General Bus Information for South Korea
Buses (버스 beoseu) are an excellent way to travel around Korea. Not only are they cheap, but they are faster
than the trains, always punctual in their departure times, and a large network connects the entire country, so
you can usually get to wherever you need to go by taking a bus or two.
Local buses will generally be small and basic, and tend to cover small distances within rural counties. You
can catch them either at bus stops, at the bus terminal, or in some cases, just hail them down at certain locations
at the side of the road. Pay the driver when you board and take your pick of the seats. Not all small buses will
allow items such as bicycles to be taken on board, as they simply don’t have the room to store them safely.
Longer distance and cross country buses tend to be large, spacious and air conditioned, with reclining seats,
foot-rests and a TV at the front playing Korean dramas or entertainment shows. They also have storage compartments
underneath the bus where suitcases, bikes etc. can be held. Some buses have assigned seats, some don’t, and you
rarely have to book bus travel in advance in Korea – buses don’t tell to sell out unless it is a huge public holiday
or a particularly popular route. Catch these buses at bus terminals (cities often have two bus terminals for catching
different types of buses) and buy your ticket before you board.
Express buses (고속버스 gosok beoseu) tend to be marginally faster, whereas intercity buses (시외버스 si-oe beoseu) often
provide transport to a greater number of locations. Expect to pay more for ‘udeung’ buses (우등 버스), which have fewer
seats and more space. Late night buses (after 10pm) will usually carry a small extra charge too. However, Korean bus
travel is so cheap that usually this will not present an issue at all.
Koreans don’t tend to purchase return tickets for bus journeys. Buy a single to your destination, and then another
single ticket on the way back.
Most buses are fitted with seatbelts, and although most Koreans don’t use them, we’d recommend buckling up –
especially on winding mountain routes – as drivers tend to race along at lightning speed, and it’s not unheard of
for them to use mobile phones whilst behind the wheel.
On long journeys, the bus will usually stop at service stations and stay there for 10 minutes or so in order for
passengers to use the bathroom or buy some snacks. It’s also not uncommon for buses to sit at bus terminals en route
for quite a while before moving on too. Unless every other passenger piles off, you can be pretty sure that you haven’t
reached your final destination yet!
The word for ‘Bus Terminal’ in Korean is 버스 터미널 (bo-su to-mi-nol) – usually just saying the name of your destination
at the ticket window there will be fine, even if the attendant speaks no English.
If you have any information regarding bus schedules that we have not listed here, then please get in touch with us at