Taking a city’s subway is one of the best ways to get a feel of local life. And Seoul City has one of the best train systems in the world. Here are a few commuting tips for getting around, local etiquette, and all-around travel hacks for navigating the Seoul subway.
Korea’s T-Money Card is a reloadable, tap-and-go transportation card that you can use not only on the subway, but also in buses and taxis. The card is readily available to foreigners, and saves you time and money compared to constantly purchasing single-journey tickets.
You can get your T-Money Card at any of the ticket vending machines within each train station. Instructions are flashed in English and are easy to understand. Then, just select the button with the T-Money logo and add at least 500 KRW (roughly 0.50 USD) as your initial load.
T-Money Special Offers
Another reason to get the T-Money Card are the special offers that come with it. Purchase your T-Money Card online with KKday, and you can get all sorts of deals and discounts with some of Korea’s biggest brands! Check out our T-Money guide over here.
Download the Subway App
Seoul’s subway system is one of the most extensive in the world. And while all the stations have English signages and easy-to-read directions, it can really help you plan your trip by downloading the Subway App onto your smartphone. Download it here, for Apple and Android.
Get to-the-minute train schedules, calculate the quickest routes to your destination, and see the exact train car to ride for easy transfer. Our favorite thing about the app? It works offline, which is perfect for spotty WiFi connection when in transit. Check out our guide on other useful mobile apps when in Korea.
Boarding & Exiting the Train Car
Similar to how you climbed onto the train, just tap out on the turnstiles as you exit. Do note, though, that you only tap out when you leave the station; you don’t tap out when you switch trains.
The exits are clearly seen, and written in English. But some stations, like Gangnam Station, are so large they can have multiple exits that face different parts of the district. So if you’re headed somewhere in particular, or meeting up with someone, it’s best to check the specific exits (READ: One Day Seoul City Itinerary: KKday Travel Guide)
Stand on the right, walk on the left. This tip can be applied everywhere in Korea (and most other Asian countries), but it’s strictly observed at the train stations. This lets rushing commuters easily catch the next train.
The subway trains run from 5:30 am to 12:00 midnight. The train gets most crowded from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm, when the school day and work day finishes.
Students, workers, and commuters will be rushing to catch the next train, so you may want to take the rush hour into account. You may not be able to sit down in the car, and light shoving and pushing to get to the train is very common.
Here’s something not even all the locals know: you can refund the leftover load on your T-Money Card. If you’ve got a balance of at least 20,000 KRW (or about 18.70 USD), you can take your card to any loading station and get a refund (READ: Discount Coupons and Budget Tips for Seoul Travelers)
This is great if you’re at the tail end of your Seoul trip. But the T-money Card doesn’t expire, and the load is valid for up to 5 years. With that, you can also just keep your card tucked away and use it on your next Korea trip. We’re pretty sure you’ll be itching to come back to Seoul pretty soon!