You may be used to traveling in your country and getting a rental car when you arrive at your destination. However, that may be difficult, and very expensive, when going to South Korea. After all, you’ll have to get a special type of car insurance to cover your rental car. You’ll also have to deal with traffic in Seoul, which is not an easy thing when you are not used to it. So how do you get around Korea if you are not renting a car? How do you get off of the island known as Incheon International Airport if you are not going to drive off of the island? Here are a few options on how to get around the Republic of Korea and get the things that you need.
Buses run all over Seoul and South Korea in general. For instance, you can leave Incheon International Airport and take what’s called a limousine bus to different areas of Seoul. These buses are not like western limousines, but they are a Korean version of a tour bus. These buses go from the airport to many major hotels in the Seoul area. Regular city buses run regular routes throughout most cities as well. Buses can also run from city to city in South Korea. This option can be slower, but also very economical. Buses that run between cities usually have announcements in both English and Korean.
But beware of a couple of things when using buses in South Korea. City buses are known for taking off very suddenly. This means you need to find your seat or a pole to hold onto as soon as possible so you don’t start flying around like in pinball. The other thing to keep in mind is concerning taking a bus from one city to another city. It is normal for a bus to stop half way through the trip at a rest stop. You will be told that you have about 15 minutes to use the restroom, get food, shop or do anything else you need to do. I would suggest being back on the bus in 10 minutes. Sometimes the drive may take off early, meaning you can be stranded. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
In the Seoul area, there are public taxis and private taxis. Your taxi fare could depend on the traffic in the area. For instance, if you are going from Incheon International Airport to Gangnam and you take a taxi, it will probably cost more to use that option during rush hour than it would to use it during early morning or late in the evening. While some prefer a taxi because it is more private, taxi drivers are known to drive fast and scary to many westerners visiting Korea. You will need to consider the cost involved before deciding to use taxi service in Korea. Also, you may need a translator app with you in case your driver speaks little English.
For a lot of people, subways and trains are a very common option for getting around Seoul, and Korea in general. A bus trip that can take about an hour can sometimes take less than 30 minutes on a train. Or you can go from Seoul to Busan in under 3 hours on the Korea Train Express. Taking subways in Seoul can be very economical and fast as well. Apartments near subway stations generally cost more because of how frequently people use the subway system in Seoul. Because people from other countries use the subways of Seoul, announcements and signs about upcoming stops are available in Korean, English and Chinese. But keep in mind that the subway waits for no one. Get on and get situated as soon as you can. And always do your best to follow the subway rules to have a pleasant experience.
How to Pay
The easiest way to pay for transportation around Seoul is by using a T-Money card or other payment cards. These cards work similar to how a gift card or a Starbucks card will work. You preload funds onto the card and then use it to pay for your bus and/or subway trips. Some taxis take them as well. Many subway stations have a location where you can reload add funds to these cards for future use. Other mobile payment options for a phone that has NFC are also accepted.
With these options, you can go from one area of Seoul to another, or from one part of South Korea to another in a quick, easy and economical manner. All without worrying about how to read highway signs, extra insurance or trying to find where to park or drive. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to #askthewaygookin.