One of the first exciting steps when traveling to South Korea is making your way from Incheon Airport to the vibrant heart of Seoul. From Bus, Subway, Taxi to Rent Cars – there are multiple options you can choose from, which I will explain in this Blog Post.
Where to find what at the Airport?
Most international travelers will arrive at Incheon International Airport, one of the busiest but also top rated airports in the world. After you left the airplane you will immediately move forward to immigrations, then claim your baggage and after the customs clearance you’ll find yourself in the arrival hall of Incheon Airport. If you’re in search of currency exchange, baggage services, convenience stores, restaurants, rest rooms or transportation information, there are dedicated counters and kiosks conveniently placed throughout this hall (beige part of the map). Whether you’re here for a quick layover or beginning your Korean adventure, I hope this map of Incheon Terminal 1 and its different sections help you to make the most of your time at Incheon:
But before you leave the airport, I highly recommend you to get some essentials before heading out to the City centre of Seoul. Besides some cash and a SIM card (Detailed Blog Post coming soon, so make sure to subscribe to my newsletter) there is one important thing, that will be your best travel buddy for the whole rest of your trip: A Korean Transportation Card. A smart card you can top up with money to use it in Bus, Subway, Taxis or some Convenience Stores.
Alternatively you could also buy single ride tickets at the vending machines in every Subway station or get the MPass, which is like a 1 to 7 Day unlimited pass. But for this ticket to be worth it, you have to take the Subway at least 7 times per Day. The Seoul Metro also announced new unlimited 1 Day (5,600 KRW) or 3 Day (11,800 KRW) Passes, but they’re not yet available. So for now I would highly recommend you to get a transportation card, here are two of my favorite options explained:
As an originally government founded company this is the most common card in South Korea – you probably heard of this one too. Often the term T-Money Card is used for all kinds of transportation cards, which reaffirms their monopoly position. You can basically find them everywhere with different designs, for example by Kakao or Line Friends or the most famous Kpop Groups. The card itself costs around 4,000-7,000 KRW and you can top up money (only by using cash) at convenience stores and at the machines in every Subway Station and then use it in the whole country for public transportation and in some Convenience Stores
Even though many people might not know about this yet, but this is my absolute recommendation! You can not just freely personalize the design of your Namane Card and use it in public transportation around the whole country, you can ALSO use it like a normal Korean bank card. Means you’ll never have to worry about your foreign credit card being accepted in stores again. Another plus point: you can top it up with cash OR through transaction from your foreign credit card (with a small transaction fee) and check the remaining amount easily in the app. It’s much more convenient and especially for tourists the best option!
NEXTSTOPKOREA TIP: You can get the Namane Card for 7,000 KRW (printed with your favorite design within a few minutes) at one of the Kiosks in Incheon Airport for example at the CU Convenience Store opposite of exit 12. Find out more >here.
So now that you have everything you need for your South Korea Adventure, lets leave the Airport! Incheon Airport offers various efficient and hassle-free options to reach Seoul or other cities in South Korea. In this article I will focus on traveling from Korea’s biggest airport to its capital city Seoul, as this is what most travelers will need when arriving here. For transportation to other cities check out my “Ultimative South Korea Travel Guide”.
Whether you prefer the speed of the Airport Railroad Express (AREX), the comfort of an airport limousine bus, or the convenience of a taxi, you’ll definitively find a transportation mode that suits your needs. Let’s explore the options and make your journey to Seoul memorable and seamless.
Airport Railroad Express (AREX)
The AREX is a high-speed train service that provides a fast and quite cheap transportation option from Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul between 5am and 10pm.
This is the fastest option, taking approximately 43 minutes to reach Seoul Station without any other stops or traffic jams. The fare is 9,500 Won for adults, you can book your ticket in advance >here.
This train stops at multiple stations and takes about 59 minutes to reach Seoul Station. The fare is lower than the express train – around 4,000 KRW and can be simply entered with a Korean Transportation Card like a normal Subway.
Airport Limousine Bus
Airport limousine buses operate 24/7 and offer a convenient way to reach various destinations in Seoul. The fare can vary based on the route and destination – on average, it can range from 10,000 to 20,000 KRW. You can find detailed route information and fares on the Incheon Airport Limousine Bus website. You can easily buy the Bus Tickets at the airport (between exit 4 & 5) spontaneously or some of the bus tickets in advance on >Klook.
NEXTSTOPKOREA TIP: The Limousine Bus is my personal recommendation. Especially for travelers with a lot of luggage, people who are really exhausted after a long flight or with a hotel far from Seoul Station. Instead of carrying your suitcases around the subways and stations (including a lot of stairs) you can relax in the bus and take a nap or plan your trip while the driver takes you almost directly to the Hotel.
In comparison to most western countries Taxis in Korea are quite cheap and usually easily available at the airport. The Taxi fare from Incheon Airport to downtown Seoul can vary based on traffic conditions and the specific location. When leaving the Airport the first “row” is for buses, the second “row” is for all kinds of Taxis (see map above). Make sure the taxi driver uses the meter, or you can negotiate a fixed fare at the taxi stand. There are different kinds of Taxis available, find out more general information about it >here.
A normal Taxi with often only Korean speaking drivers – a trip to Seoul Downtown is around 70,000 KRW, more if there is a traffic jam or detour. Those Taxis are usually orange, yellow or white. Tip: Show them your Hotel address in NaverMap if they don’t speak English.
A Taxi option only for foreigners with a fixed price, drivers that speak a bit of English and a reservation system, you can find >here. Alternatively you can find it between Exit 4 & 5 at the Airport. Fares start at 70,000 KRW.
The little bit fancier brother of the general taxi.. Those black Taxis are absolutely not worth it in my opinion and with around 100,000 KRW very overpriced. Be careful of English speaking people on the taxi line pushing you to take one of the black taxis!
Private Airport Transfer
Of course like at any bigger airport worldwide, you can also get a private airport transfer from various travel agencies and online platforms. I can recommend the easy service from Klook and its partners >here. Prices for private airport transfers can vary based on the service provider and the type of vehicle.
If you need to go to places that are not reached by public transport, you can also rent a car. Be aware, that driving in and around Seoul is definitely challenging and stressful due to traffic and parking availability. I would only recommend it to very good and safe drivers. Rental car prices vary based on the type of car and rental duration.
NEXTSTOPKOREA TIP: I usually book my rent cars for anywhere in South Korea via >Klook.com or directly via >Lotte Rentcar. Please be aware that you usually need an international drivers license (on Klook some only accept Korean licenses, so check that well) and the credit card that was used when making the booking.
Late Night Transport Options
If your flight arrives after the Airport Railroad Express’ last train leaves at 10:45 pm you still have some options to reach the city centre. Of course you can rent a car, hire a private driver or get a Taxi, but usually those options ask for expensive fares for late night transportation. In case you’re traveling on a budget, the Night Buses going from Incheon Airport to various stations within or around Seoul for 10,000 to 20,000 KRW are a great option. Find more about this option on the >website of Incheon Airport and book your ticket >here.
So now that you found your way to the city center I hope you can enjoy your trip to South Korea the fullest! Don’t forget to check my other travel recommendations on this blog and let me know if there is something missing or if this was helpful to you.
Have a great trip to Seoul!