How to Get Around Seoul: A Tourist Guide to Public Transport in Korea

Seoul is known for its world-class public transportation system, making it easy and affordable to travel around this metropolis.

Planning your first trip to Seoul? Learn more about traveling to South Korea here!

Hey Gems, it’s Gemini and welcome to ‘A GEMINII Guide to Seoul’. Over the course of this series we’ll be sharing everything to know before traveling to Seoul to help you plan the perfect trip!

In this guide we’ll go over the various types of public transportation in Seoul! With exclusive bus lanes, multilingual displays, and technological advancements, Seoul offers one of the greatest transportation systems so make sure to take advantage of it during your stay!

We’ll go over the most popular and efficient ways to travel around Seoul so you’ll know the best ways to get around the city!


Topics We’ll Cover in this Blog:

  1. Seoul Subway
    1. How do I check the subway schedule?
    2. Are subway stops only in Korean?
    3. How to pay on the subway? 
  2. Seoul Buses
    1. Types of buses in Seoul
    2. How to Pay on the Bus
    3. Bus v. Subway
  3. Seoul Taxis
    1. Brand Taxis
    2. Regular Taxis
    3. Deluxe Taxis
    4. Jumbo Taxis
    5. International Taxis
  4. Getting Around Seoul with Public Transportation

Click the links above to jump ahead!

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Seoul Subway

Courtesy of @soaimme

Seoul’s incredibly advanced subway is convenient, reliable, and affordable! Many of its subway trains even offer 4G service, TVs, and climate control on board!

How do I check the subway schedule?

You don’t want to show up late for the train so you’ll want to make sure you know when it arrives! We recommend you download Kakao Metro before you arrive in Seoul, as it will allow you to access the subway times and stops! 

Seoul’s impressive metro system has 4G service inside the subway so you won’t be bored while you travel! Learn more about which applications to download before your trip to Seoul here or watch our video!

Are subway stops only in Korean?

You don’t need to worry if you can’t read Hangul, Korea’s subway system is multilingual. Most stops and directions are written in English as well as Korean, and if it isn’t, you can always use the subway app we recommended to help you understand where you are! 

How to pay on the subway? 

There are two main ways to pay for your ticket; by cash or through a T-money card

Cash

If you choose to use cash, you will need to purchase a single-journey ticket for every ride that you take. We recommend this payment option if you only plan on using the subway a couple of times during your stay. 

T-money card
Courtesy of @be_marie_korea

If you plan on taking the subway more often, a T-money card will be a better choice!

For example, an adult single journey ticket on the subway might cost around ₩1,350 using cash but it will cost ₩1,250 when using your prepaid T-money card. 

Don’t Forget! : Always tap your card when you enter and when you exit because Seoul has special transfer discounts when you switch to another subway or bus within 30 minutes. 


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Seoul Buses

Courtesy of @for.comma

Seoul’s world renowned bus system is another great mode of transport when you visit Seoul. These buses have their own lane on roads, so traffic hardly stops them from arriving consistently on time to your stop. 

Types of buses in Seoul

The most common type of bus in Seoul is the Ilban (or regular) bus, which will be blue, green, or yellow.

Blue Ilban buses are used to run for longer distances at faster speeds. 

Green Ilban buses are mainly used in downtown Seoul to connect citizens between subways stations and bus stops.

Yellow Ilban buses run within downtown Seoul and stop at business, tourist, and shopping locations (as well as general blue bus stops). 

The next type of bus is the red City Express, or Jwaseok bus. 

Red buses travel much further distances, with fewer stops, so expect higher rates. Their main purpose is to transport citizens to neighboring cities and suburban areas.

We took the City Express bus from the Incheon airport to Seoul, and not only was it a short and comfortable ride, but it was also a wonderful chance to enjoy our surroundings as we entered Seoul. 

How to Pay on the Bus

Like the subway, you can pay for your bus trip with your T-Money card or cash. If you choose to use a T-money card don’t forget to tap your card when you enter and when you exit! Transfer discounts are awarded when you switch to another bus or subway within 30 minutes. 

Bus v. Subway

Why take the bus? 

The pros of taking the bus is that you get an amazing view while you’re traveling, making your commutes much more enjoyable. Additionally bus stops are easily accessible from most tourist and shopping destinations, so you do not need to worry about walking longer distances to reach an underground subway station. Lastly, although they may get crowded in peak hours or locations, buses are often a lot less crowded than subways so you’re more likely to find a seat on your trip! 

Why take the subway? 

Although busses are almost always on time, they aren’t as fast as taking the subway! If you are in a hurry, subways might be a better option for you. You might be surprised to find that the subway stations in Seoul are extremely clean, and sometimes you can even find shopping malls within them! 

Seoul Taxis

Courtesy of @comet_815

While Seoul offers some of the best public transportation, if you are out late at night or need to arrive somewhere really early in the morning you might choose to take a taxi instead!

Brand Taxis

A brand taxi, otherwise known as a “call taxi”, is owned by individual companies that will dispatch the nearest taxi as people call for them. Here are a few numbers to jot down if you ever need a last minute taxi!

Kind-call taxi:  +82 1588 3382

Hi Call: +82 1644 8200

Dongbu Call: +82 1688 2255

Regular Taxis

Regular Taxis are silver, orange, blue, or white and can be easily identified by a “Taxi” sign on the roof of the car! The main difference between regular taxis and brand taxis is that regular taxi drivers must have five years of accident-free experience to be certified. 

A ride in this type of taxi will typically cost ₩2,400 for the first two kilometres and ₩100 for every 144 metres after that. 

Don’t Forget!: There will be a 20% increase in taxi prices between midnight and 4 a.m so avoid these times if you can!

Deluxe Taxis

Deluxe Taxis are black with yellow stripes and are great for travelers looking for the most comfortable ride! 

The main difference between deluxe taxis and regular taxis is that deluxe taxi drivers must have ten years of accident-free experience to be certified. These taxis will also take credit cards and give receipts! 

Deluxe taxis will be more expensive as they typically start at ₩4,000 for the first three kilometres and then ₩200 for every 144 metres after that. However, you won’t need to worry about any nighttime additional charges!

Jumbo Taxis

If you are traveling with a large group you may want to take a Jumbo Taxi! This form of taxi will give you plenty of space while you travel, and they are priced the same as a Deluxe Taxi! Jumbo taxis look very similar to Deluxe taxis but they are larger to accommodate date more people.

Tip: Jumbo taxis can be a great option for traveling to the Incheon Airpot from Seoul. We found them very convenient when getting to the airport with lots of luggage!

International Taxis

If you are worried about having trouble communicating with your taxi driver you can always choose to ride an International taxi.

This type of taxi is available as a regular, deluxe, or jumbo style according to your traveling preference! International Taxi drivers can speak English, Japanese, or Chinese so they are a great choice for tourists! They are usually black or orange, and they usually not too difficult to spot throughout the busy city!

Off to Seoul? We’ll help you plan!

Become a Gem and subscribe to our blog for more useful Seoul guides!

Getting Around Seoul with Public Transportation

Courtesy of @chankyung81

Seoul has an incredible public transportation system so make the most of it while you travel! Hopefully this guide has made you feel less nervous about using the city’s subways, buses, and taxis!

Click here to discover more about the many exciting neighborhoods in Seoul!

To learn more about traveling in Seoul, check out the other blog posts in this series! Check out our channel and follow us on Instagram for more photos and videos from our adventures!

Best of luck planning! 

xoxo

GEMINII

Off to Seoul? We’ll help you plan!

Become a Gem and subscribe to our blog for more useful Seoul guides!

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