What are the modes of public transportation in Seoul, South Korea?

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Answered by: Cortney, An Expert in the Tips for Traveling Category
Seoul is a dizzying metropolis where modern technology meets ancient history. Venerable palaces and Buddhist temples sit quietly in the shadows of high-rise residential space. Post-war concrete structures beam with flashing lights and all-night markets beckon both tourists and locals alike. An efficient public transportation system -- comprising buses and state-of-the-art transit trains -- makes it a cinch to navigate the streets of South Korea's capital city.

Public transportation in Seoul is serviced by Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, which runs the subway system, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which is in charge of the city's public buses. Though the majority of signage appears in Hangul, Korea's alphabet, most subway stations feature English translations at all stops across the city, making it easy for those who don't speak the Korean language to find their way around. Buses can be a bit more inconspicuous, so pick up a map in English, Japanese or Chinese available at subway stations throughout Seoul.

The city's subway stations are marked by colors and numbers to indicate subway lines and station numbers. Large color-coded maps appear throughout the subway stations as a service to commuters and travelers. Perhaps the most commonly traveled subway lines in Seoul are the orange line, Line 3, which runs north to south, and the green line, Line 2, which runs a circle around the central part of the metropolitan area. Photos, maps and visible signage of the city's attractions and tourist routes appear frequently on the subway trains and in the subway stations.

Seoul's public buses are great for travelers who want to see the sights of the city from the broad view of a bus window -- or for those who can't find a nearby subway station. Bus stops are unmissable as business professionals, families and locals of all ages can be seen huddling around the bus maps or lining up as their bus nears the curbside. Similar to the subway system, the bus system comprises blue, red and green buses. The central heart of Seoul City is serviced by blue buses, but you'll want to hop on a red bus if you're headed to the suburbs or outskirts of the city. Green buses are generally small, local buses that service specific neighborhoods. Blue and red buses often feature English translations of bus stops but it's rare to find this on green buses. Unless you're living in Seoul, you probably won't require transport on a green bus.

Make your travels even easier by purchasing a T-Money card at any subway station. This card allows you to add money as needed for access to public buses, subway trains and even taxi cabs. If you plan to use public transportation in Seoul often during your stay, a T-Money card is worth the purchase. Simply swipe the card when you enter and exit your mode of transport and your fare is determined according to distance, generally ranging from 800 KRW to 1,800 KRW (US $0.70 to $1.60). Purchase an individual ticket for the subway or pay your fare with Korean currency for the bus if you choose not to obtain a T-Money card.

Public transportation in Seoul is an exciting way to explore this spinning East Asian city. The buses and subways offer cultural experiences that present insight into a society that values its centuries-old tradition but embraces the contemporary, placing it at the forefront of high-tech innovation.

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