideal jumping-off point for exploring Jeju Island or nearby Japan, which is only a couple of hours away by Hydrofoil.

Some Highlights include:

  • Gamcheon Culture Village – brightly coloured houses lining the hillside
  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple – a beautiful temple overlooking the ocean
  • Haeundae Beach – one of the most popular beaches in the city
  • Gwangalli Beach – crescent moon shaped beach with lots of entertainment nearby
  • Gwangbokdong Food Street – some of the best street food in Asia
  • Nampo-Dong Shopping Mall – the largest department store in the world

You might be interested in: Best Things to do in Busan, South Korea’s Second City.


Three Ways to Travel from Seoul to Busan

Flying from Seoul to Busan

On paper, flying from Seoul to Busan is the quickest option with a flight time of just 55 minutes. However, when you take into account getting to and from each airport, check-in and security, the total time spent travelling is going to be longer than by train or bus.

Fly from: Incheon International Airport
Fly to: Gimhae International Airport
Flight duration: 55 minutes
Average cost: $40.00

Where to buy flights: Trip.com is one of the best places to find cheap flights in Asia.

Getting to Incheon International Airport

Take the AREX (Airport Railroad Express) direct to the airport from Seoul Station. The journey time is 40 minutes and costs 9,500 Won ($8.00).

Getting to Busan city centre from the airport

Gimhae International Airport is located 22km from central Busan. From the airport take the BGL (Busan Gimhea Light Rail) to Sasang Station. Transfer to Subway line 2 (green) for Seomyon Station, Haeundae and Gwangan.


Seoul to Busan by Train

Railway Station, South Korea
Seoul Railway Station, South Korea

South Korea has an excellent rail infrastructure with both its fast KTX bullet trains and a slower network covering much of the country. The quickest and most comfortable way to travel between Seoul and Busan is via the KTX, however for travellers on a tighter budget, the normal KoRail trains are a great option too.

Although it is always best to book tickets in advance (you can book online via Trip.com and Rail Ninja)

There are 69 KTX trains daily between Seoul and Busan, starting at 05:15 and running to 22:30 at night.

KTX

KTX Train, South Korea
KTX Train, South Korea

The KTX is South Korea’s high-speed “bullet” train service. The trains have a top speed of 305km per hour (190 miles per hour), making them a super-efficient way to get around the country.

Departure Station: Seoul Station, 405 Hangang-daero,, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. Nearest subway: Seoul Station (lines 1 and 4)

Arrival Station: Busan Station, 206 Jungang-daero, Dong-gu, Busan

Duration: 2h15m

Average cost: $55

Where to buy KTX train tickets: you can book tickets online at Trip.com and Rail Ninja or buy in person at the station.

KoRail

KoRail Train, South Korea
KoRail Train, South Korea

koRail is South Korea’s regular train network which covers parts of the country not serviced by KTX (and the same routes too). The KoRail trains are a great option as the trains are modern and comfortable, and cheaper than KTX.

Departure Station: Seoul Station, 405 Hangang-daero,, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. Nearest subway: Seoul Station (lines 1 and 4)

Arrival Station: Busan Station, 206 Jungang-daero, Dong-gu, Busan

Duration: 4h30m

Average cost: $30

Where to buy train tickets: you can book tickets online at Trip.com and Rail Ninja or buy in person at the station.


Seoul to Busan by Bus

South Korea Bus, Seoul to Busan
South Korean Buses

For backpackers and those on a tight budget, taking the bus (a coach actually) is a great way to travel from Seoul to Busan. The coaches are modern and comfortable with air conditioning and onboard toilets, and they make one rest stop halfway.

Another good reason for taking the bus is that it departs from Incheon so those arriving at Incheon International Airport or by boat don’t need to travel into central Seoul.

Departure stop: Gyeongbu Bus Terminal (Seoul subway lines 3, 7 & 9).
Arrival Stop: Nopo (Busan subway line 1)
Duration: 4h30m
Average cost: $20

Where to buy bus tickets: you can buy tickets from the driver or at the ticket office of the Express Bus Terminal Station in Seoul.


Where to Stay in Busan

If you are looking for budget options, Hostelworld has plenty of dorms available in Busan.

For hotels and apartments go to Booking.com or Trip.com.

Conclusion

I personally travelled from Seoul to Busan by bus as this option made the most sense arriving at Incheon Port. The journey was easy, comfortable and cheap. I’d highly recommend taking the bus or train over flying.


Steve Rohan

About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.

He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.