Busan, Korea’s second largest city, is only about 45 minutes away from Ulsan, making it a popular weekend destination for Ulsanites. There’s plenty to see and do, from art museums to shopping to dining and drinking. There are plenty of ways to get to Busan from Ulsan, but your choice partly depends on where you want to end up. Because of it’s inner-city mountains, traveling from one part of the city to another can take a long time, so choosing the right drop-off point can help cut down on hours spent on subways. (Prices and schedules are subject to change).
Nopodong - The northern point of Busan, very close to Yangsan. The beginning point of Line 1 on the subway, this is a good place to head if you want to hike Uisangbong peak, or check out Beomeo Temple. From Nopodong station to Centum City (Shinsegae Department store, BEXCO, Busan Museum of Art) or to Nampodong (shopping) or Jalgachae (giant fish market) takes about 50 mins.
Buses to Nopodong:
Ulsan city bus 1127 begins at Taewhagang Station, runs through the Hakseong and Seongnamdong areas, and then heads up past City Hall and Gonguptap, before heading out of Ulsan through Mugeodong, down to Nopodong. For some reason, the listing on the UlsanOnline doesn’t include Nopodong, but it does stop there, so if you want to know the route details, use the Bus By Number Guide, and type in 1127 (don’t hit enter).
Ulsan city bus 1137 beings at Taewhagang Station, and stops at multiple places between Samsandong and Mugeodong before heading down to Nopodong. It doesn’t stop at every stop, however, so check the UlsanOnline Bus guide for more specific information. It stops many more times than the “Non-Stop” bus, however, so while it’s cheaper (approximately 2,700 won), it takes well over an hour.
The Non-Stop Intercity Bus leaves from the Intercity Bus Terminal in Samsandong (near Lotte Department Store) every 7 minutes. It takes 1 hour. This bus stops in Mugeodong, just before the SK gas station at the junction of the main Mugeodong road and Hwy 7, across from Munsu Stadium (not the SK gas station across from the lake at Munsu stadium). It also stops several times along the route, including in Yangsan. It costs approximately 5,000 won.
There’s a second Intercity Bus from the Bangeojin/Ggotbawi Bus Terminal in Donggu, which stops several times, including at the Hyundai Department Store. It also costs approximately 5,000 won. If you’re returning this way, make sure you specify Bangeojin, as asking for Ulsan will drop you in Samsandong.
Busan city express bus 2100 runs from the Ulsan Bus Terminal through Samsan, Okdong and Mugeodong, past Nopodong and Beomeo Temple, ending at the Samsin Traffic Base in Busan’s north end. Again, as a city bus, it stops frequently, making the journey well over an hour, though the cost is low, at approximately 2,500 won. The route is available in the UlsanOnline Bus Guide.
Busan city express bus 2300 also runs from the Ulsan Bus Terminal, following a similar route to 2100, and ending at the Samsin Traffic Base. Check the route in the UlsanOnline Bus Guide to see the variations. Again, the cost is 2,500 won.
Haeundae – Home to the fabled beach of the same name, which draws literally millions of visitors each day in the summer. It’s undergone an extensive makeover in recent years, so instead of tiny alleys lined with fish restaurants, it’s now broad avenues lined with trendy restaurants and bars, making it a popular destination even after the sun goes down. It’s also a good jumping off point to head to Centum City, BEXCO (7 mins by subway), the Busan Museum of Art (5 mins by subway) or Gwangali Beach (15 mins by subway), which is the new happening night-spot in Busan.
Buses to Haeundae:
From the Intercity Bus Terminal in Samsandong, you can take a nonstop bus (직행), which picks up at the Gonguptap/Grand Park bus stop, then heads to Busan. It stops first at the Jangsan subway stop on Line 2, and then on to Haeundae (third stop on line 2) You can also take a slower bus that winds its way through Ulju-gun and Gijang-gun (the wilds of Ulsan and Busan cities) before arriving at Haeundae. The nonstop bus takes about 1hr, while the slower bus takes about 1hr, 30 mins. Buses run every 20 minutes. It costs approximately 7,000 won. The Haeundae Bus Terminal is across the road from the train station, and about 30 seconds from the subway entrance. It’s a throwback to old Korea, that hasn’t yet caught up to the revitalized neighbourhood it serves.
There’s also an Intercity Bus to Haeundae from the Bangeojin Bus Terminal in Ggotbawi, Donggu. Like the bus to Nopodong, it will stop in several places, including by the Seobudong Hyundai Department Store before leaving the city.
Trains to Haeundae:
Trains run through Taewhagang Station in Samsandong to Haeundae Station (and past, into Bujeon Station in downtown Busan – see below). The Mugunghwa stops at all of the small stations between the two cities. For instance, you can board the Mugunghwa in Hogye, Deokha, or Namchang if you live outside the city center. It also stops at the surfing beach, Songjeong, if you’re looking for some waves. Tickets are 3,400 and the trip takes about 1hr. As of the writing of this article, it appears the Saemaeul train, which is comfier and stops less frequently, no longer runs the Taewhagang-Haeundae route. There is some information on schedules and routes available on UlsanOnline, also.
Downtown Busan - Nampodong is a popular shopping destination, with a mixture of high-end brand names and street stalls filled with cheap knock-offs. There’s also a huge Lotte Department Store there now, with plans for a 100+ story apartment building above it. Nearby is the Jalgachi Fish Market, which is the largest in Korea (possibly Asia), and the Ferry Terminals with boats to Japan (from the International Terminal) and local islands, including the Jeju overnight car ferry (from the Domestic). You can get to this area by taking any of the above-mentioned routes and then hopping on the subway to the desired stop, or you can cut down on your subway time by using one of the following methods.
Trains to Downtown:
Take the KTX from Ulsan Station, near Eonyang, to Busan Station, in the heart of the city. It’s 20 minutes, and costs 8,400. From there, the subway to Jalgachi, Nampodong or Jungang (closest to the International Ferry Terminal) is about 5 minutes. It’s also about 12 minutes from Seomyeon, the downtown shopping area. Don’t forget to factor in the travel time to Ulsan Station, though (Mugeodong – 20 mins, Samsandong/Seongnamdong 30-40 mins, Donggu/Bukgu 1hr)
You can also take the Mugunghwa train from Taewhagang Station to Bujeon Terminal, the stop after Haeundae. Bujeon is one subway stop away from Seomyeon, and only 20 mins from Jalgachi.
So – there’s the breakdown on how to get to Busan, depending on where you’d like to end up. Keep your eyes open for upcoming articles on what to do in Busan, so you’ll know exactly where you want to go.
Thanks to everyone on UlsanOnline Facebook group for their input into this article, as I haven’t take the bus to Busan in years, prefering trains whenever possible.