Taxis, city buses, trains, subways, regional buses. South Korea has it all. Here are some tips on navigating South Korea’s transportation scene.
1. Grabbing a Taxi
The great thing about Korean cities is the amount of taxis that they have roaming the city. Korean taxis are clean, cheap, and get you to your destination much quicker than public transportation. Grab a taxi by waving one down. Try to make sure that you’re standing on the side of the road that is going the same direction you are. Some taxis don’t want to take the extra time in taking you around to the other side.
Pay in cash or card (or your T-money if you have it) and you’re good to go. Always get a receipt. If you leave something that receipt is the best way to find it. And last but not least, 빈차 means empty car. And try to avoid the black taxis. They’re expensive.
Buses run both earlier and later than the subway. To get on the bus, go to the stop in the direction you need, tap on and then tap off when you leave.
*If you tap off the fare will end here. If you decide not to tap off, you get one free transfer within a half hour.
The subway is pretty straightforward. The free transfer rule still applies. There are pink seats for pregnant women and seats of four at the ends of the train for the elderly and disabled. The trains will tell you your stops in Korean, English, and Japanese.
When you’re going up or down the escalator, be sure to stand on the right and walk on the left.
Everyone talks about Korea’s high speed trains. KTX Stations are different from your regular subway station. They’re above ground and to ride on a KTX train, you’ll need a paper or e-ticket. You can buy them easily at the station counter. There are three main KTX stations in Seoul. Seoul Station, Yongsan Station, and Yeongdeungpo Station.
When you get to the station, tell the attendant where you are going, buy the ticket, and either wait or go straight to the platform that the train leaves from. Occasionally an attendant will go around making sure that everyone has a ticket. So don’t lose the ticket while you’re on the train.
Similar to the Suica or Pasmo Card in Japan, the T-money is your main transportation card. Get it at most major convenience stores. You can reload at bigger convenience stores (ask the cashier first) or you can reload on the kiosks in the subway terminals.
T-money can be used to pay for public transportation and taxis.
If you are traveling somewhere, it’s always good to have the place written in hangul to give to a taxi driver or show people if you need help.