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Source: Flickr (Terence Tam)

Source: Flickr (Terence Tam)

Most tourists arrive in Seoul via Incheon International Airport (ICN), which is connected to downtown Seoul via AREX (Airport Railroad Express). As seen in the diagram below, there are 2 different types of trains that bring you to the city centre – the normal station that stops at every stop and the express train that goes direct to Seoul Station.


1. AREX Express

Arex Express Train

Arex Express Train

This is the express train that brings you direct from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station in 43 min flat. Seats are allocated when you purchase the tickets and there is a dedicated area for your luggages at the head and back of each cabin. The ride is smooth and comfortable, akin to the Narita Express. All these at a much lower fare of course! The usual price is 14,500 KRW, but now discounted to 8000 KRW. In addition, groups of 4 or more are entitled to a lower fare of 6000 KRW per person! (offer till 31/12/14). Others who have arrived via Korean Air, Asiana or Jeju Air are entitled to a discounted fare of 6900 KRW (up to 7 days from date of boarding pass). When I was there in November this year, there was also an option to get the AREX-T-money bundle which costs 8900 KRW, hence paying 2000 KRW on the T-money card (saving 500 KRW). Do note that the first train starts at 0520 from Incheon Airport and last train at 2150, and there is an interval of 25-40min, which is of lower frequency than the all stop train.

For more information on the discounted fares, check out AREX website here

2. Arex All Stop Train

arextrainIn comparison to the more expensive Express Train, the Arex All Stop Train is like a normal subway train, without any dedicated area for luggages. As such, if you have a few of them, it may be quite challenging to prevent them from rolling all over the train if the train gets crowded. The price is of course much lower at 4050 KRW and the travel time is 56 minutes to Seoul Station. Of course, where you stay also makes a difference. There is an option to switch to lines 2, 5, 6 and 9 at various stops before hitting Seoul Station, so do take into consideration before planning your mode of transport.

To take the AREX trains from the Incheon International Airport, follow the yellow signs down to the Airport Transportation Center on the B1 level.



3. Airport Limousine Bus

photo 1 If you are not staying in Seoul station, Hongik University area or Gongdeok, then taking the train may be pretty troublesome since there is a need to transfer to other lines. Airport buses are a nice alternative as they run from Incheon International Airport to major transport hubs and hotels in Seoul. Tickets may be purchased at the ticket booths just outside the passenger terminal (arrival area) on the 1st floor. Detailed inquiries on bus routes and bus stops can be made at the Airport Information Desk, also conveniently located on the 1st floor. Night buses (24:00–03:50) are also available. Check your bus route at either of the Airport Information Desks between Gates 3 and 4 or Gates 11 and 12 on the arrival floor (1F), or the Airport Bus Ticket booth. Buy your ticket at one of the ticket booths and check your ticket to find the bus stop location. Go to the bus stop and check the bus route and departure time.

photo 2

The pictures above show the Deluxe buses run by KAL which are very plush and comfortable “Business Class” seats that allow you to recline comfortably. At a cost of 14000-15000 KRW, they are definitely more expensive than the AREX trains but may be a more appropriate option for those who stay at Gangnam area since it is a direct trip that brings you straight from the airport to your hotel.

4. Taxi

Of course, the taxi is always an option especially if you have a late flight and are unable to catch the last train. In Korea, there are three types of taxis: regular, deluxe, and jumbo. Regular and deluxe taxis can take as many as four passengers at a time, while jumbo taxis have a capacity of up to nine passengers. The base fare for a regular taxi is 3,000 won (for the first 2km) while the base fare for deluxe and jumbo taxis are 5,000 won (for the first 3km). Please also note that regular taxis charges an extra 20% of the base fare after midnight (24:00-4:00), while no such additional fare is applied for deluxe and jumbo taxis.The fare for a standard taxi from Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul can be anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 won, which is pretty hefty. If your accomodation is far from the train station or not near a major hotel, then take the AREX train and get off at a train station to board a cab instead which will help reduce the cab fare significantly.

Part 3: Navigating the complicated Seoul subway


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