Not sure how to get around Busan? We’ve got you covered no matter if you want to travel by public transportation, taxi, car, or city tour. Here is where you will find all the details you need for a seamless Busan vacation.
We lived for almost one year in South Korea, and while we had our base in Seoul, we went back to Busan on every occasion we had. The city made us fall in love with its colorful streets, beautiful beaches and laid-back vibe.
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How to get around Busan
While Busan is the second largest in South Korea, the city has a population of roughly 3.5 million people, placing it up there with almost any big metropolis in the world.
The city’s public transportation is impressive and very well organized so you can get almost anywhere by bus or subway.
If you choose to drive in South Korea, you will also find it easy to navigate the streets of Busan.
How to get from Seoul to Busan
If you’re traveling to South Korea for the first time, chances are you will be coming to Busan from Seoul. Traveling between the 2 cities is easy no matter how you prefer to get around or your budget.
One of the fastest options, traveling from Gimpo Airport in Seoul to Gimhae Airport in Busan takes less than 1 hour. However, if you factor in the time you spend at the airport and to get there, you can expect to spend around 3-4 hours on the commute.
Tickets are affordable when booked in advance, and flights are operated by Jeju Air, T’Way, JinAir, and Air Seoul. It would maybe surprise you to know that plane tickets can be cheaper than the fast train.
The most popular way to travel between Seoul and Busan is by KTX (fast train).
That’s because the train station is close to the city center in both towns, and it is also the fastest way to get from one place to the other.
Book your Korea Rail Passes for 2/3/4/5 days – the days don’t have to be consecutive, you can use KTX and KTX-Sancheon High-Speed Trains, along with other types of trains.
The slowest option, however, will offer you the chance to stop in other cities along the way.
How to get from Gimhae airport to Busan
If you choose to take the plane, the easiest way to get from Gimhae Airport to Busan city center is by subway.
You will need a SIM Card with a T-Money card that will allow you to use public transportation anywhere in South Korea. You top it up with money and use it for both subway and buses.
As you exit the arrivals gates at the airport in Busan, you will only need to cross the street to get to the subway station. What surprised us was the fact that the train did not have a driver.
The subway purple line links Gimhae Airport to Sasang Station. From there, you can take any of the other lines and get to your final destination, no matter if that’s around Busan Train station, Haeundae Beach or the other side of Busan.
The journey takes around 20 minutes and will cost 1500 won (roughly 1.25 USD).
Of course, taking the subway is not comfortable when you travel with large luggage. In this case, you will want to take a taxi.
You can use Kakao Taxi to book one, or you can take it directly from the airport.
Another option would be to book a private transfer ahead of time. You won’t have to worry about a thing, and the driver will drop you off at your hotel in Busan.
The cheapest way to get from the airport to the city center is by public bus. The ticket costs 1100 won, but the ride takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
Another option is the Limousine bus to Seomyeon/ To Busan Station. The bus leaves from Platform 3, Floor 1, International and Domestic Terminals, and the ticket price is 6000 won.
Taking the subway in Busan
The fastest and most economical way to travel around the city, the subway system is reliable and big enough to cover the main tourist attractions (with a few exceptions).
You must validate your T-money card as you enter and go out of the subway, or you can buy individual tickets (when you don’t have a T-Money card). There is the option for a one-day ticket, very useful when you only have one day in Busan.
The Busan subway map is available at any station and inside the subway cars. On top of that, most hotels in Busan will provide free tourist and subway maps.
There are 4 major lines, marked with different colors (as per the picture above):
- Line 1 (Orange Line): Dadaepo Beach – Nopo-dong (Busan Station is on this line, and also Jagalchi Fish Market and the bridge to Yeongdo Island at Nampo Station)
- Line 2 (Green Line): Yangsan – Jangsan – will take you to Gwangalli Beach, Haeundae Beach, Busan Museum of Art, Centum City (for the largest shopping mall and the cool SPA Land)
- Line 3 (Brown Line): Daejeo – Suyeong
- Line 4 (Blue Line): Minam – Anpyeong
- Busan-Gimhae Light Rail Transit (Purple Line): Sasang – Kaya Univ. (links the airport to the city center)
Use Naver Maps or Kakao Maps to check for your itinerary.
Destination announcements are made in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese, thus you won’t have to worry about getting lost.
All subway cars have special places designated for the elderly, but also for pregnant women (usually marked in pink). You will notice that people respect the rules and don’t usually sit on those seats.
Extra TIP: If you don’t have a T-Money Cards, you can also get a Visit Busan Pass – you get free entrance to more than 30 attractions in town, discounts for more than 50 restaurants, cafes and activities, and pre-paid use of subway
Taking the bus in Busan
South Korea’s second-largest city is served by many bus lines. You can easily get to any place in town by bus, but you will have to factor in some extra time as compared to the subway.
However, we loved to travel by bus in Seoul and Busan, mainly because in certain areas they have their own line, but also because you get to see the city as you go.
The city is spread out and you will need to travel from one side of the city to the other in order to tick off your list some of the best things to do and see in Busan.
The next stop is announced inside the bus, and you can also find a map of its whole itinerary.
You can only access the bus through its front door, and you need to validate your card (TMoney, Cashbee, or Busan Pass). When you want to get off you need to push the stop button, validate your card at the middle or back door, and get off. Of course, you can also pay by cash, in which case the fare is more expensive.
Depending on the distances they cover, buses have different colors: blue, green, or red.
As you wait for the bus, you will see that every bus stop has a smaller or larger screen displaying the bus number and minutes until its arrival.
If you choose to visit Gamcheon Cultural Village, or other places up on the hills, you will take a smaller green bus.
Taking the taxi in Busan
To be honest, we never took the taxi in Busan, mainly because it is very easy to travel by subway or bus.
However, if you have large luggage or you want to get somewhere faster, taking a taxi is always a good idea.
When the lamp of the taxi is turned on it means it is free to hire and you can flag it on the street or take it from the taxi stand.
As in Seoul, taxi fees aren’t too expensive, but you must know that night fares are usually 20%-30% more expensive.
Another thing we learned from experience is that in South Korea it is always useful to have the final address (or your hotel’s name) written in Korean characters. That’s because many taxi drivers don’t speak or read in English and won’t find it easy to understand your required destination.
If you’re not sure how to pay for a taxi, learn that you have countless options: pay cash, by credit card, T-Money Card, or Cashbee card.
If you want to call a taxi on your mobile, download and use Kakao Taxi – it can be used in Seoul, Busan, and other towns in South Korea. It is very similar to Uber as you can choose your destination directly in the app.
Driving in Busan
While we chose to drive from Seoul to Busan, and used the car to go on day trips outside of the city, driving around town is not such a great idea.
Busan is a large town and traffic can get heavy, moreover, finding a parking space can prove to be challenging.
With that in mind, renting a car to get outside of the city is a great idea in our opinion.
Taking the Busan City Tour Bus
You can choose your preferred itinerary and know exactly where to go. They have included on each bus line’s route, some of the most important attractions in town. Additionally, you know in advance the total price you will pay for the day.
For your first day in Busan, you can take the Green Line bus. It will take you to all the places you want to see today: Jagalchi Fish Market, Huinnyeoul Culture Village, Taejongdae Park, Yongdusan Park, and the Busan Tower.
Traveling outside of Busan
The easiest way to travel outside of Busan is by car. However, if you don’t want to rent a car or don’t feel comfortable driving in South Korea, you can:
- take a bus from the Busan Central Bus Terminal (133 Nopo-dong, Geumjeong-gu)
- book an organized tour
- take the KTX train – get your Korea Rail Pass here!