As a foreigner in Korea, I bet you want to explore the country as much as you can. Most of us don’t have a car, so in this article, I will show you how to book train and bus tickets both online and offline. For peak travel seasons and holidays, it is advised to book tickets in advance to make sure your trip is smooth and convenient.
How to Buy Train and Bus Tickets Offline
Intercity bus terminals and train stations always have both a ticket booth and a ticket machine for travelers. I notice there is always a long line waiting in front of the ticket booth but it is the best option for foreign visitors.
For the ticket booth, the staff doesn’t always speak English or their English is limited. This can be an obstacle for foreigners who don’t speak Korean. But, in larger cities, there is a chance that the staff can speak English well too. You can pay with cash or card. In most cases, but not all they do accept international cards at the ticket booths.
You will need to have a domestic card to buy tickets at the machine. There is an option for English but quite limited. However, the machine is user-friendly. It is easy to buy a ticket in the ticket machine for foreigners residing in Korea.
*I do not recommend waiting to buy a ticket in person on the day of departure if you are traveling during summer or national holidays. Trains and buses are regularly booked, and you won’t get a seat. If you need to buy a ticket in person, go at least several days ahead of your scheduled travel date.
How to Buy Bus Tickets Online
1. 고속버스 티미니
*Must have a Korean bank account. Only Korean services are available.
For intercity bus tickets, there is an application called 고속버스티머니 that can be installed on your phone. It is easy to reserve a ticket. However, there is one drawback. The application is only available in Korean and the bus tickets are only between well-known destinations in Korea. Plus, you need to pay using a Korean card.
*Offer English Services, accept Paypal and foreign cards. More expensive
You can also go to the T-money bus website to buy a ticket in English. On this website, you can find any route you want. The website is user-friendly so it is quite easy to buy it from here. You can even use Paypal or your foreign card to pay for it. However, they charge an extra fee and a cancellation fee as well. Therefore, the ticket price here is a little bit higher than if you buy it directly at the bus terminal.
*Cheapest option, not user friendly. Korean card only.
There is also Bustago to buy tickets. Although they have an English version of the site, purchases only work on their Korean site and you must pay with a card issued in Korea. Plus, the website is not user-friendly. It will take a while to buy a ticket here. However, they don’t charge an extra fee. If you have been in Korea for a while and are used to how things work here, I recommend Bustago as it is cheaper.
How to Buy Train Tickets Online
1. KTX Website
*Can use foreign cards and is in English. More expensive and limited routes.
The website I recommend is the KTX website if you plan to travel to big cities like Seoul, Busan, Daegu….. This page is like T-moneybus, it is user-friendly, the website in English, it is easy to buy a ticket, and you can pay with foreign cards. But it also charges an extra fee and cancellation fee. The tickets here are more expensive than normal and there are limited routes to choose from.
2. Korail Korea Website
*Can use a foreign card and is in English. Extra fees but has more routes than the KTX Website.
Another website you can use is the Korail Korea website. This is the website of Korail Korea corporation which is in charge of railways in Korea. The website is also user-friendly but it also charges an extra fee. However, the routes are not limited and you can pay with your foreign card.
*Cheapest option, can use Kakao Pay. Must use a Korean card, under-developed English version.
You can buy directly from the website or application called 코레일톡. The problem with the app is that if you try to use it in a language other than Korean is not so foreigner-friendly and you need to pay with a Korean card. However, the price is so much cheaper than other options. Plus, it is super convenient to buy a ticket in advance or cancel it once you figure it out. The train tickets are very affordable in this app! For anyone who uses Kakao Pay, the paying/refund process is even easier.
This app also provides English service but the train route for the English language is limited and the app is not very well developed in English. I would only recommend this to expats in Korea who are familiar with the Korean language and payment system.
If you visit Busan, be sure to check out Korea’s latest transportation innovation, the Haeundae Beach Train and Sky Capsule. Click Here to learn more!