Seoul vs Busan: Which is the best city for international students?

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Should I study in Seoul or Busan?

Seoul and Busan are the most popular destinations for international students in South Korea. Both cities have a lot to offer, so choosing the right one for you can be difficult. Looking at Seoul and Busan a little closer will help you choose the right exchange destination.


Seoul is the capital and biggest city of South Korea. The perfect place to get that big city experience. No matter where you go, you will mostly be surrounded by massive skyscrapers.If you want more nature, Busan is the best of both worlds.Busanis the second largest city in South Korea and the number one tourist destination. The port city is located in the very south of Korea and has beautiful beaches all along the coast. With all the nature around Busan, the big city along the coast is less overwhelming than Seoul.

Seoul or busan
Gwangalli beach in Busan by night


Asia exchange offers two different Universities in Seoul and one in Busan. Hankuk University of Foreign Studies is the first one and focuses on international and language studies among economic and law classes. Compared to other Universities, the Seoul Campus of Hankuk University is relatively small. However, around the campus, you will find a small city centre with copy shops, clothing stores, restaurants, and bars.The same goes for Hanyang University, which is currently ranked in the top 150 universities in the QS University rankings. Hanyang is known for its engineering and economic programs. The campus is located near Han River. Busan Dong- a University is known for its business and economic classes. As exchange students, you can choose from bachelor’s and master’s classes. All Universities are great a destination for international students who are coming to South Korea. Depending on your study focus, you can choose the right University for you.

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Regarding living costs, there is no significant difference between Seoul and Busan because it mostly depends on your lifestyle and choices. How often do you go shopping, partying, and what type of accommodation you want. However, living in a dorm might be the best way to save money on housing in both cities. The average living cost for a student in Busan can be from 370 Euro to 520 Euro. In Seoul, the average student living cost is about 1120 Euro. Seoul and Busan offer great university programs, whereas Seoul has more internationally recognized programs to choose from and more elite universities to attend. Since both cities are student cities, you can enjoy the nightlife with bars and restaurants in both. Considering free time activities, Busan offers more nature leaned activities in summer and winter because even though you can find beautiful nature spots in Seoul, many more exhibits and pop-up stores will be there.

Seoul Vs Busan: Transport

Seoul has the biggest metro system in the country. Luckily it is not difficult to understand, and you can easily explore the whole city by yourself. Moreover, everything regarding stations and announcements is availablein English so that you can use the metro system without Korean. As well as a well-developed metro system Seoul has Buses all around the city that bring you to the smaller streets, the metro cannot reach, and no matter the traffic, most times, the Bus is still punctual.Busan, in comparison, has a smaller metro system but more Buses you can use. Taking the Bus might be a bit more confusing initially since there are many Bus numbers. However, it is only a matter of time before you get used to it. Before taking public transportation, you must buy a T-money card in a convenience store and charge it in the metro stations. As soon as you have charged the transportation card, you can use it all around South Korea.

Seoul or busan
Seoul Skyline with the view of Lotte Tower


Seoul has a bit more traditional buildings hiding in between the skyscrapers. You can find temples or a complete traditional village (Buckcheon-Village) easily, even if you are not intentionally looking for them. If you like art and exhibits, Seoul is your place to go. Every month you will find a new exhibition or pop-up store referring to a specific theme. Moreover, spread over Seoul, you will always find one of the biggest shopping centres and department stores (Lotte and Hyundai department stores)As I said, Busan offers many more outside activities, including surfing, stand-up paddling, and hiking. Among those outdoor activities, Busan has its annual international film festival. It is the first-ever international film festival in Korea and has become one of the most important ones in Asia.

Do you want to know more about what to do in Seoul? Click here

Conclusion: Seoul or Busan?

Both cities have a lot to offer, no matter which one you choose. You will visit the other one. Suppose you would rather have a place to be alone and enjoy nature while still being among people enjoying your student life. In that case, you should think about choosing Busan as your exchange destination. In Seoul, finding a place that is not rather crowded is more challenging. Seoul and Busan are great destinations offering an outstanding education and exchange experience. It would be best if you found out your priorities and surrounding area while studying abroad.

Read more:

Study in Korea: Experience the Best

Do you want to know more about being an exchange student in South Korea? Find out more here!

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to ourmonthly newsletter!If you have any questions about studyingabroad, feel free tocontact us!We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.