If you are looking at travel options between Japan and Korea forget booking a flight – the best way to go is via the Beetle ferry.
Travelling between the ports of Hakata (Fukuoka) in Japan and Busan in South Korea there are 4-5 crossings a day which take 2hours 55minutes.
Because we were travelling in the south of Japan and wanting to make our route up through Korea from Busan to Seoul taking a voyage across the sea was the most convenient plan.
We booked our seat reservations online at the Beetle official website and paid JPY13,000 each (£108 or US$169). You may think that this seems expensive but for the level of comfort and convenience it really is cost-effective and so much better than taking a flight.
To check in at Hakata Port International Terminal you need to head to the JR Kyushu Beetle counter located on the ground floor. Make sure you arrive at least 45 minutes before departure.
Although we paid for seats in advance once you get to check in there are two extra payments…
- Fuel surcharge: JPY1,500 (£12.50 or US$19.50)
- Terminal tax: JPY500 (£4.20 or US$6.50)
…so make sure you have the correct change!
Once you pay the charges and collect and fill in the immigration forms you are sent to the first floor to wait in the departure room. You do have to go through security and passport control but the difference from air travel is that this takes about five minutes.
Boarding was early and we set off exactly on time. We found our seats on the top level of the boat and I was really impressed by the size of the seat and also the space and comfort level. We had space to relax and also to place our backpacks on the floor in front of us. It was so good that I actually slept most of the journey.
Stepping off the ferry at the port of Busan less than three hours later I was not sure if the arrival procedure was going as smooth as departures, but it was as quick and we were through again within five minutes.
We were staying at the Haeundae Beach area and needed to get to the Busan Station to take the metro. From Busan Port you can get a shuttle bus to Busan Station which costs KRW900 (£0.50 or US$0.70).
I recommend the Beetle ferry to anyone wanting to travel between Japan and Korea – it may be quite expensive but the comfort levels and immigration procedures in both countries make it a fantastic option.
Day we took the Beetle ferry: August 26, 2011
Beetle ferry crossing information: We boarded the 2.30pm ferry from Hakata and arrived in Busan at 5.25pm
Where to make Beetle ferry ticket bookings: jrbeetle.co.jp
Cost: Adult one-way ticket JPY13,000 (£108 or US$169)
Port of Hakata information: port-of-hakata.city.fukuoka.lg.jp
Fukuoka/Hakata tourist information: yokanavi.com/eg
Busan tourist information: english.busan.go.kr