This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on my affiliate link and purchase something (at no additional cost to you!), I may earn a small commission that helps me keep the blog running. Thank you so much for your support!
Seoul and Busan are the two most popular cities for tourists to visit in South Korea. Lucky for travellers, it is super easy to travel from Seoul to Busan!
The easiest and most popular way to travel from Seoul to Busan is on the KTX high-speed train. You can also take a slower train, a bus, or fly from Seoul to Busan. No matter which transportation method you choose, it is really easy and straightforward to travel between Seoul and Busan.
My personal preference is to take the KTX. It is the quickest, most convenient, and, in my opinion, funnest way to travel from Seoul to Busan.
But this is your decision to make, so I’m going to cover all the different ways you can travel from Seoul to Busan, so you can choose the best option for you!
I’ll also break down the pros and cons of each transportation method to help you make your decision.
Before we get into the different transportation methods, I wanted to let you know I have a blog post about how to travel from Seoul to Gyeongju in case you’re making that journey while you’re in South Korea. And an in-depth 3-day Gyeongju itinerary you may find helpful!
Option One: Taking the KTX from Seoul to Busan
The KTX is my favourite way to travel throughout Korea. The KTX is a network of high-speed trains that zip you across the country in no time at all.
The best part about the KTX trains is that they are super clean, comfortable, and have lots of luggage storage space.
I always have tons of Korean skincare in my luggage, so I’m always thankful to board a KTX train and know I don’t have to muster the strength to lift my bag onto an overhead rack. I can store it in the luggage storage area at the back of every car and forget about it until I get off the train.
KTX trains leave Seoul once or twice per hour and are direct! No transferring from one train to another required.
How Long Does the KTX from Seoul to Busan Take?
It takes just under three hours to travel from Seoul to Busan on the KTX. That’s pretty darn fast considering the distance between Seoul and Busan is 329km.
How Much Does a KTX Ticket Cost?
The cost of a KTX ticket depends on when you’re travelling. Your ticket will cost more if you’re travelling during the weekend and the busy season. And much less expensive if you travel on a weekday during off-peak times.
In general, you can expect a one-way ticket from Seoul to Busan on the KTX to cost between 53,000 won and 60,000 won. That is approximately $44 to $50 USD.
You can also get a return ticket, and it costs 120,000 won or $100 USD.
Where to Purchase KTX Tickets
I always purchase my KTX tickets online through the Korean Rail website.
There is an English version of the website, and it is really easy and straightforward to use.
The website tells you to print a copy of your ticket before getting on the KTX. I always print my ticket just to be safe, but I’ve had lots of friends just screenshot their ticket on their phone rather than print it out. They’ve never had anybody take issue with them doing that.
I recommend printing a copy of your ticket just to be safe, but I wouldn’t stress too much about it if you don’t have access to a printer.
You are able to purchase your tickets up to a month in advance, so you’ll be able to print your ticket before you get to Korea if you book far enough in advance.
You normally don’t have to purchase your ticket more than a couple of days in advance, but if you’re travelling on a Korean bank holiday, you’ll want to book as far in advance as possible. Tickets on bank holidays sell out really quickly!
The other option for purchasing KTX tickets is to go to the station and purchase a ticket there.
You can either purchase a ticket from a ticket agent at the counter or at one of the ticket machines throughout the train station.
I don’t recommend purchasing your ticket at the train station rather than online. If you’re a last-minute traveller and enjoy being spontaneous, then purchasing a KTX ticket at the station may be the right move for you.
But I personally think online is the better option for most travellers. It saves you having to make a trip to the train station to buy your ticket in advance, the online system is super easy to use, and it is really easy to select a seat using the online reservation system.
It just seems like a little bit of a waste of your time, and you could spend that extra time exploring all the beautiful things Seoul has to offer like Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Where Does the KTX Depart from in Seoul?
You can catch a KTX train from Seoul to Busan at either Seoul Station or Yongsan Station.
If you’re a tourist, you’ll probably want to get on the train at Seoul Station. It is much more central than Yongsan Station but pick whatever station is closest to where you’re staying in Seoul.
You can get to both Seoul Station and Yongsan Station by metro and bus, so they’re pretty accessible and easy to get to no matter where you’re staying.
I always try to either walk or take the metro when I have my luggage with me. It is a bit awkward to navigate taking your bags on a public bus. Especially if it is during rush hour!
Where Does the KTX Arrive at in Busan?
The KTX train arrives at Busan Station. Busan Station is super central, so it is really easy to get from the train station to wherever you’re staying in Busan.
You can jump on the metro right at Busan Station, and Seomyeon Station (the most popular district in Busan for tourists to stay) is just seven stops away.
Pros of Taking the KTX from Seoul to Busan
- Very quick compared to other options
- Great luggage storage options
Cons of Taking the KTX from Seoul to Busan
Option Two: Taking a Slow Train from Seoul to Busan
The next option is taking a slow train from Seoul to Busan. They have some of the benefits of KTX trains like being clean and comfortable, but they are really slow compared to KTX trains.
There are three different types of slow trains that travel from Seoul to Busan:
These trains may be slower than the KTX, but they are more affordable. They’re a great option for travellers who are on a tight budget and aren’t in a rush to get from Seoul to Busan.
How Long Does the Slow Train from Seoul to Busan Take?
The length of your journey depends on which slow train you choose to take. The trains have the following journey times:
- ITX: 4.5 hours
- SRT: 2.5 hours
- Mugunghwa: 5.5 hours
How Much Does a Slow Train Ticket Cost?
This, again, depends on what type of slow train you’re taking. An average ticket for each train costs:
- ITX: 42,000 won or approximately $35 USD
- SRT: 52,000 won or approximately $43 USD
- Mugunghwa: 28,000 won or approximately $23 USD
You can see that there is a direct correlation between the journey length and the ticket price.
The shorter the journey, the more expensive the ticket. The longer the journey, the less expensive the ticket.
Where to Purchase Slow Train Tickets
The process for purchasing slow train tickets is exactly the same as purchasing KTX tickets.
You can purchase your tickets online through the Korean Railway website or in person at any train station.
It is less important that you purchase slow train tickets in advance as they don’t tend to sell out as quickly as KTX tickets do.
I still recommend purchasing your slow train tickets a day or two in advance just to be safe though. Plus you’ll want to make sure you get the type of seat you want (either window or isle).
Slow trains tend to run less frequently than KTX trains, so you won’t have as many departure times to choose from.
If you have a specific time you want to leave Seoul or arrive in Busan, be sure to book in advance just in case the specific train you want to catch is a popular choice.
Where Do Slow Trains Depart from in Seoul?
You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that where you catch the slow train from Seoul to Busan depends on what type of slow train you take.
You can catch the ITX at either Seoul Station or Yeongdeungpo Station.
Yeongdeungpo Station is located across the river from downtown Seoul near Gimpo Airport, so you probably won’t be catching the ITX from this station. But it is a great option if you’re landing in Gimpo Airport and travelling directly to Busan without going into downtown Seoul.
For the average traveller, you’ll catch the ITX from Seoul to Busan at Seoul Station, which is easy to get to by metro, bus, or on foot. Again, just be cautious of taking luggage on public buses.
You’ll probably want to avoid doing that if at all possible and take the metro instead.
The SRT is the quickest of the slower trains and is the most comparable to the KTX. It is a fairly quick train and quite an enjoyable ride.
One of the major downsides to taking the SRT is that it only departs from Suseo Station.
Like Yeongdeungpo Station, Suseo Station is located across the river and a fair ways away from downtown Seoul. It is about an hour on public transportation from Seoul Station to Suseo Station to give you an idea of how far away it is.
I wouldn’t recommend you take this train unless you’re staying in either the Jamsil area or Gangnam area.
If you’re not staying in either of those two areas, you’re better off choosing a different mode of transportation to travel from Seoul to Busan.
It simply isn’t worth the time and effort to get to Suseo Station from the heart of Seoul.
The Mungunghwa train departs from Yongsan Station.
Yongsan Station is a little ways outside of downtown Seoul, but it is only a 12-15 minute metro ride from Seoul Station. So it isn’t too far out of the way if this is the train you choose to take.
The Mungunghwa train is the slowest train of them all, but it offers stunning views of the Korean countryside that you won’t get to enjoy on a faster train because you’re speeding past it.
The scenery probably isn’t worth the extra 2-3 hours on a train, but it is a nice way to put a positive spin on a long train ride if this is the train you end up choosing.
The train has a cafe in case you get hungry, but I would bring some snacks and water just in case there isn’t anything at the cafe that suits your taste buds.
A word of caution. I don’t suggest buying a non-reserved standing room ticket. These tickets allow you to sit in a seat if one is open, but you’re stuck with standing if there isn’t a seat. Your legs will hate you if you’re forced to stand for the entire 5.5 hour train ride!
It is worth the little bit more money to purchase a ticket with a reserved seat.
Where Do the Slow Trains Arrive at in Busan?
I’m switching things up here.
All the slow trains arrive at Busan Station!
This makes it super easy to navigate your way to where you’re staying. The metro station is there as well as a major bus terminal. Plus taxi’s are super affordable in South Korea if you’re not in the mood to take public transportation after your long journey from Seoul to Busan.
But I recommend using the metro to get to where you need to go. It is super easy to use, really affordable, and pretty hard to get lost on because there is only one line at Busan Station.
Pros of Taking a Slow Train from Seoul to Busan
- Less expensive than the KTX
Cons of Taking a Slow Train from Seoul to Busan
- The journey is quite a bit longer than the KTX
- Some of the train stations slow trains depart from in Seoul are out of the way and a hassle to get to
- Some slow trains don’t have good luggage storage, and you have to lift your suitcase overhead to store or keep it at your feet
Option Three: Taking the Bus from Seoul to Busan
The third option is to take the bus from Seoul to Busan.
The buses are actually quite nice. They’re large coach-style buses where you store your luggage under the bus and then have a nice, comfortable seat on the bus. There are also shades on the windows you can close if the sun is shining in your eyes.
I actually quite enjoy the journey when I take buses in South Korea.
How Long Does the Bus Ride from Seoul to Busan Take?
The bus ride takes about 4 hours. The actual length of your journey depends on the traffic.
Traffic in South Korea can get quite congested, so it isn’t unheard of for buses to get caught in a traffic jam and arrive at their destinations later than planned.
The good news is that buses often have a dedicated lane, so your chances of being stuck in traffic is much lower than if you were in a car.
Just to be safe, you shouldn’t plan any events or outings right when you’re scheduled to arrive in Busan just in case you encounter traffic.
Give yourself a window of 30-60 minutes just in case your bus is delayed.
How Much Does a Bus Ticket Cost?
The price of your ticket alters slightly based on what bus you end up taking. There are a number of different types of buses, but they are all priced within a dollar or two of each other. So it doesn’t really matter which bus you end up taking.
You can expect your bus ticket to cost between 23,000 won and 37,000 won. That equates to approximately $19 to $30 USD.
Most of the buses are around the 23,000 won to 25,000 won range ($19 to $20 USD) though. It is the premium buses with luxurious lie down seats that are on the more expensive end of the spectrum.
There are also night buses from Seoul to Busan. The prices for these buses range from 25,000 won to 42,000 won. That is approximately $21 to $35 USD.
Buses depart multiple times per hour, so it is pretty easy to find an affordable bus that fits your schedule.
Where to Purchase Bus Tickets
There are two ways to purchase a bus ticket. You can purchase a ticket online or in person.
You can’t go wrong with either option. They’re both super easy to navigate!
You can purchase your ticket online through the Korean Bus website. There is an English version, and it is quick and easy to navigate.
It is great because it lets you see the price and departure time of each bus, so you’re able to make an informed decision of what bus to get on.
You’ll be able to easily choose the cheapest bus, buy a ticket, and show up at the station ready to start your journey from Seoul to Busan.
The other option is to purchase a ticket in person at the bus station.
You can easily show up at the bus station the day you want to travel from Seoul to Busan and purchase a ticket for the next available bus.
There are normally three buses departing every hour, so you won’t have to wait long to get on the next bus!
Just be sure to inquire about pricing if you’re quoted a higher than average price. It may be worthwhile to wait a little bit longer and get on a less expensive bus that departs at a later time.
Where Does the Bus Depart from in Seoul?
All the buses depart from Seoul Gyeongbu Bus Station. It is also commonly referred to at the Seoul Express Bus Station.
Seoul Gyeongbu Bus Station is located across the river from downtown Seoul. It takes about 30 minutes on public transportation to get from Seoul Station to Seoul Gyeongbu Bus Station.
It is kind of out of the way, but you have no other choice if you want to take the bus from Seoul to Busan.
Where Does the Bus Arrive at in Busan?
Are you surprised to hear that the bus arrives at Busan Station?
That’s right! Just like all the train options, the bus arrives at Busan Station as well. Busan Station is the main transportation hub in Busan, so it is no surprise that everything arrives and departs out of it.
Just jump on the metro, and you’ll quickly arrive at your hotel! You probably won’t even need to transfer metro lines!
You gotta love when it is as easy as that!
Pros of Taking the Bus from Seoul to Busan
- Comfortable seats
- Luggage storage under the bus, so you don’t have to fuss with your luggage
- Is the least expensive way to travel from Seoul to Busan
- Can purchase last-minute tickets without worrying about it being sold out
Cons of Taking the Bus from Seoul to Busan
- Longer than the KTX and most of the slow trains
- The bus station is a ways out of downtown Seoul
- Can be delayed if there is traffic
- Unable to get up and stretch your legs like you can on a train
Option Four: Flying from Seoul to Busan
The final option you have to travel from Seoul to Busan is by flying.
It wouldn’t be my first choice because you have to leave enough time to travel to the airport, check in, go through security, and be at your gate a few minutes before it starts boarding.
Plus you have to deal with the packing restraints of not being able to carry on liquids and don’t have as much luggage flexibility as you do on the KTX, slow train, or bus.
How Long is the Flight from Seoul to Busan?
The upside of flying is that the flight from Seoul to Busan is only an hour, so the travel time is much shorter than taking a train or bus.
But once you factor in the time it takes to check in and go through security, the amount of time it takes to get from Seoul to Busan is pretty much the same as taking the KTX or one of the faster slow trains.
How Much Does a Plane Ticket Cost?
Anybody who has every booked a plane tickets knows there are countless variables that go into how much you pay. It depends on the time of year, day of the week, time of day, what airline you fly, and who you purchase your ticket from.
It is quite difficult to give you an estimate of how much a plane ticket from Seoul to Busan will cost given there are so many factors that go into deciding the price.
You can get a really inexpensive plane ticket if you’re lucky and book on the right day at the right time.
In some instances, a plane ticket can cost less than a KTX ticket!
I wouldn’t go into booking a plane ticket from Seoul to Busan an expect it to be less expensive than the KTX though.
Set the expectation that a plane ticket will cost more than a KTX ticket, and you can be pleasantly surprised if it ends up being less expensive!
Where to Purchase Plane Tickets
You can purchase your plane ticket through your favourite third-party website or through the airline’s website directly.
I personally enjoy using Skyscanner to get an idea of the flight time and prices and then going to the airline’s website to find their price then to third-party websites. I keep searching around until I think I’ve found the best price.
Some third-party websites don’t have a great reputation so be sure to look into that as well before booking your flight.
I’ve found that in most cases the airline has either the lowest price or has a price that is very similar to the cheapest third-party website.
Where Do Flights Depart from in Seoul?
A lot of tourists don’t know about Gimpo Airport when they fly into Seoul, but it is the ideal airport to fly out of when travelling from Seoul to Busan.
It always has cheaper flights than Incheon International Airport. It is also much closer to downtown Seoul and is quicker to get to on the metro, bus, or taxi.
I highly recommend you use Gimpo Airport to fly from Seoul to Busan.
Incheon International Airport
The other option you have is flying out of Incheon International Airport. Incheon is probably the airport you’ll fly into if you’re arriving in Seoul from another country, so you’re most likely aware of it.
I don’t recommend flying from Seoul to Busan via Incheon International Airport.
Flights will be significantly more expensive than Gimpo Airport, and the Incheon Airport is much further from downtown Seoul and takes a while to get to via public transportation.
The only exception to my recommendation to not fly out of Incehon International Airport is if you’re landing at the airport and then getting a flight to Busan the same day.
Even in that case, it might be better to fly out of Gimpo.
The two airports are connected by the metro, so it is super easy to get to Incheon International Airport to Gimpo Airport assuming you have enough time between flights.
Where Do Flights Arrive at in Busan?
Flights from both Incheon International Airport and Gimpo Airport arrive at Busan International Airport (Gimhae).
The airport in Busan is quite close to downtown Busan, so it is convenient and easy to get to wherever you’re staying.
You can take the metro or bus if you want to use public transportation, but I recommend taking a taxi.
A taxi from Busan International Airport (Gimhae) to downtown Busan will cost you less than $20 USD and is much quicker than taking public transportation.
You will have to transfer at least once if you take public transportation and then walk from the metro station to your hotel.
A taxi is worth the little bit of money for the ease of not having to navigate the public transportation system- especially if you have multiple people in your group.
I’m not suggesting that the public transportation system in Busan is difficult to use by any means!
It is actually really easy to use. I just think it is worth the extra money to save some time and effort by taking a taxi.
Pros of Flying from Seoul to Busan
- Clean and comfortable
- Flight is fast
- Can be very affordable
Cons of Flying from Seoul to Busan
- You have to deal with all the hassles that come along with flying
- It isn’t great for the environment
- The departure and arrival points aren’t as convenient as the KTX
As you can tell, it is super easy to travel from Seoul to Busan, and you have many different transportation options to choose from.
There really is an option that fits everybody no matter what your budget or travel style!
I personally opt for the KTX. To me, it is worth the extra price to travel by high-speed train and arrive in Busan as quickly as possible. I also like that the KTX departs from Seoul Station. It is so convenient!
No matter what transportation method you choose, your journey from Seoul to Busan will be comfortable. Every train, bus, and plane is clean and comfortable, so you’ll enjoy your ride.
One final note before you plan your journey from Seoul to Busan:
Trains, buses, and planes depart on time and don’t tend to run late. You’ll want to arrive at the train station, bus station, or airport early enough to allow you to get to where you are departing from 10 to 15 minutes before you’re supposed to leave.
You’ll most likely be left behind if you’re running late!