How do I get from Seoul to Busan in South Korea?

Rome2rio tells you the smartest, cheapest and easiest ways to travel from South Korea's bustling capital of Seoul in the north to the beaches of the southeastern coastal city of Busan.

Haeundae beach Korea Busan Pusan
Haeundae beach in Busan, South Korea (Credit: Yuseokoh/Flickr)

Seoul to Busan is South Korea’s busiest travel corridor. Some 400km of the Korean Peninsula separate Seoul in the north from Busan (formerly known as Pusan) in South Korea’s southeast.

Related article: Winter Olympics 2018, South Korea: Getting there and getting around 

How can I get from Seoul to Busan?

You can fly, take a bus or a train or drive between Seoul and Busan.

What’s the quickest way to travel from Seoul to Busan?

Not only is the KTX (high speed) train the fastest way to travel between Seoul and Busan, it’s also affordable.
KTX train from Seoul to Busan
KTX train from Busan to Seoul

What’s the cheapest way to travel from Seoul to Busan?

Traditional trains have about the lowest fares between Seoul and Busan, and are comfortable and scenic. Buses have a similar cost and travel time, but are less comfortable.
Bus from Seoul to Busan

Are there any other options for travelling from Seoul to Busan?

You can fly or drive between Seoul and Busan, but we wouldn’t recommend either. Flying is expensive, and travel times to and from airports plus minimum check-in times means it’s not much quicker than a bus or a traditional train. Driving is expensive and a major hassle.

map Soul Busan South Korea
Rome2rio has all the transport options for getting between Seoul and Busan; this is the train route between the two cities.

You can fly or drive between Seoul and Busan, but we wouldn’t recommend either.

Getting from Seoul to Busan by train 

There are two distinctly different ways to go by train from Seoul to Busan: one very fast, the other slow, scenic and cheap.

KTX: High-speed trains based on the French TGV
  • Use special tracks
  • Seoul to Busan in 2h 15–2h 45
  • A significant portion of the journey is in tunnels through the mountainous Korean countryside
  • Three fare classes:
    Ø  1st Class: from adult/child: seats 1+2
    Ø  Standard Class: seats 2+2
    Ø  Standing/Not assigned: no guarantee of a seat

KTX train from Seoul to Busan
KTX train from Busan to Seoul

Traditional trains: use the historic Gyeongbu Line (classed as either Mugunghwa or ITX-Saemaul)
  • Seoul to Busan in 5h–5h 30
  • Trains weave around hills and rivers, offering scenic views
  • Two fare classes:
    Ø  Standard Class: seats 2+2
    Ø  Standing/Not assigned: no guarantee of a seat
  • Check schedules and fares plus book tickets at Korail

Note: a third service, SRT (Super Rapid Train), runs high-speed trains from Suseo station in southeastern Seoul to Busan, but the website is difficult for non-Korean speakers to navigate.

Other important details for travelling by train:
  • Check schedules and fares plus book tickets at Korail
  • Fares rise about 20% as trains get full
  • Pre-booking is only essential on holidays, and Friday and Sunday nights
  • You can buy tickets at the train stations
  • All trains depart from the centrally located Seoul Station, which is well-served by the subway

Getting from Seoul to Busan by bus

There are scores of buses every day between Seoul Express Bus Terminal (which is on the subway system) and the Busan Central Bus Terminal. Buses come in three main classes that vary in size and comfort.

Trips take 4h 15–5 hours and include one brief rest stop. Buses do not have toilets.

Economy ·    Seating is 2+2 in large buses
Excellent ·    Seating is 2+1 in large buses
Premium ·    Seating is 2+1 with extra legroom in minibuses
Buying bus tickets from Seoul to Busan
  • There are several bus operators but the fares and amenities are set
  • Late-night bus fares may include a small surcharge
  • Child tickets (under 12) are half price
  • You can usually buy tickets on the day at the bus terminals
  • Only buy in advance for weekends or holiday periods
  • Check schedules and book tickets at kobus.co.kr

Getting from Seoul to Busan by plane

Frequent flights between Seoul’s nearby Gimpo International Airport (GMP) and Gimhae International Airport (PUS) in Busan take about one hour. There are also flights from Incheon International Airport (ICN), Seoul’s main international airport, which is more than an hour from the city, but these are mainly connecting flights from other countries.

The cheapest way is to get the subway to GMP airport and then a bus into Busan at the other end (route details below). Otherwise you can easily catch a taxi on either side of the flight.

From central Seoul to GMP by subway
GMP airport is on Seoul’s comprehensive subway system. From central Seoul, trains are frequent and take about 20 minutes on the Arex (airport express) fast train.

From GMP to PUS by plane 
Airlines flying the route include the big international airlines Asiana and Korean Air plus budget carriers Air Busan and Eastar Jet. Flight time is about one hour.

PUS to central Busan by bus or subway
Several buses link the airport to central Busan; service is frequent although the trip can take up to one hour at rush hour. The English-speaking information desk in the airport’s arrivals area can help you decide which bus to take. Note: you can also take the light rail to Sasang station in the city, for further subway connections.

Getting from Seoul to Busan by car

South Korea has a well-deserved reputation for being a challenging place to drive. Drivers only selectively obey road laws, while signage and the road layout in and around cities can be deeply confusing.

  • One-day car hire starts at about US$50 per day through major car rental firms when the car is returned to the place of rental
  • One-way car rental from Seoul to Busan costs from US$77 per day
  • Driving takes about 4.5 hours, if you don’t get lost
  • Find a car rental here
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