Whether you’re visiting or living in Seoul, the city offers one of the best public transportation circuits in the world. Luckily it’s also quite easy to learn and acclimate to. The subway system is the go-to form of transportation for most expats because it’s clearly laid out with English and Chinese subtitles. The bus system is a bit harder with the majority of routes entirely in Korean. However, once you familiarize yourself with it, you’ll open up additional doors allowing you to venture around and outside of the city more conveniently (and you’ll thank yourself!)
Seoul buses are divided by four separate colors that are generally good to be aware of.
Blue: these buses travel on major highways and for long distances.
Green: these buses generally travel shorter distances and stop between transfer points such as subway stations and blue bus stops. Sometimes called “village buses”
Red: these buses offer express routes between the city and suburban areas outside of the metropolitan area.
Yellow: these buses travel short distances and stay in a local designated area of the city.
The first tip above all if you are living in Korea is to learn how to read Korean. It’s actually quite simple and you can click here for links & tips. This will help you immensely especially for using the bus system, although not necessary.
Pro Tip: If you already know what bus # you want use Kakao Bus to check the schedule!
Outlined below is a painless way of finding the right bus for your route. We didn’t discover it until our second year in Korea and can’t believe we missed something so simple for so long! Learn from us, USE it!
South Korean Bus Guide
Step 1) Download Naver maps and make sure your GPS location is enabled
Yes, yes, we know. It’s all in Korean! (Again, if you learn how to read the language that’ll help you here as well). This is the main map Koreans use, so it’s also good to have readily available on your device for that reason. Even though it’s in Korean, follow this guide and it’ll go smoothly.
Don’t forget to turn on your GPS location!
Step 2) Click
Select 지도 – top right menu
This translates to “map”
Step 3) Select the “locator” button – top left and place it on your departing location
This will highlight where your current location is. If you want to leave from there, perfect. Otherwise you can move it. Either or, simply hold down on the red dot until the icon changes to a blue cone with a red cross below it. move the icon so that the red cross is placed onto your departing location. (I use the colored subway lines and stations as guides, zoom out if you have to).
Seoul Buses using Naver Maps
Step 4) Select 출발 – bottom left
This translates to “start” or “departing”. After you select this, it’ll take you to a new screen.
Do you love street art? Why no take the bus to some of the bus to some of the best street art in seoul!
Step 5) Click on the empty bar (다적지 검색)
This translates to “destination search”. By selecting this, it’ll take you to a blank screen with just a few options.
Step 6) Select the cone top right
This will take you back to the map.
Step 7) Place the icon on your arrival location select the bottom bar
This starts the same as “step 3” and will take you to a new screen again.
How to Travel in Seoul
Step 8) Select 대중 교통 – subway car icon
It’s the first icon on the left below the address bars. This will also take you to a new screen.
Step 9) Select the next tab “버스”
This translates to “bus”. The number on the tab tells you how many bus routes are available. Each option tells you the estimated travel time, the cost, where to get on, transfer and get off. Look for the Bus number on the left next to the colored rectangle.
As you can see, there are also other options to find your route. If you stay on the original tab in the last step (8), those options show routes for both bus and subways combined. At the very top, you will see 4 icons total with a photo on each (subway, car, bike and person). Each icon shows the route for that mode of travel.
For more information on the Seoul bus system, click http://english.seoul.go.kr/life-information/transportation-information/public-transportation/1-bus/
If you’re heading to Busan be sure to read this guide for 3 days in Busan!
Looking for things to do in Seoul? Check out this great post with 99 ideas!
Want to find some places to stay in Korea? Head over to my friends at Wee Gypsy Girl for wacky hotel ideas!
Need some other ideas for what to do in Seoul? Check out this 10 day Korea Itinerary!