Saturday, March 23, 2013

South Korea Day 3: Hello Busan!

The bags were packed the night before and despite having dropped off most of our luggage at the hotel we were staying at upon our return to Seoul, we found that we had an extra bag of snacks we couldn't finish and opted to bring along another extra bag for the laundry we did the night before. In short, too many bags.

We woke the girls around 6.15 am, rushed through the morning routine and took the local metro to Seoul station. Mommy had bought KTX 3 days  KR Passes for two adults and one child ( Children under four travel for free, sitting on the parent) prior to departure from Singapore. It allows you unlimited rides (except on subways) within the 3 days and even though we were only getting tickets from Seoul to Busan and back, it still worked out to be a lot cheaper than buying the tickets separately. We collected our KR Passes on Saturday after arrival and bought tickets from Seoul to Busan and back. The thing about KR Passes is that once you set the window for use ( for example Monday to Wednesday), you are not allowed to make any changes to the dates so do make sure you plan your travel well. Even though KTX is considered the country's speed train, some trains take a longer time to reach their final destinations, depending on the number of stops they make along the way. While still in Singapore, we went onto KTX website ( and checked out the timings for the trains. We picked a reasonable time range (8-9am) and started selecting the shorter train journeys. When we got to Korea, we went to Seoul Station (take subway and alight at Seoul station, take Exit 1 up the escalator and KTX Seoul Station is on your left) and bought our tickets based on our preferred timing. As seats are not necessary available, it is advisable that you buy your tickets early.

At busy Seoul Station

On the platform...early

Clean and comfortable

We got to Seoul Station 30 minutes before our 8.30am train, bound for Busan. It gave us ample time for toilet break and to settle the children in the train. Transportation in Korea prides itself for being punctual so you can expect to be left behind even if you are on the platform by 8:31:00am. The ride took about 2 hours 50 minutes and was very smooth. The girls had some of the snacks we brought along before drifting off to sleep for the majority of the journey. The ride was generally uneventful but the most exciting part was the opportunity to admire the rural landscapes, architecture, farmland, countryside, rolling hills, and scenic waterways we were passing by, and fantasize about the day we get to visit these places.

KTX tickets from Seoul to Busan

We arrived at Busan station a little behind schedule and bought a one day pass for the Humetro for 4000 won per adult. It can be purchased from the normal ticketing machine. One thing to note is that the ticketing machine only accepts 1000 won notes so make sure you carry enough to last you during your visit in Busan. The kids ride free, but the amusing thing about a number of the stations we encountered was that the gantries only opened when a ticket was inserted, and because the kids had no tickets, the staff told us that they had to either crawl under or climb over the gantries. It sure was amusing seeing two little children crawling their way through. As they were the only two children wherever we went, we stood out a lot.

One day unlimited travel pass for 4000 won.

Snacks after the train journey

Our accomodation for the next two nights was the Ibis Ambassador Busan, conveniently located just outside the Bujeon station, which is seven stops away from Seoul Station. We walked through a small underground shopping mall before exiting infront of the hotel.

The reception was on the 17th floor and the hotel shared a building with a hospital which occupied the first seven floors. The staff here were able to communicate fluently in English and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we could check in early.   

The suite comes with a nice attached bathroom, and the ladies will be sharing the queen-sized bed while daddy curls up on the sofa. The room is a luxury compared with the Seoul apartment, and has heating function on the air conditioner. However, the real star of the show had to be the state of the art toilet bowl. It had an array of buttons on its control panel that did everything from keeping the toilet seat warm to cleaning you up when you are done. But even technology couldn't solve the occasional clog and a plumber had to be called to fix that after check-in.   


Girls prefer the warmth of the room and bed

A 24 hour convenience mart located on the first floor was a real plus for quick snacks and drinks.   

Since the kids had their nap on the train, we were ready to begin our exploration after a short change and refresher. Next stop: Haeundae Beach!


  1. hi what do u mean by buying ticket again after buying the KR pass ? buying KR pass doesnt mean that it can be used to take ktx to busan?

  2. Hi Christie,

    so sorry for the late reply. I have been very busy with work lately. Hmm, I am so sorry for not being clear.

    Even after buying the KR pass, you still need to 'purchase' your tickets - going to the counter, and getting the tickets for the particular route and time. If the particular train that you want is full, you would need to select another convenient timing. Of course, you don't have to pay any money. All you need to do is to show them your KR passes. Hope this is clearer now. So sorry for the confusion.

  3. Hi there,

    Still planning my itinerary whether it is feasible to do a day trip to Busan with KR Pass.
    I've few questions regarding KR Pass:
    1. (Expected date of arrival in Korea) which date should i put? the day i arrive in Seoul which is on the 12th or the day i travel down to Busan which is on the 16th?
    2. E-ticket (KR pass) to 'purchase' the actual tickets right? can it be done for a return ticket? Let's say in the morning 16th bound to Busan, in the evening 16th bound back to Seoul.
    3. Exchanging the e-ticket to the actual ticket must be done the day of arrival in Seoul or the day of departure to Busan?
    3. I'll be traveling with 2 girlfriends, which entitled us for the (saver) pass. Can we request to be seated together for our return tickets?

    Thanks in advance, your response is greatly appreciated. Love from Malaysia :)

  4. Hi Sylvie,

    so sorry for the late reply. You must be in Korea by now. How has it been so far? The weather must be really nice right now. My answers may not be timely but I sure hope they can be of use in the future.

    1) You need to put the date when you arrive in Korea.

    2) Yes you can get your return tickets when you get your departure tickets too. It is usually advisable that you get the tickets for both ways in advance because there is no guarantee that there are seats on the way back to Seoul especially since the trains are usually crowded in the night as people head back to Seoul.
    3) I usually exchange the tickets on the day of arrival because I want to secure my seat for a particular timing. Some timings are longer because they stop over at more stations. For example, a Busan bound train with 5 stop overs in between will take approximately 2.5 hrs while another Busan bound train with 8 stops will take about 3.5hrs. I like to keep my travelling time short so I always choose the shortest travelling time possible and I make sure I get my tickets (both ways) as fast as possible too.
    4) They would usually arrange for you to be seated together. If you need to be separated, they would ask you to see if you are alright with it first.

    Take care and enjoy :)


  5. Hi there,

    I've some queries about the KTX pass and I hope you'd help me to clarify my doubts.

    1. For the KORAIL PASS, if I were to go Busan on 26 Dec from Seoul and return to Seoul on 28 Dec. Is getting the 3-days pass sufficient?

    2. Since the website states that the pass has to be used on consecutive days (e.g. 12/1, 12/2, 12/3), could I still use it on 28 Dec to return back to Seoul since I won't be using it on the 27 Dec?

    3. As I'm still below 25, can I purchased the YOUTH PASS instead? (I do not have an International Student ID card with me)

    4. If I'm able to purchase the youth pass, do I have to make reservation twice since I'll be booking for 2? (As the reservation form is only for individual under youth pass)

    5. How do I book the seats and the timing I want for the trip to Busan and back to Seoul since I'm only making a reservation for the KTX pass and will only be exchanging on the day I reached Seoul?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thank you.


    1. hi, Cass,

      1) and 2)
      Yes 3 days pass is gd enough. You don't have to use it for 3 days in a row. It it just cheaper to get the 3 days pass than to get 2 separate tickets from seoul to busan and back. No worries. I do it all the time. :)

      3) I have never purchased the YOUTH PASS before but I have friends who have used it. There shouldn't be any problem too.

      4) yes, you would need to indicate how many passes so if you are buying for two, you would need to get two.

      5) when you collect your ticket for seoul to busan on the first day, you can get the tickets for busan to seoul as well. they will print it out for you. I usually take note of the timing i want based on the number of stops (less stops = faster) and let the counter know. They would be able to let you know if there are seats available. You just need to take good care of your tickets so you can come back to seoul :)

      Remember to bring along your passport when you collect the pass. There was once I forgot and ended up having to make the extra trip.

      it will be cold end of Dec...very cold....because of the wind. Do bundle up well.

      enjoy your trip.


  6. Hi,

    Thanks for such useful info. Hope you can also answer my queries below:

    1. Do you have to present each passenger's passport when claiming saver passes, or just the passport of the passenger who made the reservation?

    2. When booking actual tickets, do you also need to present all passports along with the KR passes of passengers booked under a saver pass?

    3. Is the credit card swiped when claiming the KR pass? If yes, is it possible to use a different credit card from the one that was used to reserve the KR pass? or perhaps pay in cash?

    The reason I ask is because I want to get the pass and book tickets for our group as soon as I arrive in Korea, but one of our companions will be arriving a few days after us, on the same morning we intend travel to Busan. So I'm worried that we might not get seats anymore if we have to wait for her since we want to book the train that will leave Seoul station 3 hours after her touchdown at Incheon.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  7. hi Zelly,

    1. You just need the passport of the one making the reservation, even if it is for a number of people. So far, I have been the one making the reservation and collection of tickets, no problem there.

    2. When you are at the counter collecting your KR passes, they would recommend that you buy your tickets as well, to ensure that you have a seat at your preferred time. If you want to leave it open, like what we did with our return tickets from Busan to Seoul, you can just go to the counter with your KR pass. No need passport.

    3. yes, payment is made using the card when you collect your pass. I believe you have to use the card that you used when making the reservation. You can ask the counter if you can pay in cash if you prefer that. We usually have a lot of tickets so we paid using card.

    3 hours after touchdown? Your friend may not be able to make it on time though. We had a similar situation and a friend of ours missed the train. She ended up having to buy another ticket. The train is very punctual. once it reaches the time, it goes off e.g. at 10:00:00...a few seconds late and the train will be gone. It is better to have a bit more allowance as she still needs time to go through the immigration ,collect her luggage and get down to Seoul Station.

  8. Hi there, your writing about traveling to Korea looks so nice! I strongly recommend to purchase a 'Korail pass' for visiting to out of Seoul like Busan, Singyeongju etc. Busan is also nice city and there are many nice cities which has good atmospheres. Especially, you can see lots of Korean traditional things in Singyeongju and Jeonju. More tips is if you dont make a reservation of Korail pass but you need to buy that, you can also purchase that in ICN. There is a 'travel center' in B1(airport), you can get more information about this. Thank you.

    1. Hi jzhenying. Thanks for your suggestion! Do you frequent Busan often? It's been a while since we visited but we hope to go back.

  9. Hi So is baggage a problem? Do they restrict you on baggage? Thanks

    1. There is no limit on baggage but alleys are narrow like an aeroplane. Not much space for big and bulky luggages. There is space for big luggages in between some cabins but limited. Most of e luggage space is overhead and not wide

  10. Hi!
    May I know whether cash is allowed when I purchase KR passes directly at Incheon Airport?

    1. Hi. We have not bought them from the airport before, but based on our experience at Seoul Station, cash is accepted.