Having traversed Seoul for the last 18 months, I have come to really resent the transit system that serves my hometown of Toronto. Between the $3 subway rides and taxi fares that are never under $10, getting around back home is a nightmare compared to Seoul. I thought I should take a minute to summarize why I think Seoul has the best transit infrastructure in the world. When moving to teach English in Korea, getting around the city will definitely not be your chief concern. Basically, the awesomeness can be divided into three categories.
The Seoul Metro
If you’re moving to Korea (particularly the Seoul area) soon, chances are that you’ve already taken a look at the Seoul subway map. Although this seems complex and intimidating, it’s actually incredibly easy to navigate.
Not nearly as daunting as it looks at first sight.
All of the stops are listed in English and transfer points are well pointed out. Even if you are not placed to teach English in Seoul proper, the subway system extends into all of the adjacent suburbs and can get you downtown in no time. The best part about all of this is that subway rides start at just 900원 (under 90 cents!).
Taxis in Seoul
So let’s say you’re in a rush, the subway is closed or you just don’t like going underground. Don’t worry because Seoul is crawling with affordable taxis. Firstly, taxi drivers drive like maniacs, so arriving somewhere on time will not be much of an issue. If you really do feel like you’re going to arrive late, a useful Korean phrase to learn is 빨리 가주세요 (balli ga juseyo) or please go quickly. The prices of taxis vary based on their color (the black ones are the most expensive), but most trips I take land around 6,000원 (or about $5.50).
The Seoul Bus System
Even though the subway is fantastic, it’s often not the most direct route of getting somewhere. For this reason, learning Seoul’s bus system will be an invaluable asset for traveling around the city. For example, even though my house is just outside of Seoul, the subway can take me an hour to get downtown, whereas a bus can take me downtown in only 35 minutes. Also, while the subway closes at the modest hour of midnight, many buses run much later than that. Personally, my bus stops off at all of the popular areas of Seoul before heading back to my house. It also runs until 2:00am every night of the week! Meanwhile, if you want to find your way around the city easily, the entire bus transist system in available on Google Maps.
During the recent flood, we learned that Seoul city buses persevere through thick and thin.
So whether you’re taking the bus to work or trying to get back home after a night out on the town, Seoul’s transit system is liable to leave you feeling a little ashamed of your hometown's counterpart. While teaching English in Korea, you’ll find that getting around such a complicated city is remarkably simple.
Josh Donner is the current head instructor at a Chungdahm Learning branch just outside of Seoul. Josh grew up in Toronto and after graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, the 23 year old decided to put his History degree to use by starting a career teaching English in Korea. Josh likes to spend his time learning Korean and soaking up all the culture and adventure South Korea has to offer. In fact, Josh has found his time in Korea so fulfilling, he is eager to share his experiences! Follow Josh’s adventures in Aclipe’s Teachers’ Blogs.