If you’re traveling to South Korea via a plane, you’re probably trying to figure out how to get from the airport in Incheon to Seoul. Even though almost everything is in English, if you don’t speak Korean, getting out of the airport might be intimidating (and even if you do speak Korean, it still may feel a bit overwhelming). Here are your options.
Limousine buses are express buses that cycle from Incheon International Airport to major destinations, primarily within Seoul. If you’re lucky, it might land you right near where you need to be; otherwise, you may need to take the subway or a taxi briefly, but considering that you can ride the bus for an average 45 minutes to an hour in relative comfort without worrying about your luggage (which is stowed below), with air conditioning and a flat rate for your ticket, it’s the best deal in my opinion. I’ve ridden on 6002 several times, both coming and going, and it is perfect for students going to the Hongdae, Sinchon, or Edae areas, because it drops off right nearby and you can walk or snag a taxi easily.
Location at airport: both the ticket counters and bus pick-up locations are directly outside the arrival gates after you collect your luggage and clear customs
Cost: about 10,000 – 15,000 won depending on where you’re going and can be bought from a machine via debit/credit card or via cash from a person (though if your flight arrives extremely early, the buses may be running but the workers who can accept cash payment may not be there yet)
Time: varies, usually begins around 5:30AM (leaving Incheon)
Downsides: depending on the time and destination, the bus may be mostly empty or completely packed. I recommend making sure you’re ready and waiting well before the bus is scheduled to depart, because people board as soon as it arrives at the airport to pick up its next batch of passengers
This option is a train that runs between Incheon and Seoul Station starting around 5-6AM. You can ride either the commuter train, which stops at many major stations, including Hongik University, between Incheon and Seoul Station, or the express train with no stops between Incheon and Seoul Station. When I’ve done this, I take the commuter train and I’ve always manage to get a seat simply because it’s such a long ride and eventually seats open up as people get off the train. You can take the commuter train for a cheaper rate than the limousine bus (about 3,000 won), but the downside is that you have to corral your luggage on your own and prevent it from sliding into other people. If you have one suitcase, go for AREX. If you have two or dislike long subway rides with lots of people, take the bus. If you’re going straight to Seoul Station, take the express train and ride more comfortably.
Cost: 3,000-8,000 won and tickets can be bought with cash from machines, though I am not sure if you can purchase via credit/debit card when ticket counters are open. Follow the signs to get to the train station with both ticket counters and trains (the station is connected to the airport via walkways over a few parking lots/roads)
Time: 40-60 minutes
Downsides: if you’re on the commuter train, your luggage is your responsibility, you may have to wait a stop or two for a seat, and the seats aren’t as comfortable as a bus
Don’t do this. It’s expensive and runs well above 30,000 won one way. Just don’t.
Friend | “마중 나가다”
Perhaps do this. 마중 나가다 is the verb phrase for someone going out to pick someone else up (i.e. if you go visit your Korean friend and they come to the subway station to get you, or if they drive out to the airport for you). If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who is willing to drive all the way out to pick you up and bring you back (through tolls both ways so you might want to offer to pay for at least the tolls) and it’s not a crazy early or late hour, this can be a good option. If you have two suitcases or are worried about getting lost, you could also ask a friend to meet you at the airport and take AREX together so that each of you takes one suitcase, making suitcase herding easier.
Hopefully this guide has removed some of the stress associated with traveling. Don’t fret! Even if you get to Incheon and are still confused, just ask a worker for help. And after all, if traveling was completely simply and easy, it wouldn’t truly be an adventure.