South Korea is on the forefront of modern and environmentally conscious transportation systems. The country is woven together by extensive networks of railways, highways, bus routes, ferry services and air routes, making every corner of its luscious landscape available for exploring. Korea continues to develop its modern infrastructure throughout the country with complex subway systems and express railways that interconnect large cities and suburbs to villages and resorts on the outskirts of the country. Though bills and coins are more than acceptable to use, the transportation system is connected electronically via T-Money Transit cards, which makes using different modes of transportation (i.e., transferring from subways to buses and even taxi’s) as quick and painless as a swipe of a card. Korean public transportation leaves no stone unturned for travelers, daily commuters, and tourists.
There are a number of intra-city and inter-city buses in Korea, all with a specific system to make for organized travel. Seoul has a color coded system to help commuters make their way more efficiently. The intra-city buses, which are the buses within your local area, will be approximately 500won (less than 50 cents). Using an inter-city bus that connects the suburbs to a larger city costs only 1800won. Depending on how far you travel on a single bus, there can be an additional fee of a few hundred won.
The most convenient way to use the bus system, or any travel system for that matter, is to purchase the aforementioned T-Money Transit Card. You can easily ride any Seoul bus by simply swiping at the pay-box as you get on. These cards can be refilled at many different convenient stores and at any ticketing booth in subway stations. The following link will bring you to a great website with more information about buses, routes and fares.
Korean Intercity Bus System: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TR/korea_terminal.jsp
Seoul Bus System: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TR/TR_EN_5_1_3_2.jsp
Seoul has one of the most extensive subways systems in the world. Several different lines connect the Greater Seoul Area and extend into most of the city’s largest suburbs, connecting millions of people and almost every dimension of Seoul. The subway is so well traveled that most districts and areas of Seoul are described and identified by their subway stop. T-Money cards makes subway travel and transfer even more convenient than catching a cab or waiting for the bus. For more information see the Cyber Seoul Subway Guide for more details.
Korean Subway System: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TR/TR_EN_5_1_4.jsp
If public transportation isn’t your cup of tea or you need something a little more independent to suit your lifestyle, bicycles and scooters are a great alternative. Bikes are a great way to change up your commute, beat traffic, see the city, visit friends and get some exercise. The Korean government has spent a lot of money carving out bike paths and walk ways within each major city, allowing for more scenic and recreational options to get around. You can buy new or used bikes for affordable prices. Though used bikes are usually a little harder to find, they are cheaper and usually do the trick just as well as a new one would.
Scooters are also a common and affordable way of transportation. You can purchase a second-hand scooter for anywhere between 450,000 and 900,000won. Scooters are treated similar to bikes when it comes to licensing and insurance… you don’t need either, which makes buying a scooter a popular investment for expats all over Seoul. Seoul Craigslist is a great site to check for scooter sales.
If you are interested in purchasing a car in Korea, you must have a Korean License. Luckily, there are ways of getting one without having your license from your home country revoked. In the event you want to rent a car for a weekend or extended amount of time, a Korean or international license is required.
Like other forms of transportation in Korea, there are many different train options to chose from. There is the standard train system with six different lines that access several widespread areas of Korea. It is relatively cheap and a comfortable way to travel longer distances. There is also the Korea Train Express, also known as the KTX. The KTX is more expensive (approx 50,000won one way) but can often cut your travel time in half, traveling at 300km/hr.
There are several airports in South Korea, most of them being domestic with options to fly within Southeast Asia. The Incheon Airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in the world and the most widely used international airport in Korea. From 2006 to 2010, it was rated the best airport in the world by the Airports Council International and also received the full 5-star ranking by Skytrax alongside Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport. And in the event you ever have a long layover, miss a fight or want to make use of your time waiting for flights, Incheon Airport has a golf course, a spa, private sleeping rooms, a ice skating rink, a casino, indoor gardens and a Museum of Korean Culture. Not only is it foreigner friendly but has some of the most extensive amenities to fit any travelers needs. Located 70km west of downtown Seoul, with an extensive airport shuttle system that operates from all districts of Seoul and most suburbs, this airport has made traveling to and from Korea as easy as it gets.
Information regarding bus numbers and destinations are available at the airport. Airport buses run approximately 5am to 11pm every 20-30 minutes, for about 15,000-20,000won one way. See the website below for information regarding airport buses, routes, times and fares.
Incheon Airport link: http://www.airport.kr/eng/
Airport Bus system link: http://www.airport.kr/airport/traffic/bus/busList.iia?flag=E