3 TIPS IN RIDING THE SEOUL SUBWAY
The Seoul Metropolitan Subway system is extensive, convenient and the fastest way to get around in and beyond the city.
1. Purchase a T-Money Card and download USEFUL apps
Transportation cards save you time and money. Also, an internet data connection will make your life easier. Here are the kinds of mobile apps I recommend:
- Transportation card app – to check your balance
- Subway app – to plan route and see timetables
- Voice translator app – incase you need directions and can’t find an English speaker
2. BE MINDFUL OF PRIORITY LANES AND PRIORITY SEATS
Marked by signs or a different color, priority lanes and seats are allotted for the pregnant, elderly and disabled. Be careful where you stand and sit. Koreans take these reserved areas seriously.
Expect to be shoved or pushed (without apology) especially during rush hours. Don’t be annoyed, I don’t think they intend to be rude.
3. READ SIGNS, CHECK COLORS AND ASK FOR HELP
The subway platforms are full of signs to help the clueless. Transfers and exits are properly named. Best of all, train lines are color-coded.
Outside and inside the trains are electronic signs and maps showing the current station and the next station. The stops are also announced.
Each station has multiple exits in different directions. Know your transfer or exit number beforehand.
For a first-time traveller, the signs can be overwhelming especially when crammed with Korean, Chinese and English characters. It’s ok to ask for help.
If your card does not work, the ticket entrance in every platform has a help button. The staff may speak roughly or with a heavy accent, but they will open the gate for you.
If you get lost and all your options do not work, go inside the station office and ask for help. They may not speak English well, but they will try their best to help. One time, a staff even went around the station just to find someone who can translate for me.
The best way to feel the real energy of Seoul is to follow the crowd into the metro stations.