Surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, Busan is walkable within specific areas, but its size and terrain dictate a need for some means of transportation for getting around town.
Subways and taxis are the go-to options for most travellers, with local and express buses helping to fill the gaps. A single-line light rail, which connects with the subway system but has separate fares, is a convenient way to travel between the airport and central Busan.
When visiting for more than a day or two, pick up a Busan Hanero card for ₩6,000 (US$5.40), load it with credit, and use it to get discounted fares when using all public transportation. Taxis accept the card, as well, but no discounts apply.
Busan’s four-line subway system, running from around 5am to 12:30am daily, is the easiest way to get around the city. The subway connects to a light-rail line, as well, that’s most useful for travel to/from the airport. English-language signage and train announcements are provided.
Fares are ₩1,300 (US$1.20) or ₩1,500 (US$1.40), depending on distance travelled, and tickets are valid for a free transfer to regular bus service (and vice versa). One-day pass for unlimited travel is also available for ₩4,500.
Note that separate fares—the same price as those for the subway—apply for journeys on the Busan Gimhae light rail. While daily unlimited travel passes do not apply to the light rail, you can use the Busan Hanero card for this service.
Though most visitors rely strictly on Busan’s well-connected subway system, buses are also convenient and cover most areas of interest. Fares are ₩1,200 (US$1.10) for rides on regular buses and ₩1,600 (US$1.40) for express service, and tickets are valid for a free transfer within 30 minutes to the subway. You’ll enjoy a small discount on fares with the Busan Hanero card. When using the card, be sure to swipe it upon exiting. Board in the front and disembark towards the rear of the vehicle.
Most drivers do not speak any English, but English-language route stops are displayed and announced on all buses.
Taxis are easy to find and convenient for sprinting around town in a hurry, though most drivers speak little to no English. Ensure you have the Korean-language address written down or loaded on your phone ahead of time, when possible. You can also have your Citadines concierge to call a taxi in advance and provide your destination. Carry your hotel’s business card, as well.
The initial fare for regular taxis is ₩2,800 (US$2.50), then goes up by small ₩100 (US$0.10) increments during the journey; an extra 20% charge applies for rides taken from 12am to 4am. All taxis accept Busan Hanero cards. Regular taxis do not take credit cards, but you can use them in black-coloured deluxe taxis, which are more expensive—fare starts at ₩4,500 (US$4).