Home to more than three-and-a-half million people, Busan is the second largest city and sea port of South Korea – making it an important centre for tourism and trade. The city has had quite a vivid past and has various important monuments, but the major attractions of Busan remain the numerous natural phenomena and sites here. From hot springs and waterfalls to nature reserves, Busan is home to some really amazing natural hot spots. It is also famous for its yearly international film festival.
The city offers a more economical and laid-back alternative to the capital Seoul; life is cheaper and it has a calmer environment, great beaches and a cosmopolitan crowd (thanks to international sailors and visitors coming here.) Busan has emerged as one of the most preferred tourist locations in South Korea and is also looking forward to place a bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
As already mentioned, Busan is one of the most famous sea ports in South Korea and regular ferry services operate from international locations such as Osaka and Kyushu Island. The most economical ferry service is Kanpu Ferry. Kanpu overnight ferries ply the waters between Busan and Shimonoseki. There are other ferries operating between Busan and Kyushu Island and local ferries between Busan and Jeju. The trip between Busan and Jeju takes about 11 hours.
Busan has a number of railway stations with the space-age Busan Station standing out. This particular station is situated between Nampodong and Seomyeon. Subway 1 is easily accessible and there are a number of homestays and hotels in and around this station.
Another station near Subway 3 line is Gupo station, right next to the Gupo subway stop and is one of the more convenient stations to catch a train from. There are other benefits of boarding a train from Gupo station: tickets to Seoul are cheaper by almost 1000 Won and the station is comparatively less crowded than the others at Busan. The only flip side of boarding a train from this station is that it is situated relatively far from the main city.
KTX is one of the most popular carriers in Busan and offers services between Busan and Seoul. Apart from KTX, there are other carriers, but they tend to be slower. You can get your tickets from automated ticket vending machines.
Busan has two major bus stations and a number of smaller bus stops. Almost every major city/county in South Korea has regular bus services to Busan it is well connected by road. The two major bus locations are Dongbu Intercity Bus Terminal and Seobu Intercity Bus Terminal.
Busan has flights to and from any number of domestic as well as international locations. Some of the popular destinations that Gimhae Airport serves include Manila, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and some other cities in Japan and China. The airport also serves cities within South Korea and is well connected to Seoul by air.
Commuting within the City
Unlike many large cities around the world, it is relatively easy to commute within Busan. The subway is one of the most widely used ways of intra-city commuting by locals. There are three lines (red, green and brown- also termed as 1, 2 and 3) that connect all the bus stations and major hot spots of the city. It is quite easy to use the subway since most of the signage is in Korean and English. You should hang onto your ticket till the time you exit or you might be hit with a hefty fine. The carriages and subway cabs are cleaner than most parts of the world and unlike Seoul, there are automatic ticket vending machines. You can also buy a one-day ticket if you foresee quite a lot of subway travel on that particular day but the most widely used and cheapest card available is the Hanaro Card. It not only saves you money if you are planning to stay in Busan and use the subway frequently, but it will also save you a lot of time as without the card, this process can be quite painstaking and time consuming. Using the card also entitles you to numerous discounts on the subway as well as on bus tickets. For the more remote places that are not served by the subway, one can take a bus or hire a cab.
Busan bars usually stay open till business dies out and this could be around 03:00 in the morning. Common sense dictates that you should stay away from crowds of obviously inebriated people, even though Busan is a relatively safe destination.