LifestyleTravel

Transport in Korea

Planning a trip to Korea? You’ll need to know how to get around once you get there, and that’s where this handy guide comes in! Read on for useful information about all things related to transport, so you can travel hassle-free!

 

Transportation cards

(priced from 3000 won)

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Image source: © Examples of transportation cards. Korea Tourism Organisation. 28.04.2017. Image adapted from the Imagine Your Korea website 

These are so versatile! Transportation cards such as the T-money or Cashbee cards can be used on buses and subways in many cities (including Seoul, Gyeonggi, Incheon, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan, Gwangju, Ulsan and many more. Check out a full list here). Purchase them in convenience stores, bus kiosks or subway-station booths for a non-refundable 3000 won and then top them up as you need! Keep a look out for the T-money logo to find places to add value to your card.

Remember to tap the card on the sensor at the front of the bus or top of the subway turnstile (wait for the sound of a beep) and you should see information about the fare you were charged and your remaining balance. You should tap your card both when you get on and off the subway and buses. That way you can get transfer discounts! If you don’t tap when you get off, you’ll pay the maximum fare the next time you tap. Many taxis also accept transportation cards, but remember to tell the driver that you want to use it to make a payment.

Money that you haven’t used can be refunded (up to 20,000 won with a processing fee of 500 won) using a subway machine or from a convenience store.

Subway

(adult ticket for 10km in Seoul is 1250 won paid by T-money card)

Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com
Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com

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Image source: © ‘Republic of Korea subway train’. zheng 2088. Pixabay.  

The subway (or metro) is a popular transport option for both Koreans and visitors alike, operating amongst the 6 major cities: Seoul (Metropolitan areas), Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Incheon and Daejeon. Have a look at subway station maps for more information on stops, such as for lines within the Seoul Metropolitan network. Fares are slightly cheaper if you pay with a T-money card compared to cash but will vary depending on the city. It is possible to buy a single ticket, as well as use a transportation card. Use the machines in the stations to get your tickets. Signs and station names have English on them.

 

Trains

(KORAIL Pass priced from 64,000 won for 1-day unlimited travel)

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Image source: © ‘Railway station Korea platform’. Sebo106. 28.04.2017. Pixabay.

Train to Busan, anyone? If you want to escape the traffic, taking the train might be for you. There are different kinds of train that vary in terms of speed and onboard facilities (including cafes selling drinks and snacks, internet access, provision of games or even karaoke!) Trains are good for travelling longer distances. The price of your ticket will depend on which of these trains you choose and how far you want to travel. There’s the Super Rapid Train (SRT), the Mugunghwa (the oldest type of train carts), Saemaeul, ITX-Saemaeul (runs faster than the regular Saemaeul) and the Korea Train Express (KTX).

  • KTX are the fastest trains but the most expensive (1st class also available)
  • Saemaeul trains stop in major towns
  • Mugunghwa trains stop more often

Check for discounts; certain tickets are reduced in price if you buy them in advance, or on certain days. You can buy tickets online up to a month in advance.

The KORAIL Pass is available for visitors to Korea, which offers unlimited travel on trains including the KTX express trains for a number of days which you can decide on. Check this link to find out more.

Taxi

(basic fare in a regular taxi can be 2800-3000 won)

Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com
Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com

You can travel by taxi by hailing on the street, looking for a taxi stand, or requesting one by phone. Note that calling a taxi by phone will be more expensive. Most taxis allow you to pay by credit card or transportation card, but if you are travelling further out, you may need to have cash. There are international taxis with drivers who can speak a foreign language, including English, Japanese or Chinese. These are yellow in colour. The other taxi types are regular, deluxe and jumbo. There is no custom of leaving a tip. It may be useful to write your destination in hangeul in case the driver does not speak English, and to also write down a nearby landmark in case they do not know where a particular place is.  Having the exact address might be better as most of them have navigation systems installed!

Bus

Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com
Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com

(from 1150 won per journey)

Local buses run regularly across the city and are cost-effective (from 1150 won per journey, irrespective of distance). The money for the fare should be placed into the glass box next to the driver and the machines will give you change (but only in coins). The main challenge is in working out which bus to take; there are bus apps that you can try for timetables, but if you are struggling, the best option is to enquire at local tourist information centres which will have English-speaking staff to help you. Please note that Google map is not helpful in Korea – so do not overly depend on your Google map when preparing for a trip to Korea!

Bikes

Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com
Image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com

(free or from 3000 won per hour)

Some areas have a public bike-rental system which is free. Usually you would have to leave some form of ID with them, which will be returned to you when you come back with the bike. Opening hours can vary depending on the rental facility. There are also options to hire bikes from 3000 won per hour, with discounts for one day hires.

Plane

You can look into local airports to get to places like Jeju at reasonable prices.

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Image source: © ‘Jeju sky sea.’ aikorea1962. 28.04.2017. Pixabay.

 

We hope you found our transport guide useful! Happy travelling!

 

Featured image source: © Inspire Me Korea, 05.05.2017, www.inspiremekorea.com

The author: Louisa Lee

Enthusiastic writer, scientist, and foodie. Enjoys discovering new music, films and books, as well as travelling, trying various cuisines and learning about different cultures. My music player is never too far away - life just isn’t complete without music!
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