Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seoul: Getting In and Around Seoul

Visiting non-English speaking countries is usually done by getting package tours so as not to bother with the communication.But being a non-fan of the package tour travel type, I have opted to do a DIY for South Korea because of one key reason and that is the extensive subway system that they have. I have this personal belief that if there’s a good public transport system, one can definitely do a DIY travel.And what better way to immerse yourself in the country but in these public trains and buses instead of being confined inside a tourist bus and herded left and right by the tourist guide.

You can get a copy of the Seoul Metro map or you can also print it from their website ( .Most travel guide books like Lonely Planet and Frommer’s have a pullout section for the metro map.

There are two options for your fare ticket: Single trip or a Reloadable Transport Card. The single trip card can purchased in the ticketing machines in the station before you ride the train. Single trip ticket charges more compared to the reloadable card since there is a 100 KRW discount given for reloadable/prepaid cards.

I encountered two types of Relodable Transport card in Seoul – the T-Money and U-Pass.You can use both of them for riding the subway and buses. But the T-Money can also be used to pay for taxi fares, convenience store and other establishments that accepts T-Money.Basically, T-Money is a cashless debit card that a Seoulite can use for transport and other purchases.Both have a card fee that is not refundable. You can purchase T-Money in the subways stations it’s like a vendo type ticket machine. Purchasing direction has an English translation so again no need to worry over that language barrier. On another note, if you will go to the Incheon airport terminal (which connects to Gimpo airport) – this terminal only sells U-Pass (as of March 2010).You can only  use the U-Pass for train and bus rides.You need to tap the transport card into the card reader above the entry gates so you can go inside the station.

U Pass
T Money

Subway map, Transport card, good sense of direction and an attitude of adventure is your definite key to doing a DIY tour in South Korea even if you don’t know any smattering of korean language.


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