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Long-distance buses whiz to every nook and cranny of the country, every 15 minutes between major cities and towns, and at least hourly to small towns, villages, temples, and national and provincial parks. Listed bus frequencies are approximate, as buses don’t usually run on a regular timetable and times vary throughout the day. Bus terminals have staff on hand to ensure that everyone boards the right bus, so help is always available. Most buses don’t have toilets on board, but on long journeys drivers take a 10-minute rest at a refreshment stop every few hours. When buses aren't busy, locals ignore designated seating and sit where they like.

Express buses link major cities, while intercity buses stop more often and serve smaller cities and towns. The buses are similar, but they use separate (often neighbouring) terminals. Expressways have a special bus lane that operates at weekends and reduces delays due to heavy traffic. Buses always leave on time (or even early) and go to far more places than trains, but are not as comfortable (sometimes overheated) or smooth, so for travelling long distances, trains can be the better option.

Udeung (superior-class express buses) have three seats per row instead of four, but cost 50% more than ilban (standard buses). Buses that travel after 10pm have a 10% surcharge and are generally superior class.

Expect to pay around ₩4000 for an hour-long journey on a standard bus.

Buses are so frequent that it’s unnecessary to buy a ticket in advance except on weekends and during holiday periods. Buy tickets at the bus terminals. You can check schedules on www.kobus.co.kr and www.hticket.co.kr.

K-shuttle Bus Tours

The foreigner-only K-shuttle (www.k-shuttle.com) tour-bus service departs Seoul with a couple of three days, two nights packages (₩428,000), which include accommodation, breakfast, a guide who speaks English, Japanese or Chinese, and admission fees to various tourist sites along the way:

  • Western Course Stops in Buyeo, Jeonju, Yeosu and Busan before returning to Seoul.

  • Eastern Course Stops in Gangneung, Pyeonchang, Wonju, Andong, Gyeongju and Busan before returning to Seoul.

It’s also possible to use the service to cover one or more sectors of a tour without the package component; for example, the fare from Seoul to Jeonju is ₩42,000, or to Andong ₩70,000.

Reserve your place on the 35-seater coaches at least five days in advance. There is no designated seating.