Travel: Seoul Korea! (To and From Incheon Airport)

We took a Cathay pacific flight to Seoul because stupid me thought that it was cheaper… But actually it is more advisable to fly Korean Air, Asiana or SQ because they are direct flights from Singapore!

We reached at an uncanny hour of 0540am in the morning (haha) because we tried to maximise our leave and took the red-eye flight.

This post will be for fellow people whose flights reach before 7am (or after) because it was only after I reached the airport that I realised most of the information I researched were not valid because counters were generally not open!

4 Ways to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station (then onwards to whatever hotel you booked) 

1. Airport Limousine Shuttle Bus 

  • This is by far the most used method I have seen bloggers from Singapore/Malaysia use so far
  • Where to buy tickets: 
    • After you arrive and collected your luggage, you will walk through the arrival gates
    • This sight will greet you where you can buy your airport limousine shuttle bus

      Image credit: http://travelupdate.boardingarea.com/incheon-airport-seoul-bus/

    • This is located at Arrival hall D
      • When you first come out of the arrival gates, you can be very lost with all the signs in korean! Just look for “D” and walk towards the counters there
    • Tip: If you are ever lost, just TAIL PEOPLE FROM YOUR FLIGHT TO THE COUNTER (haha). 
    • When you go to the “Airport Bus” counter, just tell them or show them where your hotel is and they will tell you how much, which bus and where to take it!
      • Tip: Have your hotel name and address in Korean Hangul so that there is no miscommunication 
  • Cost: For a hotel in Myeongdong, to take the deluxe bus, it cost around 14000W, but there are many different routes and bus to take as well so it will be dependent on your hotel too!
    • There are actually standard and deluxe buses and the ones most tourist take is the deluxe one as there’s more comfortable seats, and it is sort of an express bus of sorts
    • A simple analogy:
      • Standard bus: our daily SBS bus from Changi airport to orchard
      • Deluxe bus: do we even have these in Singapore? But a similar example will be the Taiwan Airport express bus
  • A good thing about taking the bus route is that they operate 24 hours unlike the train services but usually the bus route is different as you ride on their equivalent of our night owl buses (Late night bus)
    • I did not actually research much into this because my flight did not require taking of these buses! Do share your experiences in comments section below if you took one before!
  • Duration of trip: ~ 1 hour but depends on traffic conditions as well
  • Find out whether there are airport limousine stops near your hotel here
  • Find out bus timings of buses to your hotel here to see if you are in time from your flight!
  • The airport limousine shuttle is good if you have heavy luggages AND there is a walking distance bus stop to your hotel!
  • I chose not to take this because.. I was really cheapo although there was a bus stop about 5 mins walk away from my hotel…

2. AREX train (what I took) 

  • If you have ever been to Hong Kong, the AREX train or the Airport Express train is exactly of the same concept as Hong Kong (Image from VisitKorea)
  • It travels from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station without making any stops in between
  • The AREX train allows you to sit in comfortable seats with free wifi (yay) and complimentary bottled water
  • There will also be an ahjumma who push a cart filled with drinks and food for you to purchase during the trip
  • Cost: 8000W (one-way)
    • Tips: If you took Jeju Air, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and China Southern Airlines, show your boarding pass to get discount when you buy your AREX tickets! 
    • Tips: If you are also looking to buy the Korea Tour Card (which also serves as T-money card ie. their version of EZ link card) and also taking AREX, they are currently having a promotion (as seen in the photo below) 20170608_064135.jpg
    • Tip: If your hotel is not at Seoul Station, they also sell combination tickets at the AREX counter (AREX + subway 1 ride) at a special discount but the actual cost depends on which subway station you are landing at as your final stop
  • Duration of trip: ~45 mins to Seoul Station
  • Where to buy tickets:
    • Once you come out of the arrival hall, go towards “D” area and next to the “Airport Bus” counter, you will see an AREX counter where you can buy your tickets
      • It only opens at 7am though, so we arrived too early 😦
      • You can buy the combo promotion of AREX + Korea Tour card here also
    • Follow the sign boards that says “Airport Railroad” 
    • After a few travellator and escalators, you will see an AREX tourist information counter (image from http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/12/116_169996.html)Image result for arex incheon tourist information counter
      • This is also where you can collect/buy the local sim card you booked, buy the Korea Tour Card (with T money), buy/collect KTX train tickets (train to busan you know?), and get random information from the staff there! Of course, you can also buy your AREX tickets here if you are intending to buy it with the promotion with Korea Tour Card!
      • This counter opened at around 7.30am when we arrived. There wasn’t any operating hours stated there but I think it was supposed to only open at 8am though tourists started queueing from 7am
    • If, by any chance the above 2 are closed, don’t fret or like I did (because I was so lost omg)
      • Walk straight somemore and you will see a big plaza that looks like a big time train station
      • Facing the direction you walk, on your left you will have the entrance to their subway and on your right, is the AREX counter that looks like this (image from VisitKorea) Image result for arex incheon tourist information counter
      • You can purchase AREX tickets from here using cash/card, or get your special discount with you boarding pass, or buy a combination AREX+subway ticket here
  • You will get a receipt for your purchase and also each passenger will get an orange card to tap in
    • The orange card has a deposit of 500W which can be refunded in any of the refund ticket machines when you exit the AREX (image from The Seoul Guide)Refund Deposit Machine in Seoul
    • The receipt actually contains your CAR NUMBER and SEAT NUMBER so do not throw it away!!!! (I almost did) 20170608_072005.jpg
  • After purchasing your ticket, you can enter the platform early (same side as AREX counter) and lounge in their AREX lounge which has water dispenser and some nice comfy seats
  • (above images from VisitKorea)
  • The train leaves really on time, so do be at your assigned car about 5-10 minutes before departure time!
  • AREX also provides free shuttle bus services from Seoul Station to certain hotels from 830am onwards
    • Click here to find out whether your hotel is in the shuttle bus route and its timings!
  • Klook and other travel sites like Kkday do sell transportation tickets (for e.g. AREX tickets) that you can buy prior to departure, but I find that it did not have alot of cost savings hence I did not get it)
  • I personally took this to Seoul Station then changed subway to Chungmuro station as my hotel was there! It was quite a comfortable ride on the AREX (can really snooze heehee) and the changing of subway was not very difficult and quite similar to Singapore’s MRT

3. All-stop train ie. SUBWAY ie. our MRT equivalent 

  • This is similar to our MRT at home
  • You pay using the T-money card which can be bought via a vending machine at the All-stop train (on the left hand side opposite AREX counter) Image result for card vending machine
  • Look for machines that look like these containing the T-money cards (above image from The Japan Times)
    • There are 2 in total: one is for Korea Tour Card (with T-money function) and the other is for T-money card
    • Tip: You will need 5000W notes/10000W notes because they do not accept 50000W notes!!! (I was stuck here and hence needed to wait for the counters to open…) 
  • Recharge the T-money card at the automated counter next to you and use it to enter the subway as though it is an ezlink!
  • You can try downloading Kakao Metro App which is super useful for the trip where you only need to enter your from and to station in english and they will tell you what line to take, where to change lines, the duration and next train and also how much it costs!
  • This way is the CHEAPEST but least comfortable way as it is hard to travel on their normal MRT with big luggages and it is nearly impossible to get seats especially during peak hour because got alot of ahjummas and ahjasshis who will need the seats more TT” (image from VisitKorea)Image result for arex interior
  • Do note that alot of stations do not have easily accessible lifts so travelling with luggages that are heavy will be quite a hassle when you need to change trains and stuff where you either walk longer to find a lift or take the stairs with your heavy luggage
  • Cost: 4150W (with T-money) to Seoul station
  • Duration of trip: ~ 1 hour 10 mins (to Seoul Station)
  • Where to buy tickets: 
    • Pay using T-money (like our EZ-link)
    • Purchase T-money card at any convenience store OR at the vending machines opposite the AREX counter
      • Follow the direction of “airport railroad” once you come out of arrival and it will be on your left after you pass the Airport Railroad Travel Centre (image above)

As you can see, for all 3 methods above of getting to Seoul city, the duration is the same!

4. Taxi 

This is the option I did not research in detail because based on the blogs and forums I saw, it is the most expensive option. I found out while I was there that they like to charge a flat rate instead of going by meter and the cost is generally ranging from 60k-70k won (one way, after bargaining) for a normal sedan taxi.

In short, IMHO: 

  • Hotel has airport limousine shuttle bus stop + heavy luggages: Airport limousine shuttle bus
  • Hotel is on free shuttle route from AREX/walking distance from Seoul station + heavy luggages: AREX
  • Hotel near subway stations other than Seoul station without airport limousine shuttle bus stop:
    • To save money: all stops train
    • AREX + change to subway (especially if your stop is same line as Seoul station)
  • Want to save money + light luggage (or small): All-stop train

I am super not a photo person so I had to source for images hahaha. So sorry. Hope this post helped for those planning your trip to Seoul!

Do help to share, comment to share your experiences as well, thank you! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Travel: Seoul Korea! (To and From Incheon Airport)

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