This is our first post in our Busan series, and relates to taking the KTX train from Seoul to Busan. (Note this post was written in 2012, costs and other elements may have changed)
There are a number of ways to get to Busan from the Seoul area; Car, Bus, Plane but taking the train is the most popular method. A car or bus would normally take between 4 to 6 hours depending on traffic and your starting and finishing points, and can be a better option if you don’t live close to a train station. Also flying to Busan takes under an hour but you need to take into account the waiting time at the airport which as we all know can be 2-3 hours. But a KTX (high speed train) takes normally 2 and a half hours, so is the quickest method. The are other slower but cheaper trains you can take within Korea.
Firstly you need to get to a KTX station, we traveled from Seoul Station as they have KTX trains leaving for Busan every 15minutes or so from 6am to 11pm. Next if you haven’t booked in advance you need to buy and ticket, *tip go for an allocated seat as stand for 180+ minutes is not a fun idea.* Tickets cost around ₩50,000 per person, you can get discounts if booked early or by using the Happy Rail Pass (Foreigners only).
Next find your train and seat, sit back and enjoy the ride. You travel basically straight down and so can see a great overview of the South Korean countryside as well as passing major cities such as Daegu, Daejeon, Suwon and others. Here are a few pictures, sorry about the quality the windows are a little dirty plus the train is traveling at 280kph+:
The on board entertainment is a magazine (all in Korean) and a TV which is silent and just shows Korean TV shows and news. So best advice bring a book, ipod, laptop etc. One advantage is there is good 3G coverage as well as free WIFI (limited to 20mb per hour).
The KTX is a get way to travel quickly, comfortably and cheaply within Korea. The main downside is that you have to travel to Seoul Station (plus a handful of others, but they have less trains) and then travel from Busan Station to wherever you need to go (Busan Station is 45minutes away from Haeundae by Bus/Subway).
For more information on tickets please check out these links:
Korean Rail English Page: http://info.korail.com/2007/eng/eng_index.jsp
KORAIL Tickets Page: http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfTicketSearch.do