Korea Train eXpress (KTX)

Public transport in South Korea is second to none that I’ve seen before, certainly on par with the likes of Switzerland. Buses, Trains and Subway systems are clean, modern, comfortable, and efficient with signs provided in both Korean and Roman characters so that hapless foreigners can get around without too many difficulties!

On the KTX to Busan

For my journey to Busan (in the South) I took a high-speed KTX train, comparable to Japan’s Shinkansen (bullet train) or France’s TGV (which KTX technology is based on). Travelling at over 300 km/h the journey only takes 2.5 hours, cut from 6 hours on a normal train! Unsurprisingly, although the tickets aren’t cheap, they’re still considerably less than what you’d pay for the same length journey in the UK and even less if you buy a group ticket.


Shooting through the mountainous countryside of Korea I saw another side to the country, quite unlike the sprawling megalopolis of Seoul. Small cities, farms and industrial complexes all passed in the blink of an eye, perhaps reflecting the speed at which South Korea has developed over the past 50 years. Korea is undoubtedly a beautiful land and still relatively unspoiled. It has yet to take off as a major tourist destination which in my opinion makes it even more attractive.


The journey was to be about the only rest bite I got that day leading up to a fairly frenetic evening in the neon-lit thoroughfares of Busan!

David avatar

21 responses

  1. The seat sized seemed to be the same as on European trains, I'm guessing because it's based on the French design. I was surprised to see the size of the seats on standard trains in Korea – they were about the same as American trains but you don't see any fat people in Korea!!

  2. Seonhye Lee avatar
    Seonhye Lee

    KTX was smaller than i'd expected. narrow space between seats! but it was a great experience to get on KTX 🙂

  3. Seonhye Lee avatar
    Seonhye Lee

    ahhh good analysis! thanks David. 🙂

  4. Miguel avatar

    Well I've never heard about the safety standars about KTX in the last three years the KTX had 1,000 accidents and counting Japan's train seams safer and the Acela train is safer than KTX in a way.

    KTX is marked as the speed train with more accidents in the world more than any other train that is why Japan's train is so safe.

  5. jean avatar

    KTX is not based on the TGV technology. It is a TGV.

  6. Muiwah YEUNG avatar
    Muiwah YEUNG

    we are a group of 4 persons from Hong Kong. we would like to take a KTX from Incheon Airport to Busan. we want to know where to take a KTX from the Incheon Airport and the fare of the KTX to Busan.
    we will arrive Incheon Airport at 6:30a.m.. Do you know the schedual of KTX as well.
    The pictures taking by you are great. Taking the KTX is a good way to travel in Korea. It spends 6 hours by bus and KTX only spends 2.5 hours.

  7. Hi Muiwah, I’m afraid I don’t know the specifics of your questions – you’d probably be best looking at transport info on the Incheon airport website. I think you can take a coach from the airport to the main rail station where you can then catch the KTX. If you book in advance you’ll be able to get a cheaper group ticket for four people.

    Hope you have a nice journey 🙂

  8. Hello there, just reading your post about the KTX. I am in Korea now and we hope to travel to Busan later this week. Can I ask, did you buy your tickets on the day of traveling or did you pre-book? We are having trouble getting information about how we should book etc. Worried alos about language barrier at Soeul Station.

    1. Hi Melly, you should be fine buying the ticket on the day but suggest you arrive early to ensure you get a seat. The language shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the big station in Seoul is bound to have some English speaking staff. Many young people also speak basic English so there’s bound to be someone around to help you.

      Enjoy your trip!

  9. Seats are bigger on long distance or international trains foradded comfort. Not so hard to beleive as in UK recently, high-speed train lines opened from London St Pancras to Europe that travel at 186 mph, taking less total journey time than by plan.

  10. Maso lim avatar
    Maso lim

    We plan to ride in Ktx. how much is the fee from busan to incheon airport. Thanks

  11. Iddej avatar

    Is it safe to pre book online on ktx website via credit card? I’m afraid for my cards safety.I would like to book ahead but then not sure of the sites security features for credit cards.. Thank you.

    1. I’m sure it’s safe to do so if you use the official KTX website. I’d be wary of any third parties though.

  12. Meyti avatar

    Hi David, I paln to take a KTX from Busan to Seoul on 15/April/2012 Sunday. Could you pls tell me the name of station at Busan sld I go and the name of the station sld I get off at Seoul? Please note I will stay at Fraser Palace Central at Seoul and Banikea Hotel at Busan. How many hours before departure sld I be at the station and I need to buy a ticket too. Thanks for your information.

    1. Hi Meyti – you should depart/arrive from the main stations in Seoul and Busan. You can find more information about booking here:


      I would suggest you book in advance if you can.

  13. nensa avatar

    Hi David, i plan to take KTX from seoul to busan next week. Considering that i will bring luggage, I want to ask you is it too much trouble traveling with luggage on KTX ? because i saw your picture, the alley between seats is so narrow (i think more narrow than shinkansen). Is it enough space to walk on the alley with luggage? or probably they provide some spaces for luggages.
    Thank you for your information.

    1. Hi Nensa – yes there is plenty of space to store your luggage on racks at the end of each carriage. You should have no trouble 🙂

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  15. AREX avatar

    Hi there, good writing about traveling to Korea. Here is more tips for transportation in Korea. If you are planing to travel to out of cities like Busan, Singyeongju, Jeonju, you can purchase a ‘Korail pass’. ‘Korail pass’ is a pass for taking a KTX line what you want. Buying seperate KTX ticket will be pretty expensive, but with pass, you can save your travel money. There are normal, saver(between 2 and 5 people), and youth(ages 13 and 25). Also there are 1day, 3days, 5days and 7days pass so you can choose between those type of passes you need. If you want to get more information about ‘Korail pass’, please visit this homepage, ‘http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfKrPassAbout.do’ or ‘travel center’ in ICN(located in B1). Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the tips, very useful!

  16. How early do you suggest arriving at the station? I’ll have a ticket with assigned seat, but not sure if this is like hopping on any commuter train in the US, or if there are security procedures or other queues to clear prior to boarding.


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