Note: all ferries were suspended due to the pandemic, the info on this page describes how it was pre-covid. Services are slowly being re-introduced but the frequency is still much lower
The JR Beetle is a hydrofoil service between Busan, Korea, and Fukuoka, Japan (and also Japan’s Tsushima Island), operated by the JR Kyushu company. For foot passengers, this is by far the fastest, most comfortable, and most convenient way to travel between Busan and Fukuoka (for the various car ferry routes between Japan and Korea, see here).
These boats are fast, and it can be a bit of a roller coaster when the sea’s rough; the cabin crew are pretty strict about making sure you keep your seat belts fastened. If you get seasick easily, you might want to take the Camellia Line car ferry instead.
The cabin crew on the boats (and the checkin staff at the terminals) are a mix of Korean and Japanese, all bilingual or at least competent in the other language, and most also speak some English (ranging from basic to excellent). You can buy food & drink on board if need be, though the food is limited to sandwiches & snacks (payable in yen or won), and they play a movie as you cross (sometimes English, but sometimes Japanese with Korean subtitles or vice versa). It’s a pleasant journey, and watch out for views of Tsushima to the west as you pass (some boats call in at Tsushima, adding 30 minutes to the journey but giving you a close-up look at the island)
It’s possible to make it all the way through from Seoul to Osaka (or even Tokyo) in one day using bullet trains and the Beetle; it’s a bit of a long slog to be honest, and in terms of time and cost this isn’t remotely competitive with flying (unless you’re already using (or planning to) a JR Pass, and make this the last (or first) day of usage), but if you want to avoid flying it can be done. See below for details.
(I take the Beetle several times per year, so all info here is kept up to date as of my most recent trip. Do keep in mind that port taxes etc may have changed slightly since my last run)
JR Beetle Schedule
The JR Beetle does 2 or 3 runs per day in each direction; there’s always a morning departure (usually at 8:30), plus one or two lunchtime/afternoon departures. The usual crossing time is 3 hours 5 minutes, though I’ve experienced boats getting across significantly faster or slower with favourable or unfavourable conditions.
After a couple of years of only having Japanese and Korean versions of their site, JR Beetle finally has a functioning English website again which you can see here. Also here’s the link to book on Direct Ferries; it’s sometimes cheaper on the Beetle site and sometimes cheaper on Direct Ferries, so read on…
Tickets and Reservations
The regular one-way fare at the ticket counter is 140000 won from Busan, 14000 yen from Fukuoka; buying a round-trip this way doesn’t actually save any money as you just pay the one-way fare twice, but you can get really good round-trip deals by booking online.
I’ve now taken the Beetle more than a dozen times, and there have always been plenty of seats available except when I travelled during Japan’s Golden Week holiday; holiday periods aside, you should usually have no trouble just rocking up and purchasing a ticket at the counter on the day. Of course this can never be 100% guaranteed, so you may prefer to book ahead anyway, and should definitely do so if travelling during holidays.
It’s better to book ahead anyway to get the discount online fares – you can get the one-way journey for as little as 5,900 yen on the official site, though only on some dates. At other times the cheapest fare is usually 8,900 yen, in which case it’s cheaper to book with Direct Ferries who usually have it for 65 USD (about 7,000 yen).
Here’s a direct link to the Direct Ferries page – if you use this link to book, 4corners7seas gets commission from Direct Ferries (at no extra cost to you) and if they have the cheapest fare for your dates it’s a win-win. Thanks in advance should you choose to support my site using this link.
So, to find the cheapest fare check the Beetle website first, and if they have good discounts book it there; otherwise, Direct Ferries will probably be cheaper.
Busan Port Access and Information
The shiny new Busan International Passenger Terminal is located a short walk (10 minutes or so) from Busan Station, the southern terminus of the KTX (bullet train) line from Seoul. It’s on the east side of the station; leaving the station by exit 9, go down the stairs/elevator, turn left (north) on the main road and take the next right (cross over at the pedestrian crossing) and then go straight along that side road in front of you and follow it round to the terminal:
If it’s raining, just jump in a taxi and show him 부산국제여객터미널 or ask for “Busan Gugje Yeogaeg Teomineol”.
There are also shuttle buses between the terminal and the station:
If you’re coming from the Busan subway system, it’s actually closer to get off at Choryang Station rather than Busan Station. Coming out of exit 6 follow the signs to turn left and then through the tunnel under the railway tracks, then cross the main road and the terminal’s straight ahead:
The ferry terminal has good food and drink options available, as does Busan Station, so you can easily make a pit stop as you pass through. Checkin opens one hour before departure and closes 30 minutes before; you have to go through immigration so (if coming from Seoul) to avoid any stress I’d suggest timing your KTX to arrive at Busan Station around 90 minutes before departure, which leaves plenty of time to stroll over, perhaps grab a bite on the go, check in, and clear immigration; if you want to sit and eat some lunch, obviously allow longer accordingly.
Port tax from Busan is 4,300 won (approx $4 US) payable at checkin only, so make sure you keep enough won on hand, and there’s an oil surcharge of 12,000 won ($12 US) which is tacked on to the ticket fare if you buy directly at the terminal, but if you book online the surcharge may or may not be included – if not you’ll have to pay this at checkin too. Also be aware that when you arrive at Hakata you may have cash issues (the terminal has no international ATM and is a bus ride from the downtown area), so it’s best to get hold of some Japanese yen before leaving Busan (there are money changers in the ferry terminal). Alternatively if you have at least a few thousand won to change to yen on arrival it’ll cover the bus fare to get downtown (see Hakata Port, below). The fuel surcharge changes frequently, between 5,000 won and 14,000 won in my experience; the rate given here is correct as of early 2020. If you keep 20,000 won per person that should cover the departure tax & any potential fuel surcharge in Busan.
Hakata Port Access and Information
Access to Hakata Port from Fukuoka is well explained here; I’ve done both bus and taxi, the bus is straightforward enough but taxis are obviously easiest. The passenger terminal is a 20-minute or so bus ride from either Tenjin (central Fukuoka) or Hakata Station; the bus costs 230 yen, and you can take bus number 88 from Hakata Station (bus stand F, over the main road outside the west exit) or bus number 80 from the Tenjin area (bus stop 2A, located in front of the Solaria Stage department store on the west side of the main north/south road (Watanabe Dori, 渡辺通り) outside Tenjin station). Allow plenty of time if you need to locate these as you go, as it’s a pretty busy area and may take some working out / help from a friendly local. If you’re pressed for time, taxis are plentiful and should get you there in 10 minutes or so for around 1,500 yen – just show or tell the driver 博多港国際ターミナル “Hakata-ko Kokusai Taaminaru”. If you fancy it you can also walk it from Hakata Station in about 40 minutes, or from the nearest metro station (Gofukumachi) in about 20 minutes (just use Google Maps for the route).
The food and drink options at the terminal aren’t so great, so it’s advisable to get that sorted before taking the bus (or just make do with the snacks and drink available on the ferry, which are basic but reasonable).
Departure tax from Hakata is 500 yen (approx $5 US) payable in cash only from vending machines next to the checkin desk, and the oil surcharge is 1200 yen ($12 US) which may or may not be included when you book online – if not you’ll also have to pay this by cash or card at the terminal so make sure to keep enough cash in hand, especially given that the nearest international ATM is at the 7-Eleven store some 15 minutes away on foot. When arriving at Hakata, this can make things a little tricky – you’ll need 230 yen for the bus, but unless you have a Japanese account there’s no ATM you can use. Best solution is to get hold of some Japanese yen before boarding in Busan, or at least hang on to a few thousand Korean won which you can change at the money changer in the Hakata terminal (though if you arrive in the evening the money changer will already be closed); otherwise, you’ll have to walk to 7-Eleven, or take a taxi and have him stop at 7-Eleven on the way. If you have won to change there’s a money changer at Hakata Station (in the main concourse, terrible rates) once you manage to get there!
The bus numbers when going from the terminal to Hakata Station or Tenjin are different than when going the other way, for some reason; for Hakata Station you can take numbers 11, 19, and 50; for Tenjin you can take numbers 55, 151, 152, and 80. Of course, things can change so double check on the website and/or at the information counter.
Also, when arriving at Hakata Port be prepared for the likelihood of a tedious bag search and questioning session; they’ve searched me almost every single time, very thoroughly on a couple of occasions including swabs for ‘drug check’ (though they don’t actually appear to run those swabs through any machine, so I’m not convinced they’re genuine).
The fuel surcharge changes frequently; rate given above is correct as of late 2018.
Overland from Seoul to Osaka / Tokyo in one day via JR Beetle
Using the JR Beetle it’s possible to travel overland between Seoul and Osaka (or even Tokyo) in one day. I’ve done this between Seoul & Osaka several times; for the KTX from Seoul to Busan, JR Beetle to Fukuoka, and then Shinkansen to Osaka (or vice versa), the total time is 10 to 12 hours (depending on how you transfer to / from Hakata Port, and how long you allow for checkin & waiting times).
Checkin opens one hour before departure and closes for boarding 30 minutes before, at which point you go through immigration. Try timing your KTX to arrive at Busan Station around 90 minutes before departure (or an hour if you know exactly where you’re going – but not any less), which gives you time to stroll over, perhaps grab a bite on the go, check in, and clear immigration; if you want to sit and eat some lunch, obviously allow longer accordingly (if needed, the food and drink available on board the Beetle is sold at reasonable prices, payable in both Japanese yen and Korean won).
The journey works like this:
KTX: Seoul – Busan 2h30
Transfer: Busan Station – Busan Port (& checkin etc) approx. 1h30
JR Beetle: Busan – Hakata Port 3h05
Transfer: Hakata Port – Hakata Station 1h30 to 2h*
Shinkansen: Hakata – Shin Osaka 2h30
* I have done it in an hour, but that’s with everything being perfect – I was first off the boat, first through immigration, only got a quick bag search, had all my cash sorted in advance, already knew exactly where I was going, and jumped on a bus just as it was about to leave. Obviously don’t bank on the planets aligning perfectly like that! (if you take a taxi, planning on an hour or so is reasonable)
On one recent run I recorded my times:
12:10 depart Suseo Station (in Seoul) by SRT bullet train
14:50 arrive Busan
15:50 Beetle departure
18:55 arrive Hakata Port. Taxi to Hakata Station, arrived 19:45ish
20:01 depart Hakata by shinkansen
22:28 arrive Shin Osaka
The 15:50 Beetle is fine for reaching Osaka, and also for Kyoto if Kyoto Station is your destination. However if you also need to transfer to another line in Kyoto it makes it tight, as the 20:01 Nozomi train and 20:08 Sakura train are the last ones that make it in time (the latter also requiring a change at Shin-Osaka from shinkansen to a regular JR rapid train). In other words a midday Beetle is advisable if you need to make a transfer in Kyoto! (or you can risk it and be prepared to take a taxi)… also remember that if you’re going to be using a JR Pass, you’ll need extra time at Hakata Station’s ticket office, so even the 20:08 Sakura is very tight, and you can’t take the Nozomi anyway, so if you want to catch a direct Sakura or Hikari from Hakata to Kyoto you need to be on the morning or midday Beetle.
In the opposite direction, you need to allow longer for the transfer & checkin in Hakata; time your shinkansen to arrive at least 2 hours before your sailing time (90 minutes is fine if you take a taxi to the port), but then the transfer time in Busan should be really short (i.e. once you clear Busan immigration, which has always been a breeze in my experience, it’s just a 10-minute walk).
You could of course carry on right through to (or from) Tokyo this way; that would definitely make for a very long day, but the transportation is all comfortable and the day should be hassle free (other than the Hakata transfer) and it can certainly be done. Sailing out of Busan you definitely need to be on the morning or midday Beetle if you want to reach Tokyo the same day.
Of course, the Beetle is also a nice fast way just to go from Busan to Fukuoka – both cities are well worth visiting in their own right and staying for a few days. See my quick guide to Fukuoka
Have you used the Beetle recently? Any changes or updates future overlanders should be aware of? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
A million thanks for the step-by-step guide to booking the ferry! I’d been struggling for days.
Hi Anna, thanks for the comment and you’re very welcome – glad to hear it was useful, and I hope you enjoy the trip!
Jamie R Jackson
so detailed and informative – taking a trip from Daegu SK to Fukuoka/Kumamoto – this was was really helpful…thanks!
Hey Jamie, thanks for reading & commenting, good to hear it’s useful!
Hope you have a great trip – if you have time I highly recommend Mt Aso (near Kumamoto)
It is really really a great step by step direction for a first time travelers. You have done it wonderfully giving A-Z. thank you
Appreciate a lot
Cheers Dhammika, you have a great trip!
Thank you for this post!!
I need to buy the ferry from Hakata to Busan for April 8th.
I have seen it in http://www.aferry.uk but I understand that ther is more expensive than the official website of Beetle. But it is in japanese…
Although your perfect step by step, I am a little afraid to do something wrong! jaja
Is the “representative contact number” obligatory?
How many digits must be in each space?
Yes, the representative contact number is required. You can enter 4 digits in each box – obviously the number of digits might not be 12, but it’s ok to enter a shorter number.
Be very careful to enter the correct departure port – I once accidentally booked a ticket from Japan to Korea when I was already in Korea! Big waste of money.
I hope you manage to make your reservation – let me know if you have any further questions.
In the confirm page it appears as I have choose “green seat” for me, but I haven´t! And I don´t knok where to change it. Do you know?
Here is a link on the screenshot. https://prnt.sc/ipwhb2
I don’t think you’ve selected green seat, actually I think here you can select normal seat (普通席) or green seat (グリーン席) so just click where it says 5 under 普通席
Ready! I have changed the seat!
I think I could booked! Some screens are different to your post. I didn´t find where to put my e-mail, so I don´t know how I did to get my e-ticket but I did!
I hope it will be all ok!!!
Great, glad you could do it! Sorry if it was a bit different – they may’ve changed it, or it may be a little different depending on your device. Please let me know how your journey goes! (and remember to keep enough cash for the taxes when you’re leaving Hakata Port)
Really I don´t understand how I have made the reservation. At the final screen it causes “error”, bot I could get an PDF and I think it is the e-ticket. The charge appears in my credit card.
But now I try to search the reservation in Beetle website and I don´t know if it is possible. I can´t find it. And I realise that I have not made an user member before the booking.
Do you know if it is possible to access to the reservation?
And what about if later I need to cancel it and to ask the 50% refund? How is the method? I can´t find an e-mail to contact…
Thanks and regards from Argentina!
Hmmm, sorry I’m not sure… if you have the e-ticket & your card was charged, then it seems to be ok… but if you want to check it (or cancel it), I’d advise calling them. Are you in Japan now? If so, you can go to the JR View Plaza Travel Centres at the major JR stations (e.g. Shinjuku Station, Tokyo Station, Ikebukuro Station) and they can call for you. If you’re still in Argentina, I’d advise calling the Korean number and asking for an English-speaker (in my experience the staff in Korea generally have a higher English level than the staff in Japan)
Thanks for the in depth detail regarding taking the beetle. It seems that they’ve changed the stop from 2b to 2a now. As I type this I am literally in the 80 going to the port.
Cheers Johnny – it’s always been 2A!
Hope you had a good trip over, enjoy Korea!
Hi, I’ve just been reading your step by step guide and comments. To be sure, can I just check that when booking you are saying that I input the port that I will be in when joining the ship rather than the port I am heading to?
Is it much more expensive to use the English based sites? Would you based on feedback, if I carefully follow your steps this is the best way forward?
So glad I found your site!
Yes that’s correct, you input the port where you’re boarding. So if you’re in Korea and heading to Japan, select 釜山発. If you’re in Japan and heading to Korea, select 福岡発.
I’m not sure which English sites you mean, but if you’ve found one where you can book this ferry I’m pretty sure there’ll be a markup. But yeah if you follow the steps on this page, you should be able to do it. I’m online right now and for most of this evening (now 18:32 here in Seoul) so if you want to give it a go now I’ll be able to answer your questions if you get stuck – if you’re on Twitter add me on there for fastest response (Twitter link at bottom of page & in the sidebar)
Thank you for the quick reply. As we wouldn’t be travelling until mid October, it’s a bit too soon to book yet (thanks anyway). Did you say that the 8.30am from Japan is year round? Still figuring out whether to take hydrofoil or fly.
Yeah the schedule varies by season but there’s always at minimum the morning departure, almost always at 8.30am (though on odd days here & there can be slightly earlier e.g. 7.40)
Hey there and thank you for the detailed description.
Are you sure the ferry is included in the JR Pass? On their website they say
“Only the JR-WEST Miyajima ferry is covered.
*Hydrofoil ferry service operated by JR-KYUSHU between Hakata and Pusan (Korea) is not covered”
No, unfortunately the JR Pass doesn’t cover the Beetle. Wish it did!
Your instructions were so helpful! Thank you, Simon!
Awesome, glad to hear it, cheers!
Firstly thanks for this great detail about the JR Beetle service.
I don’t think I could have figured it out without you.
As you seem to use the service regularly, could you tell me how reliable it is? That is, how frequently does a crossing be cancelled or significantly delayed due to weather or operational problems?
I’m considering taking a short holiday in Fukuoka during a long business trip to Korea in October/November but my schedule will be tight and especially on the return leg back to Busan it will be a disaster for me if the crossing is cancelled.
I know you have no crystal ball but I was just wondering how frequently you have see the service disrupted.
There is pf course the option to fly with Jeju but I think the Beetle sounds like more fun…..
Yeah I’ve done it over a dozen times and I’ve never experienced a cancelled crossing or a delayed departure, there’s just been a couple of times when it took longer than usual due to heavy conditions one time and engine trouble another time.
So I’d say it’s a reliable service for sure – main thing given your travel dates is to keep your eye on typhoons as that’s the main typhoon season. If a typhoon hits they definitely cancel, but there’s a good few days’ warning while a typhoon approaches so if one’s coming in at just the wrong time you can alter your plans.
If you have some flexibility with your dates, plan it for November rather than October as October gets most of the typhoons.
Let me know if you have any further questions,
Thanks for that Simon. That’s reassuring.
Also thanks for the update about the DirectFerries webpage – I’ll definitely use that when I am booking.
It’s likely going to be the end of October for me. I might return the boring way and take a flight back to Seoul from Fukuoka as I need to get there next. But, definetly looking forward to the Beele on the outbound leg.
NZEYIMANA Jean Pierre
Simon. i really thank you mercy to your information here i feel safe to leave on Sunday for the First Global Symposium on Urban and Territorial Planning by UN-Habitat. I you have an account send me it on my e-mail, i wanna really support your good will to inform people around the world. I think you are using your own money even in getting Internet.
Hi Jean Pierre,
Thanks for your kind words, glad you’ve found my site useful. If you’d really like to support it, you can donate via the ‘Buy me a coffee’ button on this page. Very much appreciated!
How did your trip on the JR Beetle go?
Thanks for sharing your experience with us! I’m planning my next vacations to Japan/South Korea on december this year, and I really found your help very useful 🙂
Just for your information (and other people’s in this thread as well), I just noticed the JRBeetle web page has changed, and for good. The main page is still only in japanese and korean, but now under “Languages” there is an option for “English” which redirects to an external link to book your tickets, in English.
I haven’t booked them yet for I want to take the Beetle, not the Camelia Line, and the JR Beetle timetable only gets as far as September. I’ll have to wait until november to book my tickets and see how it all goes.
I hope you all find this helpful!
Glad you found it useful. Thanks for commenting with the heads up – yeah they just changed it a few days ago, I’ll be redoing this page as soon as I have time!
December’s a good time to visit – you can still catch the autumn colours in Tokyo & Kyoto in early December, and you can also get some skiing in if you’re into that.
Where did the instructions (Japanese to English) to do this yourself go? The last time we spoke, my understanding was that you thought agents (inc. direct ferries) would charge a premium that you thought could easily be avoided?
Hi again Darren,
They suddenly changed their website last week so I had to delete the instructions. I was going to redo them for the new version, but to my surprise it’s actually cheaper now to use Direct ferries – not sure how they do it but they have it for only 60 dollars, so it’s definitely the best way as things stand, in terms of both price and ease. I actually just came back to Korea yesterday on the Beetle (I’m writing this in Busan), I booked it a few weeks ago on the Beetle site for 90 bucks so I’m kicking myself for the 30 bucks wasted!
1. What do Best, Good, Prime and Regular reservations mean?
2. When I place a search on a particular day in 2019, it does not necessarily give all the available schedules and sometime it only gives me only one ship schedule? Are the others sold out already? How do I find out if 2 other schedules of the day (from JR Ferry) is available
1. Best, good, prime & regular are the ticket prices. There’s no difference between them in the actual service you’re buying, it’s just the price it’s available at. Usually you only get ‘best’ or ‘good’ when purchasing a return ticket, then there’s a certain number of ‘prime’ seats per sailing (I don’t know how many), and after that it’s ‘regular’ i.e. full price. Remember to check Direct Ferries too to see who has the best price.
2. If it shows the boat time & number but no seat prices, that means it’s sold out. If it only shows one boat time & number, then there’s only one sailing on that day – there’s usually at least two, but Jan/Feb is their low season so if you’re searching then it may be that there are some days with only one (though I’ve just had a quick look and am seeing two for every random date I select)
Hope this helps and fire away with any further questions.
Hi Simon! Thx for a great post. I just have one question, Im taking the ferry in February and tried booking a ticket a couple of days ago via DirectFerries, but they keep changing the price! I get e-mails saying “our estimation was wrong, here’s the new (more expensive) price.
Just wondering if this is normal?
Hmm, sorry I’m really not sure to be honest – I’ve never had that happen, perhaps because I’ve never booked that far in advance.
Are they changing it based on exchange rate fluctuations? That would seem fair enough I guess. Have you already been charged?
Hi again! Thx for your answer.
I don’t think it’s because rate fluctuations, every price change is to big for that, 15 dollars/e-mail. They say they need to “check the price with the operator” and then change it. When I asked “When do you know the final price” they couldn’t answer. Im not charged but the amount is on authorization hold.
Maybe it’s because Im booking so far in advance, but as I’ve understood it I need an outbound ticket from Japan when entering the country (Im going there in a month).
Ok yeah that’s definitely too much to be exchange rates. As I said I’ve never come across this, I can only guess that it’s the 3-month advance time.
Regarding onward tickets, I’ve entered Japan maybe a dozen times, never with an onward ticket booked – and it never came up, until my most recent trip a couple of weeks ago. When leaving Busan (on the Beetle) I had to sign a form accepting all resulting charges in the event the immigration officer in Hakata wouldn’t let me in. But they did let me in, with the usual 90-day stamp.
How much did you get it for when you made the initial reservation?
Hi, Im traveling to Korea from Japan in a month and im wondering about baggage size? I understand that there is a 20kg weight limitation but my suitcase is quite large (80cm)and i am worried they wont allow it on board. Have you dealt with this before?
Don’t worry you’ll be fine, I’ve taken large baggage on the Beetle and people do it every day. They actually have luggage storage areas specifically for large items, and the staff will direct you where to put it. No problem at all
Super excellent information and great details. Much appreciation!
Cheers Andy, always good to hear! Hope you have a great trip
I’m so glad to find your website! We’re planning to take the ferry from Hakata to Busan. How far is the port to the airport, we’re flying to Jeju from Busan this May. Thanks!
Busan’s airport is actually called Gimhae International; Gimahe is the neighbouring city, but the airport is on the Busan Metro system. To get there from the port you need to walk 15 minutes (or take a 5-minute taxi) to Busan Station or Choryang Station, then the subway from there. Orange line > green line > purple line, changing at Seomyeon and Sasang, journey time is 40 minutes. So say about an hour in total or slightly over.
Thanks for your reply Simon!
Hi, do the ferries run all year round? We are travelling in early January.
Hi Albina, yes they do. In winter there’s sometimes only 1 sailing per day in each direction as it’s low season, but yes they run every day
Thanks a lot for this very helpful guide.
With your assistance we just booked two tickets Busan-Hakata on the official site. Direct Ferries was about 50% more expensive.
Cheers Mikael, yeah if your dates are good you can get big discounts on the official site. Glad it worked out well for you & hope you have a great trip!
This is very helpful! Thank you.
I am struggling to find comprehensive information about baggage. I expect to have on me 1x 23kg suitcase, a day backpack and a shoulder bag. The included limit is 20kg total. Do you know where I can find out how much it costs for the extra weight?
https://www.jrbeetle.co.jp/internet/procedure/baggage/ this link says something about 1000 yen but unsure whether this is per bag or per kg.
Thanks for making such practical content!
Hi Francesca, the 1000 yen is the charge for a 3rd bag. I’m not sure what they do about a single bag being 3kg over, but I’ve never actually seen them checking bag weights – the check in counters don’t even have scales with which to do so. I’d guess it should be ok, and if your shoulder bag is small you might not be charged the 1000 yen either, just have the money ready but see what happens.
I just wanted to say thanks for your help regarding the prime-normal, etc. fares You are actually the only source who mentions and explains this difference. Usually, someone would think that 5,900 yen as opposed to 8,600 is only for students or people over 65 (that is if you decide to book this ticket from the Japanese website) but it turns out it is not!
I should also mention that buying this ticket directly from the ticket office would cost around 14,000 yen. Hence, online booking is the only way forward.
Glad it was useful. Hope you have a great trip!
Sorry to ask another question, I just struggle with their website and you have been so helpful before 🙂
I’m looking to book a one-way JR Beetle crossing for early April 2020. I have occasionally checked the booking sites to see when the dates become available. Booking has been available for up until March 31st since July but nothing has been available for April, not even now for both the Beetle and the slower ferry. Direct Ferries were unsure when the dates will become available when I emailed them and I can’t find an email address for JR Beetle anywhere. Do you know when these dates may become available?
I am just a bit apprehensive as I noticed the Korean company also operating a hydrofoil service no longer does Fukuoka-Busan.
Thank you again for this really helpful post!
Hi again Francesce, no worries! I think what you’re probably seeing there is the schedule only going up to the end of the current financial year. The fiscal year starts from April 1st in Japan, and Japanese transportation companies usually set their schedules for the year and make any planned changes from April 1st. So it’s probably just that they haven’t decided yet what the schedule will be – once they know, the tickets will become available for booking. It’s still 6 months away so you don’t need to worry about this, just check back each month until you can do it – I don’t think I’ve ever reserved more than about 90 days in advance, and usually much less than that.
Thank you for this great information. I am wondering – can JR Rail passes be used to board the JR Beetle?
Oh how I wish they could! That would have saved me many ferry tickets, but sadly the Beetle isn’t covered by the JR pass.
Very helpful. Thanks
Thanks for the info. I need to go to a conference in Daegu (about 80km from Pusan) and would much rather do this. I would start in Tokyo, JR Pass, Shinkansen, but don’t really expect to make it in one day.
Hi Midori, you can make it to Daegu in one day, as long as you catch an early enough shinkansen to reach Fukuoka in time for the Beetle. If you catch the 3pm Beetle and reach Busan at 6, you can make it to Daegu for probably 8ish. But you’d be looking at probably a 13-hour journey from Tokyo/Shinagawa to Daegu! If you want to break the journey, Fukuoka and Busan are both good cities to stop over. I personally prefer Busan, but Fukuoka is probably easier to check out & get a feel for if you only have 1 night.
Thanks so much for your helpful information provided.
I am planning my next trip to South Korea in autumn (hopefully possible) and also want to visit Busan. Is it possible or rather say recommendable to make a one-day-trip from Busan to Fukuoka? Or would the schedule be too tight? I have not so much time and would rather like to avoid an overnight stay in Japan.
I definitely wouldn’t do that using the ferry in both directions, you’d spend 6+ hours travelling and only get a few hours in Fukuoka.
But if you take the ferry in the morning and then fly back on the last flight in the evening, that wouldn’t be so bad. There are no flights at the moment but I think in normal times the last flight is around 8pm. So you could arrive in Fukuoka on the ferry by late morning and then have free time until around 6pm before heading to the airport to check in (the airport’s really convenient, just a quick subway ride from central Fukuoka)
Thank you so much for this great explanation! Have you been using this since they started service again since Corona? Due to the aftermath we have to make reservations by phone and it appears there is just one trip a day, which takes over 7.30 hours.. As an expert, can you enlighten us? We were hoping to make reservations for the 21th of January, but we’ve been stuck for quite some while now. Kind regards, Patty
Sorry for the slow response, since covid came along I haven’t been actively blogging so I didn’t see your comment in time.
For anyone researching, at time of writing this reply JR Beetle is running one service per day in each direction, all on their swanky new ship the Queen Beetle. She’s sailing from Fukuoka to Busan at 9am and returning from Busan to Fukuoka at 3pm, taking 3h40 in each direction.
Direct Ferries does not seem to work any longer to book between Japan and Korea.
Also, there appears to be only one ferry daily between the two countries.
Hi Shawn, yes just one per day in each direction at the moment