How to get from Seoul in South Korea to Fukuoka (Hakata) in Japan.
All ferry routes to Japan leave from Busan, South Korea which can easily be reached by train and bus from Seoul.
Getting to Busan
Train: The KTX train from Seoul Station to Busan Station takes 1hr 40m. For up to date departures and fares, visit the Korail website.
Bus: Buses from Incheon International Airport take 5 hours to reach Busan and cost 46,000 won (if arriving by boat, you can take the bus from Incheon Exchange Terminus and it takes 4.5 hours).
You will arrive at Busan Central Bus Terminus, which contrary to its name, is a long way from the centre. Take metro line 1 from Nopo (first stop on the orange line) 21 stops to Choryang. Take exit 4 and go under the underpass and you will see the port terminal building in front of you.
While in Busan, a trip to Gamcheon Culture village is well worth a quick detour. See the incredible brightly painted houses set into the hillside, known as Machu Pichu of the East!
Getting to Busan Ferry Port
The ferry port in Busan is located across from the main KTX rail station. Nearest metro stations are Choryang or Busan Station.
Customs and Border
Customs and border checks are carried out at the port and no different to flying (though with much smaller queues).
JR Beetle Hydrofoil
The crossing takes just over 3 hours and costs around 13,000 yen (around $130US) HOWEVER, if you book in advance online through Direct Ferries you can make a huge saving of up to 40% (I ended up paying full price on the way out, and realizing my mistake and booking online for the return journey).
You can get a quote from Direct Ferries.
The boat is a small contained vessel with airline style seating (you can’t get up and stroll around while you are moving, though you can pop to the toilet if you need) and it travels 2 metres above the water. Free wifi is provided on board and a drink and snack service is also available.
While on board fill out the Japanese immigration cards and customs declarations handed out by staff ready for Japanese immigration at Fukuoka port.
Fukuoka (Hakata), Japan
Although an unremarkable concrete jungle, Fukuoaka is a good jumping off point to discovering Japan’s Kyushu (southernmost large island) with connections to Kagoshima and Yakushima in the South. There are also connections to Osaka, Hiroshima and Tokyo on Honshu.
As the bullet trains are very expensive (buy a Japan Rail Pass if you will be in Japan for more than 5 days and plan to travel between cities), there are numerous bus services also operating.
Looking for things to do in Japan? Why not visit the wild and beautiful island of Yakushima, a nature lovers paradise! If you plan on visiting Yakushima you will want to read about the Kagoshima to Yakushima Ferry, or take a look at this great list of 12 Cities to visit in Japan!