Seoul's transportation has a long standing history. It dates back to the time when the first streetcar lines and railroads were laid, linking Seoul and Incheon. Seoul has many cars, almost three million registered vehicles, so the traffic is thick. One has to keep their eyes and ears wide open while crossing the street. A safer option would be the underground walkways and subway entrances to cross streets.
Seoul is truly high tech when it comes to transportation. You can find taxis with a ‘Free Interpretation' sign that provide on-line phone interpreter services in real time. Knowing some basic Korean or having local knowledge will make travelling more convenient.
Use our Seoul Transportation Guide for all the information you need on getting to and around the city. A great way of getting around is taking one of our Seoul tours, which helps you discover the city as well as learn about its rich history and culture. For travel information throughout the country, see our South Korea Transportation Guide.
Seoul is best accessed by air from abroad. All major carriers like Qantas, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and many others operate direct flights to Seoul daily.
Seoul has two international airports - the Gimpo International and the Incheon International Airport on Yeongjong Island in Incheon.
Incheon serves as the international hub, with almost all international flights taking off and landing here. Gimpo serves only domestic flights, barring some flights to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) and Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. You can board shuttle services if you want to transfer between Incheon and Gimpo airports.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
Seoul is well connected with all parts of South Korea via an extensive rail network. You can take high speed trains to Seoul or other parts of South Korea.
Besides air and rail connections, you can also use the extensive bus services to Seoul from any corner of the country. Or you could choose to drive to Seoul in a rented car. From Busan to Seoul, you will need to take Highway 1. The scenery along the motorway is simply breathtaking.
Taxis are an efficient mode of transport in Seoul. They are safe, clean and good value for money. The grey taxis are smaller and therefore cheaper. You can spot an available taxi through its red light in front or lamp on the top. The night fare would cost an additional 20% past midnight.
Black deluxe taxis are bigger and more comfortable. They charge a premium for extra space, air conditioning and free car phones. You can settle their bill with your credit card. Another advantage - they do not charge extra for night travel.
The bus system is operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. It is a great way to see the country. There are four primary types of buses.
You can pay cash or buy transportation cards. The fares depend on the route taken. For the first 10 km, you pay a basic fare. Thereafter, 100 won is added per 5 km. You could hop on to any bus or Metro and the tickets are completely transferable. You would only pay for the added distance.
Bus routes are clearly signposted at each bus stop but the new ones are mainly in Korean. You could cross check with the driver upon boarding and request him to let you know of the bus stop you want to alight at. Just be sure that the stop coincides with the place you want to actually go to. For instance, the Hyatt Hotel stop is clearly two to three stops away from the hotel itself.
The Seoul Metropolitan Subway is one of the busiest rapid transit systems globally. With ten heavily used lines, the system makes 8 million trips daily. You will not find language a barrier here as directions and announcements are both in English and Korean.
Ticket prices for the subway start at 1,000 won for a 10 km trip and 100 won is added for every additional 5 km beyond that. For children, you need to buy half-price tickets. A selection of good value transportation cards is available like T-money, Upass and KB Free pass.
Seoul is well connected with every major city in Korea via rail. With the high speed KTX bullet train, which has a speed of more than 300 km/hr, commuting between cities is a breeze for both commuters and tourists alike.
Waterways smoothly connect South Korea with Japan and China. With two international ports in Busan and Incheon, these are entry points for tourists coming in to Korea by sea. The Busan international port is the entry point for those who come from Japan, and Incheon international port is used by tourists coming in from China.
Seoul has dozens of walking trails around downtown which are a pleasure for visitors. You can walk around ancient palaces and royal shrines and get a feel for the rich Korean history first hand.