Several options exist for those looking to travel to regional cities from Seoul. Although express buses are one option, it’s always better to use trains or flights for domestic travel.
Three types of trains exist in Korea: KTX, Samaeul and Mugunhwa. The introduction of KTX in 2004 has made life easier for travel to regional cities. These high-speed trains travel at 300 km/h and have 20 cars with 935 seats in total. The special section has 127 seats with three per section while the general section has 808 seats with four per section. Standees are also allowed on the KTX as use of the train has steadily increased since its induction in 2004.
Samaeul trains are the next fastest way to travel, 146 147 Transportation Living in Seoul taking Seoulites to Busan in 4 1/2 hours. These trains are roomier and do not have standing tickets available. Samaeul trains stop at all major cities and were the fastest trains before the introduction of KTX. These trains can be easily distinguished by their blue, green and yellow color. The length the train can vary from five to twelve cars.
Mugunghwa trains, named after the national flower of Korea are the slowest and the least comfortable of the group. Standees are allowed and the seating arrangements are not as spacious as the Samaeul train. Mugunhwa
trains were commonly used prior to 2004 and are still widely used since they make many stops not serviced by KTX or Samaeul trains.
Two major airlines, Korean Air (KAL) and Asiana Airlines, as well as several smaller airlines, serve domestic flight routes. Gimpo Airport is the base of all domestic flights with daily flights to Gwangju, Gunsan, Busan, Yangyang, Yeosu/Suncheon, Ulsan, Jeju, Jinju/Sacheon, and Pohang. Visit gimpo.airport.co.kr [K, E, J, C] for flight and terminal information in English. Tickets for KAL can be reserved online at www.koreanair.com [K, E, J, C, D, F] or over the phone at 1588-2001, and Asiana Airlines tickets can be reserved online at www.flyasiana.com/english [K, E, J, C] or over the phone at 1588-8000. Purchases can be made directly at one of the stations, or reservations can be made with the amount paid in full at the airport.
When considering domestic flights or train rides, it is important to check the calendar for national holidays. The two major holidays in Korea are Chuseok in September and the Lunar New Year in February when people often make their way to their ancestral hometowns for family gatherings. They are the equivalent to hectic transportation schedules around Chistmas or Thanksgiving overseas. Try to avoid travels on major holidays and if it’s absolutely necessary, plan ahead and book you tickets early.