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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How to Travel from Seoul to Busan with a Korail Pass.

This was one of my assigned task during our recent family trip to Seoul and Busan. 

We didn't want to travel to Busan via flights because it was a lot more expensive compared to other mode of transportation, which in this case is via rail. 

We could have gotten the flight tickets from Gimpo Airport (not from Incheon Airport) to Busan at about RM200 per adult but the flight departs at night from Seoul and early in the morning from Busan, hence the cheap price. So, this is highly not advisable unless of course you don't mind spending RM500 for a good timing flight. 

In my case, I googled and found (or maybe Rachel found it and told me. Heh) that there's this train ticket that we may purchase online to go to Busan, directly from Seoul. 

It's surprisingly very simple to book the Korail pass for our Busan trip. 

You can click here and have a look yourself. 

Let me summarize for you what this Korail Pass is and its basic terms & conditions:

  • It is strictly for foreigners, tourist and non-Koreans only. 
  • If you are a foreigner/tourist and you plan to stay for more than 6 months, this is NOT for you. You can go find out more on the Happy Rail Pass. 
  • With Korail Pass, you will have unlimited access to the standard seats on various trains for the amount of days you purchase.
  • Access to trains such as; KTX, KTX-Sancheon, Saemaeul, Mugunghwa and Nuriro.
  • Reminder that this Korail Pass is for standard seats only (for trains mentioned above), NOT valid for First Class seats, metro and tourist trains. 
  • Korail Pass must be used in consecutive days. This means that if you travel from Seoul to Busan on 1-May, your Korail Pass will be valid for the next however many days you buy (for our case, 3 days).
  • Trip from Seoul - Busan takes approximately 4 hours, plus minus.

Okay, now let me show you how to get this Korail Pass from the booking process until redeeming it at the counter and being on the Korail train itself. 

There are only 8 steps to this so pay attention please. I put in a lot of effort for this. Heh. 

STEP 1

You obviously would want to know how much a Korail Pass will cost per person so here it is or you may go direct to their website (in case they update their pricing).

My table conversion is based on that 30 April's exchange rate, which is 1,000 won = RM3.50 // RM1.00 = 285.7 won.


Do take note that:
  • Children below 4 years old may travel for free with a fare-paying adult above 12 years of age. 
  • For children who are 4 - 12 years old, they are to be charged 50% of the adult fare.
  • You will notice that there are few types of Pass offered:
    • Normal Pass - for adults and children
    • Saver Pass - for groups of 2 - 5 people travelling on the same itinerary.
    • Youth Pass - for youths aged 13 - 25 OR anyone holding an International Student Identification Card (ISIC)
If the above pricing per person works for you, then keep scrolling down to see the next step okay. 

STEP 2

Make a reservation for yourself and your fellow travelers in the website


The important thing about this online reservation is that you fill in all your (booker) details correctly, especially your passport number and credit card information. 

STEP 3

After you have filled up accordingly all the needed information, you will realize your credit card will not be charged yet. 

You will receive an e-ticket via a Korean written email. 

Print the e-ticket and keep it with you as you will need it to redeem for your real Korail tickets.


Take note that you have to redeem the Korail tickets before 180 days (about 6-months) from the date of the reservation, if not all bookings made will be automatically cancelled. There may be a cancellation fee when you book from overseas, so yeah. 

It's wiser to make Korail bookings after you confirm your flights and hotels. That way, you won't risk paying the cancellation fee. 

STEP 4

Arrive in Seoul for your planned getaway. 

There are two places (that I know of) that you can redeem your Korail tickets and they are mentioned below. Please take note on their operating hours, especially at Incheon International Airport. 


We arrived very late at night and most of the vendors' shops are closed, so we only managed to redeem the Korail tickets the next day at Seoul Station. 

Where to redeem Korail (KR) tickets:
  • Incheon International Airport (Opens all year round, business hours: 7am-9pm)
    • Incheon Airport Railroad Information Centre, located outside of the Arrival Hall along the long-stretched booths for transportation modes, portable internet and more. If not mistaken, it's very close to Gate 8 and 9. 
    • Airport Railroad Travel Centre, located at B1.
    • KTX Centre, located at B1.
  • Seoul Station 
    • Information Centre, right in the middle of the station.

When redeeming the Korail tickets, the Korail officer will need all the passports (owner of passport must stand nearby so that the officer may check and verify your face). Booker of the Korail tickets must also give to the officer your credit card that you have used in the online reservation.


This will usually take up about 15 minutes, of course depending on the number of travelers. 

The Korail tickets will look like this. Good quality kind of card.


STEP 5

After you redeem from one of the Travel Centre listed above (you're welcome :)), you will need to exchange the temporary cards with the real tickets at the Korail counters, which is located at Seoul Station, because well, you will be taking the Korail train from there. 

This is where you will need to choose the departure time that you want. Again, please double-confirm the time when you are there because they may have changed it every now and then or something.

If I'm right, their departure time to Busan from Seoul Station is every 30 minutes. More details here. Just key in your departure date and information needed, you will be able to see the list of departure time that you can select.

If you plan to travel to Busan from Incheon International Airport via Korail, then you can see their timetable here (6 trips per day).

So, the final Korail tickets that you will need to keep (to pass to Korail's train conductor later) will be in long-ish paper kind, like the receipt that you will receive when you pump car petrol with credit card yeah.


The officers at Korail counters are quite good at their English language so it should not be an issue for communication if you have questions to ask them. Do use simple English though.

If not, then just google your questions. Most likely you will find the answer there, or you can comment below and I will try my best to answer you based on my experience okay.

When you receive your Korail tickets, the officer will explain to you on which train you are to take and which platform it would be at.

We almost got up to the wrong train/deck because it was pretty confusing la the numbers. Do double check with any locals nearby if you are on the right track. Heh.  

STEP 6

Once you have done all the ticketing stuff, you may proceed into the Departure area, and start looking around for takeaways!


That's if you think you will get hungry during that 3 hours-ish journey. They have food on-board the Korail train but of course it will be a lot more pricier, and they only sell basic snacks like buns and crackers. Yes, got coffee and tea also.

So, you may want to walk around inside Seoul Station at the Departure Hall to get some bento set or sushi rolls, which we had that was so yummy.


STEP 7

Get to the designated platform early and if can, get to your designated car and seat too.

The Korail train leaves on time okay. No such thing as wait for 5 more minutes. Go means go already.

But don't worry, because if you miss the train, you can always go back to the counter and ask them to change to the next timing with no extra charges. Best is you don't miss the train at all la.


In the train, there's two ways of seat placement. One is facing the direction the train goes and the other the opposite way. So, if you can get motion sickness, request for the direction-facing at the ticket counter.

STEP 8

Enjoy the ride. There isn't much great scenic views along the way, so just relax and use your electronic devices. Yes, free wifi on board too :) Heh. Or take shameless selfies and snapchat all the way.


Enjoy Busan, because it is one of the best, most relaxing place I've ever been to and it's probably because of the airbnb place that we've booked, which was the biggest, nicest crib ever.

That post will come soon I hope.

Bye now. 

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