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If you’re spending any amount in Korea, it’s likely you’ll be in Seoul or Busan at some point during your trip – so I want to show you how to travel from one to the other.
As the two biggest cities in the nation, most tourists and ex-pats end up here so they are of course the best-connected destinations in the country.
But how exactly do you travel between the two? They are on opposite sides of the country and are a whopping 329 km apart. Driving is not the only option. When you travel from Seoul to Busan or vice versa, you have multiple options available to you.
Below I want to outline each one as a comparison so you can spend more time just enjoying your trip! Just don’t forget your T-Money card that will help you travel on public transportation!
|South Korea (Republic of Korea)
|South Korean Won / KRW
|Do you need a visa to visit as tourists?
Don’t forget to get travel insurance to cover you if something bad happens. One company I have personal experience with is Safety Wing. Not everyone needs the same coverage, so make sure you get a personalised quote that suits you and your trip plans.
When you need to transfer money or check exchange rates during your overseas trip, consider using Wise. They have competitive rates and make exchanging foreign funds easy. I’ve been using them since 2015.
In order to navigate throughout the country while maintaining a data connection, consider getting an eSIM during your trip to Korea.
Travel from Seoul to Busan: By Car
If you’re in Korea on a working holiday or long-term visa, you might be fortunate enough to have a car. If not, and you’re just visiting as a short-term tourist, you might be able to get a car rental.
In order to rent a car as a foreigner in Korea, you will need to have a full license from your home country and an IDP (International Driving Permit). I have made a post on getting your IDP before you arrive that you can check out here.
When renting a car as a foreigner, you will often need to show your passport and have a credit card in your name. Below are two companies I have personally used during my stay in Korea and had a great experience with both.
The reason I list two is that car rentals get booked up rather quickly if not booked early enough. By having more than one option, you are more likely to find a car for the dates and times you require.
The average drive time to travel from Seoul to Busan (or the other way around) is 5 to 6 hours.
If you do decide to travel with a car, most rentals automatically include a built-in GPS system in their vehicles. If not, you can often check Naver Maps or Kakao Maps which are two reliable apps that will help you navigate Korea.
Do not use your phone while driving as that is against the law and more importantly, dangerous!
Travel from Seoul to Busan: By Plane
The domestic airlines that cover this travel route between Seoul and Busan are as follows:
- Jeju Air
- Korean Air
- Jin Air
- T’Way Air
- Air Busan (Asiana Airlines)
Need to book your own flight between Seoul and Busan? Search for your required dates below:
There are multiple domestic airlines that travel from Gimpo International Airport in Seoul and Gimhae International Airport near Busan.
The address for Gimpo International Airport in Seoul is:
Location: 886 Bangwha-dong Gangseo-gu Seoul ( 서울 강서구 하늘길 38 )
When you travel from Seoul to Busan or the other way around by plane, the flight itself will only take 55 minutes. This sounds great in theory but you should always consider the extra time needed at the airport before the flight.
For domestic flights, the general rule of thumb is to be at the airport at least 1 hour before your departure time. This (should) allow you to check in if you haven’t done so already online, drop off your bags and get through security with enough time to board your plane.
The address for Gimhae International Airport near Busan is:
Location: 2350 Daejeo 2(i)-dong Gangseo-gu Busan ( 부산 강서구 공항진입로 108 )
Travel from Seoul to Busan: By Train
There are multiple types of trains that you can take when you travel from Busan and Seoul in either direction. You have Mugunghwa trains, Express trains and the KTX bullet trains.
If you’re interested in taking the popular KTX trains I have a post (here) dedicated to exactly that!
The Mugunghwa trains that travel from Busan to Seoul take an average of 5 and a half hours to reach their destination. They are categorised as intercity trains and are the slowest of the three train types. If you’re not in a rush and have a bit more time to travel, this is the cheapest train option available to you.
These are normally listed under the “KoRail” brand.
The Express trains are the mid-range trains that run through Korea connecting Seoul and Busan. They’re a little quicker than the Mugunghwa trains as they take an average of 4 hours instead of 5. They’re not as expensive as the bullet KTX trains but they cost more than the slow trains.
Like the Mugunghwa trains, these Express trains are listed under the “KoRail” brand.
The KTX trains (also known as bullet trains) are the country’s fastest trains and connect 12 different regions across 4 train lines.
Although more expensive, these trains can help you travel from Seoul to Busan, or the other direction, in just 2 and a half hours. They’re extremely popular as it takes such a short time to complete the journey so the majority of tourists opt to take this method from one city to the other. They’re comfortable, relatively spacious and modern.
If you need to check schedules and purchase tickets for these trains, you can do so through this site.
KTX Trains arrive and depart Seoul from Seoul Station. They arrive and depart from Busan station in Busan.
Travel from Seoul to Busan: By Taxi
So I’ll be honest, this option to travel by taxi from Seoul to Busan is not the most realistic unless you’re rich. However, I’ve added it just in case you need another option.
The main way to get taxis in Korea is by using the Kakao T mobile app which is similar to Uber (Uber does not work in Korea). If you were to travel from central Busan to central Seoul the journey would be similar to that of driving.
On average, this drive would take between 5 and 6 hours.
There are 3 different types of taxis available for you in the app:
- Blue taxi – Instantly assigned taxi through the app
- General taxi – Any taxi around you that can manually accept the request
- Black taxi – This is your premium taxi which is more comfortable and costs more
Although the costs of taxis depend on the distance and time of day, I can at least give you estimates for the journey between the two cities.
On the lowest end of the scale, you’d be looking at 400,000 won (£242) and on the high end up to 650,000 won (£394) for the premium taxi.
As you can see, this is a huge chunk of money so taking a taxi is not the most cost-effective mode of transport for a journey this long.
Need things to do in Seoul or Busan?
As the two biggest cities in Korea, it’s likely you’ll be spending an extended time in either place. Have a look through the city widgets below to see what activities you would like to do.
In Seoul, you can visit ancient palaces, experience the lively nightlife, and visit many traditional neighbourhoods that show you what city living is like in Korea.
In Busan, you can enjoy spending a lot of time outside with a multitude of hiking trails and great beaches!
- Geumjeongsan Mountain, Hiking the highest peak in Busan
- Bongnaesan Mountain: A short hike with great views
- Enjoying the Igidae Coastal Walk in Busan
Final Thoughts on Ways to Travel from Seoul to Busan
There you have it, a few different ways to successfully travel between Seoul & Busan so you can find the most suitable option for your own trip.
Have you travelled a different way between the cities? Let me know!