Korea Transportation Information
Public Transportation FAQ! How do Korea's Subway, Bus, and Taxi Operate? (First Ride, Last Ride, Tips, and more)
Namdong Park.
6 months ago

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

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When visiting Korea many people use Korea's public transportation such as the subway, bus, or taxi~ But if it's your first time visiting Korea you are likely to run into some hardships in trying to use the transportation.

Korea's Public Transportation, especially in Seoul is very active making it possible to go to various places at a cheap price if you know how to use it.

This is why this post handles various information on public transportation in Korea such as price, operation hours, first and last ride hours, and other points you may be curious about.

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1. Information in common about Subway and Bus

Q1. How is the transfer between public transportation in Korea?

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

Public Transportation Transfer Policies
Applicable TransportMetropolitan Subway
Main, Branch, Circulation, Area, Village Line Buses
Way to TransitTap your transportation card when getting on and off the transport
*If you don't tap your card when getting off you may be subject to penalty fees
Transit Applicable Time
Can be applicable within 30 minutes of getting off
Applicable only when you have more than 250KRW credit on your transportation card
*Does not work on same number bus, or same subway but different gate
Earlybird Discount Applicable Times
If you ride the subway or bus between the time of the first ride ~ 6:30am you can receive a 20% discount

When using Korea's public transport you will notice that the bus and subway is really cheap but the lines are very divided making you have to transfer several times. If you do not make use of the transfer policies shown above you will end up paying a lot more than you have to. 

To make use of the public transportation transfer policy you have to use a proper transportation card rather than buying the 1 time use transportation cards using cash. Don't forget to tap the card when getting off as well.

The transportation card is sold in all convenience stores.

Especially, the Seoul Pass which is available at a cheaper price for Creatrip Members can be topped up and used as a Transportation Card!

Summary of Korea Transportation Card

Seoul Pass | Purchase

Q2. Can you look up traffic information using your phone?

Korean Public Transport Information and the current Traffic Information is well connected online making it easy to find out which public transport to use when searching it up online on your phone. 

대중교통, 첫차, 막차, 이용 팁

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

If you put in the starting location and final location, you can see the estimated arrival time and suggested routes as well as information regarding when the public transportation arrives and the ride times for the subway and bus and other information.

There are a lot of applications regarding traffic and transport but I think Naver Maps is the best out of them.

If you learn how to use and understand Naver Map when traveling Korea, you will surely never get lost~ 

Download Naver Maps

2. Subway

Q3. How are the prices for the Subway in Korea?

Base RateTransportation Card1 -time Use Transportation Card
Regular₩ 1,250₩ 1,350
Teenager₩ 720₩ 1,350
₩ 450
₩ 450

Distance between start and end destination
Extra Charges
Within 10kmDoes not exist
Between 10km - 50km₩100 per 5km
Over 50km
₩100 per 8km
When using the Shin-Bundang Line
When using the Shin-Bundang Line there is an additional ₩700 

Korea's subway is the most used form of Public Transportation in Korea. It is much cheaper compared to the taxi and it never has traffic compared to driving, riding the bus, or taxi making it a reliable source of transportation.

The subway in the city is very cheap making it possible to be under 3,000KRW no matter how far the distance within the city.

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

There are a total of 17 lines that cross the city meaning you can comfortably go to anywhere in Seoul and cities close to it such as Incheon, Chuncheon, Suwon comfortably and at a cheap price~

But the subways in Gyeonggido or Gangwondo don't have stations close to one another so you may have to ride the bus or the taxi to reach your final destination.

Q4. When are the first and last ride times for major subway stations in Korea?

Major Subway StationsFirst RideLast Ride
Seoul Station (Line 1) Weekdays: Uijeongbu Direction 05:20  / Seodongtan Direction 05:21 Weekdays: Dongmyo Direction 24:47 / Guro Direction 24:11
Saturdays: Dongducheon Direction 05:20 / Seodongtan Direction 05:20Saturdays: Kwangwoondae Direction: 24:09 / Guro Direction 24:09 
Public Holidays: Dongducheon Direction 05:20 / Seodongtan Direction 05:20Public Holidays: Kwangwoondae Direction: 24:09 / Guro Direction 24:09
Yongsan Station (Line 1)Weekdays: Uijeongbu Direction 05:14 / Seodongtan Direction 05:26Weekdays:  Dongmyo Direction 24:15 / Guro Direction 24:16
Saturdays: Dongducheon Direction 5:14 / Seodongtan Direction 05:25Saturdays: Seoul Station Direction 24:15 / Guro Direction 24:14
Public Holidays: Dongducheon Direction 05:15 / Seodongtan Direction 05:25Public Holidays: Seoul Station Direction 24:15 / Guro Direction 24:14
Incheon International Airport Station (Airport Line)Weekdays: Seoul Station Direction 05:20Weekdays: Digital Media City Direction 23:57
Saturdays: Seoul Station Direction 05:20Saturdays: Digital Media City Direction 23:57
Public Holidays: Seoul Station Direction 05:20Public Holidays: Digital Media City Direction 23:57
Myeongdong Station (Line 4)Weekdays: Danggogae Direction 05:36 / Oido Direction 05:45Weekdays: Hansung University Direction 24:48 / Seoul Station Direction 24:57
Saturdays: Danggogae Direction 05:37 / Oido Direction 05:47Saturdays: Hansung University Direction 23:51 / Seoul Station Direction 23:57
Public Holidays: Danggogae Direction 05:37 / Oido Direction 05:47Public Holidays: Hansung University Direction 23:51 / Seoul Station Direction 23:57
Gangnam Station (Line 2)Weekdays: Seongsu Direction (Inside Line) 05:36 / Seongsu Direction(Outside Line) 05:44Weekdays: Seoul National University Direction 24:46 / Samsung Direction 24:54
Saturdays: Seongsu Direction(Inside Line) 05:35 / Seongsu Direction(Outside Line) 05:43Saturdays: Seoul National University Direction 24:48 / Samsung Direction 23:55
Public Holidays: Seongsu Direction(Inside Line) 05:40 / Seongsu Direction(Outside Line) 05:43Public Holidays: Seoul National University Direction 23:46 / Samsung Direction 23:55
Sadang Station (Line 4) Weekdays: Danggogae Direction 05:32 / Oido Direction  05:50Weekdays: Hansung University Direction 24:28 / Sanbon Direction 24:31
Saturdays: Danggogae Direction 05:32 / Oido Direction  05:50Saturdays: Hansung University Direction 23:31 / Sanbon Direction 24:00
Public Holidays: Danggogae Direction 05:32 / Oido Direction  05:50Public Holidays: Hansung University Direction 23:31 / Sanbon Direction 24:00
Hongdae Station (Line 2)
Weekdays: Seongsu Direction(Inside Line) 05:30 / Seongsu Direction (Outside Line) 05:30
Weekdays: Euljiro Entrance Direction 24:49 / Sindorim Direction 24:50
Saturdays: Seongsu Direction(Inside Line) 05:30 / Seongsu Direction (Outside Line) 05:30Saturdays: Euljiro Entrance Direction 23:49 / Sindorim Direction 23:49
Public Holidays: Seongsu Direction(Inside Line) 05:30 / Seongsu Direction (Outside Line) 05:30Public Holidays: Euljiro Entrance Direction 23:50 / Sindorim Direction 23:49

We looked at the first and last ride subways from major subway stations in Seoul. Majority of the first rides are between 05:10 - 05:40am while the last ride operates until past midnight. During the weekend and public holidays, the last ride is an hour earlier and ends around midnight so you should be aware of that.

A point to be aware of is that in the case of the last ride the last destination may be shorter as the subway may not go till the very end of the line so you should ride the subway earlier just in case.

Summary of Subways per Area

Q5. If you rode the subway the other way what should you do?

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

When riding the subway you may get confused and entered the opposite direction heading subway. If it is a station where both sides are together it should be fine but if it is only one side you may be worried if you have to pay the fee again.

1. If you haven't moved to another station

If you haven't moved to a different station, you can tap out and ride the other side. If you go to the other side within 5 minutes you will not pay an additional fee.

*Doesn't work on 1-time use transportation cards

*You can only go to the other side once so make sure you are going to the correct side

2. If you already moved to another station?

Use the help phone at the exit of any station you get off of and tell them your situation. Most operators will open the gate for you and can speak english. Move to the other help phone door on the other side and enter that side.

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

Q6. Why are 1-time Transportation Cards 500KRW more expensive?

If you got the 1-time transportation card, the price includes a 500KRW security deposit so make sure you return the ticket at the given deposit refund machine to receive the security deposit of 500KRW back! 

Wouldn't it be easier if you get the transportation card and not use the 1-time transportation card so you don't have to go to the deposit refund machine every time right?

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

2. Bus

Q7. What meanings are there based on the different color buses in Korea? 

ColorTypes of Buses
RedArea Bus
This means buses that go between Seoul and cities nearby directly.
4 digit numbers
BlueCity Bus that goes between far areas within Seoul.
3 digit numbers
GreenIntercity Bus that provides transport between subway stations and city buses.
4 digit numbers
YellowShort distance buses for intercity transport.
2 digit numbers

Although subways can take you near your destination, your destination is not always within a 5 minute walk from the station. At these times, you can transfer to the bus and go to your destination for a cheap price. If you are moving within Seoul you will most likely be using the Blue, and Green buses.

Q8. How are the bus fares per bus?

TypesTransportation Card Fare
Blue, GreenRegular₩1,200

The Bus Fares are the prices above but if you pay in cash it is 100KRW more than the prices listed above.

You should buy a transportation card as a must to receive price discounts and the transfer benefit right?

Q9. When are the first and last bus rides??

TypesFirst and Last Bus Ride Times
Blue, GreenFirst Ride 04:30~05:30
Last Ride 23:00~24:00 
Intervals 10~20분
YellowFirst Ride  04:30~05:30
Last Ride 23:00~24:00
Intervals 10~20분
RedFirst Ride  04:30~05:30
Last Ride 23:30~24:30
Intervals 40~70분

The bus times vary a lot more than the subway so please move in advance. If you check the times on Naver Map you can move more efficiently

Q. 10 What do I if I want to get off the bus?

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

If you hear the station you want to get off please click the STOP bell. If you don't press the bell the bus driver may just pass the station.

Also don't forget to tap your transportation card when you exit. The transfer is only possible when you tap your transportation card and if you don't there is an extra fee that may be charged.

Q11. Can you eat food inside the bus?

You cannot eat food on buses in Korea. How about in the case of bringing food from a cafe or a restaurant? I have summarized a list of food that is allowed to be carried on to the bus and those that cannot. 

Not AllowedAllowed
-Hot drinks or ice in a disposable cup
-Chicken or Tteokbokki in a disposable cup
-Various food in a disposable cup
-Cans or drinks without a cap or a straw
-Chicken or pizza that is properly packaged in a box
-A drink in a plastic cup that has a lid
-A can that has not been opened
-A closed tumbler, or water bottle
-Vegetables or food ingredients in a bag

Although it may be allowed, please remember you cannot drink or eat the food on the bus.

3. Taxi

Q12. Are taxi fares in Korea expensive?

Seoul Taxi FareBasic FareAdditional Fare
During the day 04:00~24:003,800KRW100KRW per 132m
Late Night Premium 00:00~04:004,600KRW120KRW per 132m

The taxi fares can't be said to be expensive but because the public transportation is well developed, it gives a feeling that it is relatively expensive.

Especially during peak hours or in the downtown area, you may arrive later than when you use public transport even though you pay much more.

2019 Korea Public Transportation Summary 2019

You can also calculate the estimated Taxi fare when using Naver maps.

An example is shown in the photo above showing the estimated taxi fare to be around 8,200 KRW.

Q13. What types of Taxi are available in Korea?

대중교통, 첫차, 막차, 이용 팁Regular TaxiThe regular taxi has the cheapest fare and can be seen regularly around Seoul.
The majority of them are orange but there are white and grey regular taxis.
대중교통, 첫차, 막차, 이용 팁Model TaxiThe Model Taxi is more expensive than the regular taxi but they do not have the late night premium fee and the cars are relatively more luxurious.
You can relax more and enjoy the ride.
대중교통, 첫차, 막차, 이용 팁Large TaxiThe large taxi can fit up to 8 people and the fare is the same as the Model Taxi.
대중교통, 첫차, 막차, 이용 팁International TaxiThe International Taxi's driver can speak foreign languages as shown on the side of the taxi such as English, Chinese, Japanese and more.
The Taxi is black and orange and is a little bit more expensive than the regular taxi.

Q14. Precautions when using the taxi

Like any other place in the world you have to be aware of getting ripped off when using the taxi. I will tell you a few tips~ 

  • Check if the meter is running after you enter the taxi. They may rip you off.
  • Check through Naver Maps if you are going the right way.
  • Refusing to give you a ride and charging you more are all illegal so make sure to check the driver details in the front of the taxi and the license number.

This was a post about Seoul Public Transportation FAQ. You can choose the mode of transportation that fits you best using this information!

I hope this post helps in your travel to Korea and I will see you next time with a new post~!

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