Riding the Ferry from Fukuoka to Busan: The Ultimate Guide

Explore the Fukuoka to Busan ferry route with our detailed guide, expert tips, and personal experiences for your Japan-Korea sea adventure.

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Fukuoka to Busan ferry

We’re always on the lookout for fun, unique ways to get from one place to another. So when we found out that there is a ferry that takes you from Japan to South Korea, we knew that we had to ride it!

While ferries are a common sight in many parts of the world, not many travelers consider the exceptional experience of an international ferry voyage, especially one between Japan and South Korea.

In this article, we’ll share EVERYTHING about the Fukuoka to Busan ferry. We’ll delve into the nuances of this unique mode of travel, provide insights into what sets it apart, and offer tips on making the most of your ferry adventure.

Taking the Fast Ferry from Fukuoka to Busan

We rode the JR Queen Beetle Jet Ferry from Fukuoka to Busan, so in this article, we’ll mainly be covering everything related to that ferry.

The JR Queen Beetle is the fastest ferry that travels between Japan and South Korea. It cruises at a speed of around 37 knots and goes from Fukuoka to Busan in 3 hours and 40 minutes. The Queen Beetle is a hydrofoil ferry, and when we rode it, we felt it move upwards as it picked up speed and started gliding over the water.

Our YouTube video documents our entire experience riding the ferry from Fukuoka to Busan!

How to Buy Tickets for the Fukuoka to Busan Ferry

Here are the places that we recommend purchasing tickets for the Fukuoka to Busan Queen Beetle jet ferry:

The advantage of booking through Klook is that they often have surprise discounts. Additionally, you can sometimes get tickets through Klook when they’re sold out on the JR Beetle website.

If you can’t decide between the JR Beetle Jet Ferry and the Camelia Line Ferry, then Direct Ferries is the best option. You can search for availability for both the JR Beetle Jet Ferry and the Camelia Line Ferry on Direct Ferries.

Another way to purchase tickets for the ferry is to just show up at the ferry port in Fukuoka and purchase your tickets in person. However, I don’t recommend doing this since the ferry might be sold out, but it is a last-minute option if you happen to be in Fukuoka and want to jump on the ferry.

How Far in Advance Do You Need to Purchase Tickets for the Fukuoka to Busan Ferry?

When it comes to booking your ferry journey from Fukuoka to Busan, timing is crucial. I recommend securing your tickets at least one month in advance. This advice becomes particularly pertinent during peak travel seasons when the demand for ferry tickets surges, often leading to sold-out situations.

Unlike airline tickets, the prices for ferry tickets tend to slowly increase until the departure date. Therefore, waiting until the last minute in the hopes of snagging a deal is not a strategy that pays off in this case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. To ensure you have a confirmed spot on the ferry, especially if your travel dates are inflexible, it’s wise to book as early as possible.

JR Beetle Ferry Timetable

If you’re looking to plan your journey around the JR Beetle’s schedule, they regularly post updates to their timetable schedule here.

Camelia Line Ferry

When considering your ferry options between Fukuoka and Busan, the Camelia Line Ferry is an alternative to the JR Queen Beetle. While the JR Queen Beetle is known for its speed, completing the journey in approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes, the Camelia Line offers a different kind of experience with its 6-hour voyage.

One distinctive feature of the Camelia Line Ferry is the provision of beds. This amenity allows passengers to comfortably nap and relax during their journey between Japan and South Korea. It’s an appealing option for those who prefer a more leisurely pace and value comfort over speed.

Additionally, the Camelia Line Ferry is larger than the JR Queen Beetle. This larger size means the vessel is better equipped to handle rough sea conditions. For travelers who might be concerned about sea sickness or rough waters, the Camelia Line could offer a more stable and reassuring journey.

Comparison of Standard Class Versus Business Class

When traveling on the JR Queen Beetle Ferry between Fukuoka and Busan, passengers have the option to choose between Standard and Business Class. Each class offers its own set of amenities.

Standard Class

Standard Class is situated on the lower deck of the ferry, offering a range of features for a comfortable journey:

  • Reclining Seats: Equipped with tables and USB charging ports, these seats provide convenience and comfort.
  • Lounge Area: A dedicated space with tables, perfect for eating, drinking, or just relaxing.
  • Free WiFi: Stay connected throughout your journey with complimentary internet access (on an available basis).

Business Class

For those seeking additional comfort and luxury, Business Class includes all the amenities of Standard Class plus exclusive extras:

  • Choice of Seating:
    • Type A: Booth-style reclining seats with footrests, offering privacy.
    • Type B: Spacious reclining seats with extra legroom and footrests.
  • Welcome Snack Pack: A small gesture to make your journey more enjoyable.
  • Travel Kit: Essential items to enhance your travel comfort.
  • Complimentary Beverages: Enjoy a selection of free drinks, including coffee, tea, cocoa, and lemonade.

Business Class passengers also have access to an indoor observation area. Overlooking the front of the ferry, it’s an ideal spot to watch as you approach land. The observation area is furnished with seats and tables, offering a pleasant alternative to your assigned seat.

How to Get to the Ferry Port in Fukuoka

If you’re planning to board the JR Queen Beetle Ferry in Fukuoka, here’s the essential information to ensure you reach the terminal smoothly:

Ferry Terminal Address

The ferry terminal is located at: 14 Okihamamachi, Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, 812-0031, Japan.

Traveling from Another City

For those arriving in Fukuoka via Shinkansen (bullet train), you’ll need to either catch the bus or take the metro and walk to get to the ferry port.

By Bus

  • Route: Take the 88 bus from Hakata Station.
  • Convenience: The 88 bus route is particularly convenient as it stops near Hakata Station and goes directly to the ferry terminal.
  • Advantage: This option is ideal for those who prefer a direct route without the need for additional transfers.

Metro and Walking

  • Nearest Metro Station: Gofukumachi Station is the closest metro stop to the ferry terminal.
  • Walking Distance: Be prepared for a 25-minute walk from Gofukumachi Station to the ferry terminal.
  • Consideration for Luggage: If you’re carrying luggage, this walk might take a bit longer, so plan accordingly.

Check-In and Boarding Process for the JR Queen Beetle Fast Ferry

Boarding the Queen Beetle ferry for your journey from Fukuoka to Busan is a breeze, thanks to its efficient and straightforward process. Here’s what you need to know to ensure a smooth experience:

Check-In Timing

  • Arrival Time: JR Beetle advises passengers to arrive at the check-in counter at least 1 hour before the ferry’s departure.
  • Last-Minute Check-In: Be aware that if you arrive less than 30 minutes before departure, you risk not being checked in.

Locating the Check-In Counter

  • Easy to Find: Once you enter the ferry terminal, the check-in counter is conveniently located right in front of you.
  • Efficient Process: Typically, the line moves quickly, making for a calm and hassle-free check-in experience.

Handling the South Korea Arrival Card

  • Distribution in Line: While waiting, you will be given a South Korea arrival card.
  • For Immigration Use: This card is to be filled out and presented to South Korean immigration upon arrival in Busan. There’s no need to fill it out immediately.

At the Check-In Counter

  • Required Documents: Be prepared to present your passport, ferry reservation number, and South Korea K-ETA visa (if applicable).
  • Visa Waiver Info: Passport holders from specific 27 countries may not need a K-ETA visa for tourism through the end of 2024.
  • Seat Selection: You’ll choose your seat during check-in, and it’s not possible to pre-select seats before this point.

Pre-Boarding Procedures

  • Customs and Embarkation: After check-in, you’ll proceed through Japanese customs and embarkation, where your luggage will be scanned and your passport checked.
  • Boarding the Ferry: Follow the designated passageway and ramp onto the ferry.

Onboard the Ferry

Baggage Storage

Immediately upon boarding, you’ll find the JR Beetle’s luggage storage area to drop off your baggage.

The shelves are locked after the ferry departs and are for larger pieces of baggage such as suitcases. The combination lockers are for smaller personal items such as backpacks and can be accessed anytime during the trip.

Here are the baggage rules for the JR Queen Beetle:

  • Baggage Quantity: No limit, as long as you can carry it aboard yourself without assistance.
  • Baggage size (sum of length + width + height)
  • Baggage total weight
    • Up to 20 kg: Free
    • 21-30 kg: Additional charge of 1000 JPY
    • More than 30 kg: Not allowed
  • Special Items such as bicycles, and fishing equipment: Additional charge of 1000 JPY

After stowing your luggage, you can proceed to your selected seat and settle in for the journey.

Seating Areas on the JR Beetle

Standard class seating is on the lower deck of the ferry. The standard class seats recline and have tables.

The business class seating area is located on the upper deck and is in a secure area that is accessed by scanning a QR code on the business class ticket.

All business class seats recline, and have footrests and USB chargers. The Type A business class seats have wall outlets.

Toilets on the JR Beetle

The toilets on the JR Beetle are clean and comfortable.

Food and Drink on the JR Beetle

If you’re in standard class, food and drinks can be purchased from the kiosk near the lounge area. The lounge area has seats and tables and is the perfect place to enjoy a meal or drink.

If you’re in business class, there is a free drink vending machine. You are also provided free beer/highball, premium coffee, or ice cream. All you need to do is show your business class ticket at the kiosk and they will give it to you for free, up to 2 times. You can purchase food from the business class kiosk.

Can You Get Seasick on the Ferry?

Yes, it’s possible to get seasick on the ferry, especially if you’re prone to motion sickness or if the sea is rough during your journey.

When checking into the JR Beetle ferry, there is a display that has the wave height forecast for the day of your ferry ride.

When we rode the ferry, the forecast was for 1-meter waves. The ride was mostly very smooth, except for a little bit of rocking back and forth, which is to be expected for any ferry ride.

If you’re the type of person who gets seasick, the check-in people provide seasickness medication for free. Just ask the staff during check-in for a seasickness pill.

Both Chloe & I are people who tend to get seasick, but we took the seasickness medication and were fine. We probably didn’t even need the medication with how calm the seas were, but it never hurts to take one just in case the seas are rougher than expected.

The sea between Fukuoka and Busan sometimes gets very rough. If the wave heights in the sea exceed 3 meters, then the JR Beetle ferry will be canceled.

Arriving in Busan on the Ferry – What You Need to Know

Upon arrival at the Busan port, you’ll retrieve your luggage and deboard the ferry. From there, you’ll have a short walk to the South Korean immigration and customs area. This part of your journey involves a bit of a walk, but it’s a straightforward path leading you directly to the necessary checkpoints.

After clearing the immigration and customs formalities, you’ll find yourself in the Busan Port International Terminal. This moment marks your official entry into Busan.

Where to Get a South Korean SIM Card in Busan Port

Firstly, consider getting a South Korean SIM card, especially if you don’t already have one. Tourist SIM cards in South Korea are generally more affordable and offer better terms when compared to those in Japan.

At Busan Port, you’ll find two main counters for SIM cards: KT and SK Telecom. Both are reputable providers offering excellent service. We chose SK Telecom for its truly unlimited data plan, which doesn’t throttle speeds after a certain usage limit.

Getting Cash from an ATM in South Korea

While many places in South Korea accept credit cards, having cash is essential for smaller vendors and certain services.

Withdrawing cash from South Korean ATMs can be tricky, particularly with American ATM cards, which are sometimes incompatible with local ATMs.

After some research and trial, I discovered that ATMs by Lotte, commonly found in 7-Elevens, worked with my card. So, whenever we needed cash, popping into a 7-Eleven was our go-to solution.

Getting a T-money Card in Busan Port

For navigating public transport in South Korea, a T-money card is indispensable. Whether you plan to use the metro or buses, this card will make your travel around the city much easier.

Conveniently, there’s a 7-Eleven right in Busan port where you can purchase a T-money card upon arrival. Remember, you’ll need cash to load onto your T-money card, as credit cards aren’t accepted to recharge T-money cards.

Navigating Your Way Out of Busan Port

After arriving at Busan Port, you have several options to reach your final destination in the city. Each mode of transport offers its own advantages, depending on your preferences and where you’re headed.

Ride the Metro

The metro, known for its efficiency, is a great option for quick transit to various parts of Busan. Although there isn’t a station right at the port, the nearest one is located pretty close at Busan Station. Don’t forget to use your newly acquired T-money card for a hassle-free ride.

Catch the Bus

Buses offer direct routes to many areas of Busan, some of which might not be as easily accessible by metro. Like the metro, buses also accept the T-money card, ensuring a smooth travel experience without the need for exact change. The bus stops right outside of the port entrance so you can hop on the bus system right there.

Use Rideshare

For those looking for a more direct and personal travel option, ridesharing services are available:

These provide a convenient and straightforward way to reach your specific destination, especially if you’re carrying heavy luggage.

It’s important to note that ridesharing apps in South Korea operate slightly differently than you might expect. Instead of the independent driver model you might be used to, these apps interface with the local taxi system. This means when you use a ridesharing app in Busan, you’re essentially booking a ride with a local taxi driver.

Riding the Ferry from Fukuoka to Busan – Our Experience

After finishing our camper van trip around Japan, we stayed in Fukuoka to relax and enjoy our last few days in Japan.

We had already planned our ferry trip to Korea in advance, so we stayed at a place that was near the ferry terminal.

We rode the 9:00 am JR Queen Beetle fast ferry from Fukuoka to Busan in October 2023.

On the day of our ferry ride, we walked to the ferry terminal and got there about 1 1/2 hours in advance of our departure time. 1 1/2 hours was plenty of time – almost too much.

The check-in process for the ferry was super smooth and very similar to checking into an airplane. When we got up the counter, the agent asked for our reservation confirmation and passports. I assume that the agent will also ask to see your South Korean visa, but we have US passports, and the K-ETA visa is not required for US citizens to travel to South Korea through the end of 2024.

We then got to pick our seats on the ferry. We both tend to get seasick, so the agent recommended that we sit near the back of the ferry since it’s less rough. The agent also provided seasickness pills to us when we checked in. We ended up taking the seasickness pills when we got on the ferry.

After checking in to the ferry, we went through Japanese embarkation and customs where they checked our passports and bags. There was no line at embarkation and customs, I’m assuming that our ferry was the only ferry departing at that time so there weren’t a ton of people at the ferry terminal.

After embarkation and customs, we went down a secure passageway that led us to the ferry dock. We went up the ramp and boarded the ferry.

The ferry’s boarding ramp went right into the baggage area where we put our suitcases onto the shelves and our backpacks into the lockers.

Next, we went to take our seats. We were in business class upstairs and it had a special door that could only be opened by scanning the QR code on our ferry ticket.

After taking our seats in business class, an attendant came by and dropped off a travel kit with a few things that would come in handy for the ferry ride:

  • Slippers
  • Eye mask
  • Lotion
  • Hand sanitizer

They also provided a snack pack. There were two different kinds of snacks – one was a sweet pancake with red bean paste inside, and the other was a mochi with sweet red bean paste inside. We ate our treats immediately since we were so hungry.

We chose Business Class Type A seats and they were extremely cozy and comfortable. The seats reclined quite a bit and had windows on their sides so you see out of the ferry’s window from the reclined position.

After relaxing for a while, we started to get hungry, so we got up to get some food and drinks. Fortunately, soft drinks are free in business class. We got some coffee and green tea from the business class vending machine.

We went up to the kiosk and ordered food from the ferry’s restaurant. Chloe ordered a pizza and I got a beef bowl. The pizza was large, a little too much for one person. The beef bowl, however, was tiny and I was still a little hungry so I ate a slice of Chloe’s pizza.

We used our credit card to order the food, but it took super long for the credit card to clear due to the limited reception while going across the sea. I wouldn’t be surprised if the credit card machine doesn’t work at all when the weather is bad so it may be a good idea to have some Yen to pay for food on the ferry.

After eating, we relaxed a bit more and then fell asleep for a while. The seas were very calm and the ferry ride was quite smooth. The seats were comfy so it was a perfect atmosphere to take a nap.

As we got near Busan, we woke up and saw that the ferry staff had opened the door to the outside deck for business class to go and enjoy the outside while we approached Busan.

Going on the deck was a great way to cap off our journey and it created a fun, exciting atmosphere to be outside as we approached South Korea. A few of the ferry’s attendants accompanied everyone outside and offered to take everyone’s photos so they could remember the good time.

When we got to Busan port, the ferry docked quickly. Before we knew it, it was time to walk into South Korea! We went downstairs to get our luggage and exited the ferry through the same door that we came in. After going through Korean immigration and customs, we finally made it to South Korea!

What’s Next?

We hope you found our article helpful for your Japan to South Korea ferry journey!

As always – if you think there is anything we missed or if you have any questions about the Fukuoka to Busan Ferry, feel free to drop a comment below and we’ll reply!

Trey Lewis is an outdoor enthusiast. Whether its hiking knife-edge ridges or just fishing by the river, Trey isn't afraid to get dirty in search of the next adventure.

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2 thoughts on “Riding the Ferry from Fukuoka to Busan: The Ultimate Guide”

  1. GREAT article – so informative and helpful – many thanks for providing. & I loved your photos – hope you are still having fun on your travels, & in your life together!

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