The biggest challenge for budget travelers as they arrived at a foreign country is finding a way to leave the airport. Since money is a limited resource, we often turned to public transportation. In Seoul, the most cost-effective way to get to Seoul from the airport is by the subway. In this post, I will share with you our experience this summer on taking the Seoul Metropolitan Subway to get to Seoul station!
The important thing you need to know is that Airport Railroad is part of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway system, linking Incheon International Aiport and Gimpo Airport with Seoul (shown in blue in the subway map below, for easier identification it was marked with a red star).
Airport Railroad provides 2 types of service: all-stop train and express train.
- All-stop train stops at all stations (11 in total), takes approximately 55 minutes, and costs 4,250 won per ticket (4,150 won with transit card).
- Express train travels non-stop from Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station, taking only 43 minutes and costs 8,000 won per ticket (this is a special adjusted rate valid until December 31, 2015).
We made our way to the heart of the Seoul city via the all-stop train from Incheon International Airport and making our way back to the airport via the express train. Which one is better? Does the express train worth the extra dollar? Having had both experience, I would share with you our experience and let you be the judge!
So… How to take all-stop train from Incheon International Airport?
- As you arrived at the Arrival Hall (1st Floor) at Incheon International Aiport, look for 7-11 convenient store (near Exit 5). Ask the cashier for T-Money card. The card costs 2,500 won and has no value in it. You will need to top it up at the vending machine outside the subway station.
T-Money card functions similarly to the EasyCard in Taiwan. When using T-money, the public transportation fare is 100 won cheaper than when paying with cash. Moreover, it can be used to transfer between buses, subway lines, or from bus to subway or vice versa (within a transfer time limit) at no extra charge. When you are finished using the T-money card, the remaining balance can be refunded after a 500 won service charge.
- Take the elevator down to B1 level. Head towards the subway station by following the “Airport Railway” sign.
- You know you’ve reached the station when you see a gigantic “All-Stop Train” sign over the top of your head and an array of ticket vending machines.
- Top up your T-Money card at the ticket vending machine. Select English on the screen and follow through the instructions.
- Once you’ve recharged your card, tap your card and enter through turnstile for all-stop train. Since Incheon International Airport is the terminal station, just follow the arrows and you’ll find the platform.
After arriving at Seoul station, you can transfer to other subway lines if you’re planning to travel further.
When we took the subway, the all-stop train was already fully packed with travelers with large luggage and local commuters at Incheon International Airport Station. As there were no assigned seats, we had to be quick to steal a seat for our 1-hour ride. As it got closer to Seoul Station, the train became even more crowded. It was a bit of a hassle for us to fight through the crowd to get off the train and carry our huge luggage up the stairs/escalators. My overall impression of Seoul’s subway stations was that they were not very traveler-friendly, and that remained true throughout our 1-week stay in Seoul.
My next post will be our experience on getting to Incheon International Airport from Seoul Station via express train. If you’re a shopaholic and always pack your luggage until it reaches the max weight limit, you should definitely read that post!