Public transport in Korea is truly amazing! Getting around is super easy and there’s no need to buy a car. Most foreigners don’t own one and most who want one (me) realise that it’s really just a luxury. Even in the smallest villages you’ll be able to find at least a taxi that can take you to a bus terminal or train station. This is where learning to read Korean comes in handy!! (For a taxi, “bus terminal” is exactly that… in drunk-speech “bussuh tuminuuuuhl” and “train station” is “(city name) yeok” ex. “Seoul yok” or “Gumi yok”)
I remember my first time on a subway… It was in Daegu and the two subway lines were a strange experience for me. Going to Seoul was a completely different ball game. Roughly 12 subway lines that intertwine and connect Seoul with Incheon, Gyeonggi province, western Gangwon province, and northern Chungnam province. O_o Yalp.
Daegu Subway Map:
Seoul Subway Map:
Turns out the Seoul subway isn’t half as crazy as it seems. There are *awesome* apps for smartphones that can help you navigate. My favourite one for Android is called “Seoul Subway” (big surprise there..) by “Shining” because you can actually give it your departing & arriving stations and it will show you the route – depending on what you want. (Fastest route / least amount of transfers etc). Aaanyways, this thread is actually about how to get from Incheon International Airport to Wherever You Want To Be.
From the airport itself, there are many options:
I’m not too sure about the trains to and from Incheon Airport as the information is only available on the Korean version of the Korail website. I have never taken a train from the airport. Sorry!
There are a number of “bus options”, the most convenient being Airport Limousine buses. They literally run from the airport to your city, with a quick 15 – 20 minute break about halfway. Some buses stop at 2 cities, but it’s really the most convenient way of going straight home! Tickets can be bought at the Transport Counter on the Arrivals Floor (1st floor). These buses don’t run 24hrs a day, but there are buses that depart rather late. (Final bus to Gumi is at 10:30pm, arriving 2am) Here’s a map of the basic layout of airport & buses. If you’re not heading for Seoul or Incheon but going to other provinces, you need to cross the road to find your bus. This is also where you can take a bus to Seoul. Bus fare, depending on which bus you take (deluxe or standard) can vary from 9,000w to 15,000w. Not the cheapest option.
It’s reaaaally easy. Promise!
Possibly the worst idea unless you want to go somewhere IN Incheon. A taxi to Seoul station can cost you 100,000won (That’s about R750/$100!) Also note that in Korea, if your taxi has to drive through a toll gate, it is added to your fare and not the responsibility of the driver. It can really get expensive. Also avoid taxi drivers that approach you in the airport already (or at a train station / bus terminal). Koreans in general are very very honest people, but lets be realistic. To them, you’re probably just the dumb foreign tourist who doesn’t know how to get from point A to point B or what it should cost. So for taxiing from Incheon airport… avoid it unless you have no other choice.
There are two lines for the AREX subway to Seoul: Express and Commuter. The express line goes directly from Incheon Airport to Seoul station (non-stop) and the Commuter makes a few stops at other popular subway stops along the way. I personally think the Express is a waste of money, as it is only 10 minutes faster (43 minutes) than the Commuter (53 minutes), but costs 13,300won. The Commuter only costs 3,700won. Finding this subway is easy – just follow the AREX signs in the airport and buy a ticket. There will be signs guiding you to the different lines. The Commuter stops at the following stations: (Note: Hongik University is in Hongdae area, so if you are staying in a guesthouse / hostel / motel in Hongdae, you need to get off at Hongik University. If you’re staying in Sinchon, also get off at Hongik. It’s right next to it, so going to Seoul station first would be a waste)
Top line: Commuter
I haven’t taken this route back to Seoul. I usually take the AREX to the airport and limousine bus back to my town, but when coming to the airport from Seoul, the subway *might* make a “final stop” at Gyomam. Stop panicking, walk out the door and just go straight. There’s another line *right in front of you* (see pic) where the subway will stop to take you straight to Incheon. I’m not sure if it does the same when coming back from Incheon towards Seoul. If it does, (they will announce “This is the final stop etc”, just find the door that looks like this one, but with the arrow pointing left towards Gyeyang!
As you walk out of the subway you’ll see this one. Just wait.
If you’re going all the way to Seoul station, you will be able to take a train to other provinces and cities or catch the subway (to wherever you want to go in Seoul) from there. For the subway, just follow the Metro signs. You will exit the station and go down some escalators (close to “Bennigans” restaurant). If you are spending a few days in Seoul, the best option would be to buy a T-money card or dongle-thingy. There are machines at all subway stations. So instead of just buying a single ticket every time, you recharge your T-money card/Hello Kitty/mirror/heart-shaped-plastic-dongle-thing and swipe at the subway gates. Saves a LOT of time and it’s also a few won cheaper. Note that the “single ticket” machines and the “recharge” machines are different. The machine where you buy the card/dongle is slightly bigger. You can use the same machine to buy the dongle or card and to recharge it. The card will cost 3,000won before recharging and the dongle about 10,000. Definitely worth it since all the transportation systems will be T-money systems soon. (Currently (January 2012), Busan has a different system called Mybi. You can use your T-money card in Busan, however at the moment you can not recharge T-money in Busan… at least… not yet.) Most other cities accept T-money. You can also use your T-money card to pay for some taxis.
Tip: We don’t have subways in South Africa, so if this is the same at other subways around the world, then great! For those who don’t know: When trying to find out which side of the line you need to be (which direction the subway is going) the signs will usually show the final station on that line, possibly the next stop as well as few busy stations in that direction – usually transfer stations)
For all of you coming over a few days before your EPIK Orientation to explore, hope this helps — if not, ASK! Have fun and safe travels!