Going to a new city is difficult enough without the added stress of figuring out how to navigate your way through the city’s terrain. There are five main ways to get around Seoul: bus, subway, taxi, biking and walking. Hopefully, this article will give you an idea of how to make the best of these Seoul transportation options in your quest of exploring Seoul.
The Seoul Bus System
Korea is all about getting things done efficiently. Instead of playing it old school, walking to the bus stop at whatever time and getting on whichever bus happens to come by, check this app before you leave the house so you can prepare yourself according to the bus’ expected arrival. In addition, at almost every bus stop in Seoul you’ll see a small screen that shows when each bus is expected to arrive and in what order in relation to other buses.
The buses in Korea are extremely convenient to use if you familiarize yourself with certain routes and if you understand the basics of where things are in Seoul. The subway is unbeatable in terms of simplicity, but often, choosing the Seoul bus system can help you avoid excessive transfers on the subway and going the long way around just because the metro lines are set up in specific ways.
One app that we recommend for any bus-rider in Korea is Kakao Bus. Previously known as Seoulbus, Kakao Bus keeps track of buses in more than 57 cities nationwide in South Korea. It allows you to check bus times in advance so you can leave your home, work, or wherever at the ideal time. You can also set alarms for buses that you take regularly on a daily basis – reminding you to leave at a certain time and start heading towards the station.
Luckily, Seoul has one of the best metro systems in the world. This is in part to its on-point climate control and cell phone service, but mostly due to the fact that it has free wi-fi for all its passengers. It’s clean, efficient, and easily accessible to anybody – foreigner or local alike. Many would say that the Seoul Subway System is the most convenient way of moving around the busy capital.
But the Jihacheol app makes riding the subway in Seoul even easier. Not only does it show the full Seoul subway map, but it also helps you navigate to your destination with minimum transfers and the quickest routes. In addition, the app provides information on when the next train is, when the first and last trains are for the day, and which subway cart will be most convenient for you if you have to transfer at any point.
Though Google maps may be useful in most other places you may visit and live in, it’s a fairly useless tool for those who travel to and live in Korea (a big reason why Pokemon GO doesn’t work in most parts of the country). It’s very limited and often unhelpful for when you want to find specific restaurants and locations. Naver Map used to be the best alternative to Google maps in Korea, but now Kakao Map is probably your best choice.
If you’re walking anywhere, Kakao Map will automatically track your current location – all you have to do is type in your destination (도착지) and let the system take over. It’ll tell you how to get there by public transportation, car, bike, and by walking. If you love biking, check out how rent a bike in Seoul!
Also included is information about how long the route will take, how much it will cost (if you plan on riding public transportation), and how many meters you need to travel so you’ll always know the optimal route. You can also use the app as a GPS to track your progress while exploring Seoul.
There are plenty of taxis in Korea – and it’s more than easy to hail one on most days. But if you’re in a crowded area or in a rush late at night, things can get a little more complicated.
Kakao Taxi is your best friend in these situations. Think of it as the equivalent of Uber in Korea. It has the convenience of riding a licensed taxi in Seoul, without the added fee you would get from calling one through a call service. The app tracks your current location and automatically hails taxis that are closest to you – all you have to do is input your destination and you’re good to go. Here’s a basic run-down of how to get started:
Download the app and log in with your Kakao ID. If you’re already logged into Kakao Talk, just press the log in button.
Click “Agree to all terms”.
Input your Korean phone number. The app will send you a verification code. Once you’ve put in the verification code, you’re good to go.
Select your starting point and destination. Once you’ve done so, the app will give you an estimate of how long it will take to get to your destination.
Hail your cab.
Fortunately, Kakao Taxi is now available in English! And just like Uber, Kakao Taxi provides you with the security of having a registered driver who will be reviewed, tracked, and held responsible for their services. What’s more is that the app allows you to send the taxi’s license plate number, departure time, and expected arrival time to your close contacts, friends, and family members so that you can ride safely.
Getting around and exploring Seoul is extremely convenient – but hopefully this article has given you some tips on how to navigate your way through Seoul even more comfortably by using all of the Seoul transportation options. Language barriers and unfamiliar maps can be stressful, but there are so many ways to make your daily commute or travel plans easier.
What do you think about Seoul transportation? Share your experience with it in the comments!
If you’re interested in leaving Seoul and traveling around the whole country, we recommend checking out 10 Magazine’s article on How to Travel by Train in Korea.
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