Our Busan Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help you plan your trip to one of the most popular destinations in South Korea. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What’s the weather like? How can I get from Gimhae International Airport to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need?

    We have all these answers plus other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few useful travel tips. You’ll also learn about the most popular landmarks in Busan such as Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Busan Tower, and Gamcheon Culture Village. It’s all compiled in this Busan Travel Essentials. After reading this short and easy-to-read guide, you will be a little more prepared to start your trip to Busan, South Korea.

    1

    When is the best time to travel to Busan?

    • Located at the southeastern tip of South Korea, Busan has a humid subtropical climate. Extreme temperatures are rare with an all-year-round average temperature of about 15°C.
    • The warmest month in Busan is August with an average temperature of 26°C, while January is the coldest month with a daily average of 3°C.
    • Precipitation ranges around 6 days per month from October to February. Rainy days increase between March and June with an average of 9 wet days per month, reaching a peak in the July–September period with up to 13 rainy days per month. Typhoons can occur in late summer and occasional snowfalls can be expected from December to March.
    • Summer (July–August) is the peak season in Busan. The crowds, heat and humidity, as well as higher accommodation rates, make the city less attractive for travel at this time of the year, though.
    • The best times to visit Busan are in spring and autumn. The May–June and September–November periods bring decent weather and more affordable hotel prices than in summer.
    2

    Busan basics

    • Plug type: C and F
    • Electricity: 220 V – 60 Hz
    • Currency: South Korean won (₩)
    • International dialling code: +82 51
    • Emergency telephone number: 119 (fire and medical emergency), 112 (police)
    3

    How to get to my hotel in Busan?

    Gimhae International Airport (PUS)

    Travelling to Busan by air is easy as over 20 international airlines offer regular flights to and from Gimhae Airport. The airport also serves many cities within South Korea and is well connected to Seoul by air. It’s 10 km west of Busan as the crow flies and is roughly a 15-minute drive from the airport to downtown.

    Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport. Ground transport options available are as follows:

    • Taxi stands are across the road from Gate 3 of the international terminal and across the road from Gate 4 of the domestic terminal.
    • The Light Rail Transit airport station is 30 metres to the right across Gate 3 of the international terminal and across Gate 4 of the domestic terminal.
    • Intercity bus stops can be found in front of both the domestic and international terminals, next to the taxi ranks.
    • Car rental agencies are found on the 1st floor of the domestic terminal.

    Ferries and Boats to Busan

    Busan is one of the most famous seaports in South Korea – regular ferry services run from international locations such as Osaka and Kyushu Island. The most economical ferry service is Kanpu Ferry – these overnight ferries ply the waters between Busan and Shimonoseki.

    Boats travel between Busan and Kyushu Island and local ferries run between Busan and Jeju about 3 times a week. A one-way ferry trip to Busan from Jeju takes about 12 hours.

    Busan Trains

    Busan has several railway stations – the ultramodern Busan Station is located between Nampodong and Seomyeon. Subway Line 1 is easily accessible and there are several homestays and hotels in and around this station.

    Another station near Subway Line 3 is Gupo station, right next to the Gupo subway stop. It's one of the more convenient stations to catch a train in Busan. There are other benefits of boarding a train from Gupo station – tickets to Seoul are cheaper and the station is comparatively less crowded than most Busan stations. The only downside to boarding a train from this station is its distance from the main city.

    KTX is one of the most popular railway companies in Busan. It offers services between Busan and Seoul. Tickets are dispensed from automated vending machines.

    Buses in Busan

    Busan has 2 major bus stations – Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal and Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal – and several smaller bus stops. Almost every major city or county in South Korea has regular bus services to Busan.

    4

    How to get around Busan?

    Travel tips

    Busan is too large of a city to be explored on foot – apart from short distances – and riding a bike can be somehow hazardous due to the freestyle way of driving of many people in South Korea. Fortunately, the city hosts an extensive and very convenient public transport system featuring subways and bus lines. Slightly more expensive, taxis are also an effective way of getting around.

    Transport cards in Busan

    Using a transport card is the easiest way of getting around Busan by public transport and taxis. There are 3: Cashbee, Mybi, and Hanaro. Cashbee Card is the most widely used. Using the card saves you time and money, as well as entitles you to discounts on subway and bus tickets. Note that if you already purchased a T-money Card in Seoul, it also can be used in Busan.

    Busan transport cards are available in convenience stores – 7-Eleven, Ministop, GS25 – and from vending machines in metro stations.

    Travelling on the subway in Busan

    The subway is one of the most widely used for commuting within Busan. There are 5 lines, as follows:

    • Line 1 (orange): Dadaepo Beach–Nopo-dong
    • Line 2 (green): Yangsan–Jangsan
    • Line 3 (brown): Daejeo–Suyeong
    • Line 4 (blue): Minam–Anpyeong
    • Busan-Gimhae Light Rail Transit (purple): Sasang–Kaya University

    They connect all the bus stations and major city hot spots. Most of the signages and public announcements are in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and English, making it easy for foreigners to get around the city by subway.

    There are automatic ticket vending machines, where you can buy your ticket. One-day passes are available if you foresee quite a lot of subway travel on that day and if you do not have a transport card.

    Travelling by bus in Busan

    Like the subway system, buses in Busan have information written in English at bus stops. Aboard the bus, the announcement of the next destination is also done in English and Korean. Fares can be paid in cash – the exact change required – or with a prepaid transport card. You exit the bus from the rear door.

    Taking a taxi in Busan

    Taxis in Busan are available just about everywhere in the city. There are 3 main types of taxis, all of which are metered with fares determined by distance and time. Virtually all taxis operating in Busan accept cash, credit cards, and prepaid transport cards. A late-night surcharge of 20% applies to all taxis.

    • Regular Taxi The cheapest taxis in Busan are the regular or standard taxis, which are coloured grey. They can be easily flagged down on the streets. As most taxi drivers do not speak English, having your destination address written in Korean on a piece of paper is a good idea.
    • Deluxe Taxi Deluxe taxis are often nearby major hotels and popular tourist spots. Fares are usually around 40% higher compared to regular taxis. The plus side of these vehicles are English-speaking drivers, more spacious seats and safer service. To identify a deluxe taxi in Busan, look out for vehicles in black with yellow stripes and a sign on top.

    Renting a car in Busan

    Unless you plan long trips outside the city, renting a car is not a recommended option for getting around Busan. Anyway, if you decide to make this choice, you’ll need to be 21 years old and in possession of an international driving licence in addition to your foreign driving licence of over 1 year.

    Riding a bicycle in Busan

    Despite the hazards mentioned above and the hilly terrain, riding a bike can be a pleasant option on clear days, especially when exploring the many ecological parks in Busan. Bike rental shops can be found at most parks around the city, including Samnak Ecological Park, Daejeo Park, and Hwamyeong Park, among others.

    5

    What are the main annual events in Busan?

    Haeundae Sand Festival

    • What: This spectacular event gathers some of the best sand sculptors in the world alongside a fringe festival with art exhibitions and other festive happenings.
    • When: Late May
    • Where: Haeundae Beach

    Busan International Rock Festival

    • What: Held since 1999, Busan International Rock Festival presents Korean and international artists including up-and-coming bands playing Indie, rock, and metal. It’s one of the longest-running music festivals in South Korea.
    • When: Late July
    • Where: Samnak Ecological Park

    Busan International Film Festival

    • What: Busan International Film Festival was founded in 1996 and has become one of the most notable film festivals in Asia. Watching new movies from all around the world and enjoying potential interaction with famous filmmakers and actors are part of the annual event.
    • When: October
    • Where: Busan Cinema Center and BIFF Square
    6

    What are the main landmarks in Busan?

    Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

    This Buddhist temple on the northeastern end of Busan was built in 1376 and is one of few temples in Korea built on the seaside. It has dozens of sculptures and statues and is famous for its Hakeupbul and Deuknambul Buddha images.

    Busan Tower in Yongdusan Park

    Built in 1973, Busan Tower is an iconic 120-metre-tall landmark with a small cafe and an observation deck offering stunning views. It is also home to 2 museums: the Museum of World Folk Instruments, and the Exhibition Hall of World Model Boats.

    Gamcheon Culture Village

    Gamcheon has long been home to the refugees who took shelter in Busan during the Korean War. It was formerly a shantytown that was revitalised through a city regeneration project. It features colourfully painted houses clinging to the hillside and has earned the nickname “Santorini in Korea”.

    Busan Museum of Art

    The Busan Museum of Art is must-visit if you want to have a look and feel of what Korean contemporary art is all about. The museum features 5 floors comprising exhibition halls, educational rooms and archives, while a sculpture park is located outside the building.

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