Seoul and Busan are cities that are full of charm. Yet, they allure their tourists for different reasons.
Seoul is the face of Korean innovation, an ultramodern city that makes you feel like you’re stepping into the future. Busan is also a glitzy city yet it feels more relaxed. Busan gets its charm from its authentic feel, its beautiful and diverse landscape, and its storied history.
You’ll get a well-rounded trip when visiting both cities. And it’s only a matter of what you want to see more of on your vacation.
Brimming with creativity and a strong passion for innovation, Seoul is a sleek and ultramodern megacity. From architecture to technology and even its fashionable locals, you’ll find this at every turn. But this is only the tip of the iceberg as Seoul has plenty more up its sleeve.
What Makes Seoul Unique?
Step Into the Future in This Futuristic Wonderland
Seoul has the vibrancy and the buzz that only a big city can offer, one that captures your interest the moment you land here. Its cityscape is dense with towering skyscrapers and filled with glorious, picturesque landscapes!
Seoul’s passion for innovation is evident at just about every turn. You’ll find them in futuristic architecture sprinkled across the city. And you’ll see them in even the small details.
Lotte World Tower is one of the most stunning monoliths erected in the city. Go on a double-decker elevator to the top, and you’ll find an elevator filled with an animated screen on all sides.
An Insta-famous landmark, the COEX Mall Library, is conveniently located in the heart of a mall. The Starfield Library features a stunningly designed shelf that holds hundreds of books. This open-air library is an architectural feat in itself, making it a perfect place to take pictures.
No other monolith in the city is as iconic as Namsan Seoul Tower though. Located on Mt. Namsan, its observatory offers the best views of this vibrant city in one frame.
Namsan tower is home to a dazzling array of massive OLED panels from the first to second and fourth floors. You’ll find them plastered on the ceiling, go through them as tunnels, and more! And they display the most glamorous digital art to marvel at.
There’s more awe-inspiring technology to discover in this high-tech wonderland.
Discover how technology would look in the next decade and further into the future at Samsung D’light. This museum takes you to the future with immersive activities!
Explore a world of robots at the Robot Museum. Here, you’ll follow the evolution of robots, from the earliest ones to the highly intricate iterations of AI technology today.
If you’re here to buy electronics and not to marvel at them, head to Yongsan Electronics Market. You’ll find a series of over 3000 stores here selling all kinds of technology. From cameras to game consoles, you’ll find them way cheaper here than at retail stores. Plus, bargaining is welcome!
Travel Back in Time in Its Many Historic Landmarks
Despite being a city of unwavering innovation, Seoul still honors its distinct and illustrious past. Here, skyscrapers coexist with centuries-old palaces, temples, and other historical landmarks. With this, you’ll get to experience both sides of Seoul, the old and the new.
Seoul has a collection of palaces that transport you back in time. These are the Five Royal Palaces, which are historical landmarks located in Jung-gu and Jongno.
Take the time to explore each one and marvel at their beauty. But if you’re short on time, two palaces are worth the trip!
Gyeonbokgung Palace is the largest of all five and is arguably the most beautiful of the bunch. This 14th-century structure served as the home of the Joseon dynasty’s kings. And it features a museum of over 10000 ancient artifacts.
Meanwhile, Changdeokgung Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it’s the most well-preserved of the palaces on the list. Wander around the Secret Garden, which was once enjoyed by the royal family only.
Seoul’s impressive temples are also essential in uncovering the city’s fascinating history. Seoul’s collection of temples is enchanting, and you won’t leave them without understanding why they’re so special.
There may not be as many Buddhists in the country anymore. But the spiritual at heart, especially the older generation, still frequent these temples. You can visit one and see the monks in action, who are happy to talk with you.
But for a more spiritual trip, spend the night at a temple instead. You can sign up for a temple stay program, to find yourself or experience centuries-old traditions!
Feast on Mouthwatering Korean Dishes
There’s a plethora of delectable dishes to taste in Seoul across a delightful array of flavors. You may find Koreatowns across the world where you can get your fill of tasty delights. But sampling the best and most authentic taste of Korean dishes is always better in the streets of Seoul.
Seoul doesn’t only offer a burst o flavor in your mouth. Eating out here is an experience, and most of all, it’s affordable.
You’ll find countless mom-and-pop restaurants here almost on every corner. And they’ll give you a feast for a fraction of the price you’ll find in Koreatowns elsewhere around the world.
Choosing where to eat is the easy part of dining in Seoul. But figuring out what to eat is the tricky bit as there’s an endless menu of tasty choices here. If you don’t know what to eat yet, here are some must-try foods:
- Bibimbap: A rice dish composed of white rice, veggies like cucumber and bean sprouts, egg, and meat. It’s then topped with a variety of flavors such as doenjang, soy sauce, and gochujang.
- Jajangmyeon: A noodle dish that uses wheat noodles, topped with a thick sauce of sweet bean sauce. Jajangmyeon is also composed of vegetables, soy sauce, and slices of pork.
- Samgyetang: This dish means “ginseng chicken soup”. It’s a hearty soup dish that uses a glutinous-rice-stuffed chicken in a broth of various ingredients. The broth consists of ginseng, jujube, ginger, garlic, and an array of herbs.
If you’re quite an adventurous foodie, get a plate of sannakji. This local delicacy is a dish of separate octopus arms, chopped up and served. The tentacles still move around, and the suction cups still work so you need to chew it well before you swallow.
Let Seoul’s Natural Wonders Take You on an Adventure
Seoul’s beauty doesn’t only come from its sleek skyscrapers or modern monoliths. Despite being a dense megacity, nature abounds in and around the city. Not only is there a plethora of green oases in the city, but tall mountains also cradle this megacity.
Picture colorful flowers and verdant trees scattered around a land of vibrant architecture. Seoul is a delightful medley of nature and urban life, and this is what makes this city so magical and picturesque. And with this, there’s always a scenic retreat near you if you feel like taking a break from the bustle of Seoul.
Go cycling or stroll around Yeouido Hangang Park, a riverside green oasis that’s filled with cherry blossom trees. Have a blast taking on various water sports at Ttukseom Hangang Park. Or get a taste of the old, the new, and nature in one place at Naksan Park.
If you’re familiar with New York’s High Line park, it has a rival here in Seoul called Seoullo. This used to be an overpass, but it’s now a sky garden filled with over 24000 seasonal flowers and plants.
But for a fun-filled adventure in the wilderness, you’d have to escape the bustling city. Being in Seoul, you’ll have countless hiking adventures thanks to the tall mountains around the city. And they’re all easily accessible with the local subway!
The tallest mountain within your reach would be Bukhansan, which is 2743 ft (836 m) above sea level. The Bulhansen National Park is only 45 minutes away from the heart of the city on a subway. There’s a wealth of hiking trails here fit for all levels!
Other local favorites for hiking include Namsan and Inwangsan, and both offer spectacular views. Once you’re at the top, don’t forget to drink some makgeolli, which is Korean rice wine. This is a tradition that locals love to do to reward themselves after a hard day’s work!
Discover Its Urban Vibrancy After Dark
When the sun goes down, fun-loving locals come out to play. Seoul’s energy doesn’t dwindle after dark. It’s the opposite here as this megacity truly comes alive at night.
Nightlife is a big part of the culture here in the city. So much so that locals have developed a system for this.
The first stop of the night is always a restaurant. After which, you’ll hop from one bar to another, go into pubs, sing at karaoke rooms, and more. And you’ll constantly fill yourself with tasty street food along the way thanks to the city’s many night markets!
There is an endless stream of nightlife venues here and a great variety to suit everyone’s taste. And if you’re a big night owl, you’re in luck as most bars here close at around 6 AM!
The question now is, where do you start? Seoul has several exciting nightlife districts for you to discover.
The top three party districts of Seoul include Hongdae, Itaewon, and Gangnam. And while they have distinct vibes, they all offer an unforgettable night out!
Hongdae is home to one of Seoul’s biggest, most electrifying nightlife scenes. This area is close to Seoul’s many universities. And because of this, Hongdae sees a young crowd of university students partying after a long week of studying!
The best clubs in the area are between Sangsu stations and Hongik University. Two of the crowd-favorites here are Noise Basement and Cocoon. You can even find local bands playing in the streets here, free entertainment for everyone!
Itaewon’s night scene is more diverse as it’s the hub for expats from around the world! Thus, Itaewon offers a more familiar vibe for international travelers. Here, you’ll find an Irish pub, an American sports bar, and cuisines from every corner of the world.
Then there’s the famous Gangnam, the district that Psy made famous. The party scene here is what most would expect when they think of Seoul. This district is brimming with bars of all kinds, many high-end ones that celebrities often visit!
The sprawling, spread-out city of Busan seems to have everything you’d need for a well-rounded trip. From mountains to beaches, from unique temples to one of the largest malls in the world, this eclectic city has it all. But this is only a snippet of what awaits you here in Busan, as it has plenty more to offer.
What Makes Busan Unique?
A Scenic Paradise for Some Beach Therapy
Located on the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula, Busan offers miles and miles of glistening coastlines. Busan is the place to be for beach bums visiting Korea. It’s home to some of the country’s most popular and inviting beaches!
The local beaches here may not feature first-class amenities or upscale resorts. But they make up for what they lack in their raw beauty, their soft sand, and the cool sea breeze. You’ve got all the essentials here you’d need to feel pampered.
Busan is home to Haeundae Beach, one of the largest and most popular of its kind in the country. This beach is popular for those who want to soak up the sun, be it families or couples.
Haeundae features endless lines of parasols that dot the shore. But beyond those, you’ll find vibrant blue waters that entice you to take a dip!
The beach also holds the annual Haeundae Sand Festival every May. This is when you’ll find the shore filled with beautiful sand carvings by artists around the world.
Gwangalli Beach is another one of Busan’s crowd favorites. Unlike Haeundae, this beach is much closer to the city center. Plus, Gwangalli is also calmer during the day, making it the perfect beach in the city to escape the crowds.
Gwangalli offers a well-rounded beach trip, whether you’re looking to relax or have fun. Here, you can go water skiing, windsurfing, and more. Or, you can lounge on the soft white sand on a rented sun lounger.
No matter what you’re visiting Gwangalli for, try to stay and wait for the sunset. This beach is one of the best spots to watch the sky turn into all shades of orange. And this is the perfect backdrop to sip on some cocktails, thanks to Gwagalli’s many atmospheric bars.
Get a Feel of Its Fascinating Mix of Culture and History
When in Busan, it’s easy to see the old and the new in one day. The city is home to several impressive historic sites, each with something that makes them unique. And as they’re a reflection of centuries-old traditions and culture, visiting each is a great way to get to know Busan more.
There are countless beautiful temples sprinkled across South Korea. But Busan is home to one of the most impressive ones. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is one of the most unique of its kind in the country, thanks to its location.
Haedong Yonggungsa is a picturesque temple that sits on a cliff, overlooking the sea. Temples are where you can find solitude, even in the busiest of cities. And because this temple sits on the seaside, the sound of the waves adds an even more calming, magical vibe to your visit.
Find the beauty in chaos at the Gamcheon Culture Village. In the distant past, this neighborhood was a place for Korean War refugees. And today, it’s an art-focused community and is one of the most photographed sites in the city.
Here you’ll find countless colorful tiny houses perched on the hills of Busan. If you’re a wanderer, this is the perfect place to get lost in. Wind through its narrow, art-filled maze and you’ll find a wealth of charming galleries, quaint cafes, and tons of cozy shops!
Another must-visit site here in Busan is the charming Bosu-Dong Book Alley. People come here for its endless rows of bookstores it has. But this book alley has over 70 years’ worth of stories to tell, as this site was born out of war.
When Busan became the temporary capital during the Korean war, evacuees from North Korea fled to this spot. Many of them brought their old books and magazines with them, selling them in the streets for a low price.
The alley continued to grow and expand over the years, creating the Bosu-Dong Book Alley you can enjoy today. And here, you’ll find a wealth of rare gems around every corner.
Spoil Your Tastebuds With the Delicious Local Specialties
If you don’t consider yourself a foodie, Busan will turn you into one. Being a port city, Busan has influences from neighboring countries like China and Japan. And you’ll find tasty evidence of this in the city’s delightfully varied local food scene.
A culinary journey to Busan starts with the flavors of the sea though. Being on the coast, the city offers the fresh catch of the day on your plate, infused with flavors that tickle your tastebuds. Here, you’ll have a feast fit for a king, without the price tag of one!
Fresh seafood here gets prepared in all ways you could imagine. And the best place to sample Busan’s best seafood dishes is Jagalchi Market, the largest of its kind in the country.
You’ll find a wealth of restaurants here serving sea creatures you didn’t know existed! But of course, you’ll find the usual favorites here too. From sashimi, scallops, live octopus, and Alaskan king crabs, there are tons of tasty treats to be had here!
There’s another reason Busan’s food scene is so exciting. And that’s its strong, enduring roots in the traditional culture of market trading.
Head to the Let’s Eat Alley, and you’ll find rows and rows of stalls selling all the local favorites. Grab a plastic chair, pick out your options, and dine like a king under the open sky! If you can’t decide what to eat, ask for some tried and tested favorites like:
- Tteokbokki (rice cakes)
- Pajeon (savory pancakes)
- Eomuk (stir-fried fish cakes)
Whatever you do, don’t leave this vibrant city without grabbing a serving of dwaeji gukbap. This hearty soup is Busan’s regional specialty.
To make the broth of dwaeji gukbap, one needs to boil pork bone for long hours. This creates a milky broth that’s made tastier with the addition of miso, sesame oil, and soy sauce. And even with the hard work that goes into this dish, you can grab a bowl for a cheap price!
Enjoy Busan’s Exciting Big-City Amenities
Busan is South Korea’s largest port city and the second-largest city in the country. Despite its small-town feel and slower-paced lifestyle, it’s still a modern, glitzy destination. And as you can expect, Busan has all the urban allures you’d expect from a big city.
Go on a Retail Therapy
If shopping is how you unwind, Busan has everything to spoil you on your trip. Here in the city, you’ll come across one of the largest department stores in the world. So prepare your wallets and make your way to Shinsegae Centum City!
Or you could always opt to find a great bargain at Busan’s many traditional markets. An all-in-one stop is the Gukje Market, where you’ll find hundreds of vendors selling clothes, food, crafts, and more! If you’re looking for souvenirs, like a hanbok, make your way to Busanjin Market.
Take on the Running Man Challenge
South Korea loves its variety shows, and among them, the Running Man is one of the best-loved ones. In Busan, you can get the Running Man experience going on a fun-filled adventure yourself! Here, you can go on a mission, get as many coins as possible in under a minute, look for treasures, and more!
Meet Sea Creatures of All Kinds
Busan is home to one of the best aquariums in the country, the Sea Life Aquarium, which is right at Haeundae Beach. Here, you’ll get to marvel at over 35000 marine animals across 250 different species. Some of its residents include penguins, sea otters, and sharks!
One of the best experiences here is the Transparent Boat. This features a 180-degree glass tunnel, where you can see sea critters swimming under your feet!
Experience Busan’s Great Outdoors
With so many things to see and do in Busan, sometimes, taking a break from the city is all you need. With forests, the sea, and stunning views from above, you’ll have plenty of choices to unwind here in the city.
Busan’s iconic mountain, Geumjeongsan Mountain, offers a scenic retreat for hikers. It features a steep slope, fringed with big pebbles on both sides, making it look like a fortress.
One of its famous attractions is Geumsaem, a spring that’s formed between rocks. Another is the Dugu-dong Lotus Pond, which blooms with red and white from July to September.
If you want to take advantage of Busan’s coastal location, head to Taejongdae Park. This park sits on a rocky coast, where you’ll get views of the vibrant blue sea and emerald forest. The park also features a forest of 200 tree species, from evergreen trees to maritime pine trees.
Hike through lush bushlands here and take in the views. Once done, head to the seashore, where you’ll find food stalls serving delicious local seafood.
Is Busan Better Than Seoul?
In some ways, Busan is better than Seoul. But Seoul also edges out Busan in several ways. And the choice between the better city to visit between them will depend on your preference.
Busan is a better city if you want a more peaceful vacation. Busan has beaches, mountains, and tons of incredible scenery across the city. It’s home to the best beaches in the country, and they’re lined with bars, restaurants, and cafes too!
If you love seafood, Busan is a much better destination too. Seafood is heavily intertwined with the local cuisine here, such as eel, hagfish, and fish stews.
If you love to be in the center of all the action, Seoul is better for you. There are more things going on here from day to night.
And one of the biggest differences between Seoul and Busan is their nightlife, as Seoul’s is more robust. Seoul is the liveliest city in the country at night!
Another thing to consider is that Seoul is more foreigner-friendly. In Seoul, you’ll find more locals speaking English. This makes it easier to navigate Seoul compared to Busan.
Is Busan Cheaper Than Seoul?
Busan is a cheaper city to visit than Seoul. This is unsurprising since Seoul is the capital city, and it’s much more populated. In general, Busan is around 22 percent cheaper than Seoul.
The average daily cost in Seoul is around 91 USD, but in Busan, this is only around 73 USD. A big chunk of these costs goes to accommodation.
If you’re a solo traveler, a hotel or hostel in Seoul costs around 46 USD. But in Busan, this will only be around 34 USD. If you’re traveling as a couple, you can expect to pay 92 USD for a room in Seoul and only around 68 USD in Busan.
Local transportation is pricier in Busan. A day’s worth of getting around Busan costs 17 USD and only 13 USD in Seoul.
Daily meals are also pricier in Seoul, costing around 25 USD. In Busan, you’ll pay 22 USD for a day’s worth of food.
Entertainment costs, like entrance tickets and shows, cost 22 USD daily in Seoul. But in Busan, this will be around 17 USD each day.
In both cities, alcoholic drinks for a day cost around 10 USD. But this will still depend on your intake.
Lotte World in Busan vs. Seoul
Lotte World Busan and Seoul are two of the most popular theme parks in the country. Seoul may be the home to the first one, but Busan is home to the biggest one.
Lotte World Seoul has two major parks. There’s Magic Island, an outdoor park, and Lotte World Adventure, an indoor park. This park is home to 22 rides.
The most thrilling rides in the park include Bungee Drop, Comet Express, and Haunted House. But if you’re with kids, Moonboat, Wild Valley, and Balloon Ride are among the top choices.
Lotte World Seoul also has fun shows and parades. This includes Lotty’s Adventure Parade and Let’s Dream Night Parade.
Lotte World Busan also features indoor and outdoor zones. It’s home to six zones such as Underland, Royal Garden Zone, and Joyful Meadows.
It’s also home to 17 rides and attractions. Some of these are extreme rides that you won’t find elsewhere!
One of these is Giant Swing, which is an extreme version of Lotte World Seoul’s Gyro Swing. Busan’s version is 20 percent longer in axis and has a greater turning radius!
This park also has fun parades! This includes the World Tour of Friendship and Magic Fairy Band!
Seoul to Busan Distance
The straight-line distance from Seoul to Busan is around 202 miles (325 km). This is the shortest route between the two, but it’s only applicable for air travel.
If you’re traveling via train, the distance from Seoul to Busan is around 259 miles (417 km). And if you’re driving between the two cities, they’re around 242 miles (390 km) apart.
Busan Dialect vs. Seoul Dialect
The Korean language has several dialects. The locals of Seoul and Busan speak different dialects. And this is why when you travel to both cities, you’ll find that the locals of each city sound unalike and use different phrases.
The locals of Seoul use the Gyeonggi dialect. This is the standard Korean dialect, the one you’ll read in a textbook or hear in Korean dramas or news reports.
This dialect has three tones, which are conservative, general, and modified. No matter what tone one uses between the three, the pitch rises at the end of a phrase in the Gyeonggi dialect.
Meanwhile, the dialect used in Busan is the Gyeongsang dialect. Unlike the dialect used in Seoul, the emphasis of this dialect is in the beginning.
There are slight differences between these two dialects.
For example, in Seoul’s dialect, you’ll add “-seyo” when using the imperative form of a verb. But in Busan, you’ll instead use “-iso”.
You’ll see the use of this when you go to Busan’s Jagalchi Fish Market. The sign that welcomes you to this famous attraction says “oiso, boiso, saiso” and this means “come, see, buy.”
Busan Accent vs. Seoul Accent
If you listen to them closely, the locals of Seoul and Busan have distinct accents. The Seoul accent is often considered to sound soft and sweet. Meanwhile, when you hear the Busan accent, it may seem like you’re hearing two people fighting.
The Seoul accent is smooth and vivacious and drags phrases at the end. This is what you hear when you watch Korean dramas or TV shows. This is pretty much the standard accent in the country.
Busan accent has a harsher tone, higher pitch, and to some, sounds sluggish. This difference is because the Busan dialect is a tonal one. This dialect uses a pitch accent to change the meaning of a syllable.
Because the Busan dialect is based on pitch, the locals of the city have an accent that sounds angrier compared to the Seoul accent.
Seoul to Busan
There are four ways to travel from Seoul to Busan. You can either take a train, bus, plane, or even drive to Busan!
Taking a Korean Train Express (KTX) is the fastest and easiest way to reach Busan from Seoul. You can catch a train at KTX Seoul Station and KTX Yongsan Station.
With this option, your journey will only take around 2 hours and 30 minutes. Ticket prices will depend on the time of the day you’re traveling. But one-way tickets cost around 40 to 46 USD.
The cheapest way to travel between the two cities is to take a bus. Buses can take you to Busan in around 4 hours on average. Seat prices depend on the bus class.
The cheapest option is Surcharge Economy, which costs around 21 USD. While the Premium Express tickets cost around 29 USD.
Taking the plane is the fastest travel option. Direct flights to Busan from Incheon or Gimpo airports only take around 55 minutes. One-way tickets start and 35 USD while round-trip tickets cost around 67 USD.
If you want to drive, you’ll reach Busan in about 4 hours. But due to traffic, it can take 7 hours of travel time.
Seoul to Busan Price
The cost of traveling from Seoul to Busan depends on your chosen transportation.
Taking the train is the most popular option as KTX trains are fast and efficient. The ticket price mainly depends on the time of day you’re heading to Busan. One-way tickets start at 40 USD, but they can go up to 46 USD in a day.
To save some money, make sure to get a special foreigner discount pass called Korail Pass. This pass allows you to reserve two seats a day, after which you can ride trains as a standee. This is a cheaper option if you’re planning to get a return ticket on your trip.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, a bus can be as cheap as 21 USD for Surcharge Economy. If you want a more comfortable bus option, take a Premium Express bus instead. Tickets for these cost around 29 USD.
The fastest option is a plane, which takes you from Seoul to Busan in only around 55 minutes. The price starts at 35 USD for one-way tickets and 67 USD for return tickets.
If you want to drive to Busan, the estimated fuel cost is around 58 to 83 USD.
Busan to Seoul Travel Time
The travel time from Busan to Seoul depends on your chosen transportation option.
Trains are the most popular option. If you take the KTX, which is the high-speed rail system, it takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours of travel time. If you take the cheaper option, Mugunghwa, it can take 5 to 6 hours before you reach Seoul.
If you want to take a bus, you’ll reach Busan in around 4 hours. But this travel time will depend on traffic, so the actual duration of your trip can be much longer.
Flying is the fastest way to travel from Busan to Seoul. From Gimchae Airport in Busan, you’ll reach Incehon or Gimpo Airports in Seoul in around 55 minutes to an hour.
If you want to drive to Seoul, the estimated driving time is around 4 hours and 5 minutes.
But like the bus, the travel time via car depends on traffic. And unlike the bus, cars do not have a special lane. With this, the travel time on a car can take as long as 7 hours.
Seoul to Busan by Train
When traveling from Seoul to Busan by train, you have a few options to choose from.
The fastest train is the Korea Train Express (KTX). This high-speed train can take you to Busan in only 2 hours and 30 minutes, but it’s the priciest option.
Ticket prices for a KTX train depend on the time of day of your travel. A one-way ticket can be as cheap as 40 USD but it can go up to 46 USD in a day.
If you want to save money on your trip without sacrificing speed, take a Super Rapid Train (SRT). One-way tickets cost around 40 USD.
The downside is that SRT trains only run from the Suseo station, which is far from downtown Seoul. This is a great option if you’re staying in Jamsil or Gangnam.
Another option is the Intercity Train Express (ITX). This is slower as it’ll take you to Busan in 4 hours and 30 minutes. But it’s cheaper as it costs around 32 USD for a ticket.
The slowest and cheapest option is a Mugunghwa train. Tickets for this only cost around 22 USD, but the travel duration on this train is around 5 to 6 hours.
Seoul to Busan Train Price
Train ticket prices from Seoul to Busan will depend on the tier of train you choose. And on this route, four trains run between the two cities daily.
The fastest of the bunch is a KTX train, but as you can expect, it’s the most expensive one. Train ticket prices for a KTX train start at 40 USD for a one-way trip. But prices change fast within the day, and a one-way ticket can go up to 46 USD depending on the time.
A cheaper alternative to the KTX train is the SRT. These trains are almost as fast as the KTX train, and a ticket roughly costs 40 USD. Keep in mind that you can only catch an SRT train from the Suseo station, which isn’t in downtown Seoul.
Another option is the ITX train. It’s slower than a KTX or SRT, but tickets for this only cost around 32 USD for a one-way trip.
If you’re on a tight budget, the best option is a Mugunghwa train. Although it’s the slowest option, a one-way ticket for this only costs around 22 USD.
Busan to Seoul Distance by Train
The train distance from Busan to Seoul is around 259 miles (417 km).
Seoul to Busan Train Time
The train time from Seoul to Busan can take anywhere from 2 hours and 30 minutes to 6 hours. Since there are a few train tiers running between the two cities, around 210 trains run on this route daily. These trains travel between 12 midnight to 10:50 PM.
The most popular train tier on this route is the KTX train as it’s the fastest. On this train, you’ll reach Busan in 2 hours and 30 minutes. These trains leave from Seoul station every 30 to 60 minutes.
The other train options run less frequently between Seoul and Busan.
An SRT is just as fast as a KTX. An ITX train takes you to Busan in 4 hours and 30 minutes. The slowest option, the Mugunghwa train, has a travel time of 5 to 6 hours.
Bus From Seoul to Busan
Buses are a cost-effective way to travel from Seoul to Busan. You have two bus options on this route, one is an Express Bus and the other is an Intercity Bus, which is a regular bus. An Express Bus is the most popular option as they’re comfortable and offer services at various price points.
You can catch an Express bus at Seoul Gyeongbu terminal and you’ll arrive at either Sasang or Nopo stations in Busan. These buses rarely make stopovers in cities other than Busan. And they’ll take you to your destination in around 4 hours and 30 minutes.
There are three options on an Express Bus—
The cheapest one is a General Express Bus (ilban). It costs around 20 USD for one-way tickets and 22 USD for a late-night ticket.
The next option is a Luxury Express Bus (udeung). Tickets for this cost around 29 USD for day tickets and 35 USD for night ones.
The most luxurious option is a Premium Bus. A one-way day ticket costs around 33 USD, while a late-night bus costs around 36 USD.
An Intercity Bus is cheaper than the options above. They’re not recommended though, as they make stopovers in small cities.
Seoul to Busan by Night Bus
You can get a late-night bus when traveling from Seoul to Busan at a slightly higher price. You can get a bus at Seoul Gyeongbu bus terminal and reach Busan in only around 4 hours. There are three train class options to choose from, so you’ll have a night bus that fits your budget!
The cheapest option is a General Express Bus (ilban) as it only costs around 22 USD. If you want a little bit more comfort, a Luxury Express Bus (udeung) costs around 35 USD. And if you want the most luxurious experience, take a Premium Bus which costs around 36 USD.
The earliest night bus on this route departs from Seoul at around 10 PM. While the last bus on this trip makes its way to Busan at around 2 AM.
Seoul to Busan Bus Time
Buses can get you from Seoul to Busan in around 4 to 5 hours. Plenty of buses run this route daily. They leave for Busan every 30 minutes, starting from 6 AM, with the last bus leaving at 2 AM.
Busan to Seoul Bus Schedule
Buses start departing from Busan for Seoul at around 6 AM. And until 10 AM, they leave the city every 30 minutes.
After 10 AM and until 11 AM, these buses leave every 20 minutes. From 11 AM to 1 PM, buses leave Busan every 30 minutes.
After 1 PM and before 5 PM, buses are back to leaving Busan every 20 minutes. From 5 PM to 9:30, these buses head for Seoul every 30 minutes.
Night buses begin their trip to Seoul at 10 PM. These late-night buses leave for Seoul every 30 minutes until 2 AM.
Seoul to Busan Drive
Driving from Seoul to Busan is a great option. If you have a car, you’ll have a much easier time going around Busan!
You can always rent a car in the country for your travel needs. And you’ll find several car rental companies in Seoul.
The cheapest cars, like a Hyundai Accent, cost around 57 USD per day. If you need a bigger car, like a Kia Carnival, it’ll cost around 96 USD per day. Keep in mind that you can get cheaper prices if you rent a car for a longer period of time.
But before you can rent a car, you need an International Driver’s Permit. This is different from an International Driver’s License. There are other requirements too, such as a credit card in your name, and more.
Another cost to consider is fuel. The estimated price for this from Seoul to Busan is around 58 to 83 USD.
Plus, you have to pay toll fees along the way.
When driving from Seoul to Busan, you’ll cover a distance of around 247 miles (398 km). The estimated driving time is around 4 hours and 5 minutes. But with traffic, it can take as long as 7 hours.
Seoul to Busan Distance by Car
The distance from Seoul to Busan by car is around 247 miles (398 km).
Seoul to Busan Travel Time by Car
The estimated travel time from Seoul to Busan by car is around 4 hours and 5 minutes. But keep in mind that this doesn’t take traffic into account. And because cars don’t have a special lane like buses, this can extend your time on the road.
Cheapest Way From Seoul to Busan
The cheapest way to travel from Seoul to Busan is either a General Express Bus or a Mugunghwa train. Tickets for either one can cost around 20 to 22 USD. Although the bus is a better option as it’s faster and more efficient than the Mugunghwa.