While South Korea is not the largest country in Asia, it is still quite amazing to me just how easy it is to get around. As an English teacher in South Korea, I have the option of traveling from one end of the country to the other in around two hours thanks to the KTX, or the Korean Bullet Train. What makes this train service even more fantastic is that you don't have to travel long distances to use it. Last weekend for example, I went from Daegu to Busan for the weekend, a trip that would take around two hours by car or three hours by bus, took only 42 minutes via the KTX.
(I almost got on the wrong train... for the second time!)
The KTX is a great service, and one that many English teachers here in South Korea use. They have a website which is in English, and it allows you to check out the times and even reserve tickets via the K-RAIL website. Although it is not necessary to reserve tickets, during peak season, such as Chuseok or festival times (which are quite regular in Korea) you can reserve a ticket up to 10 days in advance. Once you reserve your ticket, you print out your reference and on the day you queue up and collect it. For some reason, unless you book via the Korean website, you cannot get an e-ticket. Alternatively, you can turn up at the station (like I did) and just purchase one. The great thing about the KTX, unlike the other slow trains, is that it does not sell out too quickly and they are quite frequent - with the first one starting around 4:45am. Unlike the slow train (the Mugunghwa, which is very cheap) the KTX can be a little expensive, however, the fact that you can get from Seoul to Busan in less than 2 hours and 40 minutes makes it a fair trade-off. From Daegu to Busan a round trip is around $28 or €23. And a round trip from Seoul to Daegu will cost around $80 or €70 approx.
At my local train station, Dongdaegu, there are many trains which come through. So each platform can have up to eight trains per hour passing by - which is why it is important to check the number on the side of the train and the number on your ticket to make sure you are getting on the correct train... something I learned the hard way!
What I love about getting the KTX or traveling around Korea in general is that the views are amazing. Everywhere you look there are rice fields and mountains. It makes travel by train worth it.
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 and having been to most of Europe, he decided to explore Asia after Uni. He has 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; John felt nervous before his departure, but now that he is in Korea he loves every minute of it. For more information follow his blog.