There are other options to travel from Seoul to Busan. While KTX remains the first option that I have often read in other blogs, traveling by bus is cheaper and convenient as well.
Since budget is one of the most important thing I always consider when I travel, I would always look for a more affordable alternative. I was reluctant to push through with our travel to Busan because it was unplanned but since my friends were also eager to check out South Korea’s second largest city and since I am a big fan of CNBLUE (Yong Hwa and Jong Hyun are from Busan), I got swayed and gave in but I insisted that we travel by bus which is 50% cheaper compared to KTX with only less than 2 hours difference in travel time. We are so used to getting stuck in traffic in Manila so the time difference did not bother us at all.
TIP: It is better if you buy a multi-city airplane ticket to save money on transportation and to save time (Example: Manila to Busan and Seoul to Manila).
Here are the details of how we traveled by bus from Seoul to Busan and vice versa:
The Express Bus Terminal is accessible through Seoul Subway Line 3, 7, 9. Since we are staying in Myeongdong (Seoul Subway Line 4), we alighted at the next station (Chungmuro) to transfer to Line 3. From Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), we alighted at Express Bus Terminal Station Exit 1.
We took the underground passage that leads to Seoul Express Bus Terminal and followed the Gyeongbuseon Line signs. We also asked for directions just to make sure we are on the right track and the student was very helpful that she even accompanied and lead us to the ticket booth.
Upon purchasing regular bus tickets worth W23,000, we looked for the correct platform to locate our bus. There is English translation so it was easier to find it. Since we still have time to spare before our departure, we immediately bought bread and drinks from Paris Baguette. We were in a hurry to leave Zaza Backpackers so we did not have time to avail of their free breakfast. There are a lot of food establishments to choose from, so getting hungry will be the least of your worries here.
When it was a few minutes before our departure time, we went outside to where our bus was located. The regular bus is clean and comfortable. We were able to sleep comfortably during our trip. Since we traveled during autumn season, the view was also very beautiful. Lots of mountains filled with autumn foliage of red, yellow, orange and brown! :-)
After two hours of travel time, we had a quick break at Sunsan Service Area. I have seen it in Korean TV dramas and variety shows, so I was excited to see and experience it myself. After a quick restroom break, we headed immediately to the food stalls. We paid first at the cashier then presented the receipt to the food stall to claim our food. They have pictures at the cashier for easy reference so you can just point out the food that you wanted to buy. No worries if you cannot speak the Korean language! :-)
Upon arriving in Busan, we went inside the bus terminal station and followed the signs that lead to the subway station. The bus terminal is located near Nopo Station which is at the end of Busan Subway Line 1.
If you went to Busan unprepared like us, there are a lot of shops selling clothes, bags, toiletries and food inside the bus terminal. My friends spent a few minutes buying their stuff here before we went to look for our accommodation in Haeundae.
How to Travel from Busan to Seoul by Bus
After spending 2 days and 1 night in Busan, we headed back to Seoul. We just traced our path back to Nopo Station Line 1 all the way to the same bus terminal station where we got off. Since we were pressed for time and wanted to attend the Seoul Lantern Festival that night at Cheonggyecheon Stream, we purchased the earliest bus schedule we can get which was excellent bus for W34,200. It costed us a lot more but it was definitely more spacious and the seats are more comfortable and well cushioned (only 3 seats per row with USB plug and earphone plug for electronic devices).
If I were to visit Busan again, I would still consider taking the bus on my next trip. But if I have very little time and I have enough budget, I would definitely try out KTX too. It was a short trip to Busan but we enjoyed it a lot. Hope you will have a nice trip in Busan too. Feel free to leave a comment if you find this guide helpful. :-)