Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to travel on a Korail Train

You need to go to the ticket counter to buy tickets. The machines only work for people who have a Korail membership which can be a little hard to get, especially for foreigners. Most people who work the ticket counters in major cities speak English. Usually the ticket agents in very small towns are also very helpful, the medium-sized places can be the hardest places to deal with.

There is a Korea Rail Pass for sale overseas to foreigners, but unless you are traveling a lot within a short period of time, it is not a good deal. Ticket prices are so reasonable that you can travel that you can travel the whole country for less than a single Shinkansen tickets. Train tickets are also cheaper than in the US. A trip on California's Capitol Corridor between San Jose and Sacramento costs $25-30. A similar distance on the Korean train can cost as little as $7-9. And that is assuming a bad exchange rate for the Korean won. (KTX trains are more expensive, as are some trains that serve rural areas.)

(The Capitol Corridor has almost the same kind of seats as the Saemaeul trains.)

Reservations are necessary on all Korail trains. Smart cards cannot be used for payment. If the train is not crowded, lots of people change seats. Some of the ticket attendants don't like it when people do this, but most of us just ignore them.


LadyE said...

I've had a Korail Membership for years, and have never been able to get it to work. Even the train station staff cannot get it to work. Has something to do with the Alien Registration Number. Sad thing is, Korail receive significant discounts on the price of tickets.

Helen Bushnell said...

So basically foreigners cannot use the machines. I think there are a lot of barriers to using the ticket machines because sometimes I will see long lines at the ticket counters, but very few people at the machines.

thisrevolutionarylife said...

You don't have to be a member to use the ticket vending machines. You can purchase usually with cash or a credit card. They have an option in English as well. You can buy tickets, get refunds, search reservation etc. Don't need to be member of anything. You get about a 1 to 5% discount on your ticket for using the machine.

Helen Bushnell said...

That is a good change. I know that a year and a half ago there were people in Seodaejeon Station encouraging people to use the machines. Their biggest problem was finding people who actually could because of the membership thing.