Seoul and Busan are the two most popular cities in South Korea for tourists to visit. It is incredibly easy to travel from Busan to Seoul, so there is no excuse not to explore both these beautiful cities!
The easiest and most popular way to travel from Busan to Seoul is on the KTX high-speed train. It will get you from Busan to Seoul in under three hours, but it is the most expensive option. If you’re on a budget and can’t afford the KTX, the next best option is taking the slow train, but you’ll arrive at a train station outside of central Seoul and will have to take public transportation into the city centre, which will take upwards of 30 minutes.
You also have the option of taking a bus or flying from Busan to Seoul, but they are less popular and less convenient than taking the KTX or slow train.
No matter what transportation method you choose, it is easy and straightforward to travel between Busan and Seoul.
My personal preference is to take the KTX from Busan to Seoul. The convenience of the high-speed train is worth the additional price tag. Plus it drops you off in the heart of downtown Seoul, so it is super easy to get to your hotel or Airbnb.
But everybody has their own travel style and transportation preference, so this post is going to cover every transportation method you can take from Busan to Seoul.
It also discusses the pros and cons of each transportation method, so you can make an informed decision about what is best for you!
By the end of this article, you’ll be fully knowledgable about how to travel from Busan to Seoul and will be able to choose the best transportation method for you!
Before We Get Started
One of my least favourite parts of travel planning is figuring out how to travel from one city to another.
I normally find it difficult to find all the information I need in one place and have to spend way too long scouring the internet to put together a travel plan.
That’s why I love writing these transportation guides for you!
They contain all the information you need to plan you’re journey from one city to another.
If you’re travelling throughout South Korea, you may want to check out some of my other South Korean transportation guides:
- How to Travel from Busan to Daegu
- How to Travel from Seoul to Daegu
- How to Travel from Seoul to Daejeon
- How to Travel from Seoul to Gyeongju
- How to Travel from Seoul to Busan
Option One: Taking the KTX from Busan to Seoul
The KTX is the most popular way to travel between cities in South Korea.
It is quick, efficient, clean, and comfortable. The only downside to the KTX is that it is the most expensive way to travel throughout Korea.
The convenience and efficiency of the KTX often makes it worth the higher price tag. Especially when you’re travelling across long distances like the journey from Busan to Seoul.
How Long Does the KTX from Busan to Seoul Take?
As mentioned in the introduction, the KTX journey from Busan to Seoul takes less than three hours!
That’s incredibly fast considering the two cities are 329km apart!
KTX trains depart from Busan to Seoul once (and sometimes twice during peak times) per hour and are direct.
You don’t need to worry about transferring trains! You get on in Busan and off in Seoul.
It doesn’t get any easier than that!
How Much Does a KTX Ticket Cost?
The price of a KTX ticket fluctuates.
It depends on what time of day and what day of the week you’re travelling. Tickets will cost more during peak times on the weekend and less on off-peak times on weekdays.
In general, a KTX ticket from Busan to Seoul will cost you between 53,000 won and 60,000 won. That is approximately $44USD to $50USD.
They certainly aren’t cheap, but they are oftentimes worth the splurge!
Where to Purchase KTX Tickets
You can purchase KTX tickets either online or in person.
No matter how you choose to purchase your tickets, I recommend you purchase them at least 24 hours in advance.
The earlier the better, but a day in advance is the latest I would leave purchasing KTX tickets. Especially if you’re travelling on the weekend or during a holiday!
You can purchase your tickets up to a month in advance if you’re really planning ahead!
Purchasing your tickets online is the easiest way to get your KTX tickets.
You can purchase your tickets through the Korean Rail website. They have an English version of their site and accept foreign credit cards, so it is super easy to get your hands on a KTX ticket!
The website will tell you that you need to print out a hard copy of your ticket before boarding the train.
That is what I always personally do because I’ve always had access to a printer.
I’ve heard from many people that you don’t really need to have a hard copy of your ticket and that an electronic copy of the ticket on your phone will suffice.
If you have access to a printer, you should definitely print out your ticket and take it with you on the train, but I wouldn’t stress out too much if you don’t have access to a printer.
Just make sure you have a copy of your ticket on your phone that can be enlarged. That way the ticket agent can easily scan and view your ticket.
The other option you have to purchase a KTX ticket is going to the train station and getting your ticket in person.
You can either purchase your ticket from a teller at a ticket booth or at an electronic ticket machine.
The tellers are the only place you can pay for your ticket in cash, so if you are looking to pay with cash, you’ll have to go to the station and purchase your ticket from human ticket salesperson.
I personally think purchasing your ticket online is a better option than buying it in person. It isn’t really the best use of your time to trek all the way to the train station, stand in line, buy your ticket, and then continue on with your day.
Where Does the KTX Depart from in Busan?
All KTX trains depart from Busan Station.
Busan Station is located along metro line 1 and is just seven stops away from Seomyeon, which is the most popular area in Busan for tourists to stay.
It is super central and super easy to get to!
Where Does the KTX Arrive at in Seoul?
The KTX arrives at Seoul Station.
This is super convenient because Seoul Station is located in the heart of central Seoul. You can easily jump on the metro or bus and get to where you’re staying quickly and easily.
The KTX is the only form of transportation from Busan to Seoul that drops you off at Seoul Station.
If you’re staying in central Seoul, the convenience of arriving at Seoul Station is unbeatable!
Pros of Taking the KTX from Busan to Seoul
- Quickest way to travel from Busan to Seoul
- Comfortable and clean with lots of luggage storage
- Drops you off in central Seoul
Cons of Taking the KTX from Busan to Seoul
- The most expensive form of transportation
The next best option is to take a slow train from Busan to Seoul.
The slow train takes quite a bit longer than the KTX, but it is significantly more affordable and still a fairly comfortable experience.
This is definitely the option to choose if you’re on a budget!
How Long Does the Slow Train from Busan to Seoul Take?
The travel times vary quite a bit with the slow train.
The journey takes longer during peak times and on weekends because the slow train needs to keep stopping on the tracks to let the KTX pass.
A slow train from Busan to Seoul will take between 4.5 and 5.5 hours on average.
There are a very few occasions where the slow train will take about as long as the KTX, but those are few and far between.
They also tend to be during very off-peak times when the tracks are quiet. We’re talking middle of the night and wee hours of the morning.
Not the times of the day most people choose to travel, so your slow train from Busan to Seoul will most likely fall into the 4.5 to 5.5 hour category.
If you choose to take the slow train, you’re probably looking at spending your entire day in transit so don’t make any plans for the day you arrive in Seoul!
How Much Does a Slow Train Ticket Cost?
Just like the travel time, the cost of slow train tickets vary significantly.
A ticket from Busan to Seoul on the slow train will cost you between 28,000 won and 52,000 won. That is approximately $28USD to $43USD.
The cost of your ticket directly correlates to how long the journey.
The longer the journey the cheaper the ticket.
The shorter the journey the more expensive the ticket.
Some of the slow train tickets cost almost the same as a KTX ticket. In those cases, you should seriously consider spending the extra money on a KTX ticket to save time and arrive in central Seoul.
But if you don’t mind spending 5.5 hours on a train, getting a ticket from Busan to Seoul for only 28,000 won is a pretty sweet deal and is about half the price of a KTX ticket!
Where to Purchase Slow Train Tickets
You purchase slow train tickets exactly the same way you purchase KTX tickets.
They can be purchased online through the Korean Rail website or in person at the train station.
Both methods work equally as well- although I still favour purchasing my ticket online in advance.
It is less important to purchase your slow train tickets in advance because they don’t sell out like the KTX sometimes does, but it is still a good idea to get your ticket a day or two in advance to ensure you get a seat you like!
Slow trains don’t depart as frequently as the KTX, so if you have a specific train you need to catch, you’ll want to book your ticket as early as possible.
Ticket sales open up a month in advance just like the KTX.
Where Do Slow Trains Depart from in Busan?
Slow trains depart from Busan Station.
Busan Station is the main transportation hub in the city, so it is where nearly all forms of transportation depart from.
This makes it super easy to ensure you’re going to the right place. It is pretty hard to go to the wrong station when there is only one to choose from!
Where Do Slow Trains Arrive at in Seoul?
There are three different types of slow trains in South Korea: ITX, SRT, and Mungunghwa.
Each train type arrives at a different location in Seoul, so you’ll need to pay attention to that when you book your ticket.
You’ll either arrive at Yongsan Station, Suseo Station, or Yeongdeungpo Station.
A few ITX trains arrive at Seoul Station. Those trains are few and far between, so you’ll most likely arrive at one of the other three stations.
All three of the main stations the slow trains arrive at are outside of central Seoul, so you’ll have to figure out how to get to your accommodation on public transportation from these stations.
It takes at least half an hour to get to central Seoul from all of these train station and can take up to an hour.
Be sure to take that into consideration when you’re deciding what mode of transportation to take from Busan to Seoul.
Pros of Taking the Slow Train from Busan to Seoul
- Comfortable and clean
- Nice to be able to get up and walk around during the journey
Cons of Taking the Slow Train from Busan to Seoul
- Takes quite a bit longer than the KTX
- Most trains arrive outside of central Seoul
- Not as much luggage space as the KTX
Option Three: Taking the Bus from Busan to Seoul
The third option you have is to take a bus from Busan to Seoul.
Buses in South Korea are actually quite nice and comfortable. They are large coach-style buses with luggage storage under the bus.
So you don’t have to worry about finding a place to store your luggage like you do on the KTX and slow trains.
I’ve ridden a number of inter-city buses in South Korea and have always had an excellent experience.
The downside to the buses is that they are a bit slow, can get stuck in a traffic jam, and arrive outside of central Seoul.
How Long Does the Bus from Busan to Seoul Take?
The bus ride from Busan to Seoul takes approximately 4 hours assuming there isn’t a ton of traffic.
You probably won’t have an issue with traffic on the highway, but you may run into heavy traffic when you get closer to Seoul.
Buses often have a dedicated driving lane, so they aren’t as susceptible to traffic jams as a normal car. But they can still happen!
I don’t recommend you make any plans for the first few hours after you’re supposed to arrive in Seoul.
That gives you some wiggle room in case the bus is delayed!
How Much Does a Bus Ticket Cost?
A bus ticket from Busan to Seoul will cost you between 23,000 won and 37,000 won. That is approximately $19USD to $30USD.
The variation in the ticket price comes down to the bus company you use and whether you’re on an “express” bus or not.
There isn’t a huge difference in the ticket prices, so I wouldn’t worry too much about getting on the “cheapest” bus.
Where to Purchase Bus Tickets
Just like the KTX and slow train, you can either purchase your tickets online or in person.
I recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance because they offer a slight discount.
You can purchase your bus tickets online through the Korean Bus website.
Just like the Korean Railway website, the bus website has an English version and accepts foreign credit cards.
It is super simply to use, and you can use an electronic version of your ticket unlike the KTX or slow trains.
You also get the following discounts if you purchase your tickets online:
- 10% off if you purchase your ticket at least 48 hours before departure
- 10% off if you purchase a roundtrip ticket
- 10% off if you reserve one of the 4 seats at the very back of the bus
These discounts definitely make it worthwhile to book your ticket in advance!
Who doesn’t want to save 10% just by buying a ticket 2 days in advance?! I sure do!
The other option you have is purchasing your bus ticket in person.
There aren’t ticketing machines that sell bus tickets, so you’ll have to purchase your ticket from a teller. If you want to use cash, this is the method for you!
Buses don’t tend to sell out, so you can easily show up a few minutes before a bus departs and still get a ticket.
It is perfect for spontaneous people!
Just be sure to leave yourself a few extra minutes in case there is a line at the ticket booth!
Where Does the Bus Depart from in Busan?
I doubt you’re surprised to learn that buses depart from Busan Station.
It really the transportation hub in Busan!
Where Does the Bus Arrive at in Seoul?
All buses arrive at Seoul Gyeongbu Bus Station. It is also commonly referred to at Seoul Express Bus Station.
They are one in the same, but it can get confusing when the station has two common names!
Seoul Gyeongbu Bus Station is located on the opposite side of the Han River from central Seoul, so you’ll have to use public transportation to get to your accommodation.
It takes approximately 30 minutes to get from the bus station to Seoul Station, and you can use either the metro or city bus to get there.
It is a bit of a pain, but it is your only option if you’re taking the bus from Busan to Seoul.
Pros of Taking the Bus from Busan to Seoul
- Least expensive mode of transportation
- Super easy luggage storage
- Has window shade to block the sun
Cons of Taking the Bus from Busan to Seoul
- Fairly long journey time
- Bus arrives outside of central Seoul
- Can be delayed due to traffic
Option Four: Flying from Busan to Seoul
Your final option is flying between the two cities.
Flying is not recommended.
It is the most expensive, time consuming, and environmentally damaging way to travel from Busan to Seoul.
How Long is the Flight from Busan to Seoul?
The flight itself is only an hour.
However, you have to take into consideration everything else that comes along with flying.
You have to arrive at the airport early enough to check in, go through security, and board the plane.
Then you have to fly to Seoul.
Finally, you have to wait for the plane to taxi, wait your turn to get off the plane, get any baggage you checked, and navigate your way into Seoul and wherever you’re staying.
The flight might not be long, but the entire process of flying is a time suck.
Flying is easily the most time consuming way to travel from Busan to Seoul.
How Much Does a Plane Ticket Cost?
The cost of plane tickets vary drastically.
It depends on how close to your date of departure you purchase the ticket, what day of the week you travel on, what time of day the flight leaves, what airline you fly, and so much more.
It is impossible for me to give you an accurate plane ticket price since there are so many variables.
What I can tell you is that you can find some great flight deals within Korea.
In some cases, you can get a one-way flight from Busan to Seoul for less than the cost of a KTX ticket!
Where to Purchase Plane Tickets
I always like to start looking for flights on Skyscanner and then compare their price with the price listed directly on the airline’s website.
This way you know you’re getting the best ticket price!
Where Do Flights Depart from in Busan?
All flights in and out of Busan depart from Busan International Airport (Gimhae).
Busan International Airport is super close to downtown Busan, and it doesn’t take long to get to the airport.
I always take a taxi from my hotel to the airport. It has never cost my more than 10,000 won (about $8USD).
It is way more convenient than taking public transportation. You’ll have to transfer lines at least once if you take the metro and airport buses stops are fairly spread out around the city.
Where Do Flights Arrive at in Seoul?
You will land at either Incheon International Airport or Gimpo Airport.
Both airports are located a fair way outside of central Seoul, so you’ll have to use public transportation to get wherever you’re staying.
It takes about an hour to get to Seoul Station from Incheon International Airport and about 25 minutes from Gimpo Airport.
Flights that land in Gimpo Airport will be less expensive than flights that land at Incheon International Airport, so you’ll likely be landing at Gimpo Airport.
Just jump on the metro at the airport, and you’ll in downtown Seoul in less than half an hour!
If you land at Incheon International Airport, you can either take the metro or an airport bus.
I prefer taking the airport bus because it is more relaxing, and I’m guaranteed a seat. The bus is slightly more expensive than the metro though. Keep that in mind when choosing how to get from the airport to Seoul!
Pros of Flying from Busan to Seoul
- Can be less expensive than the KTX
- Convenient if you’re flying out of Seoul on the same day
Cons of Flying from Busan to Seoul
- Very time consuming
- Not good for the environment
- Have luggage and liquid restrictions
As you can see, there are a number of different ways you can travel from Busan to Seoul.
They all have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to you to choose which method is best for you and your travel style.
My personal preference is the KTX. I like how quick it is and that it drops me off at Seoul Station. I’m a sucker for little conveniences like that!
But you may be on a tight budget and choose to take the bus or slow train even though the arrival location isn’t the most convenient.
That’s the beauty of having so many transportation options!
If you’re wondering how to pass your time while travelling from Busan to Seoul, be sure to check out my in-depth post all about wifi in Korea for tourists!
It has all the information you need to navigate the wifi situation in Korea.
And don’t forget to use a VPN to protect your online data when on the road!
You never know who’s looking at your online activity without your consent!
Wifi and online safety aside, Busan, Seoul, and South Korea as a whole are amazing! You’ll have a great trip, be immersed in an incredible culture, and eat delicious food.
There is hardly a country in the world I love as much as South Korea, and I hope your trip makes you love it as much as I do!