By Air, Seoul
I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, but there is no real tip on here about getting to Korea. Most travelers to Korea get there by air and the airport makes your first initial impression of how your trip will be in my opinion. Korea's main international airport is located at Incheon; about an hour west of Seoul. It is quite frankly one of the best airports i have ever had the pleasure of transisting through. It has all the conviences that any major world airport has but they seem to be more logically placed and easier to use than I have found anywhere else. For instance, there are lockers (free for one day use) for transit passengers located right in the transit area. You only have to ask the information desk for a key (which by the way is very multi-lingual). There is a reasonably priced shower and sauna service. There is even a transit hotel right on the 4th floor if you have a long lay over that doesn't give you time visit the city, but still too long to just sit in a terminal seat waiting for your flight.
Before coming to Seoul I read many great reviews about Incheon airport considered to be on the top 5 of the best airports in the world. I read the check out was done normally in 12 minuts from the disembark. Well everyting was very fast but it took anyway 25 minuts to get the lagguage, very fast for my standard (in Rome you are lucky if you check out in 40 minuts) but not the 12 minuts I read about.
Incheon Airport is very easy on arrivals, with very clear, very obvious signs in Korean and English.
The arrivals hall is on the ground floor, and just outside are the bus services to the downtown area. There is no metro to the airport yet.
The airport "limousine" (bus) services are frequent and get you downtown quicker than you might expect, especially if you are arriving at the weekend.
This is a well-planned, attractive airport!
Nearly all international flights to Seoul land at the Incheon International Airport which is located west of Seoul. Korea has two major airlines which use this airport as a hub. These are Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. Both airlines provide decent service at the best prices to travel to Asia from North America. I give the nod to Asiana as the slightly better airline due to its quality of service.
To get to Seoul you can take a taxi (around W40000/60000 regular/deluxe), or one of the various shuttle buses (60 minutes plus, W8000-12000). There are two main varieties of shuttle bus: one operated by Korean Airlines which services major hotels directly, the other being part of Seoul's public transport system and going to various points in the city. Consult the big maps to figure out which route best suits your needs; you can then find the shuttles outside 1st floor arrivals. It is about one hour to Seoul.
A train link to the airport is under construction. Continual delays have pushed back the scheduled opening of the section between the airport and Gimpo to March 2007, the final stretch to Seoul Station projected to open by 2010.
Which airline to take to Seoul, South Korea?
South Korea has two major airlines ~ Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.
Korean Air is with the SkyTeam partnership with Aeromexico, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, Continental Airlines, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air and Northwest .
Aseanna is with the Star Alliance partnership with L ufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Spanair, TAP and lots more (check StarAlliance
We took Korean Air was because it had a code share with Malaysia Airlines.
Seoul's Incheon Airport is one of the few places in the Seoul area which has no metro or rail link, and it is a long way from the city.
Taxis are expensive, but there is a good network of express and bus services outside the arrivals terminal. Tickets are available from booths and also from helpers in uniform by most stops.
The buses all have clear markings in English. Korean Airlines operate four services and other companies operate a variety of routes.
Noticeboards and maps show information clearly in English, Japanese and Chinese and I noticed a leaflet in French. The Koreans know how to satisfy a lot of nations!
The buses are clean and the KAL buses have reclining business-class leather seats. The journey into Seoul varies enormously but count on an hour minimum at the weekend to the Dong-hwa area and 90 minutes during the week outside rush hours, perhaps double in the rush hour. Apparently locals use the express bus to the old airport at Gimpo, then the metro.
Tickets cost around Won 12,000 single.
Taking a flight out of Seoul is like taking a shuttle bus anyway really. It's a no-brainer, the fares are cheap and you can buy the tickets on the spot. Just head for GIMPO Domestic Airport and aim for any ticketing counter.
Going by Korean Air is always a cheaper option since this airline is state-owned. If you've got a bit of extra cash, aim for Asiana, the service is better and you can cash in on you star alliance points. Better still, they'll allow you to book your e-tickets online at a discounted price. Here's a sample of their fares(one-way)
Seoul->Cheju Island (52,960won)
Incheon Airport is the gateway to Korea. It is located an hour west of Seoul, on an island outside of Incheon. Incheon is a beautiful, modern airport that opened in 2002, just in time for the World Cup. Incheon's 35 million passengers per year makes it the eighth busiest airport in the world.
The airport has been named the world's best airport each year from 2005-2012. Its features include an ice rink, on-site spa, a small movie theater, free shower facilities, a library, and a multitude of restaurants and duty free shops. There is also a free shuttle to nearby golf courses and a casino.
To get from Incheon Airport to Seoul take a bus, taxi, or the new subway line called AREX. The distance from Seoul to the airport is just 30 miles, but plan on about an hour no matter which mode of transport you choose.
Taking bus no. 602 is a good and simple way to get to Seoul from Incheon airport. Just get up, pay 6000KRW (~5USD), and it takes you to Hapjeong subway station, where lines 2 and 6 cross each other. Hapjeong is the first stop of the bus, and it takes about 35-40 minutes to get there from Incheon.
After a nine hours flight, we were there at the Incheon airport.. The second but the biggest airport of Seoul. All Major flights are arriving to this airport..
We left the plane and queued in front of the passport control..The first surprise to host us.. Waiting 50 minutes just for the pass control..Yep we were unlucky may be selecting the slowest one, but still this shall not be a nice way to start a journey...
After spending three quarters on the passport control, our bags were already out..
So we jumped out to the arriving hall, where people were waiting for their quests..
The first thing we have done inside the custom, is to move to the leftside to the exchange offices.. We have changed as small as possible due the rate was far below the officialcurrency.. During our visit time the currency was 1 USD=1024 KWR, Approx 1 USD=1000 Korean money, so it was easy to make calculations..
The new gateway to South Korea and Seoul, the impressive Incheon International Airport is now the international airport of choice for travelers. There are tons of flights arriving into the airport on a daily basis. Whether you are coming from America, Europe, Africa, Australia or other parts of Asia, this will probably be your first glimpse of Korea. The attendants are friendly and cheerful. Do take comfortable shoes as the distances are long in this huge airport.
I flew with Korean airways into Incheon and would like to say that they were attentive, pleasant and very efficient. I would not hesitate to use them again. I have now travelled on many airlines (all in economy unfortunately) and would place this airline at the top of the pile from my experience.
All international flights arrive at Incheon International Airport. It is situated in Incheon which is about 50 kilometres from Seoul in western direction. It was openend it 2001 and built on an island.
Domenstic flights arrive and depart at the old Gimpo Airport. But some cities (like Busan) can be also reached directly from Incheon Airport.
Airport tax is 15.000 won for international flights and 4.000 won for domestic flights.
The picture on your left shows the new international airport in Incheon. Thanks to Radio Korea International in Seoul for this postcard! (It is not allowed to take photos of the aiport.)
Incheon airport... pick up an English paperback at the bookshop, get last minute MAC lipstick, it's sunny and modern. Though I feel ashamed that I can't speak Korean, still it is an international airport... but don't be surprised if most of the airport staff DO NOT speak English! Japanese might help you! And I hear Chinese is gaining in popularity now... ;)
Use taxis, around $2US from most A-B locations. Again, don't expect the driver to understand English!