General Train Information for South Korea
Trains (기차 gi-cha) are a comfortable way to travel around Korea. Although slightly more expensive, less frequent,
sometimes less punctual and slower to reach destinations than the buses; trains are well equipped, easier to navigate
for English speakers, and a safe way to travel.
Korail is the national train operator, and has been working in recent years to expand its routes and services. However,
routes are still pretty limited and don’t cover all areas of Korea – especially in the countryside. The Korail website
allows you to view routes and book tickets in English
, however it can be difficult to get specific details from the site,
and the routes can be explained quite vaguely. As with bus travel in Korea, it is usually not necessary to book train tickets
in advance, unless you are travelling on a big national holiday or a route that is extremely popular for some reason.
Korea is most proud of its high-speed KTX (Korea Train eXpress) trains which connect major cities like Seoul, Busan,
Daejeon and Daegu, travelling at 300km per hour, and making the journey from Seoul to Busan take less than 3 hours. Fares
for that journey are around 50,000 won. KTX trains usually have 18 cars, so are longer than regular trains, have a 3 car
First Class section, and a trolley service serving drinks and refreshments.
Regular trains are categorised into the following:
Express – Saemaeul (새마을)
Semi-Express – Mugunghwa (무궁화)
Local – Tonggeun (통근)(not particularly common anymore)
Most trains, especially those travelling long distances, are fitted with a ‘bar’ and entertainment carriage, which
sells alcohol, soft drinks and hot and cold food. There are also computers with internet which cost around 500 won for
15 minutes, as well as noraebangs (singing rooms), where you can karaoke the journey away! Unlike trains in some Western
countries, the food and drink prices are very reasonable, and purchases don’t cost any more than in regular shops.
In the seating carriages themselves, there is a lever underneath the seats, which you can press to rotate the chairs
to face a different direction. This is great if you’re travelling in group and want to face each other and socialise
throughout the journey. The seats also recline if you fancy a snooze.
Announcements on the trains are often made in both Korean and English, so it’s usually easy to know when you’re approaching
your stop. Tickets are also printed with information in both languages, and unlike the bus tickets, they tell you what time you
are expected to arrive at your destination. As well as buying tickets from the attendant at the ticket office, you can also
usually find self-service machines at the station, which have an English option, and allow you to pay by cash or card.
All trains in Korea are non-smoking, as are the platforms. As in Western trains, you can find toilets at the end of the
carriages, which are usually pretty clean and well maintained. It is also usually possible to take bicycles on board, and store
them at the end of the carriage.
The word for ‘Train Station’ in Korean is 기차역 (gi-cha yok)
We are constantly adding new train schedules onto our site. However, if you have any information regarding train schedule
changes that we have not listed here, then please get in touch with us at