Seoul to Busan by KTX high-speed train
 

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

Trains & ferries to, from & within South Korea...

This page explains how to travel by ferry from Russia, China or Japan to or from South Korea, then how to travel around Korea by train.

  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.


Useful country information

Train operator:

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

 

 

Ferry operators:

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 1,450 won, $1 = 1,200 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:

22 August 2017.


Europe to 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 Russia & Korea

The Trans-Siberian connection...

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 Donghae (Korea)

From March to November, the ferry sails from Vladivostok on Wednesdays at 14:00, arriving Donghae at 10:00 on Thursdays.

From December to February, the ferry sails from Vladivostok on Tuesdays at 17:00, arriving Donghae at 14:00 on Wednesdays.

Donghae (Korea) Vladivostok

From March to November, the ferry sails from Donghae at 14:00 on Sundays, arriving Vladivostok at 13:00 on Mondays. 

From December to February, the ferry sails from Donghae at 14:00 on Sundays, arriving Vladivostok at 15:00 on Mondays. 

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 & 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 ► Seoul via Qingdao

Seoul ► Beijing via Qingdao

Beijing - Seoul via Tianjin

Ferries between Japan & Korea

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

To reach Korea from Japan...

The beetle ferry between Japan and Korea   Seats on the beetle ferry between Japan and Korea

The Beetle ferry between Hakata in Japan and Pusan in South Korea.  The Beetle is a fast Boeing jetfoil, which rises out of the water on hydrofoils when it gets up to speed.  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.


Train travel within South Korea

  Seoul to Busan KTX high-speed train

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 (the older spelling is 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.

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

First class on the Seoul to Pusan KTX train   2nd class on the Seoul to Busan KTX train

KTX first class...

 

KTX second class...

The South Korean Railpass...

New private operator Seoul-Busan:  Super Rapid Train (SRT)...


Hotels 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 has been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel at a cheaper rate.

►► My recommended booking site:  www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a great feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent 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 and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  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, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

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

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for 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!

 


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