Visiting Korea > Getting Around Seoul

By Bus in Seoul


By Bus in Seoul

1) City buses
City buses are the most common means of transportation in Seoul. They are frequent, reliable and probably the most inexpensive way of getting around in Seoul, although they can be confusing for someone who does not know Korean. Seoul's bus network is quite extensive. There are approximately 400 bus routes with 8,500 city buses, connecting the farthest corners of the city. An exclusive lane for buses (marked with a blue line painted on the road) is enforced on city roads at daytime, which makes it possible to spend less time on bus rides than in private cars. Local buses are often crowded, so prepare to stand and be jostled. The drivers often seem unaware that they are not driving a car and so tend to stop rather abruptly, which can be a strain on standing riders. May of them also tend to ride the brake rather than change gears, so the ride can be pretty rough at times.

2) Bus Routes
Bus routes are color coded with Green and Blue buses working within city limits and going from subway station to subway station. The green buses have the more local routes, while the blue one travel a little further out. Red buses are express out to the suburbs, while yellow buses run on circular routes in downtown Seoul for easier access to major shopping and business areas. In addition, each local government (gu-office) operates smaller buses known as ‘maeul’ or village buses that run from major subway stations into local neighbourhoods where other buses don’t go.

3) Bus Stops 
Bus Stops are easily identified by the ‘B’ inside their round shape. The stop signs are colour-coded – green for green buses, etc. There is a bus stop outside every subway station. Some stops have benches inside a shelter while others are in the open. Next the bus stop is a list of the buses that stop there as well as a map of the route each bus takes. (Note: the route map is usually in Korean now with only a few, if any, stops marked in English. Interestingly, they used to be in English and Korea but that changed with the new bus system in 2004). Some drivers don’t always stop at the scheduled bus stops so you have to watch for them and signal them to stop. These and some others don’t always come to the curb and riders have to walk out into the street to get on them. Also, since bus lanes are in the middle of the road, the bus stop may be on an island rather than on the curb.

4) Route Information
Click here for detailed information about the Seoul bus system. You can use an interactive bus map to figure out your route in English. (You can access this site from Chrome as well as from Explorer. It is a bit slow loading in English, especially from browsers other than Explorer). There are also bus route apps available for smart phones.
The interactive bus map can also be accessed through the Visit Seoul website. Once on the site, select the language you prefer, then click on on “transit directions” at the top of the page. Next, type in the name of your starting point => click “search” to bring up a list of possible addresses and choose your starting point, then do the same for your destination point. Last, click on “get directions” and you will be able to see a list of options for taking the bus. This same system can be used to find subway stations, driving routes and new address information.
QR Codes available at many (eventually all) Seoul bus stops providing information via smartphones in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. (Just take a photo of the barcode with your smartphone.)
Seoul's major bus stops already use electronic signage displaying expected arrival times. 
Telephone Help: You can also call either 120 (Seoul City's Dasan 120 help line) or 02-1330 (1330 from a landline in Seoul - this the Korea Tourism helpline) for information on how to reach a specific destination. The operator will contact the Korean bus information line for you.

5) Fares
Fares vary depending on the kind of bus you are taking. The basic Adult fare for the green and blue buses (June 2015) is W1,200, while that of the connector buses (red) and late night  is W2,300. Late night buses are 2,150. Maeul or neighbourhood buses cost W900. Using the T-money card reduces the fare by W100. (for more information on bus fares in Seoul, see the Bus Fares-Transfers page under the Daily Life - Public Transportation tab).

Youth and Children's bus fares are W1,300 (W720 with student card) and W450 respectivelly for the blue/green buses Mauel buses for Youth W1,000 (W480 w card) and W300 for Children. Yello buses is W560 w card for Youth and W350 for children. Red Express bus is W,360 w card for Youth and W1,200 for Children while the night bus is W1,360 (w card) for Youth and W1,200 for children. Note that up to 3 children under 6 y-o-a can ride for free with one adult.

* It is sometimes difficult for foreign nationals to get student cards. Visit the Seoul Global Center or one of the Global Villages such as the Itaewon Global Village for assistance. Either of these links will provide information on other global village locations.

6) Getting on/off and transfers
To stop the bus at your destination, push one of the stop buttons located along the length of the bus. Before boarding the bus, you may call out the name of your destination, or show the driver the written name of your destination and he (a few she's these days) will indicate whether his bus goes there by waving you on or off. By swiping your T-money card on the reader by the back door, you will be able to transfer to another bus at no charge (within 30 minutes) or at a lower fare on the subway. No-charge transfers are not possible if you've paid cash. Drivers may make change for W1000 notes, but not for higher denominations. 

7) Bus etiquette requires that you enter from the front and always exit from the back door – unless there is only one door such as on the neigbourhood buses - and that passengers yield to the elderly,disabled and pregnant if seated in seats designated for them. (These seats are recognised by the symbols on the bus wall and sometimes on the seats themselves.)

8) Bus/subway payment card
The T-money card
is the best way to pay for public transit in Seoul – and it can be used for taxies as well. Using the T-money card will result in a discount on bus and subway fares and will allow you to transfer without additional charges. T-money cards can be purchased in the subway station or from kiosks located near subway exists as well as at many convenience stores. They can be charged with amounts ranging from W1,000 to W90,000 by the vendors or in the subway station where recharging can be done either by the clerk or by a special recharging machine – instructions in English on the machine. Visitors with a balance on their T-money card can get a refund for the remaining amount from any T-money card vendor (less W1,500 – the purchase price of the card). For more details regarding the T-money card, visit the T-money Card page in the Daily Life - Public Transportation tab. 

NOTE: For more details about public transportation in Seoul and other cities in Korea, click on the Daily Life tab on the menu at the top of the page and then scroll to the various Public Transportation Lists (Public Transportation - Daegu, etc.).

K4E Editor: Korea4Expats wants the information it provides to be as accurate and complete as possible, so if you notice any omissions or errors in the content above please contact us at info@korea4expats.com.  

Last Updated on 2016-12-13


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