How to get to Busan

How to get to Busan

By plane

Busan’s International Gimhae Airport (IATAPUS) is situated in Gangseo-gu (강서구), Busan and is the third busiest airport in Korea with many scheduled flights across East Asia. There are separate Domestic and International terminals next to each other, each with basic facilities and food outlets.

  • Domestic flights are from Seoul Gimpo (IATAGMP) and Jeju Island (IATACJU). Most flights from Seoul come from Gimpo Airport, however if you are making an international connection then there are a select few scheduled flights that fly directly from Incheon Airport to Gimhae with Korean Air . They are slightly more expensive but much more convenient. (Note that these flights are only for international connections, which means customs and immigrations clearances are done at Busan Gimhae Airport. If your international connection at Incheon is not on the airline which you purchased the Busan <–> Gimhae ticket for, you must check if that airline is willing to transfer luggage at Incheon since you are not allowed to leave the secure area at Incheon to any checked bags.)
  • International flights are from major cities in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Sapporo), China (Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Xi’an), the Philippines (Manila, Cebu, Kalibo) and Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City). In addition there are flights to Russia (Vladivostok), Thailand (Bangkok), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Taiwan (Taipei), SaipanGuamMacau and Hong Kong.

There are also a number of budget airlines operating from Gimhae including Korean LCCs Air Busan, Jeju Air and Jin Air and foreign low cost carriers such as Cebu Pacific (Cebu, Manila), Hong Kong Express Airways (Hong Kong), Peach (Osaka Kansai) and Air Asia (Kuala Lumpur).

Airport Connections

  • Light Rail The Busan Gimhae Light Rail recently opened as a new way to get into the city, and connects to Metro lines 2 (green) and 3 (brown). It takes about an hour to get to the city center and about 90 minutes to Haeundae. If you arrive at rush hour (Morning or early evening) then this may be the fastest way in.
  • Limousine Bus The Airport limousine buses leave from both the International and Domestic terminals and connect to various locations in the city for a flat ₩6,000. Tickets are purchased either on the bus, or in the bus office at the Domestic Terminal. (Note that the bus driver may have difficulty accepting notes greater than ₩10,000 in value)
  • Limousine Bus for City Departs every 20-30 minutes, stops at: Gimhae Airport ↔ Seomyeon, Lotte Hotel ↔ Hyundai Department Store ↔ Busanjin Station ↔ Busan Station ↔ Jungang Dong ↔ Passenger Terminal ↔ Nampo Dong ↔ Chungmu Dong (Seogu office)
  • Limousine Bus for Haeundae Departs every 20 minutes, stops at: Gimhae Airport ↔ Daenam Junction ↔ Geumnyeonsan Station ↔ Suyeong Junction ↔ BEXCO ↔ Olympic yacht Stadium ↔ The Westin Chosun Hotel ↔ Haeundae(Five-star Hotel) ↔ Novotel ↔ Paradise Hotel ↔ Jangsan Station ↔ Haeundae New Town
  • Local Bus City buses leave for downtown regularly. Tickets are cheap at around ₩1,000. The information desk at the International Terminal (Arrivals) can provide English speaking assistance for this.
  • Intercity Bus Long distances buses operate to and from the airport (see ‘By Bus’ below)
  • Taxi A taxi to the city center will set you back about ₩15,000 (daytime) including tolls. A taxi to Haeundae will cost ₩25,000 when there is no traffic.

Connections from Seoul’s Airports

  • Incheon is about 4 hours by train from Busan station. Take the fast airport train (AREX) to Seoul station and then take the high speed KTX train directly to Busan station. (Tickets all the way to Busan can be purchased in the Arrivals area of Incheon airport). If you’re traveling from America or Europe, flights to Incheon are often significantly cheaper, so even with the cost of the KTX, it can be cheaper overall. Also, because the main domestic airport in Seoul is Gimpo there can often be lengthy layovers to connect to the few flights from ICN to PUS, so the frequency of train service can also make this time competitive to a second flight from Incheon to Busan and then into the city. Flights from Gimpo to Busan tend to be cheaper (and more frequent), but if you consider the airport transfer and such, it will normally take longer than the train.
  • Gimpo is a bit over 3 hours to Busan station by high speed KTX. Take the subway to Seoul Station and then transfer to the KTX. Unlike at Icheon, KTX tickets can not be purchased at Gimpo, so these tickets must be purchased at Seoul Station.

By train

Busan is very well connected on the Korean rail network and a main hub for the high speed KTX trains.

KTX [57] trains connect Seoul to Busan via Daegu and Daejeon. Journey times vary between 120 to 150 min (₩55,500). Tickets can be purchased at the counter but automated English-language machines are available to make purchases with too. Tickets can also be purchased on the Internet Korail [58] site with an international credit card and picked up at the station. (This is very useful when planning to travel at peak times, when all tickets can quickly sell out)

KTX passengers are expected to be quiet but this is not always the case. First-class provides a more comfortable seat and the upgrade can be purchased en route. Snacks can be purchased on the trains using the vending machines or from an attendant. There is free Wi-Fi, but it’s slow and is limited to 30MB of data.

Other trains, such as Saemaeul and Mugunghwa, connect Busan with other major cities as well. They’re cheaper but slower than KTX.

  • Busan Station looks like a UFO that has accidentally landed in the somewhat grubby stretch between the bright lights of Nampodong and Seomyeon. The Busan ‘China Town’ is next to it, and chinese dumplings are easily available. It’s easy enough to get in or away on Subway Line 1, and there are lots of cheap motels and eating places in the vicinity. There are a limited number lockers in the station, but these can become occupied quickly on busy days, so don’t rely on them. Note that this area could be considered dangerous by Busan (very safe) standards at night time.
  • Gupo Station is also in Busan. It’s a 1 minute walk from the Gupo Subway Station on Subway Line 3. It’s much smaller than Busan Station and usually uncrowded. A ticket from Gupo to Seoul is a thousand won cheaper than a ticket from Busan Station to Seoul. Gupo Station is ideal if you are coming or going from a place far away from Busan Station, such as Hwamyeongdong. This is also the closest KTX station to Busan Airport.
  • Haeundae Station is in the new town area in Haeundae. It is very quiet and does not serve KTX, but has a few useful train connections to other cities. There are trains to GyeongjuPohangMiryangSeoul and other destinations. If you are staying in Haeundae this may be a better option than travelling over the city to Busan or Gupo Station.
    • As of December 2, 2013, it is no longer located next to Haeundae subway station. It has been moved to the new town area on newly constructed train tracks which take a different route than before.
  • Songjeong Station is further east than Haeundae. Trains to Bujeon station and Pohang.
    • As of December 2, 2013, it is no longer located near the beach. It has been moved farther north on newly constructed train tracks which take a different route than before.

By car

Driving and parking in Busan can be difficult, so if you just want to look around the city then public transportation will be easier. However if you are coming to explore the area around Busan (such as going down to Geoje) then the flexibility of driving yourself will help you enjoy it more.

Note that you can use the Hanero Card to pay toll gates in the city.

Busan is connected by three main highways:

  • Gyeongbu Highway connects Busan with Seoul via Daejeon and Daegu.
  • Daegu-Busan Highway is an alternative highway to Daegu.
  • Namhae Highway connects Gwangju via Jinju and Sacheon.

By bus

Almost all cities and counties in South Korea have an express bus to Busan. There are two major bus stations:

  • Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal (동부시외버스터미널), Nopodong Station (Line 1). For points north and east (eg. Daegu, Gyeongju, Seoul, Ulsan).
  • Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal (서부시외버스터미널), Sasang Station (Line 2). For points west (e.g., JinjuMasanGeoje Island). There are also regular buses to Seoul from here, although they are slightly more expensive than the buses from Nopo.
  • Busan Airport Long distances buses operate from directly outside the terminals of Gimhae (Busan) Airport to the cities of ChangwonMasanJangyuGeojeTongyeongGyeongjuPohangDaeguGumi and Ulsan.

By boat

Busan has regular international ferry services to Japan. Go to the International Ferry Terminal (Subway Line 1: Jungang-dong. Go right from exit 10) where you can book tickets to Japan (And even purchase Japan Rail tickets).

Japan

  • Tsushima island is the only part of Japan (sometimes) visible from Busan. (Known as Daemado Island in Korean) Ferries operated by Dae-a Express Shipping, carries passengers between Busan and Hitakatsu in 1 hour 40 minutes and between Busan and Izuhara in 2 hours 40 minutes.
  • Fukuoka JR Kyushu’s Beetle [59] hydrofoils run five times a day and take just under 3 hours. These ferries can fill up (particularly on weekends), so advanced reservation is recomended (there are also discounts for booking well in advanced). Note that the base price is 13,000yen + 2,200yen fuel charge, so the cost of flying from Busan can be comparable to the hydrofoil. Alternativally a normal ferry takes 7 hours.
  • Osaka is even further, at 19 hours total journey time. Panstar [61] is very comfortable and like in a cruise (entertainment, food, bar, spa, etc) but for one way trip the price varies if you book from Japan or South Korea.

Korea

There is one daily ferry from and to Jeju, around 7PM. The price is KRW51,550 for a floor space and about KRW55,000-74,000 for the low category beds.

Anthony & Kyoung Hwa

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