Seoul has one of the most efficient subway system in Asia. You can actually access most of the major tourist attractions just by hopping on/off the subway.
You may click on the link below to determine the shortest route and fare to your planned destination.
This is the recent Metro Map issued by Seoul Magazine. And I still see more construction for subway stations going around the city. Getting around Seoul is so much more easier using these public transpo system. T-money is often use by commuters so get 1 for yourself as well. Special T-money card are available for tourists at the info centers as well.
Lost and founds in City Hall Lines 1 and 2 : 02-6110-1122
Lost and founds in Chungmuro Lines 3 and 4 : 02-6110-3344
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. 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 depends on the distance you wish to travel.
There are a number of subway rails that connects a city. You just have to make transfers in order to get there but with the use of the T-money Card, I guarantee you that everything will run smoothly.
You can track the remaining balance of your T-money card in the card reader as you exit the subway or get off the bus and it will beep that will show your current balance.
We took the KTX from Seoul going back to Busan since it's cheaper than by plane. We were booked online by our hostel owner back in Busan (we asked this kind Korean owner to book us a round way tix). Our tickets cost KW43,900 each going back to Busan. You can book online via www.korail.com.
I find it weird though at first, that the subway staffs aren't checking our tickets but it made me realize that it's not necessary since the time and the seat number are indicated in the ticket. You cannot cheat in changing your seat/train number since the booking online generates an automatic ticket giving only the available seats at the time/date you wish to depart. The system gives a 100% guarantee of seat reservation. You will also be able to view in the website if the time you wish to travel has not yet been fully booked.
Time travel from Busan to Seoul/ Seoul to Busan takes about 3.5 hrs. KTX is faster than taking the bus since it will take you 6-8 hrs of time travel. Taking the bus maybe cheaper but if you think about the time you'll be spending in traveling, think again. Time is gold. You can earn money but it can't buy time.
Seoul is convenient and fast to travel by subway. The underground stations are deep underneath hard rock and decorated with art and some stations look like small art galleries. Some of the subway trains also have unque colorful theme decorations.
There are 8 subways lines run by three companies:
SMSC - Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation
SMRT - Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation
KNR - Korean National Railroad
Do not miss using the subway while in Seoul.
Getting from on point to another on the Subway Map looks ~ easy and convenient. Just pop down underground, buy a ticket, whosshhh you are off
However you have to make sure
~ which line (in color) you are on
~ the direction of the train is travelling
To be aware
(1) To get from a station to another, you may need to change Subway lines (going by the color), if not enjoy the ride.
(2) Standing on the platform, you will see the next station name on the pillars which indicates the direction of the train that will be heading
(3) Stepping out of a train (and needing to change Subway Line~ you will see arrows painted on the wall showing (a) the exit and/or (b) the route to walk to the connecting "Subway Line" eg if you need to change lines
(4) It may be quite a distance to walk to the next Subway Line (you can be assured you wont be alone in "rushing" to the next line) Having comfortable shoes is an advantage
(5) Fares start at 900 Won and most destinations (ie less than 10 stops) are 1000 won. So get that "change" of 1000won ready. The tickets can also be purchased from the counters manned by Subway employees.
(6) Don't ever go out during rush hour (745am-900am). YOU WILL BE PACKED LIKE SARDINES
One thing is for sure, getting to our hotel was a Breeze by Subway
Curious Habits of Seoul
(1) There are mirror (mostly) adjacent to the platforms. I wondered why until I saw Korean ladies facing it to check their teeth and hairdo. Guess its a vanity thingy!
(2) There are no trash cans on the platforms. Hence if you have finished with your newpaper, you are suppose to bring it along OR when still in the train ~ pop it over the overhead railings (which is actually for baggage storage). Reason being, so that (a) those looking for a read can take it from there (b) minimise the wastage of papers and trees that are chopped down for its production
(3) Everyone is orderly getiing on and off the train. A marvelous sight.
(4) No Litter at all!
Seoul has one of the world's largest subway-network with 8 different lines plus two additional lines connecting Deokso and Bundang.
The lines are colour-coded, clearly numbered and all information incl. announcements are bilingual.
Once you got used to the system, it is extremely easy to use and provides you with a fast and inexpensive way to explore the city without any risk of being stuck in traffic jams.
If you intend to stay longer than two days/nights in Seoul, I suggest you buy a T-Money pre-paid transportation card. This card can be purchased at all subway stations and certain kiosks. The card itself costs 2,500 KRW (no refund!) and can be used to pay for subway (T-Money users enjoy a discount on all subway rides, i.e. while a normal ride starts at 1,000 KRW, with T-Money it only costs 900 KRW), bus and taxi and it can be used at certain convenience stores, museums, parking lots, vending machines, etc. etc. etc. (the usage possibilities of the T-Money card are expanding rapidly).
Buy the card, put some money on it (e.g. 10,000 KRW) and enjoy a trouble-free stay in Seoul.
Check out the below web-site for more information: It includes comprehensive information on fares, timetables, stations and even step-by-step instruction-videos for things like "Purchasing a ticket", "Passing through ticket gates", etc.
Subway Line-1 is the oldest and the longest subway line in Seoul. It was divided into two main lines; from Uijeong-bu Bukbu to Incheon and from Cheongnyangni to Cheonan. It also has a branch line from Yongsan to Cheongnyangni. It is the most useful line in Seoul subways. You can get to Mt. Dobong, Dongdaemun Market, Insa-dong, Seoul Station, Yongsan electric district, Suwon, Cheonan and more attractive destinations by Line-1. If you want to know more about Line-1, see my travelogue about Line-1. There is not enough information yet, but I will improve this page soon.
Line-4 has some attractive destinations for foreigners. You can get to Myeong-dong, Daehak-ro, Namdaemun Market, and Seoul Race Course etc… When a train passes through between Namtaeryong station and Seonbawui station, you must be surprised. Line-4 changes from keep right to keep left (or keep left to keep right) at the point between Namtaeryong and Seonbawui. It is the most mysterious thing in Seoul Subways.
The absolute best way to get around Seoul is the subway. It is clean, fast and safe. The lines are always expanding so no matter where you need to go in the city (and in some cases outside), it will get you there. Of course, just like Japan, the cars are crowded during rush hour and the trains stop at about midnight and start up again at 5:30 in the morning.
The subway maps in the stations and in the cars is Korean and English, color coded, and numbered and all stops all called out in both languages on a speaker in all cars and there is also a ticker for the hearing impared to read. They even tell you which side of the car to step off of as you approach each stop. The system is extremely easy to navigate given the size of it.
Many of the stations also double as underground shopping centers and meeting places for people; some pretty good fast food can be had in the subway.
Back to the size, you can now ride the subway from as far out as Kimpo airport to NE Seoul and to Choneon to the south. Also, since the subway connects with the national train service, you could quite literally travel the whole country by subway/train.
Lastly, the subway is very inexpensive. They just changed the the way rates are calculated to by distance. Basic rate is 800 won and goes up from there. The most you will pay is 2200 won to get anywhere in the city or to Incheon. A taxi by comparison will cost close to than that just to get moving.
The subway is considered the most effective traffic system in Seoul. Eight subway lines and a surface line of the Korean National Railroad (KNR) merge to serve Seoulites and visitors to Korea. Seoul subway lines (each one a distinct color) link the farthest parts of Seoul and its satellite cities. The lines are well developed and you can find most of Seoul's attractions such as royal palaces, historical sites and theme parks along the eight different lines.
The Seoul subway system is very extensive and offer a convenient way to move around the city as almost all parts of the city has sub-way stations. In fact, the subway stations are like underground cities with shops, eateries etc.
Nowadays, it is easier to travel by sub-way in Seoul because there is English language (probably after the World Cup 2002 in Seoul). A map of the Seoul subway lines is in the weblink below.
At first sight it seems complicated to move around, but then is like another world metro line system.
Between metro lines you have to walk long distances.
very crowded but we can move easily.
The Seoul metro is like a another living city, underground.
Basically, all or most of the tourist destinations and interesting places are all connected through the subway or metro system. It is easily and more efficient to take a subway and tour around seoul for a foreigner than to gather your courage and take the buses.
At each subway station, there will be a ticketing counter, the entrance and exit gates (beware, don't get in through the exit gates and vice versa) and a few Automatic Vending Machines (ATVMs). For those who are travelling to and fro often, or for most of the time on your holiday, it's better to get a card than to buy the tickets for the current journey (which is going to cost you much more than the travelling card). The travelling card's called a "T-money" card and you can get it from the ATVM too.
And at every station, they got the number, the line colour and the map of the location.
When you are waiting for the trains, be careful not to go to the wrong place or the train that goes to the opposite direction. Usually there will be the transit map and big signs of the current stop in korean/english/chinese and number, the last and next stop's information (depending on which way the train is coming from. E.g. If the train's coming from your left, then the last stop's usually placed on the left of the current stop on the wall and the next stop would be on the right. It sounds confusing but once you're there and taken a couple of the rides, it'll be not much of a problem to you.)
Another thing I'd like to point out:
The heating-system in the subway is fuming hot. Be prepared to wear your clothes in layers, so as it gets warmer in the subway, you can just take off your coat.
Everything else that you need or want to know is on the web.
Very easy to get around on the subway. Went all the way up to Bosan and down to Pyeongtak. Very inexpensive. All signs are in Korean & English. Very clean. Bathrooms @ every stop. Everyone behaves with a common courtesy of: a man giving up a seat for a woman; anyone giving up a seat for someone older or elderly; giving up a seat to a mother with young kids, etc. No one is rude. Saw many young kids (ages 8-13) riding without adults (who, by the way, were also courteous). People subdued and quiet (except for foreingers).