South Korea Country Profile - Travel

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To drive legally in South Korea an International Driving Permit is required. Driving licenses may be attained at age 16 for cars and motorcycles. Traffic can be relatively intense in the cities. There could also be serious penalties or even criminal charges when accidents result in injury, even if guilt is not proven.


English speaking taxi drivers are not very common. Ilban (regular taxis) can cost about ₩3300 (£2.5) for the first 2km with a 20% surcharge from midnight to 4am, while the pricier mobeom (deluxe taxis; black with a yellow top) that exist in some cities cost around ₩5500 (£4) for the first 3km with no late-night surcharge.


The buses in the cities are well-developed and not expensive – from ₩1200 (less than £1) a trip. However, rural buses generally run on an hourly or half-hourly schedule. All timetables, bus-stop names and destination signs are usually in Korean. Sometimes the best way to find the right route is to ask in a local tourist information center, generally, these will have a member of staff that speaks English, or to use a smartphone app, such as Naver Map, which is available in English.

T-Money Cards

For the most common categories of public transport, it is handy to have T-Money or Cash Bee card. Buses, taxis, subways and trains accept both of the cards, however, T-Money is more common. An added bonus of the card is it provides a ₩100 discount per trip. The basic card can be bought for a nonrefundable ₩3000 (£2) at any subway-station booth, bus kiosk or convenience store displaying the T-Money logo, which are widely available across the country.  Cards can also be used to buy goods in vending machines and convenience stores.


The South Korean railway system is well developed and easy to travel. There are two main train operators in South Korea: the more expensive Korea Train Express (KTX) and Saemaul. However, KTX regularly offers a wide range of discounts and special offers, for example, reduced costs if buying the tickets from 30 to 7 days before the journey, or half-price on the tickets for children.


Air travel

South Korea has 8 international and 6 domestic airports. The national carrier is Korean Air. Generally, airports are modern and well-connected. Incheon International Airport (ICN) near Seoul is the largest airport in South Korea. Other large airports are Gimpo Airport (GMP) in Seoul and Jeju International Airport (CJU) in Jeju Province.


The Republic of Korea includes many small islands alongside southern and western coasts of the country which are served by ferries. In addition, the larger offshore Jeju and Ulleung Islands are also served by ferry. The main centers for ferry service are Incheon, Mokpo, Pohang and Busan, as well as China and Japan.


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