A guide on how to use the Subway in Seoul. Seoul subway is very convenient and has over 13 lines with hundreds of stations. Here is the Seoul Subway Map. It is the most popular, convenient and quickest way of travelling in Seoul. The subway lines are numbered and use colours which is very helpful for locals and especially helpful for tourists. The main line is Line 2 which loops around the city and is connected to all the subway lines.
Most of the lines are underground with a few stations above ground level. To get to a subway station look out for this sign (pic. right). Most train stations usually have 8 entrances but some of the bigger stations have up to 14 entrances. After heading down the stairs you will usually find people waiting for friends, sale stands, the ticket machines and the ticket gate.
There are 2 types of tickets that can be used.
1. The first is a system called T-money. T-money is a smart card or device that is rechargeable and can be used to pay transportation fees on buses, taxis, trains and even purchase things in the convenience stores. The card costs 2,500 won. You can also buy T-money phone straps (pic right) which are little bit more expensive. With the T-money card you top it up with as much money as you like.
To recharge your T-money card you must use the T-money recharge machine located beside the ticket gates. Press the recharge button, insert your card and put in your money (pic below). Also you can recharge you T-money card at convenience stores. If you try to leave the ticket gate but don’t have enough money left, don’t panic. There is always a recharge machine before the ticket gate exit and you can add money.
The T-money system is very convenient as you don’t have to buy tickets each time you use the subway, bus or taxis. T-money can be bought at most stores and in the train stations.
2. The second type of ticket is a single journey ticket. Useful for people who don’t ride the train often. Go to the ticket vending machine (pic below). The machine is in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese. You will have four options on the machine. The one we want is the single journey button. It’s a big orange button with the number 1. After we press it, we are taken to a station name screen. Search and find the station you are heading to and click it. Finally the price is displayed with a 500 won deposit for the card.
How to get your 500 won deposit back. After you have finished your journey and left the ticket gate you will find a deposit refund machine. Insert your ticket into the machine and you will get your 500 won coin back.
Seoul Subway Prices:
The subway in Seoul is very cheap. The basic fare is 900 won for the first 10km. After the first 10km and up to 40km it will be 100 won per 5km. After 40km it will be 100 won per 10km.
Entering the ticket gate at the station:
Always a scary thing to do the first time in Seoul. There are many people moving quickly and usually there are two entrances. Which ticket gate should you enter? This depends on your destination. You must look at the map / sign beside the gate and find your station name.
In Seoul there are two ticket gate entrance types: A turntable style and a automatic style. Both of them use the touch panel system. You do not have to insert your card anywhere just place it briefly on top of the sensor on the ticket gate and walk through or press your body against the turntable.
Most of the platforms in Seoul now have screen doors blocking access to the track. This is to prevent people falling onto the tracks or suicides. One of the great things about the subway platform is the digital station. Digital station is a machine with useful information for tourists and locals. It is a touch screen panel where you can check the weather, news, maps, local tourist spots, movie trailers and make phone calls. Some of them even have free Internet.
The trains are quite big in Seoul and have a lot of room. Usually in the corner of the train they will have seats for the elderly, disabled, people with an illness and pregnant women. The train announcements are in Korean, English and sometimes Chinese and Japanese. The trains at rush hour can get extremely packed in the mornings and evenings. The subway has a great signal booster and all phones and Internet devices can be used with no interruption to the quality or signal.
Leaving the Station:
After leaving the ticket gate you will see a map. The map is of the area and shows the exits. Choose the exit that will get you closest to your destination and leave the station.
I hope you enjoyed your first experience with the subway in Seoul.
Let me know how you got on. Leave some comments below.