Welcome wanderers and travellers to the vibrant city where ancient traditions intertwine with futuristic marvels. In this urban jungle of lights, flavours and spirituality, navigating your way through the concrete maze can seem quite daunting!
Though worry not intrepid travellers, for I’ve assembled the ultimate Seoul transport guide! Here is your passport to zip seamlessly between palaces and street markets through historic neighbourhoods and futuristic hubs.
Get ready to hop on, tap in, and glide through this vibrant city like a local. So in that case, here is everything you need to know about transport in Seoul!
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Table of Contents
Getting to Seoul
The bustling capital of Seoul finds itself on the northern end of South Korea in the far north-eastern corner of Asia.
Being the bustling centre of commerce and culture that it is, Seoul is well-connected both domestically and internationally.
Getting To Seoul by Flights
The capital is served by two main international airports: Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport. The choice between the two often depends on the type of flight (domestic or international).
Incheon International Airport (ICN) is found on Yeongjongdo Island, about 30 miles (48 kilometres) west of central Seoul. It is one of the largest and most modern airports in the world and has a stellar reputation when it comes to efficiency and passenger ease.
Gimpo International Airport (GMP) is just on the western side of Seoul, and thus much closer. It once functioned at the main international gateway to South Korea prior to Incheon International Airport being built. Today, it still serves as a domestic airport and welcomes a limited number of international flights from nearby nations.
Getting to Seoul By International Flights
For all intents and purposes, Incheon International Airport strictly runs international flights (other than two routes to Busan and Daegu). Flights arrive from across the globe, including routes from Asia, Europe, Oceania, North America, and even Africa!
Getting to Seoul By Domestic Flights
Getting to Seoul From the Airport
To get to the city centre from Incheon International Airport, you can take the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) – via Express trains (43 minutes) or All-Stop trains that take longer and thus cheaper. You could also hop on the KTX High-Speed Train which connects the airport to Seoul Station and other major cities in South Korea. Last but not least, you could take the ever-reliable Airport Limousine Buses that connect the airport to various spots around Seoul.
To get from Gimpo International Airport, you can also rely on the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) and the Airport Limousine Buses. However, due to its close proximity to the city, you can also take the metro via Line 5 (Purple Line), making it the most efficient and cheapest option.
Getting To Seoul by Trains
Another favoured method of arriving in Seoul (while within the country at least) is the humble choo choo train!
Whether you opt for the lightening fast bullets of a laid-back chug across the pristine landscapes, there are few better ways to arrive in the city!
The best way to book train tickets in South Korea is through Trip.com. The English language web page makes the process very easy and even gives you the ability to pre-book tickets before they’re released.
KTX (Korea Train eXpress)
Prices start at ₩50,000, making it one of the priciest options but certainly the quickest!
Not in a hurry? Want to savour the scenic beauty of Korea as you make your way to Seoul? The ITX-Saemaeul is the perfect mid-level train which balances value and speed.
With prices starting at ₩30,000, they’re a cheaper option without having to sacrifice comfort!
If you’re really not in a hurry, or looking to save those pennies, the Mugunghwa train is the perfect option!
Named after the national flower of Korea, this train may not be as fast, but it still has its own charm. The slower pace allows you to soak in the mesmerizing landscape. And with prices starting at a budget-friendly ₩15,000, it’s a backpacker’s dream!
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Getting To Seoul by Buses
The trusted friend of the budget-backpacker, buses travel all across South Korea dropping travellers off at every major point across the country.
Prices for bus tickets vary depending on the distance and the type of bus you choose. They typically range between ₩15,000 to ₩40,000 for a one-way ticket. Tickets can be booked on Kobus, Bustago and T-Money Bus.
Getting To Seoul by Express Bus
The fastest option for travellers is taking an Express bus as they typically head to far-away destinations without making any stops along the way.
They’re also one of the most luxurious options offering plush seats, substantial legroom, and free Wi-Fi to boot!
Prices are typically ₩25,000 one way during the day and ₩27,000 at night while the Luxury bus costs ₩36,000 during the day and ₩44,000 at night.
Getting To Seoul by Intercity Buses
The intercity buses differ from the Express buses as they usually have many stops along the way. There are also a greater number of Intercity buses and they are relatively inexpensive, which makes them a great choice when travelling between cities.
There are typically 2 options – general buses and luxury buses, where the latter has larger seats and therefore an added charge. There’s also an option to get overnight buses.
Getting Around Seoul
You’ve finally made it! You’ve arrived in the big city and are all set to do some exploring. Now, things are even easier!
With an immense amount of efficient transport systems and easily commutable distances, travelling around Seoul really is a breeze.
Getting Around Seoul By Metro
The capital city of South Korea boasts an efficient metro system which is actually one of the largest in the world! Seoul’s metro is also renowned for its punctuality, frequency, and cleanliness.
The subway system consists of 23 rapid transit, light metro, commuter rail and people mover lines with each being colour-coded and tickets starting at ₩1,250.
Getting Around Seoul By Buses
Seoul also has an extensive and well-established bus network which is operated by several different companies, both public and private.
The different types of buses include:
- Blue Buses (Jwaseok): Standard city buses operated by the local government. They cover most of the city’s major routes and cost ₩1,300 per journey.
- Green Buses (Nubija): These are smaller and follow shorter routes. Tickets cost ₩1,000 per journey.
- Yellow Buses (Balloon City): These run a loop through downtown, and cost ₩1,100 per journey.
- Red Buses (Maeul): These operate in Seoul’s outer suburbs areas and provide transportation within local neighbourhoods. Tickets cost ₩2,400 per journey.
Getting Around Seoul Taxis
Taxis – the shining jewel of convenience, and Seoul has plenty of them!
Fares vary by region and increase with distance travelled. The basic fare starts at ₩3,800 during the day and ₩4,600 at night. The far increases in increments of ₩100 following that based on time and distance.
Getting Around Seoul By Bicycle
Feeling adventurous? Why not cycle around the city? Much like many other major metropolises, Seoul has its own eco-friendly bike initiative with a public bike-sharing service launched in 2015.
Today, 30,000 Seoul Bikes are scattered around the city amongst 2,600 rental stations. This eco-friendly alternative is also a great low-cost option.
These bikes can be rented through the Ttareungi, Seoul Public Bicycle app via 3 different types of passes – 1 hour (₩1,000), 2 hours (₩2,000), and 24-hour (₩5,000) passes.
Simply scan the QR code below the bike saddle enter the 5-digit bike number and you’ll be on your way
Getting Around Seoul By Walking
Time to strap on your comfiest sneakers and hit the pavement! There is no better way of experiencing the vibe of the city and ground yourself than walking from place to place! Who knows what you might discover along the way? It’s not just about reaching your destination – it’s about savouring the journey!
A list of the 20 best things to see and do in the trend-setting capital and artistic centre of South Korea, Seoul!
Seoul Transport Cards
It always helps to save those pennies wherever possible. Thankfully, Seoul has a number of transport cards that you can take advantage of while in the city! Think of them as your golden ticket to explore this electrifying metropolis.
First up, the OG of transport cards in Seoul – T-Money! This little marvel is your all-access pass to subways, buses, and even taxis! Load it up with cash, and you’ll be free to tap your way around Seoul.
Better yet, you’ll have yourself a nice little ₩100-plus discount with every journey! The card itself costs ₩2,500 and is reusable, so keep it safe!
Cashbee is T-Money’s distant cousin, and they’re pretty much interchangeable. The only real difference is that Cashbee cards can also be used at some affiliated convenience stores, but don’t expect a discount for their products!
The card itself costs ₩2,500 and is also reusable.
Korea Tour Card
If you demand convenience, then the Korea Tour Card will be your trusty sidekick! This card is designed especially for tourists and offers unlimited rides on the subway, buses, and even the Airport Express Train.
The card is also packed with discounts at various attractions and shops. Prices start at ₩4,000 and increase based on the length of time you need it for. These passes are also offered in a 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour format.
Seoul City Pass Plus
The Seoul City Pass Plus is the ultimate all-access VIP ticket to the city. Enjoy unlimited travel on subways and buses, including travel to Incheon International Airport and back. The card also comes with a plethora of attractions with free or discounted entry, including Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and Lotte World.
Prices vary based on the duration and inclusions starting at ₩3,000. These passes are also offered in a 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour format.
Similar to the other transport cards, the M-Pass also offers unlimited rides in a 24-hour pass at ₩15,000, 48-hour at ₩25,000, and 72-hour at ₩35,000.
Helpful Transport Apps In Seoul
Being in the booming capital of a technologically advanced nation, there’s little wonder there are plenty of tech-tastic goodies on offer to level up your transport game.
These digital dance partners will have you swiping, tapping, and grooving your way through the city in no time. Better yet, they’re all free!
This pocket-sized maestro bids farewell to confusing maps and station names and opens a world of real-time subway schedules, optimal routes, and station information at your fingertips. It’s a favourite amongst locals and travellers alike, and definitely a necessity for your trip!
When it comes to navigation, forget Google Maps, Naver Maps is the undisputed superstar! This all-in-one navigator takes you beyond subway routes and allows you to explore every corner of this fascinating city.
From legendary street food stalls to obscure museums, Naver Maps has it all covered. It’s the perfect ticket for delving into the heartbeat of Seoul.
While other places have Uber, Seoul has Kakao T! No more frantic arm-waving for cabs; this app gets you a ride with just a simple tap. The app also offers real-time location tracking, ensuring you’ll never lose sight of your chariot.
T-Money / Cashbee Apps
Remember those nifty transport cards we mentioned earlier? Well, they come with equally nifty apps! Download the T-Money or Cashbee app, and you’ll have the power to recharge your card on the go, check your balance, and review your travel history. It’s the perfect way to keep track of your Seoul-tastic adventures while bopping around town.
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