Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Public Transportation: Buses

Public transportation in Korea is extremely convenient to use and easy to find. Compared to the U.S. it’s a bazillion times better. Trains, buses, and taxis make it extremely easy to get just about anywhere in the country quickly. Also, if you’re going to one of the closer islands near the mainland, ferries are available regularly throughout the year, barring bad weather. I’m going to make this a 3 part series on public transportation since there is so much to note about each of them. First up are buses:


The most common types of public transportation are the city and inter-city buses. I’m not too familiar with the bus system outside of the Gyeonggi-do area, but I imagine they’re similar. I live in Suwon and have noticed recently that the stops are getting more and more high tech. Most stops had the scrolling display telling you how long until the bus arrived, but now there is a touch screen system available at many stops that you can use to check routes and stops.
All stops will have a listing of buses that stop there and where they go. In Suwon, the green buses are city buses and the red buses are the inter-city buses (they mostly go to Seoul). The blue ‘M’ buses are inter-city buses and don’t allow standing on the bus. There will be a number displayed in the windshield telling you how many seats are left. The fare for the green buses is 1000 won cash or 900 won if you use a T-Money card (I’ll talk about this in a second). The red inter-city buses are 1800 won cash and 1700 won with the T-Money card. The other buses will vary based on your destination.

The T-Money card is a transportation card that you can use for buses, the subway, and taxis. Using the T-Money card will get you a 100 won discount on fare on buses and the subway. It’s also just convenient to carry and can be charged up at just about any convenience store (just look for the T-Money sign in the window) and subway station. You can also purchase a card at these locations, and if you’re lucky snag one of the cell phone charm ones that are harder to lose (mine disappeared in the abyss of my apartment apparently). It’s also worth noting that if you transfer between buses or between a bus and subway train within a certain time period (15 minutes, I think), the transfer is free. You can also use a credit card on the bus, too. When exiting the bus, you’ll scan your T-Money card again to register when you exited for transfer timing and correct billing for some buses.

A tip for folks living in Yeongtong, if you take a stroll over to Kyunghee-de, you can get a seat since the majority of buses in this area begin their routes there. The Yeongtong Park stop by ABC Mart and the foot bridge near Homeplus is the busies t stop, but I digress.
The majority of stops on the list of stops are going to be apartment names and such, so unless you live there or go there often, you’re not going to really know where it is. The important or major stops (like subways or major department stores) will be in English.

It's also worth noting that while the majority of buses that go from point A to point B will also go from point B to point A by reversing their routes. However, there are a few buses (mostly the red intercity buses) that will go from A -> B -> C -> A. An example of this the 5100 bus from Kyeunghee-de to Gangnam. You can take the 5100 from Kyeunghee-de, through Yeongtong, to Gangnam, to Yangjae, and then back to Yeongtong and Kyeunghee-de. You cannot go from Yangjae to Gangnam on this bus because it makes a loop through Seoul and doesn't reverse its course.

The cross-country buses will stop at terminals. Suwon has two of these and Seoul has a few (the most notable being the Express Bus Terminal). You can go just about anywhere in the country via bus, and this is usually cheaper than taking the KTX or other train. You can get just about anywhere in the country in about 4 hours. The two stations in Suwon are Suwon Central Bus Terminal (www.suwonterminal.co.kr) and Seo (North) Suwon Bus Terminal (http://www.seosuwonbusterminal.co.kr/). The most popular and larger is the Suwon Central Bus Terminal located next to E-Mart and not too far from Suwon Station (south of the subway, I think) and not too far from the Ingyedong Homeplus. Seo (North) Suwon Bus Terminal is located north of the subway station. Several red buses to Seoul can be caught at these stations, too.

Now, another convenient type of bus available are the Airport Limousine buses. The two origin points for these in Suwon are Hotel Castle and Landmark Hotel (in Yeongtong). The buses also stop at other locations along the way and can be checked here www.swtic.or.kr. The cost for the airport shuttle buses are 12,000 won and they run nearly all day about every half hour. They take about an hour and a half to get to the airport so plan accordingly. You can also take these buses from the airport (exit 7) back to Suwon. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with any other city’s airport shuttles.

Here is a list of a few major stops in Suwon (I'll add more when I think of them):
Galleria department store in Ingyedong – 갤러리아

New Core Outlet in Ingyedong (Kim’s Club grocery store is in here, too) - 뉴 코어 아울렛
I know that bus numbers 2-1 and 13-1 go here from Yeongtong

Station – 역 (Suwon station - 수원 역)
I know that bus numbers 5, 9, 2-1, and 13-1 go here from the Yeongtong area

Suwon City Hall (in Ingyedong) - 수원 시청

Samsung Electronics Complex’s central gate in Suwon (road signs will now say Samsung Digital City)- 삼성 전자

World Cup Stadium in Dong Suwon (East Suwon) - 월드컵 경기장
I know that bus number 7000 stops here on the way out of town to Seoul


  1. Here is extremely easy way to find bus routes in Korea.
    Just go to maps.google.com and click "Get directions" button. You can then search location in any language or click it on the map.
    If you select public transportation you will be prompted with various bus/subway routes, approximate time, bus stop locations and even bus arrive time.
    I always use this method on my smartphone.

  2. Yup yup, good tip! Thanks!
    Suwon city buses have a website, too, where you can check bus routes that work best for your destination. As soon as I remember the site, I'll post it.

  3. when I zoomed in on the maps, they turned to Hangul!!!

    1. The bus route maps are going to be in Korean unfortunately. If you have any particular bus in mind or a destination in mind, I can try to help you out with it.

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