How to navigate your way through Seoul
Going to a new city is difficult enough without the added stress of figuring out how to navigate your way through the city’s terrain. There are five main ways to get around Seoul: bus, subway, taxi, and biking. Hopefully, this article will give you an idea of what those four ways look like in Seoul, South Korea.
Subway Korea (App store/Google Play)
Luckily, Seoul has one of the best metro systems in the world. The subway system in Korea is very easy to navigate, and the Subway Korea app makes things even easier. Available in both English and Korean, this app provides information for all the major subway systems in Korea. Subways in Korea are in part to its on-point climate control and cell phone service, but mostly due to the fact that it has free wi-fi for all its passengers. It’s clean, efficient, and easily accessible to anybody – foreigner or local alike.
It also helps you navigate the quickest route to your destination with minimum transfers, provides information on when the next train will arrive, when the first and last trains are for the day, and which subway cart will be most convenient for you if you have to transfer at any point during your commute.
Korea is all about getting things done efficiently. Instead of playing it old school, walking to the bus stop at whatever time and getting on whichever bus happens to come by, check this app before you leave the house so you can remind yourself to leave at a certain time and start heading towards the bus station. In addition, at almost every bus stop in Seoul you will see a small screen that shows when each bus is expected to arrive and in what order in relation to other buses.
The buses in Korea are extremely convenient to use if you familiarize yourself with certain routes and if you understand the basics of where things are in Seoul. The subway is unbeatable in terms of simplicity, but often, riding the bus can help you avoid excessive transfers on the subway and going the long way around just because the metro lines are set up in specific ways.
Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t work nearly as well as KakaoMap in South Korea (though another very reliable option is Naver Map [App Store/Google Play]). KakaoMap works just like any other navigation app: it will automatically track your current location, calculate the best route to the destination, and guide you along the way.
It provides several different modes of options for transportation, whether it be car, public transportation, bike, or walking. (Bonus: if you love biking, check out how rent a bike in Seoul)
If you’re walking anywhere, KakaoMap will automatically track your current location – all you have to do is type in your destination and let the system take over. Also included is information about how long the route will take, how much it will cost (if you plan on riding public transportation), and how many meters you need to travel so you will always know the optimal route. You can also use the app as a GPS to track your progress.
Taxis are plentiful in South Korea (though unfortunately ubers are not). On most days, it’s more than easy to grab a taxi right off the street. However, if you’re in a crowded area or in a rush late at night, things can get a little more complicated. KakaoTaxi is your best friend in these situations.
KakaoTaxi is Uber’s Korean counterpart, but with this app, you will have the convenience of riding a licensed taxi, without the added fee you would get from calling one through a call service. Like Uber, KakaoTaxi will track your current location and automatically hail a taxi close to you.
All you have to do is type in your destination, and you’re off! Fortunately, KakaoTaxi is now available in English. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that often taxi drivers will call you before they arrive to pick you up (which is a nightmare for those who hate speaking their second language on the phone).
KakaoTaxi also allows you to send your taxi’s license plate number, departure time, and expected arrival time to your close contacts, friends, and family members so that you can ride safely.
- Download the app and log in with your Kakao ID. If you’re already logged into Kakao Talk, just press the log in button.
- Click agree to all terms.
- Input your Korean phone number. The app will send you a verification code. Once you’ve put in the verification code, you’re good to go.
- Select your starting point and destination. Once you’ve done so, the app will give you an estimate of how long it will take to get to your destination.
- Hail your cab.