Guide to riding the subway in Seoul, Korea

The best way to get around Seoul is through their subway system. It’s very convenient and it’s one of the best transits in the world. It might look complex when you see the subway map in Korean train stations, but it’s not as difficult as you think. In this article, Ziptoss has made the ultimate guide plus tips for Seoul’s subways system so you can navigate easily when going around the city of Seoul!

Where to find a subway station?

Seoul subway has over 20 lines which makes it easier for people to find the nearest subway station, most of these stations take the form of staircases by the sidewalk, you’ll also be able to find a logo of a yellow train. If you need information about Seoul’s subway, you can either check the subway’s website(http://www.seoulmetro.co.kr/en/index.do?device=PC) or ask your landlord for information.

Ticketing options    

There are two ways to purchase a train ticket: Cash or a T-money card.

If you rarely ride the train, it’s better to use cash for single-journey tickets. On the other hand, if you regularly use the train when traveling, using a T-Money card is the best option.

T-Money

T-Money cards can be purchased and claimed in convenience stores around South Korea. In purchasing a T-Money card, you’ll first need to top up with cash, but instead of paying for a single-journey ride, you can top it up with enough balance for the day or for longer use. A minimum amount of 300 Won has to be paid before activating the card. Tourists can put up to 20,000 Won in their T-Money card for their travels. Aside from it being convenient, each ride is also cheaper when using T-Money cards.

How to reload a T-Money card?

  • Find the nearest ticketing kiosk.
  • Choose a language(Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese languages are available).
  • Place your T-Money card on the reload plate and wait for your balance to appear on the screen.
  • Select the amount you want to top up on the screen.
  • Insert cash(coins or bills) that totals the amount you selected.
  • Wait for the reload to be successful.
  • Remove your T-Money card after completing the reload process.

Reading the subway metro map

At first look, the metro map does seem complicated and difficult to understand, but there’s no need to worry. It’s not as complex as you think!

Here’s a guide on how to read the metro map:

  1. Look for the station where you’re in and where you’re heading.
  2. Follow the line from your location to your chosen station.
  3. Take note of the line changes on where you’re supposed to transfer. Each line has a different color.
  4. Count the number of stops between your station to your destination.
  5. Figure out the first train line you’ll ride and the final stop. It’s important to take note of this as it will be a guide to the direction of your train.
  6. Follow the subway signs that would lead you to the first line of your trip.
  7. Inside the platform, you’ll also find a map placed horizontally with stops listed and divided into two, look for your final stop and look for your station.
  8. Wait for your train behind the numbered platform lines.

*For train transfers/ connecting trains:

  1. It’s a good way to remember your transfers before boarding the train. There are also TV monitors to announce available transfers in each station.
  2. When arriving at your transfer station, you’ll immediately find directions to your next line.
  3. There’s no need to tap out of the station unless your connecting train is in another station.
subway

Operating hours

The Seoul subway station operates from 5:30 AM till 1 AM the next day, but there are some train lines that close before 1 AM. Keep track of train announcements that are being announced in train stations, because not all subway apps have real-time announcements.

If you want to avoid rush hour, don’t ride the train between 4:30 PM and 8:00 PM. You can do a lot of things while waiting for the rush hour to end. 

Facilities

  • Restaurants
  • Lockers
  • Breastfeeding room
  • Elevator lifts
  • Bicycle racks
  • Transfer parking lots

Subway etiquette

It’s an individual responsibility to follow and respect the rules and common courtesy of any country. Here are some good practices that we need to observe when using the subway in South Korea:

1. Always stand behind the numbered platform lines.

2. Wait for the passengers to get off the train before getting on the train.

3. Do not sit in train seats that are designated for the disabled, pregnant, and elderly.

4. If you are not in a hurry, stand on the right side of the subway escalator.

5. Avoid making noise and eating on the train.

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