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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > South Korea > Seoul

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Travel to Seoul

Flying to Seoul

Asiana Airlines (www.flyasiana.com) and Korean Air (www.koreanair.com) operate flights to Seoul from around the world, including the UK and USA. Peak travel times are generally March/April, July/August and December, with cheaper fares available outside these times.

Flight times

From London - 11 hours; New York - 14 hours 30 minutes; Los Angeles - 13 hours 30 minutes; Toronto - 14 hours; Sydney - 10 hours 40 minutes.

Travel by road

Road conditions are generally good in Seoul. Traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18 years old. Speed limits are 60kph (37mph) on regular roads and 80-120kph (50-75mph) on expressways.

A good metro system and intercity train service means you are unlikely to need a car in Seoul, but if you do decide to hire one, you need an international driving licence. Most rental companies require you to be over 21 years old with at least one year’s driving experience, or over 26 with three years’ experience if you wish to rent a 4-wheel drive.

Emergency breakdown services

Korea Automobile Association (tel: +82 2 565 7001).

Routes

Due to the division between North and South Korea, it is impossible to enter Seoul by overland routes, however, of the nine major highways connecting cities throughout South Korea, six radiate into the city making it easily accessible by road from other parts of the country.

Coaches

Seoul Express Bus Terminal, 19-4 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, is the main depot for regular and deluxe intercity express bus services. Deluxe services have spacious seats, mobile phones and on-route movies. Real-time schedules and seating details are available through Kobus (tel: +82 2 536 6460; www.kobus.co.kr/web/eng/index.jsp), the Express Bus Lines Association.

Travel by Rail

Services

The main railway station is Seoul Station. It's the main hub for the über-modern, high-speed Korea Train Express (KTX), bookable in advance, which takes just 2 hours 40 minutes to reach Busan in the far south.

Operators

Korail (tel: +82 1599 7777; www.korail.com) operates fast, comfortable and reliable trains to most parts of the country from Seoul. It also sells the Korail Pass, which offers discount rail travel to foreigners for limited periods (one, three, five and seven) and can be purchased at overseas offices or online.

Journey times

From Daejeon - 1 hour; Dongdaegu - 1 hour 50 minutes; Busan - 2 hours 40 minutes; Gwangju - 3 hours 15 minutes; Mokpo - 3 hours 30 minutes.

Travel by boat

Ferry companies operate between the international port of Incheon, 1-2 Hang 7(chil)-dong, Jung-gu, and several cities in China, including Shanghai.

Ferry operators

The Jinchon Ferry (www.jinchon.co.kr) travels between Tianjin and Incheon, departing from Tanggu International Ferry Terminal twice a week.

Featured Hotels

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K-POP Hotel Seoul Station

Only a short walk from Seoul Station, this hotel ticks all the boxes when it comes to a central location and low price. The rooms are tiny, it's true, but they are light and modern and offer underfloor heating, minifridges and flat-screen TVs. There's also a lounge area, a basement cafe and rooftop terrace. Laundry facilities don't include dryers, though.

Ibis Seoul Ambassador Gangnam

A good value mid-range hotel in Seoul with smart facilities in a central location. Amenities include a restaurant, a rooftop garden and underground parking, plus there's a sauna and fitness room. The COEX convention centre and shopping mall are nearby.

Lotte Hotel Seoul

The refurbished wing of this huge super-deluxe hotel in Seoul is a good bet for those who want to stay in the heart of the city and close to shopping areas – there's even a large duty-free store on site. A good choice of dining includes French and Italian restaurants. A personal trainer and sports lab analysis are available in the fitness centre.

Grand Ambassador Seoul

This good, centrally located deluxe business hotel offers great views over the Seoul cityscape. There's easy access to the main markets and historic palaces, and facilities include six bars and restaurants plus a health centre with hydrotherapy pool.

JW Marriott Dongdeamun Square Seoul

This hotel's relatively small size - 170 rooms on 11 floors - and the elegant, luxe room decor makes for more of a boutique feel than you'd expect from a chain hotel. It's located in Seoul's premier shopping district, close to Dongdeamun Design Plaza, and amenities include an indoor pool lit by chandeliers, a large fitness centre and two restaurants. The rooftop bar has views of Dongdaemun Gate, an iconic landmark in the city.

The Shilla

Celebrities, royalty and heads of state have stayed at The Shilla, which is set in 9 hectares (23 acres) of woodland yet known for its state-of-the-art technology. Modern public areas belie traditionally furnished rooms. The restaurant, La Yeon, has three Michelin stars - the first restaurant to receive such an accolade.