Seoul, South Korea is one of the most advanced metropolitans in the world. Seoul has perfected the art of fusing traditional Korean culture with modern technology to make Seoul a memorable experience for tourists and locals alike, this fusion is most evident in its transportation! The city has many forms of transportation available for different kinds of tourists.
If you’re traveling to Seoul, keep this in mind: Google Maps is practically useless. This is because the app isn’t allowed to access map data from the country’s servers. Therefore, before you start your journey in Seoul, make sure to download Korean navigation apps like NaverMap and KakaoMap. Not only are these smart maps useful for navigating around Seoul and finding your way through public transportation systems, but you can even use their mother apps Naver and KakaoTalk to book transportation in advance!
So once you’re ready, buckle up and read our guide on how to navigate Seoul through the city’s various forms of transportation.
Seoul offers tourists almost every form of paying for transportation, but here are the most useful and efficient methods to use for getting around the city.
You can pay for most transportation using cash either with physical money or credit card. Although cash is the most widely accepted form of paying for transportation, it’s not as efficient if you’re a traveler who will be using public transportation frequently, as you’ll have to keep visiting banks to exchange money for won.
A T-Money card is a rechargeable smart card that can be used to pay for public transportation in Seoul including buses, subway metro, and even in some convenience stores. T-Money cards come in two forms: Seoul Single Journey Ticket card and rechargeable T-Money card. You can purchase both cards at most stations in Seoul, and if you’re a traveler who wants to save money by using the subways in the Seoul metro, then you should probably invest in the rechargeable T-Money card that costs ₩4,000 ($4) and can be refunded at the end of your trip.
As mentioned above, you can use apps to pay for fare or even book transportation in Seoul.
Seoul Metro provides subway services for routes spanning all across Seoul. Not only is the Seoul Metro one of the most cost-effective methods of using to get around Seoul, but it’s also super easy to navigate with the use of a mobile subway map like NaverMap and KakaoMap. All subway lines and subway signs have English text accompanying their Korean names, and subways are equipped with speakers that announce station stops in English and other languages for tourists. There are screens and small televisions inside the subway which show small snippets of the station map and upcoming stops so that you know exactly where to get on and get off.
One neat thing about the Seoul metro is its jingles. There are a couple of jingles that will play throughout the station and inside of the subway to denote when a train is arriving or departing. These cute little jingles will be stuck inside of your head even years after your trip to Seoul! Additionally, the stations can get extremely congested during rush hour and feel like complete chaos, so be careful of your surroundings.
Apart from that, subway etiquette on Seoul subways follows that of most major subways throughout the world. Keep your belongings and person close to yourself, and make sure not to sit in any seats designated for the elderly or those who are pregnant.
If you’re a traveler that wants to save money but also be able to visit each part of the city, then taking the Seoul metro is your best bet.
Buses are another cost-effective transportation option that you can use to get around Seoul. Long after the subways stop running at midnight, you can take a bus to the nearest bus stop of your desired destination. If you arrived in Seoul through Incheon Airport and then took the AREX direct train 40 minutes to the city, the first place you’ll see buses will outside of Seoul station.
Buses in Seoul are separated by color and serve different parts of the city.
Red buses are used for rapid express transport. Blue buses are used for highway and long-distance travel. Green buses act as transfer buses between bus stops and subway stations. Yellow buses operate in a circulation.
All of these buses are easy to use and have signs inside of them with English text denoting which stops are which so that you know where to get off at.
You can pay for bus fare with cash or your T-money card!
If you need to be dropped at the nearest place to your hotel or need cheap transportation after midnight when the subway stops running, then taking a bus is your best bet!
Taxis in Seoul are another great option for travelers looking to get around the city.
Seoul taxis have different colors that offer services for commuters. The most commonly available taxi is the orange, standard taxi that has a base fare of ₩2,400 ($2.40). Between midnight and 4 am, well after both the subway and buses in Seoul stop running, orange taxis charge a surcharge for usage to get around until you can take the metro again at 5:30 am.
There are also black taxis, which are the premium taxis. Although these taxis are more expensive, they don’t add a surcharge after midnight. However, apart from the surcharge, there’s not much of a difference in terms of service between the black taxis and the orange taxis. So if you’d like to save some money your best bet is to just stick with taking the orange taxis. If you’re lucky you may even get a nice glimpse of the Han river from atop one of the 27 bridges crossing it in Seoul.
Although taxis can get around Seoul faster and with less hassle, they are a bit more expensive. Additionally, some taxi drivers may or may not be able to speak English, so it’s best to also have a picture or app of your destination that you can visually show them. As mentioned before, you can pay taxi fare by cash, credit, T-money, and can use the app KakaoTaxi to not only book a cab but also pay for it. KakaoTaxi is a cab-sharing ride service similar to Lyft here in the US.
KTX is the name for the Korean Train Express, which is Korea’s high-speed railway. This high-speed train has multiple lines spanning all across the country. KTX is great for traveling outside of Seoul without having to book plane tickets in advance. They offer standard class and first-class seats in addition to other amenities.
Namsan Cable Car
Namsan cable car is a cable car that can take you up Namsan mountain. For as little as ₩6,000 ($6) per adult, you can take this cable car up the mountain from Seoul station to Namsan tower for a nice view of the city and the Han river.
We hope this guide serves as useful to you on your next Seoul excursion. If you’d like more useful travel tips and reviews like this one, head on over to the Travilous App! And don’t forget to sign up for our email list and follow our social media below so that you don’t miss any updates!