Well, actually, public transport in South Korea is nothing close to chaos. It would probably be bit different in rural area, on that matter, i think Nicola MKH would know better. At least in those all cities i have visited, i never had probs with public transportation. Ok, let’s make some sumary
Most of the time i use subway. It is really convenient. The map is everywhere, and it is in english, so…. no complain. Here is some of useful links for subway in seoul, interactive map, map. Don’t forget, to find the map at the airport, and buy the e-money in convenient store. Top up could be done in the convenient store, or machine. Don’t worry, the machine does speak english.
The other transport i use was Taxi. Good news! Taxi is quite traveler friendly. They don’t try to scam, and the price is quite affordable. Well, with the exception for the taxi in Daegwallyeong, i might say over all, taxi in South Korea are consider as decent emergency exit. Problem might occur with old driver. They could not read latin alphabet, and their english is barely useless. So…..showing map would works, showing photos, or simply showing the hangul. Make sure they know the destination, before wheeling off.
A bit problem with the subway train. Sometimes, the card is error, so, we can not go trough the gate. When that incident happened, no need to worry! Go to the help door, usually at the end of the gate row. Push the help button, and put the e-money card on the “tray”. Usually the gate would open just like that. Sometimes there are people talking on the microphone, just put the card, and answer in english (assuming Korean is not on ur skill list). They would open it anyway. Before going to the help door, please make sure you have enough credit on the card!!!
Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm
I went to Hoengye-ri by bus, from Dong Seoul bus terminal. I think it was express bus. They are goes directly from one city to another. So far, all terminal bus have clear platform, and english written destinations. The ticket booth ladies also recognize the cities i mentioned. I found Korean pronunciation as quite easy, and it is strongly make sense, when i read the latin alphabet version. The bus is air conditioned, comfortable seating arrangement, and scheduled! That’s awesome! Plus, there are plenty of them. At least, there would be 1 bus every hour. I love Korea intercity bus!! Meanwhile, taxi from Hoengye terminal to the farm is irrationally expensive. For 15 min ride, about 8.000-10.000 KRW. But, i have no choice. I read everywhere, they mentioned the same price! So, apparently, it have become “official” around that area. I made appointment with the same taxi for the ride back from the farm. Again, no choice. The farm is quite secluded, there are nothing around that area.
I went there by train from Hongdae-Seoul, to Gapyeong station, continue to the wharf with taxi. With the exception of the evangelists who bugging around the Gapyeong station and bus stop, trying to stop me from enjoying my lunch, there was no probs at all in Nami. The taxi from Gapyeong to the wharf was 3000KRW. Another option is bus and walking. It is still consider as walking distance (1,6 km), but, no pedestrian. From the wharf, i took taxi back to the Gapyeong station, continue to Chuncheon by train.
Sokcho – Seorak mountain
From Chungcheon, i continue with express intercity bus to Sokcho. The Chungcheon express intercity bus terminal was not far from the station, about 15 min walking. Usually I ask direction at the convenient store keeper. Usually they are young, so, chance to speak english is bigger. Anyway, i can always show them map. So far, i found everyone could answer simple question such as : Bus station? or Train station? Correctly!
Generally, I would say, Korean are nice and helpful to foreigner.
From Sokcho to Seorak montain is about 30 min by city bus. The local city bus doesn’t except the e-money from Seoul. The bus would take cash only, and it was 1000KRW. I grabbed the bus from the bus stop, right on front of the express intercity bus terminal. It is bus number 7. I was together with bunch of school kids in the bus. It was packed and noisy! Hahaha!
Jeonju, hanok village
I went to Jeonju from Seoul, by the free shuttle bus. The meeting point was in Gwanghwamun, to be exact, at the Donghwa duty free shop parking lot. I made my reservation online before leaving Indonesia. The bus is awesome!! Comfortable, clean, on time, and…… FREE! This free shuttle bus would back to Seoul in the evening. Enough time to wander around the hanok village and the city.
In my case, i continued to Gwangju, instead of back to Seoul. From Jeonju, i took express city bus to Gwangju. It cost me 6.600 KRW.
I took taxi from the U-square bus terminal to my host house. It was a bit of difficulties. The first taxi driver was quite old, he could not read the address. So, i went back into the terminal, finding bunch of teenage Korean who was not too busy with their phone. Asked them about the address, and translate them into Hangul. It was works really well.
Actually, bus and train system in Korea have a nice and effective apps for smart phone. Just typed down the starting spot, and the destination, the apps would give you some transport alternatives. BUT…….. they are in hangul!! Yes, definitely not works for me. But…..still helps. So, basically Korean with smart phones could always help us. Try to find the young ones, always. I got helped to find bus to Soswaewon garden.
From Gwangju, i use ferry to Jeju island. This ferry comes with free shuttle transfer, cos, actually, the port is in Jangheung, 2,5 hours from Gwangju! The shuttle bus would pick me at U square (bus terminal) at 6 am! That was pretty early! So, i order taxi from my host to the U square.
The Orange Ferry departed from Gwangju (Jangheung port) to Seongsan port in Jeju island. It cost me 38.500 KRW. Here is the website. In hangul? YES! No english version. I got helped by Korean friend who life in Jeju. I know him from traveling forum. He bought me the ticket, and i paid him when i arrive at Jeju. It was really a blessing…… I read in the other blogs, they said, you can asked the help desk in the airport, to book the ticket.Once we arrived at Jangheung port, we have to exchange the online ticket to the real ticket, on the ticket booth. This was something i didn’t aware of. I thought the printed ticket was work the same, just like the ticket from booth. Euw…. Glad i found it quickly. So, i can get into the ferry smoothly.
Anyway, the ferry was good, clean, and spacious. Not really foreign friendly……. but still manageable!
I was using combination Taxi and bus in Jeju island. Actually, bus in Jeju island is not too difficult to master. More over, Jeju government have tried to accommodate the independent traveler. At the beginning, i was thinking that i need to stick on taxi, that was what i got from the blogs. Too much hassle with bus. Taxi would cost me about 130,000 KRW for 9 hours, IF we are traveling in a group of 4. For 2 people, it would be 150.000 KRW. To be honest, that’s quite a lot for a day. More over, we could not traveling in a group of 4, cos, the other 2 person decided to travel independently, leaving just 2 of us. Me, and miss Mini. So, we canceled the taxi.
At the end, bus was not that bad……. Thanks God.
Bus in Jeju would stop on bus stop only, just like anywhere in Korea. The bus in Jeju works with the e-money I brought from Seoul. The bus rate is not flat, so, we need to tell the driver, our destination, before hoovering the card on the machine. The bus rate for short ride was around 3000 KRW or less. Latin alphabet are not available everywhere yet, only in the “popular” stop, usually stops near by tourist attraction. Well, good efforts though!
here is the general bus route, covering quite a lot tourist spots. For bigger map, click here jeju-intercity-bus-routes
We were staying in Jeju-si, while, some places we wanted to visit is in Seogwipo, in the other side of the island! So, we tried to catch a bus when we could, taxi would be the second option. Some bus stop are faaaaaar away from the tourist attraction, in this situation, taxi become a life save. Buses are quite on time, and reliable. This is intercity bus terminal in Jeju-si, quite tidy, isn’t it? Even the toilets are clean!
Once we got a bit of problem with older taxi driver, on front of O’sulloc tea museum, Jeju. We need to go to Sanbanggulsa Grotto. We showed the tourist map, but he seemed to be confused. He quick make a phone, and gave it to us. Surprise-surprise! The woman on the phone speak decent english! I guess that woman was the officer at the taxi company. So….. we arrived at the Sanbanggulsa Grotto smoothly!
Busan have subway network, so, not a big deal. Beside subway, we were using taxi a, cos we were traveling in a group of 4. The good number to taxi-ing around.