Taxis in Seoul can be a very convenient and a cheap way to travel. Seoul has many different types of taxis. In this article I will introduce the most common ones. If you don’t speak Korean it is best to have your destination written down in Korean or have your hotel business card. If the driver can’t understand you, you can take advantage of the “Free Interpretation Service”. This is offered and advertised in all Taxis in Seoul. You will see a sign with a number to call. The call centre speak English, Japanese and Chinese and will tell the driver where to bring you. If you don’t have a phone you can use the taxi driver’s phone.
Taxis can be hailed anywhere in Seoul by sticking out your hand or by visiting the taxi rank. An empty taxi can be identified by a red light on the dashboard through the front window. Almost all taxis accept credit cards or T-money.
Regular Taxi: Known as ilban in Korean these usually silver or white in colour, although in 2009 the Seoul metropolitan government announced a new taxi design. The new taxis which are on the streets already will replace the regular taxis in the next few years. The colour of the taxi is white with orange trim . Seoul hopes to make the taxis an icon of Seoul comparing with the likes of New York’s Yellow Cabs or London’s Black Cabs.
The fare for Regular Taxi starts at 2,400 won for the first 2km and 100 won for each additional 144m. If the taxi is travelling at less than 15km or stuck in traffic, the charge is 100 won for 35 seconds. Fares increase by 20% between midnight and 4am.
Deluxe Taxis: Called mobeom in Korean the Deluxe Taxis are black with a yellow cap. The Deluxe Taxis offer a higher standard of service. Deluxe Taxi Drivers have been trained in special customer care and need to have 10 years accident free experience driving a standard taxi. The Deluxe Taxi fare starts at 4,500 won for the first 3km and 200 won for each additional 164m. If the taxi is driving less than 15km or stuck in traffic the charge is 200 won for 39 seconds.
International Taxis: These are a new type of taxi which began operation in May, 2009. They have 3 types, the large taxi, medium taxi and luxury taxi. The medium taxi is completely orange and a common sight in Seoul. The large and medium taxis are black with an orange strip on the side and yellow top.
The taxis are basically the same as regular taxis but with a few benefits for foreigners. The driver has knowledge about the culture, history and sightseeing spots in Seoul. All drivers have been trained in multiple languages and they provide a telephone service and website reservation system in many languages. If you are arriving at Incheon Airport they offer flat fare fees to your destination. The taxis can also be rented for the day or a few hours. All major international credit cards are accepted. For the flat rate fares or to reserve a taxi check out their website at http://internationaltaxi.co.kr/
International Taxi Fare: Slightly more expensive than a regular taxi. The basic fare starts at 2,800 won for the first 2km and 120 won for each additional 144m. If the taxi is driving less than 15km or stuck in traffic, the charge is 120 won for 35 seconds.
Many tourists use taxis in Seoul every day and have no problems. However, make sure the meter is on when you start your journey. I have never heard of any problems with people getting ripped off but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes when you hail a taxi, the driver will refuse to take you to your destination. There could be a number of reasons for this. Maybe your destination is too close or too far or it may be close to midnight and they are waiting to pick up passengers after the late night surcharge begins. If this happens leave the taxi and hail down another.