The bus systems differ slightly from city to city in Korea. There are 2 kinds of buses: local and express. Both are numbered according to their routes. The bus system is so extensive that it may be used to get almost anywhere in the city. Fares can be paid with cash, or bus cards. Another type of bus is called the City Express Bus (chwasok buses). They stop less frequently and are therefore faster.
Taxis are a popular form of public transportation in Korea. There are 2 types of taxis: regular-sized taxis and deluxe taxis. The fare for regular-sized taxis is calculated from both the distance traveled and the time taken. Fares increase 20% between midnight and 4a.m. There are many taxi stands in most cities and they may also be hailed from the streets. Deluxe taxis, also called mobom taxis, are black with a yellow sign on the top and the words "Deluxe Taxi" written on the side. These taxis offer a higher standard of service. Car phones and receipts are available. There is also no late-night surcharge. Deluxe taxi stands are located at hotels, bus and subway stations, bus terminals, and on major city streets.
The subway is the most convenient and efficient way for visitors to get around Seoul, Pusan, and Taegu. Station names, ticket counters, and transfer signs are all clearly marked in both English and Korean. The different lines are color coded and all trains have multi-lingual announcements. The subways themselves are clean, efficient, and air-conditioned. Stations have automatic ticket dispensers and convenient bus connections.
Korean Air and Asiana Airlines serve the domestic flight network linking Korea's 16 major cities. Travel agents and airline offices can arrange reservations and ticketing. Now the new Incheon International Airport is the new main gateway to Korea, and is located 32 miles from Seoul and just 9 miles from the port of Incheon. The airport's terminal, which will be the largest passenger terminal building in the world, features a total floor space of nearly 5.5 million square feet and 44 boarding gates.
Korea has extensive inter-city bus services connecting virtually all cities and towns. However, these buses do not provide many facilities for the foreign visitor. There is no English timetable and seating is cramped. For the adventurous visitor, this is an interesting way to get closer to the spirit and lifestyle of the Korean people.
Long Distance Express Buses operate on expressways throughout the country. They are comfortable and convenient and their terminals are located close to city centers, thus making it easier for city tours. Another type of long distance express bus is called the Deluxe Express Bus. Although the fare is rather expensive, these buses have gained great popularity due to the spacious seating and other facilities such as mobile phones, VCRs, and foot rests. The deluxe express buses share the same terminal as other regular buses.
Those with tight schedules are recommended to use tourist buses. A number of travel agents operate tourist buses to most popular places.
Passenger trains, operated by the Korean National Railroad, are fast, reliable, and moderately priced. An extensive network covers almost every part of the nation and the trains also run on a tight schedule. For most destinations, the trains are full on weekends and holidays. Tickets should therefore be purchased at least two weeks in advance. This may be done at railway stations or travel agents.
Boat travel is one of the most pleasurable ways to see Korea. Ferry services scale the waterways between Pusan and Cheju, Mokp'o and Hongdo, and P'ohang and Ullungdo.
The international seaport at Pusan is also another gateway for visitors who usually arrive from Japan by ship. Another international port is Inch'on, which features services to China. With proper documentation, private cars arriving by ferry will be issued temporary entry permits.
Car rentals are available to those who wish to drive. However, drivers must meet the following requirements in order to rent a car:
1) Have more than 1 year's driving experience
Cars are driven on the right side of the road and most road signs are written in both English and Korean. Due to the high traffic density and complex road systems, it is advisable to hire a driver along with the car, especially in larger cities. Visitors who wish to hire a chauffeur-driven car must also be prepared to pay the driver's meals and hotel expenses.
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