If you want to go from Japan to Korea (or vice versa) there are plenty of options when it comes to ferries. We did some research on what was the cheapest option, and at the time of booking (December 2017 for a departure mid February 2018) we found that one option was significantly cheaper than the rest.
This was the ferry from Hakata/Fukuoka in Japan to Busan in South Korea. There are different operators, but we found that the cheapest option was Camellia Line with their 5.5 hour ferry.
We got tickets for 2,500 yen each.
We did that by booking through Camellia Line’s online booking module. Here we simply searched for the date, chose the cheapest option (non-refundable), and placed a booking. When you do this you have to be very careful that the date is correct. The page is a little difficult to navigate, and if you have their page open in more windows/tabs we encountered that the date is changed in all windows.
Boarding the ferry
We found more information about how it all works (facilities, boarding etc.) here, and below we give our first hand observations 🙂
The ferry runs every day at 12.30 and arrives in Korea 18.00. Boarding is straight forward: You line up to get your boarding card and pay fuel tax (500 yen each). Afterwards you buy a “terminal use ticket” from a vending machine (500 yen each), and go upstairs for security check. On your way to security check they collect your “terminal use ticket”. Also, on your way through you get your departure stamp from Japan, and you can enter the ferry.
At the ferry you get a cabin (number stated on your boarding card). In our case it was a Japanese style dorm with 11 futons you can make yourself if you want to. Also, there is a small shelf you can use for your luggage. We just brought our luggage onboard, however you can also check it in for about 600 yen if needed.
Onboard the ferry
For lunch you can use the buffet style restaurant onboard. The price is 1000 yen per person, and you buy a ticket in the vending machine right outside the restaurant. The restaurant is only open for lunch and only for 1-1.5 hour, so better be there when it opens. Right outside the restaurant there is a sign with the opening hours. Outside the restaurant there are also plenty of vending machines selling everything from french fries to cold CocaCola.
Facilities onboard include a small duty free shop, Japanese style baths, and an information counter. There are not many seating areas outside the rooms, so it seemed like most people just were on their futons. You should be aware though that the Japanese style rooms is “no shoes area”, and the other guests seemed to only eat snacks — not real meals — in the rooms.
Arriving in South Korea
In Busan there is a shuttle bus for the Busan Train Station and the metro station. Both are also reachable within a fair walking distance (10-15 minutes). In the arrival hall there is a tourist information who can help with information on where to go to buy tickets for connecting transport, etc.
We hope that other travellers will also enjoy a cheap trip from Japan to South Korea 🙂