Taxis in Korea are all metered. Drivers should give you exact change. Tips are only typical if they provide additional services, like loading or carrying your luggage.
Within places like Seoul, they do have "deluxe" taxis that charge a higher price, however in smaller cities and towns, prices are all standard regardless of the taxi company. Deluxe taxis in Seoul are black color. You should note that very few taxis accept credit card, so be prepared with cash in advance.
Taxi stands do exist, and when there is one, it is courtesy to take the first in the line. However taxis will stop on the street at any time if you flag them.
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 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 had 3 positive experiences with taxi drivers in Seoul and Jeju.
Upon exiting the airport terminal in Incheon, we boarded a taxi and asked the driver to take us to Fraser Place.. The driver could not speak English. So, I showed him the hotel voucher. He then made a call to the hotel, presumably to ask for instructions from the hotel staff.
In Jeju, we asked the bellhop to tell the driver to take us to the Yellow Submarine. It was mid afternoon, and the driver made a call to the YS office to confirm if there were available slots.
On another day, we went around Jeju island and had lunch in a town near a volcanic formation (Seongsan). After lunch, as we headed back to the resort, I discovered that I did not have my camera with me and started searching my backpack. The driver noticed this, and asked me what I was looking for. He then pulled over and made a call to the restaurant, and got agitated when he was informed that they did not have my camera. (A few minutes later, I was embarassed to find my camera in one of the pockets of my backpack.)
This was an excellent flight with top notch service. No negatives here.
We flew a 5 hour flight from Saigon to Seuol. The plane looked new and had lots of leg room. We booked our trip online directly with Korean Air. I would love to fly with them again.
For accessing the city of Daegu it is wise to get a city map and look at where the subway takes you. I am still learning my way around and after 3 weeks, I'm wondering if I should be further along. The subway cost as of October 6, 2011, is 1200 won one way. See the subway customer service office for getting a discount card that you can refill to save money if you plan on using the subway often. The subway hits all main points, but if you're going off the beaten path, it won't help. You'll have to walk, catch a bus or taxi to get there. This is an awesome experience, but overwhelming at times due to the language barrier. I missed my stop at Seomun Market and asked a teenager how I could get back. He could only point and smile. After getting off at the next stop a woman behind me came to tell me to just catch the other line going back. No additional token needed. This means you don't walk upstairs just stay in the lower track level and cross over to the next side, 1 or 2.
The most humbling experience I've had with transportation was when I got into a taxi after 2 a.m. and he couldn't find my block (even with the navigation system). Meanwhile, the fee for my taxi service was adding up $$$. I then pulled out my business card and had him input that address. As soon as we drove a few blocks east I recognized the restaurant I live 1 block from. With a series of grunts and finger pointing managed to get him to stop. I immediately pulled out my wallet to pay him the 14000 won, but then he grunted and gave me back 2000 won and softly said, "sorry." I looked into his eyes and smiled.
I will get some photos up as soon as I can. The Daegu pages are going to come up slowly because I'm still learning my way around.
The public buses and transport systems still operate during the Chuseok and holiday periods. The only problem is that you'll be competing for space with hundreds or thousands of Koreans who would not normally be traveling during those times. If you can, make reservations or get tickets as early as possible to confirm a seat. Also, plan on traffic to take longer time than normal, so if you have critical connections, leave early.
Private carriers or shuttles may not operate during these times, so contact the provider.
Express Highway Lines of Korea
Gyeongbu Line ( Seoul between Busan ) : 417Km
Namhae Line ( Suncheon between Busan ) : 169Km
88Olympic Line ( Gwangju between Daegu ) : 183Km
Seohaean Line ( Seoul between Mokpo ) : 341Km
Jungbunaeryuk Line ( Yeoju between Masan ) : 204Km
Yeongdong Line ( Seoul between Gangneung ) : 234Km
Jungang Line ( Busan between Chuncheon ) : 289Km
Jungbu Line ( Hanam between Jinju ) : 286Km
Honam Line ( Nonsan between Suncheon ) : 195Km
and many Highway Branch Lines
On April 1st, 2004, Korea entered the 'bullet' age with its first high-speed train. Of course, they did things a little differently by having stops instead of non-stop service from Seoul to Pusan and making the First Class the only class seat you could wish for. (I tried both classes on the regular trains, and found them to be similar: such is not the case on the KTX.)
The good news is it is faster than a normal train. Seoul to Busan is 2:40 compared to 4:10 on the fastest normal train. (Flying is one hour, plus check in.)
Pricing is interesting but normal for here. Each way is 45,000 won (USD 39; Seoul-Pusan). There is a discount based on the day you travel and how far in advance you reserve. Weekdays: 1-2 months in advance, 15-29 days, and 7 to 14 days have discounts of 20%, 15% and 7%. Weekend and holiday discounts are (same advance notice): 10%, 7.5% and 3.5%. Also discounts for: youth (13-24 yrs), business/corporate card, companion card (1 to 9 family members) and seniors (over age 65). First Class has a 40% surcharge. These prices are about 25% above the fastest normal train but less than the 69,000 won cost of a one-way flight.
See the link below for a great review of the KTX.
The Soul underground is very good, easy to use and on time.
They have a bi lingual language over both the tannoy and on the signs.
The only downside to the Metro is that they dont have a circle line like on the London undeground system, which would link more of the stations together, but thats a minor point.
They have 8 lines which are all colour coded and easy to navigate around the system.
All the stations and trains are clean every single day.
Even the free local paper (like the Mtero paper in London) gets cleaned up during the day.
I love travelling by train and undergorund when I am abroad, even though wen travelling by underground you miss the sights and sounds of the city.
All Soul stations are wheel chair accessible and easy to navigate through, expect Soul Sation and City Hall as the majority of the lines through these 2 stations and its very easy to get lost.
I would recommend that you find out which station exit is the one that I closer to your destination otherwise you could walk out of the station a couple of miles away from where you wanted to be.
I would recommend people buy the underground travel card, as it can save you allot of money. the travel card machine is very easy to use as its in english. My only problem was that it took me a long time to find a machine in Soul station.
Taxi service in Seoul usually is easily accessible and straightforward.
Just watch out when you are looking to return to the airport especially if you have to fly out of Inchon, South Korea. If you are leaving from your hotel, make certain that you have the bellmen handle the details with the taxi cab driver upfront. Why? Because the taxi driver could pull a fast over on you if you're not careful.
Usually a trip from the Hilton Seoul to Inchon Airport is appox. $80 - $90 US dollars. If you take a private car from the Airport, it can cost you as much as $130+. We rookies tend to find out the details well after being the ... TS "Traveling Sucker"!
Well, this story gets worse. I was on my journey back to Inchon to fly to the next country. I stepped into a cab that I thought that my bellman called up for me. I was mistaken. Even though I doubled checked about the cost to the airport ... as being approx. $80 US dollars, my taxi driver nodded with a smile then acted like he understood but said little to nothing. So, off we went. My fast dash to the airport. I fall asleep in the taxi. Of course, tired from all the partying. This nap was a "wrong decision". When I awoke the taxi's meter show close to $300 charges and we hadn't event crossed the bridge to Inchon. I was "sh#$" out of luck as I only had approx. $200 US and Korean won on me. Trust me, you do not want to get into an argument with over taxi fares at the end of your trip while rushing to catch a flight.
So, guess how much my supposedly $80 dollar taxi fare ended up? We'll while crossing the bridge to Inchon, I started to inquire about the meter that was running like crazy. My heart was pounding. Had a flight to catch. Didn't have any alternative if I challenged the taxi driver too soon. He slowed down at a time to possibly dump me by the side of the road penniless. I watched all the cabbie's "Christian Crosses" swing from the rearview mirror and decorated on the dashboard. I whispered ... "what a Christian?" "is this what being a good Christian look like". So, I prayed for the guy quickly out loud then dropped a few words that I was hurt by being taking advantage. Sharing all this while the driver carried on with little emotions.
So, I started writing down every serial number in the cab including a consumer hotline. So, as the bill passed the $400 mark, I put on my acting shoes. Started showing my frustration while (acting) like I was dialing the US Joint Command base plus the mayor of Seoul. Of course, you have to act as if they've placed you on hold for a bit. Don't forget a few transfer calls that frustrate you. When I finally acted as if I reached the General and the Mayor, I was courteous then displayed being upset about Taxi #43444455 because I was being robbed. At one point, I even mentioned canceling a major delegations visit to see the Mayor of Seoul because of their unruly cabbies. This went on for about another 20 minutes.
We'll when I finally arrived at Inchon Airport. I was off my phone (or at least acting like it). Told the cabbie that I was sadden by him misleading me as to the cost of the trip to the airport from the Hilton. The meter hit a few hundred bucks more than what I had on me. By this time, the cabbie showed signs of perspiration on his face. I gave him my $200. His hands were shaking. He handed the money back to me. I said it is yours. He nervously said hold out the money. Then he only took $60. Cracked a smile of apology. Rushed out to get my luggage.
He shoved of faster than a scared deer running from a forest fire.
I wish him well. But, he peeled out.
I assume most tourists going to Seoul will get from the Incheon Airport to Seoul via hotel shuttle or KAL Airport Limousine (buses operated by KAL). You can also take the Airport Railroad. It's a new railroad line being built to connect the Incheon Airport with Seoul. It will eventually be extended all the way to Seoul City Hall station.
Taking railroad in Seoul is fastest way to move about so if you are comfortable with the subway system, I recommend this railroad.
The subway system in Seoul can be intimating to non-subway commuters like me. But anyone who's used any subway system should find it pretty easy to use. All signs and ticket vending machines are in Korean and English. Announcements are made in Korean and English also. Note that there are no ticket booth where you buy a ticket from a clerk. All tickets are sold from ticket vending machines. Most people use what's card T-card but you can buy one-time use ticket from the vending machines. You can follow direction in English to buy your tickets from the vending machine.
If you are planning on using the subway system in Seoul, spend some time on this interactive guide: http://www.smrt.co.kr/Train/Subwaymap/Eng/Subwaymap.jsp
It's a really useful guide to the subway system. Follow the steps below to get oriented.
-Pick your language at top.
-Than click on the different subway 'lines' which are 1 - 9, Incheon, Bundang, Jungang, Airport Railroad, and Gyeonggui. All these are separate subway lines. They are interconnected via what's called Transfer Areas (aks stations).
-You can find out what subways to take to go from point A to point B.
-Click on 'Total'.
-On the map, click on one subway station to select Departing Station. Click on another station to select Arrival Station.
-The guide will tell you how much it will cost, how long and where to transfer. So to go from the Incheon International Airport to the Express Bus Terminal, you'd take the Airport Railroad and also Line 9. You will need to transfer once (from Airport Railroad to Line 9) at the Gimpo International Airport. The entire trip will take 86 minutes and cost 4700 won for an adult.
-That's it. Now you can move around the city like a local!
Btw, large subway maps are installed at all subway stations.
I highly recommend Seoul City Tour Bus for getting around Seoul to see the popular tourist sites. If you have 1 or 2 full days to spend in Seoul, you should definitely take advantage of Seoul City Tour Bus. Getting around Seoul using the subway can be a bit of challenge for the uninitiated foreigners, so the City Tour Bus is the best choice for getting to tourist destinations in Seoul.
Closed on Mondays
Cost and how to get ticket: 6,000 KWN to 12,000 KWN for a one-day pass depending on the course. Teens and younger get discounts. I took the bus with the City Circulation Course all-day pass which cost 10,000 KWN. If you are paying with a Credit Card, you MUST purchase the ticket at the Seoul City Tour Bus Ticketbox, which is at Gwanghwamun Station only. If you are paying with cash or T-Money card (South Korean mass transit card), you can purchase it on the bus when you first board. I strongly recommend just paying with cash on the bus so that you can start the Seoul City Tour bus from anywhere. The City Tour Bus stops at some of the hotels also.
Condition of Bus: Bus is equipped with good AC system which was great during the hot June I was there. At each seat you will find a headphone. Using the headphone you can hear short introductions to the destinations the bus will stop at.
What to expect on bus: Each bus has a driver (obviously) and a female guide who sells tickets (if you didn't buy one already) and announces the next stop. As the guide announces the stop, she also announces when the following buses will be arriving at that stop. She would say (both in English and Japanese) something like the next buses will be arriving at 25 min and 55 min of the hour. That means a bus will be coming at 25th min and 55th min of every hour at the stop you are about to get off. They do that in order to help the tourists time their stay at a particular attraction. I was on 2 different buses (different driver and guide) and the guides all spoke conversational English and Japanese. I would recommend sitting on the right side of the bus so you can look down into the sidewalks.
Picking destinations: There are lots of stops you can check out using the City Tour Bus. If you need help with picking where to stop, go to | http://en.seoulcitybus.com | CYBER TOUR | GO Cyber Tour. In the pop up window, go to Courses. At bottom of the pop up window, you will see a list of stops. Click on one and you will see a small window that will show a small picture and short info. Click on Details, highlighted in the attached photo. Now you will see a detailed info of that particular stop. Go through the stops and pick ones you want to visit. It's really useful and efficient way to pick destinations that you want to check out.
Courses (2 day and 2 night):
There are 4 different courses with different times and buses. The bus will only stop if a tourist is waiting at a stop to board or a passenger has indicated he/she would like to get off at the next stop. The guide will announce next stop and ask if anyone will be getting off at next stop.
1. City Circulation Course has 26 stops. I actually think just riding around the city on this bus might be a thing to do if you are tired of walking.
2. CheongGye/Palace Course is a condensed version of City Circulation Course with 13 stops at better known tourist destinations such as the Korean Palaces and the CheongGyeChun (CheongGye Stream). The Korean War Memorial is NOT included in this course, unfortunately.
3. 1-story Bus Night course
4. 2-story Bus Night course. I believe this 2-story night course is non-stop tour and doesn't stop at any destination.
I took the high speed KTX train from Seoul to Busan. Efficient and comfortable with reasonable prices. It travels at speeds of up to 300 kph. You can book on their website up to two months in advance. Don't worry if your credit card is not charged straight away. They don't charge until you actually collect the tickets. Just bring your web receipt to a rail station once you are in Korea to collect them.
You can book your train tix in advanced online and in English. Helpful if you going to be traveling during a holiday. what's more, you see schedules and prices. Very helpful even if your not going to make a booking.
one word of warning, the site does not function correctly with Mozilla. I had to use IE to make my booking. I actually had to d/l a something from the website to get it to work.
All in all, it made my transport around the country hassle free.
As for price and travel time, you can't beat the KTX. I highly recommend using it.
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