Unless you’re already based in Asia, a journey to Korea is likely to be by aeroplane. When the train link between North and South Korea resumes it will open the way to the development of a Seoul–London train journey. For now, such a trip remains a distant dream.
The most direct rail route for getting to this side of the world from Europe or Asia is to ride the Trans-Siberian Railway: Lonely Planet’s Trans-Siberian Railway guide provides the low-down on how to get to Vladivostok, from where it’s possible to hop on a ferry to Sokcho. There are also regular ferries to Korea from several ports in China or from Japan.
Once in Korea you can do your bit for the environment by using the country’s excellent public transport system. Seoul’s extensive subway and train system is particularly impressive and the city moved all its 8750-plus buses over to low-polluting natural-gas as well as full-hybrid and fuel-cell electric buses in 2014. Even the tiny island of Udo near Jeju-do is kitted out with 20-all electric buses.
Airports & Airlines
Most international flights leave from Incheon International Airport, connected to Seoul by road (80 minutes) and train (60 minutes), from Terminal 1. Terminal 2 opened in January 2018, with services limited to Air France, Delta, KLM and Korean Air – check for updates. There are also some international flights (mainly to China and Japan) from Gimpo International Airport, Gimhae International Airport for Busan and Jeju International Airport. Go to www.airport.co.kr for information on all the airports.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
Good deals can be found online and with discount agencies.
Prices of flights from Korea can increase 50% in July and August, and special offers are less common during holiday periods. The peak period for outbound flights is early August, when it can be difficult to find a seat.
It is not possible to travel here by land.
International ferries are worth considering if you’re travelling around North Asia.
Ferries link a dozen Chinese ports with Incheon.
Regular ferries shuttle between Busan and four Japanese cities: Fukuoka, Shimonoseki, Osaka and Tsushima. Faster services are available on hydrofoils (www.jrbeetle.co.jp/internet/english) from Busan to Fukuoka.
A Korea-Japan Joint Railroad Ticket via Korail (www.letskorail.com) lasts a week. It offers discounts of up to 30% on train fares in Korea and Japan, and on ferry tickets between the two countries from Busan.
DBS Cruise Ferry Co (www.dbsferry.com) runs the ferry ‘Eastern Dream’ that makes the trip from Donghae in Gangwon-do to Vladivostok on a regular basis; check the company website for fares and the schedule, which varies by season.