The most convenient way to get around in Busan is by using public transport. Though Busan isn’t nearly as congested as Seoul, there can be significant traffic jams closer to the popular beach areas so most expats choose public transport over owning their own car.
The subway system is smaller than in Seoul, but it’s still extensive and an excellent way to get across the city conveniently and affordably. Public buses are another efficient way to get around. Street signs and subway signs in Busan are usually written in both English and Korean.
Public transport in Busan
Expats will easily be able to take advantage of integrated public transport system in Busan. It’s possible to get almost anywhere in the city by using the subway or buses. It's also inexpensive, and the city offers a rechargeable T-money card. Transportation rates are lower with the card than purchasing single-ride ticket. The card can be used for both the subway and bus systems and even in some taxis.
The subway system in Busan is extensive and can be used to get around most of the city. Passengers can buy single-trip tickets from vending machines at any subway station. That said, the T-money card, which can be bought at subway stations and some stores, is more convenient for those who will use the subway regularly.
Busan recently converted the majority of its bus fleet to electric buses. Smaller green or blue buses only travel in their own neighbourhoods, while larger buses travel longer distances throughout the city. Major bus stops will have an electronic board showing which routes pass through the stop and when the next bus will arrive. Passengers pay when they get onto the bus with their T-money cards or they can use cash.
Taxis in Busan
Taxis in Busan are extremely convenient and not too hard to come by. It’s possible to hail a taxi from the street or through Kakao Taxi – a local taxi-hailing app. All taxis run on a metre and expats can pay their fair either with a credit card, local bank card, or in cash. It’s also sometimes possible to use a T-money card to pay for a trip if the passenger swipes it at the start and end of the journey.
Many drivers don’t speak English well so it’s always a good idea to have the address or destination written down in Korean to show the driver. Some taxis advertise a free call-in interpretation service which English-speaking passengers can use to explain where they want to go.
Cycling in Busan
Although not the most bike-friendly city, expats can get around Busan by bike. It is recommended that expats cycle on the shoulder of the road, however, to avoid pedestrians, mopeds and parked cars. Expats will also have to take into consideration the hilly nature of the city. If they are prepared to break out a sweat, cycling is a good and free option for getting around in Busan.
►For country-specific transport information, read Transport and Driving in South Korea
►For answers to common queries about life in the city, read Frequently Asked Questions about Seoul
"Public transportation is amazing in South Korea! The subway system is fast and reliable. You can basically get anywhere in Busan with the subway. The KTX (rapid fast train) gets you from Seoul to Busan in a couple of hours. I used the bus a lot and my transportation card, which I was able to top up at stations and at many convenience stores, functioned for both the bus and the subway. I also used taxis (services like Uber and Lyft are not yet available there)." Read more about Samantha, a Canadian expat, and her experience living in Busan.
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