Plan your Korea Trip
I believe there are tons of information online on how to plan your Korea trip. But I want to highlight three tips which could be very useful for your Korea trip.
- Language – You don’t need to have fluent Korean but learning how to pronounce words (which is easier than English), typing Korean words in your phone helps you to use Naver Dictionary or Google Search for any road sign, food menu, etc.
- Map – Install a Local Map Application Kakao map / Naver map (for me I used Kakao map). Although Google Map is available in Korea, those local map applications provided more updated information. Also, the local map can provide traffic information so you will be able to know how to commute. You may also want to bookmark all your destination in advance inside the map.
- Bike – Install a bike sharing App. I realized that if you planned to visit parks, for example, Hangang Park, it would be nice to rent a bike to save your energy from walking and enjoy the stunning view at the same time. Two of the bike sharing apps in Incheon and Seoul are Kakao T Bike and Cookie.
Transportation for Korea trip
In your Korea trip, you may want to visit multiple cities. Here are some transportation tips I had for my Korea trip.
Flight to Incheon International Airport
Incheon International Airport is not the airport closest to Seoul (which is Gimpo International Airport) but it is the most common airport for people travelling to Seoul. (The relationship is like the Narita Airport and Haneda Airport for Tokyo.) My trip started off with a flight by Korean Air from Hong Kong to Incheon International Airport. I am satisfied with the Korean flight experience overall.
Transportation from Incheon Airport to Seoul
Although the flight usually says the destination is Seoul, the Incheon Airport is not located in Seoul but Incheon (as the name suggested). It takes about 1 hour to travel from the Airport to Seoul, depending on the exact location.
I chose to take the Airport Express (AREX) train since it is simple and this is my first time to Seoul. In fact, there are two types of train:
1. Express train – which reach Seoul station directly
2. All-stop train – which have a few stops in Seoul city
After taking the express train, I realized that the waiting time (normally every train per 40 mins) could be very long that the total travel time could be similar as taking the all-stop train. One advantage for express train is the seats are comfortable so if you are with kids or elderly probably it would be a good choice. Otherwise, if you are not staying close to Seoul station, all-stop train could be you choice.
Transportation from Seoul to Busan
There are two common way to travel from Seoul to Busan – by flight or by train. I feel that taking train is better than flight because for flight you need to travel to the airport and do security check which is a waste of time. And their price is similar.
Train to Busan
You may have watched the popular Korean movie “Train to Busan” talked about the zombie in the train. The train is called “KTX” and I was taking that to Busan. There are normal train and express train which stopped at different stations. Please make sure you are taking the express train to Busan if you want to save time.
This is my first time to take the train so I arrive earlier to avoid potential issue. Actually, you don’t even need to show the ticket at the entrance. You can just look at the big screen and find your platform number of your train and following the seat number on your ticket. However, I find that everyone just aboard the train within 5 mins before the departure time.
At the end, the train was actually full as everyone arrived at the last minute. There is nothing much to see on the way to Busan but the seat are quite comfortable.
Transportation from Busan to Incheon Songdo
To travel from Busan to Incheon, I took KTX to Gwangmyeong station and change bus to Songdo.
Gwangmyeong station is not a tourist location but it is said that the world largest IKEA store is located here. The residential building around the station also looked nice.
Then I took a red bus 3002 to Songdo. In Korea, there are bus with same line number but different colors and they are different route. In the area around Seoul and Incheon, red bus is the cross-city express bus. There is no place in the bus to place luggage so it could be a bit inconvenient if you carry a large suitcase. The passengers were mostly students going to Songdo.
Hope these tips help. Enjoy your Korea trip!
This series of posts recorded my trip to South Korea during April – May 2019