Option #1: Taking the Express Bus to Seoul (cheaper)
I’m always a big fan of taking the public bus to get a more local perspective, but in Korea it’s not only a culturally nice way to travel but comfortable, reliable, cheap and fast. (It’s actually faster than the slow Mungunghwa train!) The bus plays satellite television (although unless you’re by the speakers you can’t really hear anything) and it makes a pit stop at a rest station, where you can get out, stretch your legs and buy some snacks. There are no bathrooms on the bus, so if you have a small bladder, you may want to rethink. But there is also luggage storage available overhead and in the underneath cab of the bus. The seating won’t be as spacious as a train, but this difference isn’t much.
You can try to book your ticket that day but know if it’s full, you may have to catch the next one. Thus, I try to purchase my tickets in advance. Traveling by Express Bus in general and want schedules and routes? Check out Korea’s Tourism site here. Kobus.co.kr has a schedule of bus times but unless you have a Korean charge card, you’ll have to go down to Dongdaegu station (it’s got its own metro stop) to purchase the ticket yourself. Your bus companies will be either Kumho, Dongyang, Jungang, Choneil, or Samhwa.
Seoul Station has 2 express bus stations you can enter into– Seoul or Dong Seoul. The Seoul bus enters into the Express Bus Terminal which is the larger and busier brother of Dong Seoul. This terminal has its own Express Bus Terminal subway stop (Line 7, Brown Line) which is approx. a 5-8 minute walk downstairs to the subway.
Dong Seoul station is a little smaller and the subway is also a 5 minute walk, however you may need to ask for directions to re-orient yourself. The Gangbyeon subway station (Line 2, Green Line) is housed in a different building across the street of Dong Seoul station.
I have gone to both stations. Cost of a OW ticket is approx. 15,500 W for General and approx 17,000 for Excellent and will take 3 hrs and 40min. There is no on-board bathroom in the bus but the bus driver will make one rest stop 1/3 way from Seoul. This is the cheapest way to get to Seoul and equally as comfortable as the train. It also takes the same amount of time as the Mungunghwa (slow train) but not as fast as the KTX.
Option #2: KTX train to Seoul (more expensive but sometimes, quicker)
Taking the train Mungunghwa to KTX will cost you anywhere from 20,000W to 50,000W one way (16,000W for standing on the Mungunghwa–4 hours+ ride). The cheaper and slower Mungunghwa doesn’t ensure speed over the bus. In fact, its slower and more expensive. But riding the KTX to Seoul will enure speed in a little over 2 hours. If you’re traveling with a group then you’re in luck– buying a set of 4 tickets brings you a 50% discount. Buying a package of 4 is actually cheaper than buying 3 single tickets. Again, unless you have a Korea credit card, you will not be able to make reservations but must go the station in person. Seats are comfortable and you will depart from Dongdaegu Station to arrive into Seoul Station.
Korail website: http://www.korail.com/ (English site avail)
Seoul Station (view from inside the cafeteria); in actuality, its size is impressive–
it looks like a luxury mall and has some stores in it too (i.e. Lotte Mart, Smoothie King, etc…)
Luggage storage in Seoul Train Station & Subway:
Both stations have their own subway stop and offer lockers to store luggage in, but it doesn’t always guarantee an empty locker. There are other passengers who have the same idea as you. When you arrive, look for a locker with a key hanging from it. If there are no visible keys and they are all taken, that signals that lockers are full. In Seoul, your secondary bet is to go downstairs to the subway lockers of which there are a few.
…which is good to know there’s that kind of service available in a subway station!
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