Whether you are in Korea just to visit or living here, knowing how to get around is very important. Not just how to get around within the borders of the big cities like Seoul and Busan, but also how to get from Seoul to Busan, and vice versa, or how to get to the more remote areas. And not only that, but you’ll also want to have the knowledge of how to adjust your Korea travel during the peak seasons, which are usually the biggest national holidays.
Whatever your Korea travel plan is, it will likely be one that’s easy to accomplish. Korea overall, with Seoul as an exemplary example, has a well-built public transit system, covering most regions very well. Thus, the only big concern you should have is how to organize your travel during the peak season when many Koreans are traveling: Korean Thanksgiving, Lunar New Year, and Buddha’s Birthday. These are the seasons when the roads are expected to be the most jammed, and when it’s the hardest to get train tickets to just about anywhere.
So exactly what type of transportation options do you have for your Korea travel? What about the public transportation in big cities such as Seoul and Busan?
Seoul’s Public Transportation in Brief
It is without a doubt that Seoul has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. The taxis are relatively cheap, especially by Western standards, and more applications such as KakaoTaxi are popping up all the time to make traveling by taxi safer for travelers.
Seoul also has an extensive bus network, with the designated color of the bus telling you what type of routes they run. Green buses only run through shorter routes between a few designated neighborhoods. Blue buses go for longer distances, from one side of Seoul to another. Red buses are slightly more expensive express-like buses which you can use to reach the greater Seoul metropolitan areas such as Bundang and Yongin.
Lastly, Seoul has a magnificent subway network that only comes with one flaw: at the moment, it doesn’t run around the clock. Not only can you reach just about any destination within Seoul by subway, you can also reach just outside of the main Seoul areas including but not limited to Incheon, Suwon, Ilsan and Pyeongtaek.
Busan’s Public Transportation in Brief
Just like Seoul, Busan has an excellently designed subway network system which you can use to reach nearly every destination on your list – or at least the bus stop from where you can take the bus to reach that destination. As Busan is much smaller than Seoul, there are fewer lines, making it easier to learn to navigate it. The bus network is also broad enough that you don’t have to stress about getting to where you want to go. However, it is advised to check the route before hopping on board. You may also consider taking a taxi, but know that the chances they’ll speak English are much lower than in Seoul.
Getting Around Korea by Train
It is almost surprising just how easy it is to travel in Korea just by train. If your budget can allow it, then the KTX (Korea Train Express) is absolutely the fastest and most comfortable way to travel. With the KTX, not only can you get to Busan from Seoul in less than three hours, but you can also reach the other cities in South Korea with ease.
Alternatively, if you are on a low budget, cheaper train options like Saemaeul and Mugunghwa also exist. Mugunghwa in particular is affordable and will make a stop in the smaller towns along the way, if that’s where you’re planning to go.
Before buying your tickets, do not forget to do some research on purchasing a KORAIL rail pass. With the pass, your Korea travel just may become even more convenient and affordable!
Getting Around Korea by Bus
Though you may not find every destination on your bucket list to be reachable by train, not to worry! You can most definitely get there by bus. There are four big bus terminals within Seoul alone from where you can find a bus taking you to just about anywhere in Korea. Due to traffic, it may take a bit longer to reach your destination by bus, but the fares are guaranteed to be affordable, and the buses are almost always comfortable enough. Also, if the journey you are taking is quite long, the driver will make stops at rest areas to let you use the toilet or buy food to eat. For most destinations, there are also several buses offered per day, and they are unlikely to sell out outside peak season.
Just about every city and town in Korea also has their own local buses, covering nearly all the areas you may want to go to. Be aware that they may not run as frequently as buses in Seoul.
Getting Around Korea by Other Methods
Of course, there are a few destinations in Korea that cannot be reached simply by train and bus. Jeju Island, first and foremost, is one of these destinations. In the case of Jeju Island especially, you can fly there from any airport in Korea and reach it in no time. However, you may also take a ferry. The ferry is an option from Busan, Yeosu, Mokpo, and a few other towns as well.
A ferry is also how you can reach the other smaller islands in Korea. They are usually easy to get on, just buy a ticket once you reach the ferry port!
And the most exciting part? You can even reach Japan by ferry from Korea! In this instance, however, you will want to purchase the tickets ahead of time as the ferry journey is also a longer one.
So now that you know your way around South Korea, what are you waiting for? Explore this beautiful country and tell us about your trip in the comments below! We’d love to hear about it!
Photo Credit: BigStockPhoto
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