Guides and Tips on Using the Subway and Bus

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First time traveling to Korea? Curious about how to take the subway or bus? Here are some guides and tips on using the subway and bus for you K-wanders.

If there’s one thing that really amazes me here in Korea is transportation. It’s very easy to use and transport from one place to another. It’s not really hard to travel around because there’s English signage everywhere. There are underground shopping centers too in subways and even cafes, convenience stores,s and other public necessities like restrooms and breastfeeding rooms.

Photo Source: Seoul Metro

If it’s your first time going to Korea,  download the app Seoul Metro Subway or Kakao Map ahead of time so you can have time to manage and learn how to use it. Don’t be afraid of getting lost because it’s a part of every travel. But to make sure you won’t get lost and have those unforgettable experiences, here are some guides and tips for you K-wanders.

Quick Guide

  • Buy a T-money card at the convenience stores like CU, 7-11, GS25, Ministop or Emart24.
  • Load the card around ₩30,000 if you’ll be in Korea for around a week.
  • The reloading machine accepts CASH ONLY.
  • The fare is ₩1,250 (short distance is ₩900) or around PHP50 or $1.
  • Bus/Subway transfers are free or with discounts like you’ll pay ₩50 to ₩300.
  • Tap your card (in and out) of the subway or taking in and off the bus.
  • Use google maps to find your way
  • Check for the exit maps before going out of the subway.

Subway/Bus Etiquettes

  • Do not sit in elderly seats even if it’s empty (but if you have a baby with you you can take a seat)
  • Pink seats are for pregnant women.
  • Don’t talk too loudly.
  • Foods and drinks are not allowed in buses (it should be inside a plastic bag)
  • Enter the subway after all the exiting passengers have left.
  • If you have a big backpack, wear it in your front or put it in the space for baggage.
  • Line up when entering the subway or taking the bus.
  • When taking off the bus, push the bell button before arriving at the bus stop station.
    (It’s not like in the Philippines you gonna say “para po”)
  • Don’t be a PDA. Elder people don’t like it.  (I’m taking the subway most of the time and I have several experiences with this from tourists nor locals and sometimes it’s not really appropriate especially when kids are around.)

Guides and Tips on Using the Subway and Bus

1. Figuring our your route using google maps

Use google maps to find which bus or subway you’ll take before going to your designated location. The photo shows the starting point, the next station, and the destination.

An example is going to Dongdaemun, this photo shows the starting point is the Kwangwoon University Station and the next station is Seokgye. You have to need to look for the direction or lane of the next station so you can ride the correct subway train. 

Another app that shows a good map and direction is Kakao Map.  (I think you need to be registered in Kakaotalk to be able to use the Kakao map.)

TIP: Screenshot the map route so whenever you lost wifi you can able to check it anytime. To make it more sure, write in your notes so whenever the phone battery dies you have Plan B.

2. Finding the subway/bus stop

Bus stops and subways can be found easily. Signages and directions are everywhere. If you were lost or something just use GPS. If the internet is not working, don’t hesitate to ask where’s the nearest subway station near you.

3. Buying a t-money card

T-money or transportation card is very important when traveling, though buses accept cash subways don’t. Plus using the t-money card you’ll get free or discounts whenever you transfer to another bus or subway. You can buy T-money cards in subways “Ticket Vending and Card Reload Device” and even in convenience stores like CU, Ministop, 7-11, GS25 and Emart24. If you want to make a personalized transportation card? Read here: How to Make a Personalized Transportation Card

4. Loading the T-money Card

After buying the T-money card of course don’t forget to reload the card around ₩30,000 to ₩50,000 if you’ll gonna be traveling a lot.  Here’s an article regarding how to reload the t-money card.

Note: The Ticket Vending and Card Reload Device only accept CASH.

5. Accessing the subway

Accessing the subways check if you are on the right lane before tapping your card. Check first on the entrance gate whether you’ll take the right or left side. Sometimes there are subways that have the same entrance and you just need to check the arrow showing the next station.

If you are taking the bus, carefully check the correct bus stop before waiting for the bus. If the busway is correct then you can wait for the bus. There is an electronic screen where you can see which bus is coming and how many minutes before it arrives.

6. Line and Direction

Subway lines have the designated colors. Like Line 1 is blue, Line 3 is orange and Line 2 is green. Most o the subways have tv screen where you can see the next station. There’s also a voice operator that tells the present station and the next station in English. Don’t worry much because subways and buses in Korea are English friendly.

7. Exit/ Entrance Gates/ Bus Stops

Upon arrival at your destination congratulate yourself for a second. But remember before going out of the subway, check first the way of the exit that you supposed to exit. There are some subways that have 2 exits and nothing to worry about that but having 10 exits will give you headaches. Some subways are connected to underground shopping malls too. So you have to figure out the exact exit and tap the T-money card before going out.

For bus stops, just push the bell button before the bus arrives at your destination. You’ll see small screen monitors that tell which bus is coming and how many minutes before it arrives.

First-time traveler in Korea? Check this article, How to Make a Personalized Transportation Card, and wanna know the steps on how to reload a T-money card? Check this article, T-Money a Transportation Card for Tourists

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Xoxo, Hyejin 💕

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  1. This is very helpful for first time SoKor travelers. When I went there, my brother-in-law who works there, toured us around. The subways are confusing but the map really helped. I love how organised the transportation system in SoKor is.

  2. I am amazed how public transportation there is managed and executed. The route map seemed to cryptic for me but your are able to substantially explain and share your techniques.

  3. This is a very helpful post for those who are planning to visit and live in Korea especially if you don’t know how to drive or still learning how to drive (like me). I am so impressed about their public transporation, you could really see that everything is organized and each stop overs are labelled. I was wondering if that is the main public transporation of the people or just an option.

  4. When I went to Korea and stayed there for almost a month, their subway and even bus systems really fascinated me. They are so tricky, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll definitely bwish it was like that in the Philippines, too!

  5. im not so sure if na overlook ko sa pagbabasa.. pero meron din ba sa inyo na app like sa HK me gamit ako dun na MTR app.. that i could use para makita mga stops.. well meron naman sa google maps pero mas nagrely kasi ako dun kaysa sa google maps. and basta me google map (or if me app) and wifi and me laman ang card mo it would take you places. common sense din baon ka ng madami diba? hehe! im sure ill get the hang of it agad pag ako ay napadpad jan!

  6. Wow this is very helpful. I have been planning to visit South Korea to visit my former students. Hopefully this pandemic ends so I can go there soon

  7. Aww i miss korea and its seemingly super confusing transpo routes! but i figured it out after getting overwhelmed at first. Sanay kasi ako sa simpleng train lines dito sa pinas.

  8. Ohh girl, this is a great help for me and my friends since we had a plan going to SoKor. Will be saving this for reference plus yung gagamitin namin na app. Thankyou.

  9. I never been to Korea, and it is always nice to read lots of blogs about Korea travel. BTW, are those T-cards collectible too? Sobrang cute!

  10. Minsan nakakainggit yung trains sa ibang bansa lalo na sa Korea. But I think it’s a good benchmark for PH lalo may plan sila for subways din.

    I’ll save this para in the future pagnagtravel kami, lqlo na ako I’m not good with directions haha

  11. this is very useful. you can also include they can customize their t-money card with their photo or their fave’s photo from some of the stations. that will be a very useful souvenir.

  12. This is quite similar to the train station in hong kong. Good thing my cousin was me during that time or i might have gotten so overwhelmed with the transporation. Will be sure to go back to this when i visit korea some time in the future. Thanks!!

  13. this is truly a big help to those who will travel SOKOR. will bookmark this for future reference

  14. Thank you for sharing all these tips and information.Tgis is a very helpful guide especially to those new travellers.

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