Useful country information

Train operator in South Korea:

Korean Railways: www.korail.com, including the high-speed KTX train Seoul-Busan.

 

 

Ferry operators to South Korea:

Vladivostok-South Korea:  www.dbsferry.com

Japan-South Korea: www.jrbeetle.co.jp

China-South Korea: www.weidong.com

Time zone:

GMT+9 all year.

Dialling code:

 

+82.

Currency:

1 = approx 1,805 won, $1 = 1,250 won.  Currency converter

Visas:

UK, EU, US, Australian & NZ citizens do not need a visa to visit South Korea for up to 90 days, but an onward or return ticket must be held.

Tourist information:

http://english.tour2korea.com   Hotels in Seoul & South Korea   Tripadvisor S Korea page

Page last updated:

3 September 2014.


Train & ferry travel to and within South Korea

  Seoul to Busan by KTX high-speed train
 

Seoul to Busan (Pusan) by KTX high-speed train

On this page...

Travel from the UK & Europe to South Korea by Trans-Siberian Railway

Ferry travel from Russia to South Korea - Vladivostok to Donghae.

Ferry travel from China to South Korea - Beijing to Seoul via Tianjin/Qingdao.

Ferry travel from Japan to South Korea - 'Beetle' ferry from Hakata to Seoul.

Train travel within South Korea - including Seoul-Busan KTX high-speed trains.

Hotels in Seoul, Busan & South Korea

On other pages... 

Train travel to North Korea:  Trains from Beijing & Moscow to Pyongyang.


Europe to South Korea without flying

It's perfectly feasible to travel from the UK to South Korea overland using the Trans-Siberian Railway via either Moscow, Vladivostok and a ferry from Vladivostok to Donghae in Korea, or via Moscow, Beijing, then a ferry from Tianjin in China to Incheon in Korea.  The journey will take about 14 days.  See the Trans-Siberian page for details of the London - Vladivostok & London - Beijing journeys, then see the Vladivostok-Korea or China-Korea sections below.  You can also travel from Japan to Korea, using a ferry from Hakata to Busan.

Ferries between Vladivostok & South Korea

A weekly ferry links Vladivostok with Donghae in South Korea, run by DBS Ferry, www.dbsferry.com.  The ship is the 1993-built 'Eastern Dream', equipped to a good standard.  The service is relatively new, starting in 2009.

Vladivostok (Russia) Donghae (Korea)

The ferry sails from Vladivostok on Wednesdays at 15:00, arriving Donghae at 10:00 on Thursdays.

Vladivostok (Russia) Donghae (Korea)

In summer from March to November, the ferry sails from Donghae at 15:00 on Sundays, arriving Vladivostok at 13:00 on Mondays.  In winter from December to February, the ferry sails from Donghae at 15:00 on Mondays, arriving Vladivostok at 13:00 on Tuesdays. 

Fares & how to buy tickets

Fares start at 150 one-way in economy class with a berth in a shared sleeping room, rising to 310 for a deluxe cabin.  See the official site, www.dbsferry.com/02_ticket/ticket03.asp for details & booking, or you can now book at reliable UK ferry booking website www.aferry.co.uk/dbs-cruise-ferry-uk.htm.  Alternatively, you can call DBS Ferry in Seoul on 00 82 2 5485502.  Ask for an English speaker, reserve your place by phone, and collect and pay for the tickets at the ferry terminal in Vladivostok.

Train connections...

For information on train travel from London & Moscow to Vladivostok, see the Trans-Siberian page.  Donghae has both rail and bus links with the rest of South Korea.  Trains link Donghae with Seoul (Seoul Cheongnyangi station, not Seoul main Station) 6 times a day, journey time around 5 hours 55 minutes, see www.korail.go.kr (Tip for finding train times: Use 'Cheongnyangi' as your origin/destination, not 'Seoul').

Ferries between China & South Korea

There are several ferry services from China to South Korea, including one from Tianjin to Incheon twice a week, and one from Qingdao.

Beijing (China) ► Seoul (Korea) via Qingdao

Seoul (Korea) ► Beijing (China) via Qingdao

Beijing (China) - Seoul (Korea) via Tianjin

Ferries between Japan & South Korea

There are several ferry services between Japan and South Korea.  The suggested options are:

Inclusive train+ferry tickets between Japan & Korea:  Japan Railways offer inclusive train+ferry fares from Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other stations in mainland Japan to Busan using either the Kampu Ferry from Shimonoseki or the fast Beetle jetfoil from Hakata.  For information & prices, see this page which traveller Louise Rouse has helpfully translated from the original Japanese page.  For example, Tokyo to Busan costs around 29,260 Yen.  Tickets are sold from 1 month before departure up to 2 days (ferry) or 7 days (jetfoil) before departure, so don't try to buy a ticket on the day of travel.

Traveller Wendy Bishop travelled from Korea to Japan:  "Although we came across tantalising information about a bargain ticket that combined train travel in Korea and Japan plus the connecting ferry ride, it proved impossible to find, despite enlisting a Korean friend to phone around.  There is a kiosk at Busan International ferry terminal that sells Japanese rail passes for any last-minute purchase, but it's not open all the time the terminal is open - it wasn't when we left about 8am."

To reach Korea from Japan...


Train travel within South Korea

All major towns and cities in South Korea are linked by an efficient railway.  For train times and fares visit www.korail.com.

In addition, Seoul and Busan (older spelling Pusan) are linked by a new high-speed train service known as KTX.  The KTX runs on a new high-speed line built using French TGV technology.  Trains run frequently, taking just 2 hours 35 minutes.  The fare is 45,000 won (25) one way 2nd class, 63,000 won (35) 1st class.  For times, fares and online booking of KTX trains, see www.korail.com.

Right:  The high-speed KTX train from Seoul to Busan.

Photos courtesy of Shigeyuki Kaneko.

  Seoul to Busan KTX high-speed train
     
First class on the Seoul to Pusan KTX train

KTX first class

  2nd class on the Seoul to Busan KTX train

KTX second class

For train times, fares & online tickets see www.korail.com.

The South Korean Railpass...

Believe it or not, there a railpass for Korea, giving 1, 3, 5, 7 or 10 consecutive days unlimited travel over the whole Korail network, including both their high-speed KTX and regular trains (but excluding tourist trains & city metro trains).  For details and to buy a pass online, see www.internationalrail.com, UK-based but with the pass sent to addresses workwide.

Sponsored links...


Hotels & accommodation in Seoul & South Korea

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and EU.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy 20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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