Seoul has revamped itself over the past few decades. Today, the city is ripe with culture, activities, and tourism. The lively nightlife combined with the family-friendly attractions make this a premier spot to vacation. However, if you are not sure about the best time to visit Seoul, it is all about finding the right temperatures for you and your travel companions. Ideally, you want to venture over to this area of Korea from March – May or September – November. Temperatures around this time are quite mild. If you are coming to Seoul for winter activities, book your flights for December – February, but note that the average temperature is around the freezing mark and rarely bumps above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Direct flights from the US include American Airlines, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Jin Air, Korean Air, and Asiana Airlines. Other airlines without direct flights include All Nippon Airways, KLM Airlines, Japan Airlines, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and many more. If you are looking for cheap flights into Seoul, stick to Asiana Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and you might snag a few deals from KLM too. However, cheaper flights include multiple stops and layovers, which you may want to take into consideration.
Incheon International Airport is the largest in South Korea and the premier airport for U.S. residents entering the country. It primarily serves the capital area and is extremely busy. Luckily, that means you have multiple options for reaching the city center.
Airport Railroad Express
The AREX operates two main lines including the Express Train from the airport into Seoul Station, and the All Stop Train. The latter halts at 12 stations on the way to city center and takes around 58 minutes. The Express Train operates every 40 minutes, while the All Stop Train comes in every 6 – 7 minutes. The Express Train costs approximately 8000 KRW with a discounted rate of 6,900 KRW for children. The All Stop Train is your cheapest option, averaging a fare of 4,150 KRW per person.
Airport buses run from the airport into the city center and other areas of Seoul. Booths are outside the passenger terminals on the first floor, and you can purchase tickets from the Airport Bus Ticket Booth by gates 4 and 9. Your particular bus stop is written on the ticket, and you can choose between the Deluxe and Standard Bus.
Taxis in Seoul include medium, large, and luxury vehicles. The fare is a flat rate applied to the section between Incheon Airport and your destination within the city. There are no additional charges and the flat rate applies regardless of the number of passengers that share a ride. Based on the destination and type of taxi, the rates vary between 55,000 KRW – 80,000 KRW for luxury or large taxis, to 750,00 KRW – 110,000 KRW for medium and large respectively.
If you feel confident to drive, it is definitely worth checking for deals on car rentals with momondo.
The subway in Seoul is by far the most effective way to travel. You skip the city traffic and get around quickly. Cash fare for the subway is 1,350 KRW per adult and 450 KRW per child. Lines 1 – 9 take you to most attractions and even outside of Seoul into Gyeonggi.
The bus operates throughout the city center. To make it easier, the buses are color-coded. The main line bus is blue and you also have the green line operating in the city. The yellow buses operate in a circle around city center, while the green ones visit suburbs and local villages. For express trips, you want to take the red bus. Each type of bus has a different fare, ranging from 1,000 KRW to 2,400 KRW per adult and 300 KRW to 1,200 KRW per child.
Taxis are available throughout city center and are the best option for getting to areas outside of the public transportation routes. Also, they accept T-money cards just like other public transportation units. Standard taxis are silver, white, and orange, and offer the best fares. If traveling with a large group, opt for the jumbo taxi, which is usually a minivan. Fares for a taxi are negotiable, but you should negotiate and mutually agree with the driver before getting in for a ride.
Take the ferry over to Jeju Island while you are in Seoul, which is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. There are two main ferries: the Seastar Cruise and Santa Luchino. The travel time is approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. The Santa Luchino operates daily except on the first and third Monday of the month. The Seastar Cruise does not operate on Monday or Saturday. Ferries come with rooms and operate like a cruise ship. A standard room costs 30,000 KRW per adult and 14,950 KRW per child.
U.S. nationals can enter and stay in the Republic of Korea (ROK) for tourism purposes for up to 90 days without a visa, as long as they have a valid passport. For other foreign nationals, please check the Republic of Korea Visa Portal website.
Seoul is a vibrant city that has new and ancient attractions blending perfectly with one another. There are several historic sites and hidden gems speckled throughout the city. Whether you prefer something more modern or you want to go on a kaleidoscopic sightseeing adventure, consider these top items for your list:
As a first-time visitor to Seoul, your goal may be to save some money, but you also want to get the most out of your visit.
Get a T-money Card
The T-money cards are used on public transportation throughout Korea. They provide you with discounted fares and cost 2,500 KRW per card to purchase initially. Then, you can fill them with as much as you would like and use the card on all forms of transportation, including the airport express trains, metro subway, and buses.
Embrace the subway
You and the subway will become best friends in Seoul because it is by far the easiest way to get around. To make sure you are on the right track, use the Seoul Metro app on your phone.
Be strategic about hotel bookings
Get a hotel or hostel room near the Line 1 and Line 4 for the subway. This puts you within a short walk to the subway and from there onward, your options are endless.
Stand tall and be strong
Koreans are always in a hurry, and they have no qualms about pushing their way through large crowds. Therefore, be prepared to get pushed into doorways, pushed around on the subway, and even at local shopping markets. Do not be offended when someone pushes you out of the way without an apology; it is just a way of life in Seoul.