Whether it's to go on vacation or to go home for a while, odds are most English teachers will fly out of Seoul's Incheon airport, South Korea's largest air hub. Getting there can seem daunting at first, especially if you have lots of luggage, but it does not have to be. Recently South Korea's Rail Network (KRail), who is in charge of the KTX, has started a new service, which means that the KTX (Express bullet train) runs directly from the airport to Korea's main cities; Seoul, Daegu and Busan (there are also a couple of additional towns and cities depending on which KTX you get). This means whether you are arriving in South Korea as an English teacher for the first time, or going on vacation, getting to or from the airport just got a whole lot easier.
When it comes to buying a ticket, most of the time it is possible just to turn up at the train station and get a ticket there and then, however, if you are travelling at peak times, or during national holidays such as Chuseok (unless you want to stand), it is advisable that you book your ticket in advance. This can be done up to two weeks prior to travel, in two ways. Firstly, you can use the Krail app. This is a great app to use as your ticket is saved to your krail account, which is accessible from your cell phone. The only drawback is that the app is in Korean, however, it is really easy to use, and after using it one it will be easy to navigate around, even if you do not speak fluent Korean. I got my Korean friend to show me how to use it, and I am now able to book tickets & check timetables. The second way is by using the English Krail website. This is convenient, in that you can reserve your ticket(s) online, however, you can only reserve them, you still need to collect your actual ticket at the station prior to departure. This is the only drawback of using the Krail English website.
(Korean KRAIL app, very easy to use, even though it's in Korean)
Obviously, depending on which city you are traveling to or from, the price of your ticket will vary. For me, traveling from Daegu to Seoul’s Incheon airport, a ticket is priced between $52 (unassigned or standing), $54 (reserved seat) or $76 (first class). If you have lots of luggage – I would advise getting a first class ticket, as there is more room to store your bags. Also, if you are coming from Busan or Daegu to Seoul, the extra legroom will be welcomed (especially if like me, you are 6-7 feet tall). What I love about the KTX is that if you have a ticket you can change the time or date prior to departure for free, and if you cancel your trip 24hrs in advance there is no fee, you get a 100% refund. If you cancel up to 4 hours prior to departure it is 10% fee, and if you forget to cancel, you only get charged 15% of your ticket price, which is very reasonable.
The KTX is a fast and convenient service, especially if you are within a short distance to a train station which is served by this express service; however, there are other ways to get to or from Incheon airport. If you want to get a regular train, you can get the airport express train to Seoul’s main train station for less than $7. From here you can get a variety of trains all over Korea. this is especially good if you are on a budget, as you can get a slow train for almost half the price of the KTX, the only downside, is that it will be slower and often, take much longer.
Alternatively, you can get one of the many airport express bus services which are offered all over South Korea. In fact, I always used to use the airport express bus. It took four and a half hours from Daegu to Incheon, which included a pit-stop & a ticket each way cost $34. The KTX only takes three to three and a half hours. Depending on what time your flights are it is always good to compare the bus times with those of the Krail trains. For me, this time the KTX was ideal.
While getting to and from the airport in South Korea is very convenient, you should always take into account how long it will take you to get to or from the train station. What time your flights are at, how early to you have to be at the airport prior to takeoff. You should factor in traffic if you plan on taking the bus, and you should always account for extra delays, especially during public holidays. Take 15 minutes to compare bus and train times and this will leave you stress free when traveling.
John May grew up in Dublin, Ireland where he is from & went to Trinity College – one of Irelands best known universities. He graduated from here in November 2012 with a B.A. (Mod) in Geography & Sociology. John has always had a passion for travelling having been to most of Europe, he decided to explore Asia after Uni. He had always wanted to teach and thought what
better way to travel than teaching English on the way. John is currently teaching English for CDI in Daegu, South Korea a position he found through Aclipse; and loves every minute of it!