It was the first time I was going to Busan so I was really excited. I was very confused when I was doing my research on how to go to Busan from Seoul and how I should book the tickets. The only thing I knew was that I could travel by the KTX. Other than that I have zero idea on what was going on. The KTX website wasn’t of much help either. Thankfully a fellow blogger typed her experience and tips on how to go about booking so I shall type it here for anyone who will need this information.
A Guide on how to travel from Seoul to Busan
Step 1: Book Korail tickets
Korea metro system has introduced Korail tickets for foreigners. These are cheaper than usual tickets and there are additional discounts if you are a youth or travelling in a group of 2 to 5 persons. Before you get depressed about the word “youth”, it applies to everyone from 13 to 25 years old so yes those who have not been part of the youthful group (like me) for a long time *throws confetti and dances* The prices are as follow:
Do make an effort to count which would be cheaper if there are various combinations which you will be eligible to choose.
Take note that these are not the actual train tickets which you will use to ride the trains. These are only discounted transport cards so you will still have to go to the counter and show your Korail passes in order to redeem the actual train tickets.
*Print out the confirmation documents. You will need it to exchange for your physical Korail passes
Step 2: Check the train timings for that day (Optional)
If you are someone who does not prefer to plan beforehand and follow it accordingly, you can skip this step. Else, you can visit here to key in the details eg. date of your trip to Busan. From there you are able to see which trains are available. This would help to plan what time you would have to travel from your hotel to the Seoul station to take the trains etc.
However do note that you can only access this 30 days in advance before your train ride.
Step 3: Exchange for your Korail passes at Seoul KTX Station
When you have reached Seoul metro station, board the escalators up all the way and you will reach Seoul KTX station. From there, proceed to the Information counter in front of Lotteria. Do not proceed to the ticket counter. That was what I did and the counter person referred me to the information counter. Present to the counter staff your confirmation documents and he/she will print out the Korail passes for you.
*Keep the Korail passes especially if you purchase those that are for more than 1 day because you will need them whenever you redeem train tickets. If you lose them, you will have to purchase the tickets by itself which is double cost.
Step 4: Redeem your actual train tickets
Once you are done, you can proceed to the ticket counter to redeem the actual train tickets. Do also redeem the return ones as well as it would be bad if there are no more seats left.
Step 5: Purchase a meal for your train ride (Optional)
This is optional. The ride to Busan is 3 hours and we decided to have lunch on the train. They do sell food on the train too but I am unsure of the choices available.
Step 6: Board your train at the specific platform and enjoy your ride!
The trains are VERY punctual so do be there early. Especially if you are like us who have luggages to bring up, do be early so that you have space to store your luggages. There are luggage compartments at the front or back of each carriage which can store up to 4 to 6 luggages which would definitely be not enough if every passenger has one. Lucky for us though, we were the only tourists in that cabin so we had the luggage space entirely to ourselves.
End of guide for booking travelling on KTX. Hopefully it has been useful for you. Resuming my post, we bought lunch at Lotteria! And this time we finally managed to get to try the famous burgers which had mozarella cheese in them.
Look at the cheese omg. Simply delicious. Someone needs to bring this to Singapore. It seems that Koreans are very into cheese because every single fast food outlet which we passed by had some form or another hot selling cheese menu item.
When we reached Busan, we could smell the sea. I personally do not favor seafood so it was more of a stench but for hubby, he was imagining fresh seafood and oysters (Hahaha). It started drizzling and we felt really moody. Sigh. I’ve planned many outdoor activities for that day but rain just had to come and spoil our plans. Spring. You can never predict the weather.
Luckily our hotel (Hotel Almond) was near Busan KTX train station so it took us only 5 minutes to walk there. It was still early so we thought that we would have to wait for more than an hour before we can check in but the receptionist allowed us to check in earlier. We showed him our Agoda confirmation papers and he proceeded to manage our reservation and passed us the keys. Easy peasy. The hotel is located right behind Tokyo Inn Hotel. I liked it. It was clean and huge. We were able to place our luggages wide open on the floor without tripping over them. In addition, the floor was wooden so yay (Carpeted floors are pretty gross. You never know how much bacteria there is in there) If you are interested to book Hotel Almond, you can do so here. The room looks exactly as the pictures.
We decided to unpack a little and wait for the rain to subside before leaving for our first Busan attraction. If you have not done your research beforehand, you can grab a few brochures at the station’s information counter. The brochures are REALLY well organized. Definitely a must have when travelling in Busan.
Gamcheon Cultural Village
Having watched Running Man and other korean dramas, I was really looking forward to this place. Some describe it as the Santorini of Korea with its colourful houses.
The view from the top
To say the truth, I really do not see any point in visiting this place except for the view at the top. You can pay money to get a map and explore the village which I didn’t find anything interesting about. Maybe because it was raining so hubby and I weren’t really in the mood. Plus the roads are very steep so if you climb down, be prepared to climb back up to the bus stop later.
Tired and hungry, we left for BIFF Gwangjang and Jagalchi Market. We reached at around 5pm and it was still early so there weren’t much food stalls set up yet so we killed some time in Artbox. The Artbox in Korea is huge as compared to the one in Singapore. You can find everything inside. Pretty cool place.
The rain continued but it didn’t stop us from walking on the streets to hunt for food to fill our starving tummies. A must try food in Busan, Ssiat Hotteok! There were many stalls selling this and we were confused on which was authentic but then again, I had a feeling they all taste as good so we randomly bought from one store which was facing the main road and had a long queue.
It was so good! Piping hot and delicious in that cold weather. Hubby didn’t like it but I felt it was one of the best food on the trip. The fragrance of the nuts combined with the crispy texture of the sweet pancake, heaven.
We continued to walk around but most stores were all selling the same food. Ssiat Hotteok, Gimbap, Mandu, fishcake etc. We were tired from all the walking and decided to grab some gimbap and mandu back to the hotel to eat for dinner.
The gimbap was delicious but the mandu was… weird? We didn’t really like it. We turned in early that night because we had a huge list of activities planned for the next day.
When I woke the next day, first thing I did was to check the weather. YAY NO RAIN. Seriously happy. We left the hotel pretty early and departed for our first destination of the day, Beomeosa Temple. We got lost trying to find the bus stop to board the bus to Beomeosa so it kinda became a morning exercise on an empty stomach. Upon exiting from the Metro, walk straight and you will see this junction. Turn in left and continue to walk straight. You know you are on the correct route if you see restaurants with English words. Continue walking and you will see a small bus interchange with bus 90.
After 10 minutes, we are here!
The entire map of Beomeosa
Pathway to the entrance of the temple
Hubby paying his respects while I was busy snapping pictures
Love how the temple is decorated with these beautiful lanterns
The view from the top
Beomeosa Temple is a very serene place. You can hear monks chanting and if you are up for it, you can even book a temple stay. But we weren’t brave enough for it after looking at the itinerary. You would have to wake up early at 5am, wash up, hike, chant, etc. It was enough for us to explore on our own in a morning. The temple made me feel really at ease and lucky for us because it was fairly empty. We could walk around and take pictures without getting photobombed. When we were leaving at around 10.30am, streams of people in tour buses started to arrive.
Hubby’s breakfast. Oxtail soup.
Walking back to the metro from the bus stop, we came across many restaurants that are starting to open and decided to walk in for breakfast. I wanted to have bimbimbap but unfortunately they only serve Oxtail soup in the morning *cries*. So I ate a little of hubby’s which was unexpectedly good even though it looked pretty unappealing. There were groups of locals in the restaurant too so I guess it must be pretty authentic despite them having english menus etc.
We shopped in one of the supermarkets which was on the way to the Metro. They sell many snacks that are of huge packets and we noticed that they sell popcorn and some other salted snacks which I believe was at least 1kg. We then realised those were snacks for drinking. So if you would want to stock up on some, do get it at Busan! We didn’t manage to see any of those in Seoul when we went back.
Next destination, Haeundae Beach! While walking we came across Yoogane and had lunch there. It was so much cheaper than Singapore. This is one of the more expensive sets which has seafood and chicken. The price was around KRW40,000. In Singapore, at this price we can probably only get the chicken set.
Hubby commented that the seafood was surprisingly fresh. I guess it’s because we are at Busan. It was such a satisfying lunch and we were starting to get into a food coma but decided to drag ourselves to the beach.
It wasn’t crowded since it was Spring but there were still tourists around. We did the most bimbo tourist thing ever which was to just take a wefie and we left *hahaha* Okay I admit we ain’t fans of beaches and we were wearing shoes so we couldn’t play in the water either.
Walking back to the Metro station, Sulbing (a very famous bingsu shop in Korea) caught my eye.
Tadah and I dragged hubby in. I felt that it wasn’t as good as Omaspoon in Singapore but hubby loved it for the reason why I didn’t like it. The ice didn’t have much of a milk fragrance as compared to the one in Singapore. They have more variations as compared to the ones in Singapore though but since it was only the 2 of us, we couldn’t order more.
After eating so much, we thought it would be perfect right now to go to Shinsaegae Spaland and try to burn off some fats in the sauna.
Upon reaching, you will see a counter for you to buy entrance tickets. It cost us KRW15,000 each and we are able to stay inside for 4 hours. After walking through the gantry, you will be given a towel and your changing attire. This is the point when ladies and men must split. After changing, you can meet again together outside for the sauna.
The map. A really huge place!
We started out at the feet hotspring area outdoors. The air was cold but the water was hot.
For saunas, there are many different kinds. Cold, warm, sulphur, etc. Some where you are allowed to bring your phones in and some aren’t. Silly me forgot to bring my glasses and I wore contact lens into one of the rooms. After that I felt like it was really dangerous and decided to get out. What if the contact lens melt? Scary.
Since we were at a jjimjilbang, we defintely had to crack some hard boil eggs and drink Shikhye (sweet Korean rice beverage). The eggs were really hard. We tried to crack on each other’s forehead but it didn’t break *hahaha* so in the end we knocked it on the edge of the plate.
After eating and perspiring it all out in one of the suana rooms, we started to get really sleepy. This luxurious bathhouse was so cozy and homely that we actually slept for an hour. I’m actually a light sleeper and I cannot sleep unless it was on a bed. So it was almost impossible for me to sleep in public with others around. So now you know what I mean when I said cozy.
As there was not much time left after our slight nap, we went to shower. The bathing areas were located right beside the hotsprings just inside of the changing area. I knew I didn’t have enough time but I was so tempted well.. so I told myself I will try just one. I walked around testing the different pools with my feet. The Korean ahjummas were staring at me. They were probably thinking, what a weird girl *hahaha oops* I finally found one with the perfect temperature and most importantly, Jacuzzi!! Love this place so much. Recommended x 999!
Refreshed and ready to go, it was time for our last attraction, Gwangalli beach (also known as the Diamond beach). The beach was lined with many many many western restaurants. Hubby wasn’t really interested. He wanted to taste Korean food in Korea! But we were getting really hungry and it didn’t help that everything was written in Korean. No English words at all *sigh*. We stumbled across a fried chicken store which was quite packed so as tourists we thought “more people = good food”.
The staff knew zero english and it was really difficult to communicate with them. So we pointed to pictures on what we want to order. In the end, it was too much for us. One order of chicken was actually just enough for 2 pax.
Roasted chicken on the left and fried garlic chicken on the right
The roasted chicken was so good. The skin was crispy and the meat was really tender. The fried chicken was.. meh. Didn’t quite like it. Thankfully, they allowed us to take away the leftover so in the end we had it for supper.
Gwangalli beach with the lights on
It was nice strolling in the evening with cold winds blowing on your face while being mesmerized by the changing lights on the bridge.
That rounded up our stay in Busan. It had been a nice 2 days trip out of Seoul. I would recommend Beomeosa Temple, Spaland and Gwangalli Beach. The other attractions I would say to give it a miss if you do not have enough time.
- Gamcheon Cultural Village
Directions: Metro Line 1, Toseong Station Exit 6. Walk straight for around 5 minutes and you will see a bus stop. Take Sahu-gu 1-1 or Seo-gu 2, 2-2 and get off at Gamcheon Cultural Village.
200, Gamnae 1-ro, Saha-gu, Busan
- BIFF Square
Directions: Metro Line 1, Jalgachi Station Exit 7.
BIFF Gwangjang-ro, Jung-gu, Busan
- Beomeosa Temple
Directions: Metro Line 1, Beomeosa Station Exit 5. Walk straight until you see a brown sign which reads Beomeosa 3km pointing to the left of the street. Then walk down past the shop houses and there will be a mini interchange. Board bus 90 and get off at Beomeosa Temple.
- Haeundae Beach
Directions: Metro Line 2, Haeundae Station, Exit 3, 5. Walk straight for 600m towards Haeundae haebyeon-ro.
- Shinsaegae Spa Land
Directions: Metro Line 2, Centum City Exit 10. Locate Prada shop and Spa Land is right behind.
35, Centumnam-daero, Haeundae-gu, Busan
- Gwangalli Beach
Directions: Metro Line 2, Gwangalli Station Exit 3,5. Walk straight for 15 minutes.