Seoul to Busan in 2024: Why Premium Express Buses Are My Go-To for Busan Trips

Busan stands as one of Korea’s flagship tourist cities, attracting over a million foreign visitors each month. Travel options from Seoul to Busan mainly include KTX (high-speed train), airplanes, and buses. While most foreigners opt for flights or KTX, I’m about to share a real gem: the Premium Express Bus.

As a local Korean who visits Busan at least four times a year, I’ve found that in terms of both cost and comfort, the Premium Express Bus is unparalleled. This post will cover everything you need to know about this top-tier bus service.

Premium Express Bus

What is a Premium Express Bus?

In Korea, express buses connect Seoul with various provincial cities. These buses come in different classes, akin to the economy, business, and first classes on planes. The Premium Express Bus is the most luxurious option available. While it’s a bit pricier, it’s the preferred choice for longer distances like Seoul to Busan.

  • Regular Express Bus: The most basic and affordable option, but the seats are small and cramped.
  • Deluxe Express Bus: Offers wider seats with enough space to stretch your legs and take a nap.
  • Premium Express Bus: The seats are the most spacious, reclining fully like a bed. They even come with small personal TVs and fold-out trays, similar to airplane services.

Why Premium Express Bus is a Great Value

The table below shows the comparative costs of different transportation modes from Seoul to Busan. The Premium Express Bus is not only the most affordable but also offers the most comfortable seating. Imagine flying in an economy seat but enjoying first-class service at a fraction of the price.

Transportation ModePrice in KRWPrice in USD
Plane (Weekday)50,000 KRW$38.46
Plane (Weekend)70,000 KRW$53.85
KTX59,800 KRW$46.00
Premium Bus (Weekday)43,000 KRW$33.08
Premium Bus (Weekend)51,600 KRW$39.69

Of course, travel time is also a factor. Planes are the fastest, followed by KTX and then the Premium Bus. However, considering the time to reach and leave the airport, planes can be the slowest overall.
Especially for foreign tourists staying in Haeundae, Busan’s popular beach district, the plane journey can be the longest. The travel times to reach your Haeundae accommodation are as follows:

Transportation ModeTravel Time
Plane5 hours 50 minutes
KTX (Train)4 hours 20 minutes
Premium Bus5 hours

Considering the comfort of the seats, the Premium Bus is my top recommendation for the best value in terms of price, comfort, and travel time.

How to Ride the Premium Express Bus

One of the advantages of the Premium Bus is its accessibility.

You can catch a Premium Bus at the Express Bus Terminal, accessible via Seoul’s Subway Line 7. Tickets are available at the counter or through vending machines. While tickets to Busan are generally available, they can sell out during major holidays like Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Seollal (Lunar New Year). So, it’s advisable to plan your trip outside these peak periods.

Your ticket will indicate the boarding gate, usually Gate 1 for buses to Busan. The bus waiting area is easy to find, with clear signage in English indicating Seoul to Busan.

Your ticket will indicate the boarding gate, usually Gate 1 for buses to Busan

Premium Bus Seating Explained

The Premium Bus boasts spacious, comfortable seats. Solo travelers can opt for single seats, while pairs may prefer double seats. These seats fully recline, transforming into a bed-like space.

The Premium Bus boasts spacious, comfortable seats

Each seat has a small TV and a handy cup holder. Though the screens are small, many passengers prefer using their phones. There’s a button to recline your seat, turning it into a cozy bed for a much-needed rest.

Each seat has a small TV and a handy cup holder.
There's a button to recline your seat