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Home >> Travel Guide >> South Korea >> Transportation

South Korea - Transportation


Korail, the national train operator, links major cities in South Korea. It was neglected for a long time but in recent years, plenty of money was invested into the network. Now, the trains are competing with buses on speed and price but they are still safer and more comfortable. However, services in rural areas are still inadequate, whereby trains only come once every few hours.

Besides Korail, there is another train operator, Korea Train eXpress (KTX), which is a high-speed train. There are services between Seoul and Busan that use French TGV technology and the speed can reach up to 300 km per hour. The time taken for the whole trip is 160 minutes at the moment. But it is going to improve to 116 minutes by 2010 when the second high-speed track is used. KTX has 18 trains altogether. The first 3 have first class seats and the other 14 trains have economy seats. The last train, number 18, has open seating. Drink vending machines are available on board and a steward will come to you with a snack cart that includes items like beer, candy, sausages, hardboiled eggs and kimbap (Korean rice rolls).

KR Pass

Introduced in 2005, KR Pass is a rail pass for foreigners only. It allows limitless travel for a set period of time on any Korail and KTX train. However, the pass is not valid for first class and sleeping trains. It costs from USD 76 to USD 168 for a period of 3 to 10 days. This pass must be bought before coming to South Korea and you can buy it either online or through a travel agent.


Buses are the most popular mode of transportation. They link all cities and towns and are frequent, punctual and fast.

Long-distance buses consist of express buses and inter-city buses. They operate using separate terminals. Express buses move faster on long roads but inter-city buses travel to more places. If you are looking for more comfortable buses, Udeung buses will be perfect. They have just three seats across instead of the common four. However, they are roughly 50% more expensive.


Ferries are available all around South Korea and they offer services to Korea's islands. The main ports are located at Incheon, Mokpo, Pohang and Busan and the most well known island destinations are Jeju-do and Ulleungdo.


If you would like to drive in South Korea, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required. Overall, the condition of roads in South Korea is good and English signboards are also available. If you are interested in renting a car, the smallest car costs from 54400 won a day and you can have the car for about a week.

However, if you are traveling in Seoul, it is best not to drive as the roads are burdened with traffic jams. Under this condition, the drivers drive carelessly. One common bad habit among them is trying to beat the traffic lights. However, driving habits in South Korea are considerably better than in China.

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