For people who live in Europe or America the most normal thing in the world is to look up directions on Google. Google Maps is often the go to solution if you need to find the way to get somewhere new. However things work quite differently in a country like South Korea, where Google isn’t the main player. So in this article I’ll give you some tips on how to move around and navigate Seoul and useful information you need to know.
Move Away From Google While in Seoul
First thing you will necessarily need to do while in Seoul, or South Korea more in general, is change your habits slightly. To get precise and updated information on stores, bars and so on you’ll need to ditch Google Maps.
Unfortunately Google’s maps lack precision in Seoul and all of Korea. You will often see locations marked in wrong positions or out of date listings.
The best option to find your way from point A to point B is downloading and using Naver Maps. Naver is the go to search engine in Korea. The downside is that you’ll need to put up with some bits and pieces of the app which are exclusively in Korean. An alternative is using Kakao Maps which is essentially the same service, provided by another big tech company of South Korea.
How To Move Around in Seoul, South Korea?
Despite its huge population and fairly vast dimensions, moving around Seoul on public transport is fairly easy. You can reach almost any part of the city using the metro, train or bus lines and in a last resort taxis or shared bikes.
The newest line of Seoul’s metro network, line 9, also offers express trains. These services do not stop at all stations but only at the main ones. So before boarding a train make sure that the one you are boarding actually stops where you need to go.
Bus lines are also a very good option for moving around. All busses are air conditioned, so even in the hot and humid Korean summer you will travel comfortably.
How To Pay
Although the entire Seoul public transport network accepts cards, this is only an option for certain Korean issued ones. The best option for foreigners visiting is getting a T-Money card. You’ll only be able to pay with your non Korean issued card for taxi fares.
T-Money are transport cards which work on a pay-as-you-go and top up system. You can purchase a T-Money card in any convenience store which you will find inside any metro station across the city of Seoul.
The card comes with some basic credit and once you run out you can top up the card at a convenience store or using the automatic machines present in the stations. With this transport card you can pay for busses, metro and even taxis.
The only mode of transport which uses a different payment system is the shared bikes. To use these you’ll have to download a specific app, called Seoul Bike. The app is in English, however some bits and pieces are not translated from Korean. You can add your payment method in the app and follow the instructions to get riding a bike.
The best place to hire a shared bike and enjoy the experience in my opinion is on the cycling road of Yeouido. Particularly in the evening this is a calm and relaxed area to ride a bike around.