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 train. Bus schedules can vary depending on traffic, but that is hardly the case for the railroad, allowing passengers to make accurate travel plans and move to destinations on time. Korean trains are classified based on their speed and the amenities offered onboard. The classifications include the express trains KTX and KTX-Sancheon; regular trains ITX-Saemaeul and Mugunghwa; and KORAIL tourist trains. Ticket fares depend on the train type and distance of travel. The two main railway lines are Gyeongbu Line and Honam Line but other railway lines also include Jeolla and Gyeongjeon Lines, which reach as far as Yeosu and Changwon on the southern coast.
Subways serve as a convenient mean of transportation, probably the most favored public transportation by both Koreans and international visitors. Subways are currently available in five major cities including the Seoul Metropolitan Area, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju and Daejeon. Seoul Metropolitan Area subway system covers an expansive area, including Line 1 to 9 with additional lines, such as Sinbundang Line, Gyeongchun Line, Gyeongui-Jungang Line, Ever Line, Uisinseol Line, and more, branching throughout the metropolitan area. Each subway line has a designated color to aid passengers in using the subway with ease.
There are many ways to travel around Korea, but the most popular way to get from one region to another is by bus. Both express and intercity buses have extensive networks throughout the country, providing transportation from one city to another at reasonable prices. In addition, the buses operate on a timely schedule.
In most cases, both the express and intercity bus terminals are located near the center of each city. However, in some cities, such as Seoul, the terminals are located far from each other. Visitors are advised to double check the boarding location of the bus before departure. Take note that if a bus terminal name includes the word Jonghap, it means that the terminal provides both express and intercity bus transportation.
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.
KOREA TOUR CARD, Tmoney and Cashbee are transportation cards that can be used on public buses and subways in several different metropolitan cities and locations throughout the nation. With this transportation card, travelers can save the hassle of purchasing single journey subway tickets for every ride and enjoy discounts on rides during transfers from one bus to another, one subway line to another, or from bus to subway or vice versa (within a transfer time limit).
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.
Taking a taxi in Korea is very convenient for international visitors, with an increasing number of taxi drivers being able to speak English. Taxis can be found at taxi stands in most busy city areas or hailed on the streets. There are also call taxis that can be requested by phone call or mobile application. However, tourists should note that call taxis start with a higher base fare than the taxis you flag down on the street.
The base fare will vary by region, but taxis all use the same fare calculation of increase by time and distance traveled. While virtually all taxis operating in the Seoul area accept credit cards or transportation cards, it is possible that some taxis in the outlying or isolated regions may request cash only. Keep this in mind and make sure to have some cash (in Korean won) with you if you plan to use a cab in remote areas.
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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