Seoul is one of the most populous and vibrant cities in the world, with a rich history and culture that attracts millions of visitors every year. But how do you get around this sprawling metropolis without getting lost or stuck in traffic? The answer is simple: use public transportation.
Seoul has an excellent public transportation system that consists of subway trains, buses, taxis and regional rail services. These modes of transport are fast, reliable, clean and easy to use. You can reach almost any destination in Seoul and its surrounding areas by using public transportation.
How to use Subway
- Buy a ticket or a card. You can buy a single-use ticket from a vending machine at any station, or you can buy a rechargeable card called T-money from convenience stores or kiosks. The fare depends on the distance and ranges start from 1,250 won per trip. You can also use your credit card or smartphone to pay by tapping it on the reader at the gate.
- Find your route and platform. Seoul has 10 subway lines that are color-coded and numbered. You can use a map or an app to find your destination and transfer stations. The signs and announcements are in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese. Follow the arrows to find your platform and wait for your train.
- Board and exit the train. When the train arrives, stand behind the yellow line and let the passengers exit first before boarding. The doors open automatically so you don’t need to push any buttons. Find a seat or hold onto a strap if it’s crowded. When you reach your station, exit through the gate and tap your ticket or card on the reader again.
- Enjoy your ride! The subway is fast, clean and safe. You can enjoy free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and entertainment screens on board. You can also explore various attractions near each station such as museums, parks, markets and more.
How to use Bus
- First, you need to get a transportation card, such as T-money or Cashbee. You can buy them at convenience stores, subway stations or vending machines.
- Second, you need to find the right bus stop and route for your destination. There are four types of buses in Seoul: blue (main line), green (branch line), red (express) and yellow (circular). You can check the bus number, route and arrival time on the electronic display at the bus stop or on your smartphone app.
- Third, you need to board the bus and pay the fare. You can either tap your transportation card on the card reader near the driver or pay cash into the fare box. The basic fare is 1,250 won for adults and 720 won for students and children. You can transfer to another bus or subway within 30 minutes for free if you use a transportation card.
- Fourth, you need to get off at your destination. You can press the stop button before your stop or listen to the announcement. You should tap your transportation card again on the card reader near the exit door or pay an additional fare if you exceed 10 km.
How to use Taxis
Taxis are abundant and inexpensive in Seoul, and you can easily find them on the streets or at designated taxi stands. Regular taxis are orange or silver and charge ₩4,800 for the base fare and ₩100 for every 131 meters or 30 seconds.
To take a taxi in Seoul, you can either hail one on the street or use a smartphone app like “KakaoT” or “Tada”, “Uber(UT)” to book one online. You can also call a taxi company directly if you know their number. A red light on top of the taxi means it is available.
When you get in the taxi, tell the driver your destination clearly or show them an address written in Korean. You can also ask them to turn on the meter if they haven’t already done so. Most taxis accept cash and credit cards as payment methods, but some may only take cash. You can also use your T-money card (a rechargeable transit card) to pay for your taxi ride by tapping it on the card reader inside the taxi.
Tipping is not customary in Korea, so you don’t have to worry about that. However, you should be aware that there is a late-night surcharge of 20 percent for all rides between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m, and 40 percent for between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Taking a taxi in Seoul is a convenient way to get around the city without having to deal with crowded buses or subways. Just make sure you have enough cash or credit cards with you and know how to communicate with your driver.
As you can see, public transportation in Seoul is easy to use and affordable for anyone who wants to explore this amazing city. With so many options available, you will never run out of places to see or things to do in Seoul.