Seoul is a massive, sprawling city, overwhelmingly so. There are many historic sites to see, neighborhoods to explore, animal cafes to visit, and you can be sure of one thing: you will use public transportation nearly everyday of your visit. That is why I bring tips how to use Seoul subway
Thankfully the trains in Korea are frequent, reliable, and clean. Though with over 20 different lines of varying colors–some not so distinguishable–and over 500 stations, it’s very easy to get anxious about navigating the city. Have no fear, there is a system to get you from point A to point B faster! That is, if you can manage to read the subway maps.
If I can offer one tip for Seoul subway to prevent others from feeling overwhelmed, it would be to download a subway app. It offers helpful information like timetables, station information, and exit maps. You can also adjust the times as well as choose what day of the week you’ll be riding for the most up-to-date schedule. While it doesn’t seem any more special than other city subway systems, there is a trick to it.
What makes Seoul subway such easier than others also happens to be my favorite part of the station: if you look down, you will see a bunch of numbers on the platform floor. 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 2-1, 2-2, etc. This shows you what car and door you are near. For example when you see 2-4, you know you are at the 2nd car 4th door. 3-3 would be 3rd car 3rd door, 7-1 is 7th car 1st door, and so on. This is helpful when you’re meeting friends as they can get on the train at the same car and door and voila! There you are.
BUT that’s not all! The Seoul subway apps use this information to offer you the fastest transfer times. When you input your departure and arrival stations, you can see the details of your trip. The app shows you what direction to go, how many stops before your transfer, how long the transfer takes, and what car and door to use so you can quickly walk to the next platform. This is a timesaver if you’re running late–which happens to me more often than I’d like to admit.
BONUS TIP: If you get distracted by all the sounds and advertisements in the subway car, or if you are easily lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the train, the Seoul subway app lets you set an alert for when you arrive at your station! No more dozing off and finding yourself several stops past your destination. (This also happens to me quite frequently but all I can say is I like naps.) Next time you step foot in a Seoul subway and stare at the map of tangled colors and hundreds of little black dots, remember to breathe, take out your handy app, and get going to those sites you want to see. Good luck!
Author: Dana – The Wandering Introvert
About: Dana is a US expat living on the Korean peninsula. When she’s not teaching elementary school students, she’s pushing through introversion and social discomfort to travel Asia. Her affinity for journaling has led to dabbling in travel blogging; to show other homebodies that the great big world is where adventure begins.