Transportation Options in South Korea
Urban Mass Transit
If you are not fluent in Korean, the transportation system will undoubtedly be overwhelming at first.
There are extensive subway systems in both Seoul and Pusan. This is usually the most convenient method of public transportation for foreigners because all train information is translated into English. Fares are relatively inexpensive. Costs for destinations within the city usually do not exceed W450.
Taxis are an affordable option in South Korea and an increasing number of drivers speak English; they can be found at stands in major metropolitan areas, or hailed on the streets. There is a "shared taxi" system in South Korea whereby a driver will pick up other customers if they are going the same direction. If there are no taxis around, you can call for one, although calling for taxis is two to three times more expensive than flagging one down. Dial-a-Taxi can be reached at (02) 414-0150 or (02) 414-0155.
Deluxe taxis, called mobom, are black with a yellow sign on top. They offer a high standard of service and are three times the price of regular taxis.
If you're planning to go to South Korea from Japan you can take one of several ferries. These ferries are also great for quick visa-renewal trips.
Osaka to Pusan: The Kukjae Ferry departs in the afternoon on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and arrives the next morning. Prices are usually W103,175 (US$125) to W165,080 (US$200). For tickets or reservations call (02) 738-0055 (Seoul) or (051) 464-2700 (Pusan).
Shimonoseki to Pusan: Departs daily at 7pm from the International Ferry Terminal and arrives at 8:30am the next day. This is the cheapest ferry and costs between W54,476 (US$66) and W85,000 (US$103).
Nagasaki to Cheju-do: This is a four-hour jetfoil trip costing about W104,825 (US$127).
Express buses link most major cities in Korea. They depart from the main bus depot in Seoul, the Seoul Express Bus Terminal.
Trains in South Korea are controlled by the Korean National Railroad and are fast and reliable. You can choose from among four types of trains for intercity travel. These include Saemaul-ho (super-express), Mugunghwa-ho (express), T'ong-il-ho (ordinary) and Pidulgi-ho, which stops at every station. The fastest trains are always the most expensive. Information for English speakers can be found at most major train stations and by calling the following numbers:
- Ch'onan: (0417) 565-6936
- Kgongju: (0561) 42 778
- Kimch'on: (0547) 33-7744
- Mokp'o: (0631) 427-788 or (0631) 427-476
- Pusan: (051) 463-5782, (051) 463-5783, or (051) 463-7788
- Seoul: (02) 392-7811