Cars, Subways and Buses, Seoul
As mentioned in another tip: use the subway whenever possible (especially to that black hole of traffic Kangnam!). The trains are regular, run from about 6AM to midnight and are clean, fast and easy to navigate.
If you must go by car/taxi do so in the middle of the day or late at night (after 10PM) to avoid traffic. As well, you might expect 2-3 HOURS to get from one part of the city to another. Yes, the same distance that might take 30-60 minutes on the subway can take 2 hours (easily) in the surface. This really sucks if you're in a cab and have only so much in won on you (although I believe many take credit cards).
Another idea, if the subway is not convenient and you're short on dough, is to take a bus. Call 1330 for multi-language directions. be prepared, though, buses in Korea can become PACKED with people, often accelerate and turn and brake abruptly. As well, you need to keep a good eye out for your stop (there are English announcements for the major stops). Another thing, I heard (but have not seen) that buses will sometimes not pick up people at a stop because they are running late--they need to stick to the schedule and cannot afford the time.
The Seoul subway system is probably the best way to get to major points of interest around the city. It is pretty inexpensive, and faster in most cases than taking a taxi. About the hardest thing is figuring out where you are going. But, if you have directions in advance, learning to navigate the subways are actually pretty easy. There isn't as much complication as in a city like Tokyo, and they are safer than the trains in New York. Cleaner too.
Most tickets are pretty cheap, the website says 800 won for over three stops. I seem to remember it being a bit more, but still nowhere near as expensive as a taxi. I also seem to remember people who are older (like in their later 60's early 70's can ride for free. That may be for Korean's only, check the ticket salespeople for info.)
The cheapest and best way to get to Seoul from Incheon Airport is the airport limousine bus. It'll cost you only about US$5-$6, compare to the cab ride that would cost a whopping US$50 !
There's really nothing to it, just log onto the English website and choose a bus that bypasses your route or hotel. Yup, there are a slew of popular hotels that are situated along the bus routes. So aim for anyone of them.
Vice versa if you're going to Incheon from Seoul. Just take a train to Gimpo Airport, catch a bus to Incheon Airport for the same price.
From the airport i took the so clled limousine bus. I say so called because it's just a bus, definitly nothing luxurious or extra confortable. The bus number I took is 6015 and the price is 10000 wong. You can buy the ticket at arrival hall in the airport, there ask the number of bus you need to take for the area where you have to go to.
Once you re out look for the column with your bus number . A suggestion for the bus company: add a led screen advertising the stops as the voice that calls them has a low volume and once someone arrives for the first time in Korea may have some difficulties in understanding the pronunce. When you take the bus on the way back, just know that you buy ticket on the bus and you do not book the seat, so if the bus is full you wait for the next one that usually arrives after 20 minutes.
As been asked many times on this forum, what is the best way to get to Seoul from IIA? Buses from Incheon International Airport to Seoul operate on 10-15 minute intervals during the flight operation hours. As the subway between IIA and Seoul is currently under construction, the most convenient and cheapest way to get to Seoul is Limousine Bus. Deluxe Limousine Bus tickets to Seoul cost 12,000-13,000 won, Standard Limousine Bus tickets cost 7,500-8,000 won. Tickets can be purchased at the Transportation Information Counter near the exits No. 2, 4, 9, 13 on the arrival floor (1st floor) or at the bus stops themselves. Which bus you take depends on the part of the city you are going to. Don't worry, the places are written on the buses in English as well as Korean. Here is a list of the buses, where they go, and which exit in the airport to head for to catch them:
Seoul has some of the worst traffic on earth, so I recommend against taking surface transportation to get around town. Maybe if you're going somewhere between the hours of 10 pm an 5 am, a cab or car might be worthwhile, but in general the metro is the best way to get around town. Though, Seoul ios a big city, so it can even take an hour by subway to go from Seoul Station to the Jamsil Sports Complex, for example.
But that time is nothing compared to how bad it can be on the roads. There are times when a 12 mile (20 km) journey has taken me two hours. Rush hour starts early and continues (seemingly) throughout the day. The picture associated with this tip is taken at 5:30 a.m., and the road is already clogged.
Acurately it depends on where you are going to and what number of bus or subway you are going to get on . But Generally,
Buses : 22:30~ 24:00
Trains : 23:00~ 24:30
If you have to transfer, you should be careful
the last transfering time.
The public transportation in Seoul is very well organized. It is probably the best public transportation that any city has, with its buses and its metro. First things first, purchase an english version of the metro map. If you hate walking, you can also use the buses as well, but downtown seoul has metro stations every 20minute-walk or so. You need to either buy a scan-card (and you charge it with money, and scan it whenever you use the bus/metro), or you can buy a ticket every time you use the system.
(the map on the left is 3 years old - the metro has expanded even more since then.)
SCAN YOUR SCANNING CARD WHEN YOU ARE GETTING ON AND OFF THE BUS.
This way, if you are simply switching lines, then you can get onto the next bus for free. Also, if you are switching from a bus straight to a metro, it is gratuit as well. If you are buying something small, then try to get it done by 30 mins, as the return trip will then be free as well.
The buses are an easy and cheap way to get around Seoul... if you can figure out the system. Normally buses cost only 700 Won. If you don't speak Hangul, many list the major stops in English on the side of the bus. Bus 82 goes from Itaewon to Myeongdong and Bus 23 runs between Itaewon and City Hall.
The subway system in Seoul is one of the best we have used, and that includes New York City and London, England.
The subway is easy to navigate as signs are posted in Korean and English. I guess that makes it easy if you read Korean and/or English. None the less, if reading the signs doesn't work the friendly citizens of Korea are very willing to help. More than once my wife and I would stop to look at a map and a helpful native would quickly ask if we needed directions.
Not only are the numbered and colored lines easy to navigate but the system itself was extremely clean, cool (we where visiting in July), and timely.
A classy system for a classy city.
When traveling Free & Easy in Seoul, the bus & subway concession card called "T money "comes in handy. You can buy the "T money" easily at any GS25, family mart and other convenience stores. The cost of the card (non refundable) is $2500won. You can top it up at any amount above $1000won.
There is a concession (for instance, a discount of $100won per subway trip etc) when you use the T-Money on buses or subways. But it's actually the convenience it gives us that really matters.
When using the card on buses, you have to tap it when you board the bus and tap on the machine again when you alight.
If you need to get a refund for the remaining top up amount in your T-Money card before you leave Seoul, you may go to their convenience store GS25 for the refund.
The subway is the most convenient mode of transport in going around Busan or in Seoul and in Gyeonggi-do areas.
It is operated from 530am-1am. Currently there are 4 subway lines operating around Busan.
You won't get lost since the stations are labeled in Korean, English and Chinese and numbered as well. Single fare costs 1,000KW and depend on the distance you wish to travel.
By the time we arrived in Busan, I thought that the T-money card and the disposable transportation card look the same. I was about to buy the T-money thinking that it looks like the Octopus card of Hong Kong... I inquired about the T-money with the lady in the store even though we had a hard time communicating since she can't easily speak English. Luckily, one of the subway's staff was on the floor, she became the answer to all of my questions!
I then realized, the T-money Card is not literally a "card" like what I imagined.
So what happened was, I bought this T-money card (the lady said that I may choose the mini mirror or the mickey mouse shaped card) for 7000KW then recharged it using the self-service charger in the subway by another 10,000KW. Yes, you are right! The T-money card and the balance are sold separately!
The T-money card is a rechargeable transportation card and varies in sizes/shapes.
The term rechargeable means that you can "reload" amount of the money you have in your card, after numerous deductions of fares you had within the day so you can be able to use it all over again. You can "recharge" the T-money card in any convenience stores/subway stations. The
T-money card used in Busan can also be used in Seoul.
It can also be used in riding buses, paying entrance fees in museums, cultural facilities, palaces, etc.
The only disadvantage in using the T-money card is that you can't have any refund of the remaining balance in it unlike (again) in using the Octopus card. So just always check the amount you have in your card so you can only recharge it with the appropriate amount you need while staying in the country.
How To Use: place the T-money card in the card reader as you get on a bus or subway and it will beep indicating your current balance after the fare was deducted.
I have driven in a lot of countries, but Korea is definately one of the worst. If it weren't for the enormous volume of traffic, the lack of respect for the rules of the road, and the random no-notice construction, the highways would be fine. The narrow roads in town, along with the park-anywhere policy, and the lack of traffic law enforcement makes the towns and cities even worse.
If you happen to get in a minor accident, the best bet is to negotiate a quick settlement with the other drivers before the police arrive--even if there is no damage--otherwise the person at fault will be fined by the police...
Even though we did not rent a car, it was hard to see or find a gasoline station in town. Eventually, I did spot one and this photo will help you spot what they might look like. This one also had a "mini mart".
The cost is 7,000 won for round trip ride to seoul tower in nam san mountain and it is open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm and there is a shuttle bus going to chunguro station (the nearest subway to Nam San for 1000 won per trip). The Namsan Cable Car is located on the north side of Namsan Mountain and is accessible by way of Soya-gil Rood. Parking is available at the cable car entrance and there are small stands there to offer rest and refreshments. It is open every day from 9:30 A.M. to 10:30 P.M. Tickets are sold on the third floor.
Address is: Hwaehyun-dong 1-ga, Seoul, South Korea 100-501