Reason why I thought of doing this tutorial was because I feel that this would help you in planning your trip out of Seoul (and also a source for me to refer to if I forget).
There are 4 main websites which I will be doing tutorials on, which will be made into 3 post (If not there will be a crazy load of photos).
Korail would probably be the easiest to use because of the English platform they have. I have not reserved or purchased a ticket from these websites before but the websites served me really well when I was planning for my trip and gives me a better idea of the duration, time and the buses/trains available in each cities.
Tickets are really easy to purchase over the counter in Korea. You simply need to let the person over the counter know where you would like to go and they will let you know how much is it and give you the next available departure, be it for the bus or train. Sometimes if I want to buy a ticket for a few days later, or a later timing, then I would want to search up what is available and what fits my timing best, and that’s when the use of the website comes in.
It happened to me one afternoon when I went over to Busan counter and wanted a ticket from Busan to Gangneung and the lady at the counter said that there won’t be a train from Busan to Gangneung, and I got taken aback a little. And I remember checking using the web to check the timing available and a schedule came out. I print screened it and showed it to the the lady and she immediately gave me the ticket I want. Happy girl, happy sales.
So let’s get started with Korail’s website!
You start by keying in the address to your address bar and you will get the this page. Click on the Orange banner that says “Let’s Korail”.
Click on the “Language” button at the top right hand corner for and choose English for instructions and information in English.
Once loaded, you should be at the page shown below, click on Rail Tickets:
You can check and book tickets 1 month from current date, anything later, you would need to wait. Firstly, you choose the departure date, and time. I usually like to put 0300 hours so that I can get to see the earliest train available, especially if I want to start the day very early. Then you choose your departure and arrival station. If you have no idea how to spell the location’s name, simply click on the magnifying glass icon beside the blank and the a pop-up like the image below will appear. You can search by alphabets, those highlighted in pink are train stations with KTX trains.
Once done, the site will load a list of trains available and their information. You would need to note the start and end train station and time. The trains are generally on-time but do give an allowance of maybe 10-15mins just in case of delays.
By clicking on the train number, you will get to see the stations you will go through and the time of departure and arrival at each station.
For the fares, you can click on the magnifying glass and a pop-up with the fares will appear. Preceding refers to the first train you will board and Escorting will be the transfer train (if you happen to have any). By default, the counter staffs will give you a standard class ticket unless you ask for the 1st class or standing class.
Clicking on Direct or Transfer would give you different results. For this case, Seoul -> Busan have both Direct and Transfer trains which you can choose from. For some routes, direct trains are not available and you will be given an error page. You would simply need to click back and choose the Transfer options and you should have the list coming out. Otherwise, it would either means there are no trains running that day, or no trains going that route.
Like the above, if I would like to travel from Busan to Gangneung, I would need to transfer at Dongdaegu because there are no Direct trains. Like how booking of flights needs buffer time, trains needs buffer time too. Check the arriving time into the station you are transferring at the time of departure for your transfer train and ensure you have enough time to walk from 1 platform to another, especially if they are 2 different categories of trains, because that would mean their platforms might be far from each other.
Side note: The tickets would not show which platform the trains are coming into, there are information board around the train stations and most of them with Korean and English information, so you just need to look for your train time and the departing and arriving cities (E.g. 06:15 from Seoul to Busan) and you will be able to know the platform you need to head to.
Once you are done with choosing your ticket and time, you can click select and purchase them online if you would like to. Payment with credit card is possible and they would need your passport number as well.
Here’s a FAQ sheet from the website:
Hope this is helpful and the buses websites are coming soon!