There are all sorts of convenient ways to get around during your stay in Korea. Catch a domestic flight or get on the railway. There are also intercity buses and ferries. If public transport is not your thing, you can always rent a car during your stay.
One of the most convenient ways to travel between cities in Korea is by rail. While bus schedules can vary depending on traffic, The Korean rail system operates on fixed schedules and will always get you to your destination on time.
Korea classifies its trains based on speed and amenities onboard. The three classifications include: KTX express trains, the non-express Samiel and Mugunghwa trains. Ticket prices vary according to these classifications, so take some time to research which best serves your needs and budget.
The two main railways in Korea include the Gyeongbu Line, which connects Seoul to Busan, and the Honam Line, which operates from Yongsan Station in Seoul to Mokpo. Other railways include the Jeolla and Gyeongjeon lines, which reach outer regions such as Yeosu or Changwon.
Most tourists take advantage of the KR Pass – an exclusive railway pass for foreign travellers, allowing unlimited use of the rail network (including KTX express trains) for a set number of days. This is a very affordable way to see Korea.
Or you can save yourself some time and purchase a Korean Rail Pass before you leave Australia. For the latest prices, please visit the Railplus Australia.
Korea’s subway system is the quickest and most convenient way to get around and explore cities. Stations are clearly labelled and each has its own unique number and colour code. Transfer stations (where two or more lines intersect) are easily identified as well. Simply look for the larger circle icons on subway maps.
Fares differ slightly depending on age and transportation cards are easily purchased in all cities. Single journey cards are best for one off, one-way trips. Multiple journey cards provide long-term visitors or residents a convenient way to travel over longer periods of time.
You’ll find many subway stations also provide facilities like multi-purpose self-storage locker systems and phone-charging stations. You’ll even find places to shop, exhibitions and live performances.
So take some time to familiarise yourself with Korea’s subway system and how it works. You’ll be riding like a local in no time.
Express (Gosok) and Intercity (Sioe) buses are the most popular way to travel across different regions in Korea. Their extensive network provides a comfortable and efficient way to get to even the smallest of towns.
Buses almost always depart on time, making them one of the preferred methods of transportation for most Koreans. Travel times can vary occasionally due to road conditions.
Visitors are advised to buy their tickets directly from bus terminal ticket counters. Then all you need to do is simply check the gate number of your bus and get on-board. Tickets are inspected by the driver when you get on or off the bus, and you can always ask the driver for assistance if you are unsure about which route to take.
Location & Facilities
In most cities, bus terminals are located in the central downtown area. You’ll find restaurants and accommodation around terminals as well, making it a good starting point for your stay in Korea. There are also restrooms, convenience stores, coin-operated lockers and ATM’s inside most terminals and some larger ones even have entire shopping malls.
Seoul Bus System
In Seoul, buses are convenient and readily available. They are classified by colour so passengers can easily identify which service they require.
- Blue buses travel on major roads, for long trips through Seoul.
- Green buses travel shorter distances and carry passengers between transfer points such as subway stations and longer routes.
- Red buses are express buses and travel from Seoul to suburban areas.
- Yellow buses operate on a closed circuit within a district of Seoul.
- Many roads in Seoul have designated bus lanes to make travel more efficient.
While commuting through Seoul, you may hear strange beeping sounds coming from people’s bags or even cell phones. Don’t be alarmed, these are the sounds of a ‘T-Money Card’ – a high-tech sensor-activated payment system that allows you pay for bus and train rides without lifting a finger. It’s small enough to slip into your wallet or purse, and also comes as a charm so you can conveniently attach to your cell phone or key chain. It’s the hassle-free way to get around without worrying about tickets.
Ferry routes between the mainland and the islands allow tourists to take in the many marine splendours and breathtaking views of Korea. Passenger terminals are located at Incheon, Mokpo, Jeju, Busan, and Donghae. They cater for both domestic and international ferry services. Domestic ferry lines are located at Boryeong, Gunsan, Yeosu, Wando, Geoje, and Tongyeong. Ferry routes and schedules are subject to change due to weather, tides and boat conditions, so please check for possible delays prior to scheduling your trip.
Taxis in Korea are plentiful, clean, safe, and inexpensive. Taxi stands are conveniently located in cities. They can be easily hailed or ordered by phone for a small additional fee. An increasing number of drivers also speak English.
Most taxis in Seoul accept credit cards or pre-paid public transportation cards. However, taxis in provincial cities and other regions generally accept cash only. So make sure you have some local currency on you just in case. And note that fares can vary slightly from region to region.
If you plan on travelling within cities, public transportation is your best option. For longer journeys to provincial sites or Jeju Island, renting a car is an easier option. The largest car rental companies in Korea are KT Kumho Rent a Car and AJ Rent a Car. Both are easily accessible with multiple branches throughout Korea. You’ll also find car rental services at Incheon International Airport, Gimpo Airport, provincial airports, major railway stations, and express bus terminals. Check out which companies’ offer the best deals before you travel.
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