Getting around Seoul
City buses in Seoul are classified by one of four colours: blue, green, red or yellow, and many have bilingual signs. Blue and red buses are the speediest but yellow buses are the most useful for foreigners, travelling in a loop around downtown Seoul calling at main rail stations, tourist spots and shopping areas.
The Seoul Metropolitan Subway is one of the fastest in the world and has connections with local buses. Trains are clean, frequent and punctual, and the colour-coded lines have signs and announcements in English. Seoul Metro (www.seoulmetro.co.kr) run lines 1-4, while lines 5-8 are operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation (tel: +82 1577 5678; www.smrt.co.kr).
The rechargeable T-money Citypass (www.seoulcitypass.com), available from convenience stores and subway ticket counters, can be used to pay for public transport and some inner Seoul taxis. A one-to-three-day Seoul City Pass allows for 20 trips a day on buses and Seoul Metropolitan Subway trains and unlimited journeys on the Seoul City Tour Bus. It also acts as a discount card at certain tourist attractions.
There are several types of taxis in Seoul: regular taxis, deluxe taxis, call taxis, international taxis and luggage-friendly, eight-seater jumbo taxis.
Regular taxis are orange and can be flagged down on the street, while deluxe taxis, which are black with a gold stripe, offer a higher level of service and are usually found around hotels and major tourist sights.
Privately-owned call taxis can be booked by phone or hailed from most major streets. Jumbo taxis, which have ‘JUMBO’ printed on the side of the car, can be waved down or booked in advance. International taxis (tel: +82 1644 2255) with English-speaking drivers are also available. You can also call the Korea Travel hotline (tel: +82 2 1330) to book a taxi in English.
Tipping is not expected, though if paying with cash, it is customary to leave small change with the driver. Most taxis are equipped to accept credit cards.
Roads in Seoul are well-paved, traffic lights functional, and most drivers comply with basic traffic laws in Seoul. Still, driving in Seoul isn’t for the inexperienced, and getting behind the wheel can be a baptism of fire with heavy traffic and irksome lane changes. Rent a car with a driver instead.
To hire a car in Seoul, foreigners need to be over 21 years, with a year's driving experience and an International Driving Permit. Lotte Rent-A-Car (tel: +82 2 797 8000; www.lotterentacar.net) is affiliated to Hertz. Or try AJ Rentacar (tel: +82 1544 1600; www.avis.co.kr), an Avis affiliate.
Cycle paths have been introduced along the canals and rivers running through Seoul, taking cyclists into the city centre. There are also bike trails in the surrounding hills and mountains.
Bicycle hire is available at multiple rental stations along the Han River. Rental is free at Oksu Station, Eungbong Station, Gangbyeon Station, Jamsil Station and Pugnap-dong Station, while other locations charge by the hour or the day. ID is required to hire bicycles.