Getting round Seoul is straightforward for first-timers with these easy ideas

Seoul is usually ranked as having among the finest public transportation programs on this planet, and with clear and punctual trains and buses and indicators in a number of languages at most subway and bus stops, it’s not exhausting to see why.

Getting across the capital of South Korea is now smoother than ever because of a number of smartphone apps that present real-time info. For instance, KakaoMap is offered in English and may map out any journey from door to door, overlaying all the pieces from when the following bus will come to the particular prepare automobile to board to shortly hook up with your subsequent switch. Seoul’s subway trains and buses have free Wi-Fi, so you may maintain observe of your journey on-line, even and not using a SIM card.

From buses and bicycles to taxis and extra, right here’s the insider scoop on one of the best methods to get round Seoul.

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Seoul’s T-money public transport go brings comfort and financial savings

Seoul’s buses and trains are operated by a number of completely different firms, however you may pay for journeys with all operators utilizing the transit go referred to as the T-money card. Guests to Seoul should buy T-money playing cards at comfort shops throughout town for ₩2500 after which cost them with credit score in increments of ₩1000, ₩5000 or ₩10,000.

It’s potential to purchase a single-ride ticket on the station every time or pay in money on the bus, however T-money playing cards can be utilized in taxis, subways and buses throughout the nation, and they are often bought along side other special deals for international vacationers.

As a result of most of the playing cards have a particular design or theme (reminiscent of footage of Ok-pop group BTS), many individuals select to maintain the cardboard as a memento, however they are often refunded for the unique value at Incheon International Airport while you depart the nation.

The Seoul Metro is quick and environment friendly and may zip you nearly in every single place within the metropolis © Sampajano_Anizza / Shutterstock

The Metro is the quickest and most inexpensive method to get round Seoul

With 22 subway strains making 302 stops throughout town, the Seoul Metro is a extremely environment friendly method to get across the metropolis. Obtain the Seoul Metro Subway app for iPhone or Android, and also you’ll discover your entire course of fairly easy. Every station has English-language indicators, and stops are introduced in Korean, English, Chinese language and Japanese.

Subway fares begin at ₩1350 per experience and charges go up after the primary 6.2 miles – which hardly ever occurs as a result of the radius of Seoul is barely 9 miles. You might be allowed as much as 4 transfers to a different subway line or a bus free of charge inside half-hour.

On the platform, dwell info screens inform you when the following prepare is coming. Interruptions to service are uncommon, and delays (which seldom take longer than a couple of minutes) are clearly marked on the display or introduced on board. Exits are numbered and the signage underneath every exit additionally tells you main landmarks within the basic route of that exit.

Etiquette is essential on the subway. Most individuals line up exterior the prepare doorways and enter in an orderly method. Practice automobiles normally have reserved seats for the aged, pregnant passengers and vacationers with disabilities. Guests typically use these seats when they’re accessible, but it surely’s thought-about good manners to go away these seats empty to keep away from inconveniencing individuals who want to make use of them.

Main hubs the place a number of subway and prepare strains intersect, reminiscent of Seoul Station, Sindorim Station and Cheongnyangni Station, may be overwhelming, even for locals. Should you’re altering between one subway line and one other, you usually don’t faucet out to make transfers.

Should you get misplaced, you will discover a station supervisor to assist; they might not all the time communicate English, however you may merely present them the cease you need to attain and so they’ll level you in the suitable route. The subway usually stops working from midnight to five:30am, however instances fluctuate by line. Examine the Seoul Metro app for precise timings to your journey.

Passengers waiting for buses in Seoul
Seoul’s color-coded buses are a useful method to get to most components of the capital © Keitma / Shutterstock

Seoul’s buses can take you anyplace within the metropolis

Guests to Seoul usually say that taking the bus feels extra daunting than taking the subway as a result of the smaller autos make it a way more intimate expertise and it’s harder to seek out your approach again in case you’ve misplaced your approach. Nonetheless, buses may be an environment friendly mode of transportation, particularly in case you’re touring to a extra residential space or in case your subway route requires multiple switch.

Bus stops usually point out bus routes in each Korean and English and have a digital display that exhibits when the following bus arrives, in addition to indicating of how crowded the bus is. The seat availability signage is barely in Korean, however the “comfy” signal is normally white, the “common” signal is yellow, and the “busy” signal is crimson. Bus cease indicators additionally give climate and air high quality info, and a few bus stops even have seats that heat up in colder climate.

Seoul has 5 kinds of buses which might be color-coded to point their objective. Inexperienced and blue buses are the principle kinds of bus overlaying cross-town routes, and tickets price about ₩1300. The small inexperienced native buses referred to as maeul are about half the scale of the common inexperienced buses, and so they sometimes journey in just one neighborhood or district. Maeul bus fares are ₩1200.

Purple buses journey between Seoul and outer areas and value ₩2400. The town additionally has a handful of yellow buses, or circulator buses, that loop round in style vacationer locations reminiscent of Namsan and Myeongdong. These buses price ₩700.

You’ll be able to pay in money when boarding the bus, however T-Money card customers obtain a ₩100 low cost on the usual fare. You might be allowed as much as 4 transfers both to the subway or one other bus free of charge inside half-hour. Sometimes, you faucet in on the entrance door while you enter the bus and faucet out within the again door while you exit. Keep in mind to faucet out to safe your free transfers and low cost.

There’s solely a free system of lining as much as enter the bus. Throughout rush hour, passengers usually enter by the again door or exit by the entrance door. Nonetheless, some bus drivers frown upon this follow.

In contrast to the subway, some buses function all through the evening. These evening buses are indicated by an N earlier than the quantity and sometimes come as soon as an hour. The etiquette of avoiding seats for the aged, pregnant and vacationers with disabilities doesn’t apply prefer it does on the subway, however you will be anticipated to surrender your seat if somebody wants it.

Heunginjimum (Dongdaemun) from the Griffin Bar at the J W Marriott, Dongdaemun Square, Seoul
When touring by taxi in Seoul, present the motive force the identify of your vacation spot written in Korean to keep away from confusion © Simon Richmond / Lonely Planet

For straightforward transport at any time of day or evening, use Seoul’s taxis

Seoul cabs are available in many alternative sizes and styles; the most typical are mid-size sedans in orange or silver that take a most of 4 passengers. Cabs cost a base fare of ₩3300, plus increments of ₩100 for each eighth of a mile. A nighttime value improve bumps up the bottom fare to ₩3800 and tacks on a 20% surcharge to the ultimate value between midnight and 4am. You’ll be able to pay through bank card, money or T-money card.

Trip-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft don’t work in South Korea; Korean ride-hailing apps do exist, however you may want a sound Korean cellphone quantity to make use of them. If in case you have an area quantity, obtain Kakao T, a well-liked app that’s accessible in English. Cabs operated by International Taxi Service may be booked on their web site or through cellphone or electronic mail, however reservations are required 24 hours upfront. In any other case, you may hail cabs on the road.

Even if you’re assured in your potential to pronounce your vacation spot, it’s finest to indicate a cab driver the identify of your vacation spot written in Korean as a result of some locations have comparable names, reminiscent of Sinchon Station and Sincheon Station. If you should clarify your route intimately to your driver, you may name a free interpretation hotline – the quantity is normally indicated on a sticker on the window facet of a cab, however in case you don’t see it, attempt calling BBB, a volunteer service accessible 24/7, at +82-02-1588-5644.

Remember that many cab drivers are reluctant to tackle quick journeys and typically reject passengers for that reason. Locals usually get in and shut the door earlier than telling the motive force which approach they’re going to get round this downside.

Cyclists ride along a paved path in the Mangwon section of the riverside park along Han River, Seoul
Bike-share schemes make it simple to discover downtown Seoul © Gw. Nam / Getty Photographs

To see Seoul up shut, journey by bicycle

Seoul has a handful of bike-share schemes, however the best-known and most accessible to non-Koreans is the Seoul public bike system known as Ttareungyi, with its distinctive white and inexperienced bicycles. Guests ought to create an account online and obtain the Seoul Bike app to make use of the system. You should purchase hourly, day by day or yearly passes, and bicycles may be rented at one station and returned at one other.

There are some helpful devoted cycle paths – together with the Hangang River Cycling Trail, which follows the Han River proper throughout town – however many roads don’t have a separate bike path, so cyclists might must share the sidewalk with pedestrians. Cyclists are additionally required to dismount and stroll throughout pedestrian crosswalks. Though this isn’t vigorously enforced, ignoring it might make you liable within the occasion of an accident.

Driving in Seoul is just not advisable

Site visitors in Seoul may be gridlocked and parking is cutthroat, even by most metropolis requirements. Though you may lease a automobile with a global driver’s license, it’s not advisable for a short-term go to.

Accessible transportation in Seoul

With audio and visible info programs, elevators, Braille tiles, accessible turnstiles and loos at nearly all subway stations throughout town, Seoul Metro is taken into account “largely accessible” by organizations reminiscent of If the elevators aren’t working, strategy an attendant on the station that will help you with a wheelchair raise to the prepare platform. Precedence seating is offered for vacationers with disabilities, and prepare automobiles with wheelchair areas are marked with a big inexperienced wheelchair signal on the ground.

Precedence seating can also be accessible on all of Seoul’s buses, nearly all of which have a ramp or a flooring that may be lowered for these with mobility wants. For extra details about accessible sightseeing and calling wheelchair-accessible taxis, try Seoul Danurim, an accessible journey group. For extra info on accessible journey, see Lonely Planet’s free accessible travel resources.

People wander in the walking street of the Myeong-dong shopping and entertainment district at night
Strolling is the easiest way to get a really feel for all times in Seoul © AsiaTravel / Shutterstock

Why strolling is my favourite method to journey in Seoul

Whereas each mode of transport in Seoul has its benefits, my favourite method to journey in Seoul – and never simply get from level A to level B – is on foot. That is partly as a result of my canine and companion, Hodu, prefers to not take the subway or bus and can solely mildly tolerate a cab experience with the home windows down.

Seoul is an extremely dense metropolis, with retailers, eating places and historical past usually packed shoulder to shoulder with one another, so you may see lots by strolling. That is very true within the tourist-heavy neighborhoods north of the river. A stroll of just one.3km (0.9 miles) will take you from Gyeongbokgung Palace (the most important of the capital’s 5 grand palaces) to Changdeokgung Palace (usually thought-about essentially the most lovely of the 5).

Between these two sights, you will discover dozens of lesser-known sights and cafes – such because the Arario Museum, Cafe Onion and Seoul Museum of Craft Art – that you just’d miss in case you took a cab, bus or prepare. I usually spend weekends rediscovering sure neighborhoods to maintain recent eyes on town – regardless of how nicely I feel I do know a spot, I’m all the time shocked to seek out one thing new.