Seoul has one of the best transportation systems in the world! Traveling in Seoul is convenient once you know the system. The Seoul subway and bus are aligned to give you free passes and you only have to use one card for every transportation. The subway station has many signs to direct you to your destination. And most importantly, because Seoul is a global city, English signs are there to help guide you.
Don’t sweat riding the Seoul subway and bus. Here are the best ways for a convenient trip in Seoul.
The Seoul subway map might be a little bit overwhelming at first. There are over 20 subway lines crossing each other, each stop at the most important part of Seoul and on the outskirts of Seoul. You can go to this site to see a virtual subway map. We recommend checking out our post on Best Apps for traveling in Korea. You can download Kakao metro and Naver map applications to easily find your subway destination.
T-money is a rechargeable transportation card used on subways, buses, some taxis, and even to make some purchases in designated areas. You can avoid the hassle of buying tickets every time you ride public transportation while enjoying discounts along the way. The T-money card is the most used method of payment for transportation for locals as well. Using it will save you money! Moreover, for tourists we recommend, the Korea Tour Card. This card offers convenient access to all transportation in all of Korea. They also offer discounts to major attractions. The best part is the card is downloadable on your phone. Check the Korea Tour Card site for more information.
The T-money card can be purchased in mostly every convenient store like 7 eleven, CU, GS 25, and Emart 24. There will be a T-money logo on the front of the store and the card is about 4,000 KRW. You can also purchase the T-money card in ticket vending and card reloading devices inside the subway stations in the Seoul metropolitan area. As a tip, do not charge your card with over 50,000 KRW as the recovery process is complicated and will take a long time to recover if it has been lost. Also, in Korea, if you return the actual subway ticket you can receive 500 won but if you use a T-money card you cannot receive the 500 won. Don’t worry you are saving more by using a T money card.
Every public transportation has a card reader where you tap the card on. The sensor will read your card and display the amount that was charged and the remaining balance on your card.
On the bus, you will see a card reader like below. Tap your card on the part that reads “Place your card or cell phone” until you hear a beep. Then the machine will read the amount that was charged and show below the remaining balance of your card. Moreover, if you are transferring from a bus to bus or bus to subway within 30 minutes, you will receive a discount. Most importantly, make sure you tap the card again on the card reader before leaving the bus! Failure to do so means you might get a double charge on your next ride.
Place the T money card on the card reader before entering the subway. You will hear a beep and the sensor will read the card. The top will read the ticket amount and the bottom will be the remainder. If you transfer from subway to subway the card will read the transfer amount, the amount will depend on how far you went.
Take these simple steps to purchase a subway ticket:
- Find a Ticket Vending and Card Reload Device. The machine can read English, Chinese, and Japanese. It also looks like this:
- Choose the language you need.
- Push on the screen “Single Journey Ticket.” Adult and youth tickets are 1,350 KRW, and children 7-12 years are 450 KRW.
- Search and select your destination.
- Select the quantity.
- The total price plus an additional 500 KRW will be added. The 500 KRW will be returned once the card has been deposited.
- Pay for the ticket.
- The ticket will come out. Get the ticket and place it on the card reader.
How to get the 500 KRW back
- Get out of the subway.
- Look for the Deposit payment return machine. It is near the ticket machine.
- Put your card inside, where it says “Card.”
- Take the 500 KRW.
Discounts are available between transfer from subway to bus and bus to bus. No free transfers for buses on the same route. You can transfer up to 4 times in one day, and from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m. there is a discount for transferring within one hour. There is only a discount available if you use the T money card as well. Moreover, there is a 100KRW discount per ticket when using the T money compared to buying a single ticket.
Also, for children and youth, (children: 6 ~ 12 years old /youth: 13 ~ 18 years old), if you buy your T money in a convenience store and register your birth date you can get a discounted ticket price. Bring your proof of birthdate (passport, alien card, etc).
What do you think? Not to bad, right? Transportation is made simple in Seoul for foreigners to explore Korea. The subway is the number one means of transportation in Korea because it is made well and it is convenient. If you ever have trouble, there are information desks inside the subway stations. The workers will gladly help you! Cheers to your new adventure!
Written by Grace Lee
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