I'm visiting Korea from 15th till 23rd of October. I want to go to Seoul, Busan and Jeonju.

Do I have to buy train tickets in advance for the fast trains (KTX, ITX) or can I buy it just before departure? I probably travel during the week from Monday to Friday.

  • I believe you might find that 8 days is too short for 3 cities...
    – Blaszard
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 5:16
  • @Blaszard Yes I know 8 days is too short. Maybe we go just to Seoul and Busan. I travel with a chinese friend. They somtimes do 9 cities in 8 days :)
    – Patrick
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 9:39

3 Answers 3


I'm a South Korean, so I guess I can give you the appropriate answer

The ITX is neither a fast train, nor a train that runs between Seoul and Busan. You just need to consider buying KTX ticket.

Unless you plan to take a train between Friday evening and Sunday evening, buying a ticket after you arrive at Korea won't be a problem.
But I recommend you to buy the tickets one day before the train's departure. There is a mobile application called Korail Talk from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store which makes it easier for you to buy a ticket on your mobile phone.
If the tickets are all gone, you can go the train station and buy a standing seat, which is cheaper, but only available at the station.


Do tickets for these Korean trains have to be booked in advance?

Apparently not, according to The Man in Seat 61:

You can buy tickets at the station, but trains are busy on Fridays and Sunday evenings, so buying in advance is a good idea. Trains are also busy around the two main 3-day national holidays, the lunar new year and Chuseok (meaning harvest, the 15th day of the 8th lunar month) as people travel home at these times.


I've been to Korea with some friends two years ago and we could simply buy the tickets at the station. Most stations will understand English, and the ones you are going to should. Smaller/less touristic ones like the station in Mokpo will have some issues with English but nothing too big to not be able to buy tickets.

Be aware that:

  • Normally you will get backwards facing seats
  • Forward facing seats will cost (slightly) more
  • Family seats (2 sets of 2 seats facing each other will also cost (slightly) more

Also, if you are going from Seoul directly to Busan or from Busan directly to Seoul do try to get the "direct" KTX. That will take about 1 hour of your travel time compared to one that stops at more stations.

Lastly, when you are leaving Seoul please do make sure that you have at least enough cash with you to get a return ticket and maybe some food. We made the mistake of not doing that to a couple of the smaller cities where the KTX stopped and had to walk back to the station get to an international ATM.

  • Concerning the language issue: most stations have ticket-vending machines that have an interface in Korean and English.
    – Taladris
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 4:04
  • 1
    As to the food, if you have a credit card you would never encounter any problems in South Korea.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 5:19
  • We only really used our credit cards for the hotels, but yeah, that would probably have worked better than walking about 1.5 hours :')
    – Xudonax
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 12:01

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