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

Travelling from Seoul to Busan? Rome2rio tells you the smartest, cheapest and easiest ways to get 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

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

What’s the quickest way?
What’s the cheapest way?
Are there any other travel options?
Getting from Seoul to Busan by train
Getting from Seoul to Busan by bus
Getting from Seoul to Busan by plane
Getting from Seoul to Busan by car
Travelling to Jeju Island

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

Not only is the Korail KTX (high speed) train the fastest way to travel between Seoul and Busan (approx 2h 30) , it’s also affordable.
Seoul to Busan KTX train schedule & route map
Busan to Seoul KTX train schedule & route map

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.
Seoul to Busan bus route map
Busan to Seoul bus route map

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.

Seoul to Busan train route map, South Korea
Seoul to Busan train route map. Rome2rio has all the transport options for getting between Seoul and Busan.

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.

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

KTX Seoul to Busan train schedule & route map | Book KTX tickets at Korail
KTX Busan to Seoul train schedule & route map |Book KTX tickets at Korail

Traditional trains: use the historic Gyeongbu Line (classed as either Mugunghwa or ITX-Saemaul)
  • Seoul to Busan traditional train journey takes 5h to 5h 30
  • Trains weave around hills and rivers, offering scenic views
  • Two fare classes:
    –  Standard Class: seats 2+2
    –  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 the latest train fare prices and book your Seoul to Busan train 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
Seoul Subway Map in English
Seoul subway map (Credit: Korea.net)

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.

The Seoul to Busan bus trip takes between 4–5 hours and includes one brief rest stop. Buses do not have toilets.

Seoul to Busan Bus seating classes
Economy Seating is 2+2 in large buses
Excellent Seating is 2+1 in large buses
Premium Gold 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 bus schedules and book tickets at kobus.co.kr

Seoul to Busan bus route map | Book bus tickets at Kobus
Busan to Seoul bus route map | Book bus tickets at Kobus

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$80 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$250 per day
  • Driving takes about 4.5 hours, if you don’t get lost
  • Find a car rental here

Travelling to Jeju Island

A popular destination for local and international tourists, Jeju Island is home to an impressive three UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites; the extinct Hallasan volcano, the Geomunoreum lava tube system and the dramatic Seongsan Ilchulbong crater. The island also offers beautiful beaches, stunning waterfalls and some breathtaking hiking trails.

Frequent flights are scheduled daily from Seoul (70mins) and Busan (60mins) to Jeju Island.
Seoul to Jeju Island Flights
Busan to Jeju Island Flights

Getting from Busan to Jeju Island

Flying is by far the quickest option. The flight time from Busan to Jeju Island is just under an hour with Jeju Air and Air Busan both offering frequent daily flights. However, if you already have a hire car in Busan and intend on using it to explore Jeju island then taking the overnight ferry from Busan to Jeju can be a good option. The ENA CarFerry takes around 12 hours, offers comfortable cabins and has approximately three sailings a week.

Need to book a hotel in Seoul or Busan?

Here’s a selection of the best hotels available.
Find a hotel in Seoul
Find a hotel in Busan
Find a hotel in Jeju Island

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

 

How do I travel from Seoul to Busan was originally published 22 January 2018.

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