Every corner of South Korea boasters different charm and tastes so it is impossible to experience the real South Korea by visiting just a couple of places. However, thanks to (?) the nation’s compact size and the world-class public transportation, you could explore the land of Morning Calm more efficiently and pleasantly if you plan well. Let’s go over the basic system of public transportation in South Korea.
If you plan to visit the major cities in South Korea except for Jeju Island, the train is a good option for you. Among public transportations in South Korea, the Korean railroad system is especially well known for its punctuality. I’d like to give you an overview of the Korean train system and several links to find routes and tickets when you plan your next trip.
The Korean train system has several tiers based on fare and onboard amenities.
- Express: KTX, KTX-Sancheon, and SRT
- Special: ITX-Cheongchun
- High Speed: ITX-Saemaeul, Saemaeulho, Mugunghwaho, Nuriro, and Incheon Airport Train
- Commuter Train
As you see on the map below, you can visit a number of places in South Korea via Korail (Korean Train System.)
KTX: South Korea’s Railroad Artery
KTX is the main train system and the fastest one in South Korea. It is similar to high-speed trains in other countries such as TGV in France and ICE in Germany. The routes of KTX connect Seoul to most of the main cities of South Korea. The KTX lines are the railroad artery of South Korea. There are 4 main lines and they all depart from or arrive in Seoul.
Resources for Train Trip
- Buy regular tickets: KORAIL Ticket Reservation Page (Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese available)
KORAIL PASS is a train ticket available only for international tourists or foreign residents, which allows unlimited rides on KORAIL-managed trains for the selected period.
- Details for KORAIL PASS: About KORAIL Pass Page (English, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese available)
- Book KORAIL PASS: KORAIL Pass Reservation Page (English, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese available)
There are fifteen airports in South Korea. Seven of them are international airports and the rest of them serve domestic flights.
- Incheon International Airport (인천국제공항) (website): Incheon International Airport is the largest airport in South Korea and serves as the main gate to the country.
- Gimpo International Airport (김포국제공항) (website)
- Yangyang International Airport (양양국제공항) (website)
- Cheongju International Airport (청주국제공항) (website)
- Daegu International Airport (대구국제공항) (website)
- Gimhae International Airport (김해국제공항) (website)
- Muan International Airport (무안국제공항) (website)
- Jeju International Airport (제주국제공항) (website)
- Wonju Airport (원주공항) (website)
- Pohang Airport (포항공항) (website)
- Ulsan Airport (울산공항) (website)
- Sacheon Airport (사천공항) (website)
- Yeosu Airport (여수공항) (website)
- Gwangju Airport (광주공항) (website)
- Gunsan Airport (군산공항) (website)
The following South Korean airlines are flying domestically and globally.
- Korean Air (대한항공) (website)
- Asiana Airlines (아시아나항공) (website)
- Air Busan (에어부산) (website)
- Jeju Air (제주항공) (website)
- Jin Air (진에어) (website)
- T’way Air (티웨이항공) (website)
- Air Seoul (에어서울) (website)
- Korea Express Air (코리아 익스프레스 에어) (website)
- Hi Air (하이에어) (website)
The bus (버스) system in South Korea spans the entire country. Thanks to South Korea’s highways and road system, the bus would be the most economical public transportation in South Korea. However, be aware that they would be less punctual than trains or flights depending on traffic conditions. Although many parts of the Korean Expressways have designated bus lanes, heavy traffic is not a rare situation in South Korea.
Types of Bus for Intercity
- Express Bus (고속버스)
Express buses run on expressways and finish their trips without any stops during their trip except for rest areas. When you travel by express buses, you have two options: Ilban express bus (일반고속 / standard) and Udeung express bus (우등고속 / premium). Udeung buses have wider and more comfortable seats at a higher rate.
- Intercity Bus (시외버스)
Intercity buses make more frequent stops on the way, thus they serve smaller cities and towns at a lower rate.
Tickets and Resources (Links)
- Express Bus Ticket Reservation and Schedule
- Kobus: www.kobus.co.kr (Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese available)
- Seoul Express Bus Terminal: www.exterminal.co.kr (Korean only)
- Busan Central Bus Terminal: bxt.co.kr (Korean Only)
- Intercity Bus Ticket Reservation and Schedule
- BUS TAGO: www.bustago.or.kr (Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese available)
- T Money: txbuse.t-money.co.kr (Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese available)
- Seoul Nambu Terminal: www.nambuterminal.com (Korean only)
- Sangbong Terminal: www.sbtr.co.kr (Korean only)
- Busan Seobu (western) Intercity Bus Terminal: busantr.com (Korean Only)
- Busan Dongbu (eastern) Intercity Bus Terminal: dbterminal.co.kr (Korean Only)
Tips for Bus Trip
- Buses don’t have toilets on board, so use the restroom before you board. However, the buses with longer routes stop at rest areas every few hours for 10 to 15 minutes, so using a restroom shouldn’t concern you too much. Besides, Korean rest areas on expressways (휴게소/hugyeso) are definitely worth visiting, especially for their food.
- When you plan your trip, don’t forget weekends and Korean holidays. Usually it shouldn’t be so hard to purchase bus tickets, but it could be very hard to attain tickets for certain times such as New Year’s Day or Chuseok.
- Planning a trip to South Korea? Click here to find more destinations here.
- Do you want to study in South Korea? Here is a basic guide to start with.
- Want to learn about Korean culture and more? Click here to find more information about it.
- Trying to learn Korean language? I have some interesting real expressions for you.
- A big fan of Korean food? How about some Korean noodles?