If you are planning a trip to Busan, the second biggest city in South Korea, read this ultimate guide to getting around Busan by public transport!
1. Cashbee – transportation card widely used in Busan
Like the T-money card in Seoul, there is a prepaid transportation card called Cashbee.
If you already have a T-money card, you are also able to use it in Busan. If you are only going to travel within the city of Busan and have not purchased any transportation card, then getting this Cashbee card will be handy as it is used not only for transportation but also in many stores and even movie theaters.
You can purchase Cashbee cards at convenience stores and ticket vending machines located inside metro stations. You can also recharge the card at metro stations, Busan Bank, Busan Gimhae Light Rail Transit and convenience stores.
Taking a metro in Busan is an economical way to explore the city because it runs through almost all of the tourist destinations and the fare is relatively cheap. Plus, the announcements of the destinations are spoken in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese.
If you’re going to stay a while within the city, buy a Hanaro Card. But if you are just making a one-day stop in Busan, one-day metro tickets are highly recommended.
You can buy one-day metro tickets at Gimhae International Airport, Busan Station or Busan Central Bus Terminal or from the ticket vending machines inside metro stations. With this ticket, you can take 20 rides on the same day of purchase for all metro lines except the light rail service.
As you can see, there are 4 major metro lines in Busan: Orange, Green, Brown, and Blue. There is an additional Purple Line (Gimhae Light Railway) which connects Gimhae Airport (closest to Busan) and the West of Busan. The fare is 1,300 won for one section, 1,500 won for two section.
- Line 1 (Orange Line): Dadaepo Beach ~ Nopo-dong
- Line 2 (Green Line): Yangsan ~ Jangsan
- Line 3 (Brown Line): Daejeo ~ Suyeong
- Line 4 (Blue Line): Minam ~ Anpyeong
- Busan-Gimhae Light Rail Transit (Purple Line): Sasang ~ Kaya Univ.
*Take note that travel times on Busan’s metro can be comparatively longer than that of Seoul.
Regular taxis are usually in gray color, and if you see a black taxi with a yellow taxi sign on top, they are deluxe taxis, which offer a free car phone service.
The basic fare for a regular taxi is 3,300 won per 2km and then additional charges are added depending on the distance and time whereas the basic fare for a deluxe taxi is 5,000 won per 3km and additional charges will be imposed depending on the distance and time. A late hour premium will be charged from midnight for both types.
Most taxi drivers do not speak English (although some may speak Japanese) so it will help a lot if you show the name of the destination in Korean to the driver. The taxi drivers in Busan are generally very friendly towards foreigners.
However, there are some unscrupulous taxi drivers who often assume that a foreign traveler wants to go a long distance and they may attempt to charge much higher fixed fares (as much as 20,000 KRW) in some areas such as around Busan Port.
Insist on the meter and take a different taxi if your driver refuses to use it. Asking about the approximate fare will be helpful before taking a taxi.
A. Local Buses
The bus network in Busan is fairly comprehensive. It is recommended travelers to Busan use Hanaro card or T-money card as cash fare is higher than the transportation card fare. Also, if you pay in cash, you can’t receive a transfer discount.
Transportation cardholders can also enjoy free transfer within 30 minutes from getting off. However, they must touch the card on the card reading machine when exiting the bus.
Inside the bus, you will be able to find a sign with destinations displayed in Korean, English, and Japanese, although there will be no English route maps whatsoever on the bus. Make sure you check your route and see which bus to take in advance.
Here are some of the key bus routes that run through major tourist destinations in Busan.
1. Bus No. 1003 runs every 8 to 11 mins and passes through major tourist spots. (It also runs at night as a night bus!)
- Songjeong Beach – Mipo Moontanroad – Haeundae Beach – Gwangalli Beach – Busanjin Market – Busan Station – Nampodong
2. Bus No. 188 runs every 25 to 30 mins and you will be able to see the east coast and the areas nearby on this bus.
- Imlang Baech – Chilam Port – Dongbaek Breakwater – Ilgwang Beach
2. Bus No. 307 runs every 14~18 mins from Gimhae airport to Haeundae. Taking this bus can also help you cover most of the places across the city of Busan comprehensively.
*Take note that Busan City Tour Bus does not operate on Mondays.
B. Express & Inter-city Buses
There are 2 main bus terminals for express and inter-city buses: Busan Central Bus Terminal and Seobu Inter-City Bus Terminal. The bus fare depends on the distance and the type of express or inter-city bus you take.
Busan Central Bus Terminal: Located in Nopo-dong, here you can ride both express buses and inter-city buses. The Dongbu Inter-City Bus connects all regions with Busan, including some of the major destinations like Donghae, Gangneung, Sokcho, Jinju, and Tongyeong.
The express bus connects Busan and other cities including Seoul, Daejeon, Gyeongju, Incheon, Jeonju, Gwangju, Yeosu, Suncheon, and Daegu.
Seobu Inter-City Bus Terminal: Located in Sasang, you can take inter-city buses to Jeolla-do, Gyeongsang-do and other major cities in Yeongnam Region and Honam Region, the southern part of South Korea.
In big cities like Seoul and Busan, riding a bike can be dangerous, this is especially true if you have ever seen the driving style of the people in Korea. In Haeundae district, there are dedicated bike lanes on many pavements which are relatively safe.
The city of Busan offers a public bike-share program in several spots, including Haeundae Beach.
- Haeundae Beach has a free bike rental scheme between 9 am and 6 pm for foreigners (with a passport, ID card, and accommodation voucher). If you don’t have insurance then a 2,000 KRW fee is required.