South Korea Itinerary Part 2(a): Getting Around Seoul & Where to Stay in Seoul

Also see
For budgettravel infoculture, see Itinerary Part 1.
For Seoul Itinerary Days 1-3, and Days 12-14, see Parts 2 & 8 respectively.
For Andong Itinerary Day 4, see Part 3.
For Gyeongju Itinerary Day 5, see Part 4.
For Busan itinerary Days 6-8, see Part 5.
For Jeju Island Days 9-10, see Part 6.
For Haeinsa at Gayasan National Park Day 11, see Part 7.

Korean Public Toilets
Korean public toilets, especially at train stations, have no soap dispenser but a bar of soap!

How to Get to Seoul City from Incheon Airport & Gimpo Airport

Incheon Airport serves international flights and Gimpo Airport serves domestic flights and both airports are on the airport railroad (AREX), an inexpensive 45-minute train that goes to Seoul subway station [about ₩4000 (S$4.50)]. This is the best and fastest way. TIP: When you reach Seoul station, remember to get a refund ₩500 for your ticket-card.

If you have heavy luggage, then take the limousine buses [₩10, 000 (S$11)] or KAL deluxe limousine buses [₩15, 000 (S$18)] that stop at 20 major hotels in Seoul.

Taxis can charge anywhere before ₩50, 000-100, 000 (S$55-110), depending on midnight charge or peak hours.

Getting Around Seoul

T-money Seoul1. Subway / Metro: The Seoul Metro is the best way to travel although some stations are quite far from the attractions. The first thing you should do is grab a metro map from any station. The trains stop around midnight and try to avoid peak hours (8-9am and 6-7pm).

You can buy single-journey cards but to save the hassle, time and money, get a T-money or Seoul City+ Pass (pictured left, get from the blue machine in the background) for ₩2000 (S$2.20), then “recharge” the card at the machine. You can use this card for trains, buses, some taxis, convenience shops, Kyobo Bookstore, Lotte World (shopping) and gives you discounts to some theaters, museums and restaurants.

TIP: When you leave Seoul, go to any metro ticketing office to get a refund up to ₩20,000 of the balance in the card. But you can’t get the the ₩2000 card fee back.

2. Taxis: Taxis are very affordable in Seoul. I took a midnight taxi and it cost only S$6! That’s the base fare for SIngapore’s midnight cabs! That being said, Chiobu took a midnight taxi and the driver refused to run by meter and charged her ₩20, 000 (S$22).

3. Bus: A new friend I made in Seoul told me he only takes buses. Buses are good because the subway/Metro train stations can be far from attractions but buses are confusing to tourists. Check out the bus routes. TIP: You can a free transfer from one bus to another bus or subway within 30 minutes from when you get off. Tap your T-money or City Pass+ card when you exit the bus.

Where to Stay in Seoul

Korea Hotel Lifts
Hotel lifts have no 4th floor because in Korean, it sounds like “death.”

1. For most travelers: If you’re like me and want a bit of everything (sightseeing, shopping, bar-hopping), the best places to stay are along Lines 1 and 4 of the metro. (Line 4 is nice and quiet and you can get a seat at most times). Try to stay around Seoul Station (lines 1 & 4), Myeong-dong Station (line 4) or Chungmuro Station (lines 3 & 4).

2. For gay travelers: For those who like k-pop star type, stay around Itaewon Station (line 6). For those who prefer late 20s-50s men, stay at Jongno 3-ga Station (lines 1, 3 & 5).

Review of Namsan Guest House

Namsan Guest House

Namsan Guest House is a very, very convenient hostel, just 5 minutes walk from Myeong-dong Station (line 4). If you exit Exit 2 or 3 of Line 4, it’s Namsan Guest House. If you exit Exit 6, it’s a major shopping area.

Namsan has 3 guest houses. Opt for Namsan 2 or 3 because Namsan 1 is oldest and furthest away, high up on a hill so you’ll sweat like rain when you reach there.

Given my luck, there weren’t any rooms left in 2 or 3, so I took Namsan 1 for ₩50, 000 a night. The room smelled of mildew and was old but adequate. They provided towels, tv, hairdryer, etc but no toothbrush. I was quite surprised to find that they didn’t provide new toothpaste and soap. The toothbrush and soap were already opened and used, but I found that all hostels and 3-star hotels I stayed at did the same thing. TIP: Bring a toothbrush. Most hostels and 3-star hotels don’t provide toothbrush.

There was breakfast provided (just bread) but you can take instant noodles from the pantry any time.

Service: There was a slim (Chinese?) receptionist who was quite rude. I asked him for directions to go to Andong and he retorted, “How would I know? I have never been to Andong.” A friendly and polite Korean guy quickly took over and checked the information for me.

Namsan Guest House 1In conclusion, the strong point is its location, near to major tourist attractions and shopping areas, but the rooms may be too rundown for some people and the service was uneven.

Address: 33-3 Namsandong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
T: +82-2-752-6363 or +82-2-753-6262

How to Get to Namsan Guest House

Exit 3 of Myeong-dong Station. When you are above ground, there is a road between Exit 2 and Exit 3. Take the road uphill and you’ll see Pacific Hotel. Take the right side of the road of Pacific Hotel, walk 2-3 minutes, and Namsan should be on your left. The reception is at Namsan 2.

Review of Hotel New World Seoul

Hotel New World Seoul
Hotel New World doesn’t have a website but you can just google for “Hotel New World Seoul” and it will bring you to a few of the booking sites. Surrounded by love motels, the 3-star hotel is one-minute walk from Sookmyung Women University Station (Line 4), which is just a station away from Seoul Station. It cost about S$100 a night.

Hotel New World Seoul

Hotel New World Seoul

Hotel New World drinks
Free drinks from the fridge: a very sour, sour plum drink and a rice drink that has a musky taste. Both require acquired taste.

The location is still very convenient, though slightly less convenient than Namsan’s. However, everything else was superior. The room was much more spacious and cleaned daily, towels replenished, tv more advanced. Even the hotel slippers were padded. The receptionist was polite. Between Namsan and Hotel New World, I prefer the latter.

Hotel new World Name Card(Click to enlarge)

Address: 42, Namyeong-dong, Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea
T: +82-2-798-0261

How to Get to Hotel New World

Exit 5 from Sookmyung Women University Station (Line 4). Turn right at the first road, walk straight to the end, and turn right.

To be continued…

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Categories: Seoul

17 replies »

  1. It’s the first time I come across your website and I have to compliment that you are really good .
    I will be going to Jeju , Busan and Seould middle of next month ( budget ) and I was wondering if you would be able to recommend any good cheap hotel , hostel with lift .
    Thank you ….


    • Thanks. For Seoul, if you want budget, try the above-mentioned hostel, Namsan Guesthouse 2 or 3. It’s very convenient and cheap. But I don’t think they have lifts. Request to stay on the first floor.

      For Busan, check out my Busan post. Angel Hotel is about 50won a night, so if there are 2 of you, it’s only $25 a night. Good location. With lift.

      For Jeju, you cannot travel it on your own. You’ve to rent a car or go on a tour. Since I was alone, I went on a tour: Yeha Tour. Yeha also has 2 hostels, and if you stay in the hostels, you get 20% off the tours. So I stayed in the hostel. Quite a nice place with lift.


  2. Hi :)
    I am planning for my family’s itinerary to Seoul next year March. And your blog has given me great ideas as to where to even start.
    I still have a lot of questions in mind, but still your blog is awesome & informative!
    Do you have an email that I can send my inquiries to? Thanks! mine is


  3. Hi!
    I loved your blog; very comprehensive.

    We are going to Korea from 1-10 August 2015. Our rough itinerary is :

    1-4: Seoul; staying at Namsan
    5-7: Andong, Gyeongju, Busan
    7 night: leave for Jeju
    8-9: Jeju
    9 night: Leave for Seoul
    10: flight back home.

    We both are not too keen to visit Busan beaches but extremely interested in cultural part of Andong and Gyeongju. Do you think we can leave Busan altogether( even the temples)? Otherwise might get too hectic.

    What is the best way to cover A-G-B (in that order)?

    Many thanks for your help,


    • Thank you so much for your kind words. The Andong-Gyeongju-Busan leg is too rushed. Busan is like a less vibrant Seoul but it has a spa (I talked about it in my entries) which is an amazing cultural experience.

      If you like cultural parks, temples, tombs, etc, you can start at 8am in the morning at Gyeongyu, visit the 4 places I mention, and end at 5


  4. Hi. Visiting Seoul and Jeju Sept 9-19. What part of Seoul should I stay in? Probably stay 4 star hotel. Traveling w sister and mom. Can you recommend a tour company in seoul?



  5. Sooo …. stressed out trying to plan my trip to South Korea until I read your comprehensive blog! I now have a smile on my face :). Can I be annoying and ask for your recommendation for a 19 day trip from 7/4/2016 to 26/4/2015 (5 days longer than your journey): What other places should I include apart from those regions you covered. BTW, I am hoping to do some serious shopping on the last 2 days, so it will be 3 days longer! It will be a surprise for my poor husband!!

    Thank you kindly in advance!

    Sally from Melbourne


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