Busan's extensive subway system makes it possible to go just about anywhere within the city. There are three lines and announcements are made in both English and Korean. The trains start running daily at 5:10am and stop at 12:45am and a birdcall (as well as a verbal announcement) is used to signal transfer stations. To use the subway, you can buy single tickets at automatic ticket machines. (Tip: The automatic ticket machines accept only W1,000 bills or coins, so be sure to carry small bills. They will, however, give you coin change.) One-way fares are W1,100 for travel in one "section" (up to a 10km/6 1/4-mile distance) and W1,300 for two sections (distances over 10km/6 1/4 miles). Be sure to hold onto your ticket because you'll need it to exit the subway as well. If you plan on taking the subway or bus extensively, you should get either the Hanaro (tel. 051/868-7621) or Mybi card (tel. 051/1588-8990), which you can purchase for a minimum of W5,000 and refill as needed. Both cards are sold at bus stops, subway ticket offices, or Pusan Bank (www.pusanbank.co.kr). Fares with either card are W990 for travel in one section and W1,170 for two sections. At the end of your trip, you can get a refund of any unused fares by showing your passport and returning the card at Pusan Bank.
Busan has four types of taxis -- regular, call, deluxe, and TIP taxis. You can flag a regular taxi at a taxi stand or along any street. You'll know a taxi is available by the lit sign on top or a red card on the right side of the dashboard. Call taxis can be called from hotels or other locations. Some drivers of call taxis speak English, although you shouldn't count on that, as most do not. Deluxe taxis are black and charge more than twice the regular fare. Deluxe taxi drivers generally speak English, take credit cards, and provide in-car phones. They can be flagged down anywhere, but can be found more easily at airports, hotels, tourist sites, and transportation terminals. The fares for regular taxis start at W1,800 and go up in W100 increments, depending on distance and riding time. There is a 20% increase in fees at night. Deluxe taxis start at W4,200 and go up in W200 increments. Their fares don't go up at night. TIP taxis (found mostly at airports, tourist hotels, and transportation terminals) have a picture of a seagull (the official bird of Busan) on them ("TIP" is the name of the bird, not a suggestion of what you should do with your money). They provide a variety of language services and accept credit cards.
There are three types of local buses in Busan: the regular (which are blue and white and make more stops), the express (which are red and white and make fewer stops), and the late-night bus. Local buses have destinations written in both English and Korean with recorded messages that announce the next stop. Look at the bus route and plan ahead, especially if the buses are crowded. Once you're on the bus, push the button to let the driver know you want to get off and always exit the buses through the back door. Bus drivers generally don't speak English.
Bus fares can be paid with cash (exact change required), tokens, bus passes, or a Hanaro or Mybi card (which can be used on both buses and subways). Cash fare for regular buses is W1,000 or W950 with a Hanaro card, Mybi card, or bus tour pass. For the express bus, fare is W1,500 and W1,000, respectively. The late-night buses are W1,800 cash and W1,700 with a card. All buses issue free transfers that can be used within the next half-hour. For more info, contact the Busan Bus Transportation Association (tel. 051/508-9200).
Busan is easier to navigate by car than Seoul. You will still need an international driver's license (some rental places require you to show your national driver's license as well) and must be over 21. Renting a car in Busan is not cheap, but can be convenient if you plan to travel outside the city to areas where the subway or buses don't go. You can rent a car for as few as 6 hours or for several days. Prices start at W31,800 for a small-size car (like a Hyundai Elantra) for 6 hours on a weekday (an additional W3,180 on weekends), or, for a larger car (like a Kia Potentia), W145,300 for 1 weekday (W1,450 more on weekends). There are dozens of car-rental agencies throughout the city, but only a handful operate from Gimhae Airport. They are Tongilro Rent Car (tel. 051/941-5400); Avis Rent-a-Car (tel. 051/941-7400); Gumho Rent-a-Car (tel. 051/972-1515); Jeju Rent Car (tel. 051/972-4777); and Samsung Rent Car (tel. 051/973-6611). You can reserve your car online before you arrive, or ask your hotel desk to help you with a rental if you want a car just for a short while during your stay.
Due to its size, Busan is not a city to explore solely on foot, but there are nice places to walk once you get there by bus or subway. Areas around Gwangalli Beach and Yongdusan are especially nice for strolling. There are also wonderful hiking opportunities in the mountains and parks.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.