Seoul: Need to Know

City Basics

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Arriving. Taxis are the fastest way to get to downtown from Incheon International Airport and should set you back about $70 to $80. Limousine buses are another excellent option. About a handful of these very comfortable and clean buses depart from the airport every 20 minutes or so and stop at all the major hotels. Catch them at the curb when you walk out of Immigration and Customs. They cost a mere $12 and take 80 to 90 minutes to make the 40-km (25-mile) trip to Seoul, versus an hour or so for private taxis. Look for signs with your hotel name.

Getting Around. There's an abundance of cabs in the city, so hailing one is fairly effortless (except after 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights). But Korean cabbies do have to pay an arm and a leg to top off their tanks, so fares can be high — use taxis judiciously, especially during rush-hour traffic. Many taxi drivers don't speak English, but they're familiar enough with foreigners' wild mispronunciation of common Korean names and sounds, so they seem to know where to go. (Writing things down in Korean always helps.) Also, cabs are kitted out with GPS, so drivers can reach most destinations with just a phone number.

Otherwise, make good use of the subway system — it's super-efficient, clean, extensive and ridiculously cheap. Subway signs and maps are in both Hangul, the Korean alphabet, and English.

Tipping. Korea is basically a no-tip culture. Cab drivers don't expect any reward for their services and it's pretty much the same for staff in local restaurants as well as hotels. Even porters and bellboys don't expect a tip.

Survival Skills. Seoul is a fairly safe city for travelers, and tourist information booths are scattered all over to help you navigate the capital both culturally and geographically. Telephone operators at a 24-hour tourist hotline (dial 02-1330 from a cell phone) also seem to be able to answer any question thrown at them. Lastly, Seoul is often touted as one of the most wired cities in the world, but getting your overseas BlackBerry to work here is no easy feat, as Korea is on an incompatible network.

  • 1. Incheon International Airport
    Incheon, South Korea 37.463333126.44 More Info

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