How I made use of Busan’s tourist buses to squeeze all of my must-sees over two days.
This was my itinerary of sorts when I visited Busan in South Korea. Like my trip to Seoul, Busan was a last-minute decision as well. I really only had one full day in the city, and half-days, for the days I arrived and left. I came up with this plan while on the comfortable, rigged-with-wifi, two-hour long train ride from Seoul to Busan.
With some strategic planning and using Busan’s tourist buses, I was able to hit all of the attractions on my checklist within the short amount of days. Here’s how.
Where I Stayed: Busan Station / Chinatown
I decided to stay close to the train station, which was the so-called Chinatown area. I say so-called because though they call this the Chinatown area, nothing screams Chinatown except a Chinese gate entrance out front.
Soooo… I would later discover that some parts of the area is a little… seedy. The area I was in was safe though – I stayed in a family hotel which was a one-minute walk from the main road and metro stop, and just five minutes away from the Busan Train Station.
I took the lunchtime train from Seoul and arrived in Busan at about 3-ish pm.
Gamcheon Cultural Village
After checking in to my hotel and taking a bit of a breather, I left for my first stop: Gamcheon Cultural Village.
To get to Gamcheon Cultural Village:
Take Subway Line 1 from Busan Station and alight at Toseong station, Exit 6.
Walk straight, and turn right, and continue walking straight. Pass by a hospital, the Pusan National University Hospital, and wait at the first bus stop.
Take either Bus 2 or 2-2.
Get down at the Gamcheon Elementary School. A bunch of people/tourists will be getting off here too.
To get back, go to the same bus stop and cross to the bus stop on the other side. Take the same bus back to Toseong station. Again, a bunch of people will be alighting here too. Easy.
Day two was my only full day in Busan, and I was determined to make the best of it. I was able to visit Haedong Yonggusa, Taejongdae Resort Park, Oryukdo Islands, Haeundae Beach and Nampodong / BIFF Square on this day.
Maximise the Tourist Bus (BUTI + Jumbo Bus)
A lot of the attractions in Busan were not close to each other. They were at least an hour’s away from one another by public transportation. I was recommended to check out the BUTI bus, and taking this up was single-handedly the best decision I made for this trip.
Not only did the bus take me directly to the attractions, I didn’t feel bored on the bus since it would go past other tourist sites. Also it helped TONS that there were wifi onboard and USB charging ports.
A quick warning though. At the time of visit, the tourist buses were catered more to local, Korean tourists. When I was onboard, it was a 90/10 ratio of local and international tourists. The tour commentary was in Korean, and the bus drivers were not well-versed enough to be able to answer any comprehensive questions in English. This was a common complaint when I was researching the bus prior, and nothing seemed to have changed much. That said, the names of the locations were mentioned in English, so at the very least I know when the bus passes an attraction. The drivers were also able to confirm the stops when asked.
The BUTI day pass costs 15,000 Korean Won. Since I also took the Jumbo Bus for Taejongdae, it was an additional 5,000 Won. You can purchase the pass on the bus itself, and you will get a (very unglam) wrist tag that will serve as a ticket. You can use both cash and card as payment.
Ideally, you’d want to be able to visit every stop on the BUTI route… unfortunately this is not possible. Pick out a couple of must-sees, and plan your route around those. Personally, I wanted to see Haedong Yonggusa, Taejongdae and Oryukdo Islands.
MY BUTI + Jumbo Bus Route
9:15 – BUTI Red Line Bus Departs from Busan Station
10:20 – Change to the BUTI Blue Line bus at Haeundae Beach station
10:57 – Arrive at Fisheries Science Museum for the Haedong Yonggusa Temple
- Explore Haedong Yonggusa Temple
12:30 – Departure from Fisheries Science Museum stop
13:10 – Haeundae Beach stop
- Check out Haeundae Beach, while grabbing light lunch at minimart to be eaten on the bus.
13:35 – Haeundae Beach Red line bus
14:40 – Arrive back at Busan Station
- Grabbed another snack while waiting for Jumbo Bus to depart
14:55 – Jumbo Bus departs from Busan Station
15:33 – Arrive at Taejongdae Resort stop
- Explore Taejongdae
17:23 – Catch Jumbo Bus at Taejongdae stop
17:55 – Alight at Oryukdo Islands
- Explore Oryukdo Islands
19:10 – Catch the last bus at Oryukdo Islands
20:00 – Arrive and alight at Nampodong BIFF Square
- And once I’m done exploring Nampodong and BIFF Square, I took the metro back to my hotel at Chinatown, which was just a couple short stops away.
You can see from this schedule that though I spent a full day on the bus, even catching the first and last bus on route, I was only able to hit five attractions. Of course, if you spend lesser time at each location than I did, perhaps you can visit more stops. I was more than content with this route.
The bus schedules are available online. Plan out your routes before getting on the bus. Try to not be precise with the timings, and give some leeway in case you miss a bus timing. For example, I never intended to catch the last bus at Oryukdo Islands, but I lost track of time while taking photos. The buses are all on time, the only exception on my trip was at Haeundae Beach stop, which was located along a street with heavy traffic.
My train back to Seoul departs at noon, so I had the free morning to go back to Nampodong for the Jagalchi Fish Market.
To get to Jagalchi:
Take Subway Line 1 from Busan Station and alight at Jagalchi station, Exit 10.
Walk straight and turn right onto Jagalchi 3 Street. You know you’re arriving when you encounter an outdoors fish market.
I roamed about for an hour, before leaving back to my hotel to check out and catch my train back to Seoul.