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Travelling within Korea is incredibly simple and easy for tourists, and the trip from Seoul to Gyeongju is no exception!
There are three main ways to get to Gyeongju from Seoul: train, bus, and plane. This post will take you through the three main modes of transportation from Seoul to Gyeongju. It will also help you choose what transportation option is best for you!
Getting to Gyeongju by Train
Types of Trains and Where They Stop in Gyeongju
There are two different types of train in Korea. The slow trains are called Seamaeul, and the fast trains are called KTX.
Both the Seamaeul and KTX stop in Gyeongju. There are, however, two different stations in Gyeongju.
The KTX stops of Singyeongju Station, which is approximately 3km from Gyeongju City Centre.
The Seamaeul stops at Gyeongju Station right in the heart of the city.
You may want to look into get a Korail pass if you’re planning on taking a day trip to Gyeongju from Seoul or using the intercity train frequently during your visit to Korea.
The KTX and Getting Off at Singyeongju Station
The KTX is the quickest train option and doesn’t require a transfer. It only takes approximately 2 hours from Seoul to Singyeongju. The KTX to Singyeongju Station from Seoul costs 40000 Won or $34USD.
You can purchase tickets at Seoul Station on the day you depart or buy them online from the Korean Rail website. I recommend using the website to purchase your ticket. It is easy to use, and you’ll be sure to have your ticket in advance in case it is busy and fully booked on the day you want to depart. The website is in Korean, but you can use the translation feature in Chrome to easily convert the webpage to English.
If you purchase tickets at Seoul Station, you are able to purchase them either at a ticket machine or at a manned ticket counter. The machine has the option of purchasing tickets in English, and the staff at the ticket counter should be able to speak basic English. So you don’t have to worry about a language barrier. You will be able to purchase your ticket easily without having to use a translator.
You can book first class or economy tickets. Economy seats are quite nice, so you don’t need to splurge to upgrade to first class if you’re on a tight budget.
Be sure to print your ticket if you purchase it online as you are required to have a paper ticket when boarding the train. A mobile ticket is not accepted.
Getting to Gyeongju from Singyongju Station
Once you get off the KTX, you have to take a city bus to Gyeongju city centre. The bus rides is approximately 15 minutes, and you are able to use your transportation card if you got one in Seoul.
You can get on the following buses:
The bus fare is 1300 Won or $1.10USD. You get a 50 Won discount if using your transportation card!
You can ask the bus driver to drop you off at Express Bus Terminal (Gosok Teominal) if you aren’t certain where exactly your hotel is. The bus station has wifi that you can connect to, so you can pull up Google Maps and figure out how to get to your hotel.
The Express Bus Terminal is centrally located, so you shouldn’t have that far of a walk to your accommodation if you’re staying in the heart of Gyeongju.
You will probably need to catch another local bus if you are staying outside the city centre.
Taking a taxi is also another option if you have a lot of luggage or don’t want to take the bus. Taxis are very inexpensive in Korea (especially compared to nearby Japan!), so taking a taxi into the city centre won’t cut into your budget too much.
Getting from Seoul to Gyeongju by Using a Combination of the KTX and Seamaeul Trains
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of taking a bus from Singyeongju Station into the city, there is another train option available to you.
You take the KTX from Seoul to Dongdaegu then transfer to a slow Seamaeul train from Dongdaegu to Gyeongju Station, which is located right in the heart of the city. You can easily walk anywhere in the city centre from Gyeongju Station!
This is personally the way I got from Seoul to Gyeongju. It was easy, relatively fast, and convenient.
The Practical Information You Need to Know if You Choose This Method
There are a few things you should know before embarking on this route. Hopefully I’ll be able to anticipate all your questions and give you all the information you’re looking for!
- The total trip, including the time it takes to transfer from one train to the next, is about 3 hours. It isn’t much longer than taking the KTX all the way to Singyeongju.
- It costs 4700 Won (about $38USD) for the entire trip. This method is slightly more expensive than the KTX, but it drops you off at Gyeongju Station, so you don’t have to deal with getting from outside the city to the city centre like you do on the KTX.
- The second train from Dongdaegu Station to Gyeongju Station is small and doesn’t have designated luggage storage. I put my luggage behind my seat because I was sitting at the back, but this could be a problem for groups with a lot of luggage.
- Making the transfer is incredibly easy. All the gates are clearly marked in both Korean and English, so it is easy to determine where you need to catch the second train. There are also audio announcements in both languages.
Once You Arrive at Gyeongju Station
Gyeongju Station is in the heart of the city center, but it is on the opposite side of the city center as the Express Bus Station. It is just as easy to walk to your hotel and most Gyeongju attractions from the train station as it is from the bus terminal. But it is definitely something to be aware of when you’re making plans.
You shouldn’t need to transfer to a local bus to get to your hotel if you arrive at Gyeongju Station. Most hotels are less than a 15 minute walk away from the train station. When you exit the station, you will most likely need to walk down the main street in front of you, and your hotel should be somewhere along the way!
There is luggage storage at Gyeongju Station if you need to store your luggage for any reason. The cost is around 1000 Won or $1USD, so it is very affordable.
So What Train Should You Take from Seoul to Gyeongju?
This is a difficult question to answer because everybody has their own preferences on how they like to travel. Taking the KTX or a combination of the fast and slow train both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Taking the KTX
- It is an hour quicker
- The ticket costs slightly less than the combination method
- There is designated luggage storage for the entire journey
Disadvantages of Taking the KTX
- You have to get off a few kilometers out of Gyeongju and take a different form of transportation to the city center/your hotel
- You may be forced to take a taxi rather than a local bus if you have a lot of luggage
Advantages of Taking the Train Combination Method
- The train drops you off right in the city center
- You can walk to your hotel/Gyeongju attractions
Disadvantages of Taking the Train Combination Method
- The ticket is slightly more expensive, and the journey takes an hour longer
- No designated luggage storage on the second train
- You have to transfer trains, and this may make some travelers nervous
What Would I Recommend?
I personally prefer transferring trains in Dongdaegu and getting of at Gyeongju Station rather than Singyeongju Station.
I enjoy being able to walk to where I am staying and not having to worry about dealing with my luggage on a public bus, which can be quite busy at times if you arrive during peak transportation hours.
But I also understand the appeal of not having to transfer from one train to another and having a shorter journey time. Taking the KTX train directly from Seoul to Gyeongju is perfect for people who are only taking a day trip or don’t enjoy a slow pace of travel like I do.
So, really, either option is a great option. I know it is annoying to not get a definitive option, but it really comes down to what works best for you. Both train routes have their pros and cons, and you have to decide which is best for you.
No matter which route you take, you will have a quick, comfortable, and safe journey. The train system in Korea is great!
The Bus from Seoul to Gyeongju
From Seoul City Centre
Taking the bus from Seoul to Gyeongju is by far the most cost-effective method. But it is also the longest. The bus costs 20400 Won (about $20USD) and takes 3 hours and 45 minutes. This is assuming there is no traffic. If you run into a traffic jam, your journey could be much longer!
The bus leaves from the Seoul Express Bus Terminal and arrives at the Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal. They depart approximately even 40 minutes, so it is great for travellers who like to wing things and not have to book ahead. You can just show up and wait for the next bus.
Buses is Korea are quite nice. They are comfortable and always clean, so that is a nice bonus! The buses are equipped with shades at each window, so you can easily keep the sun out of your eyes. Most buses also have USB charging stations at each seat, so you don’t have to worry about running out of battery on your device!
If you choose to take the bus, you will have a comfortable and carefree journey!
From Incheon International Airport
You also have the option of taking a limousine bus directly from Incheon International Airport to Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal. This is great for people who are landing in Korea and need to go directly to Gyeongju without stopping in Seoul first.
The fare is 39000 Won ($33USD), and the trip takes approximately 5 hours. The buses from from just after midnight until 9:30pm, so you are able to catch a bus basically no matter when you land.
Technically, it could be faster to take a limousine bus into Seoul and then get on the KTX train, but that is a bit of a hassle. It is nice to have the option of getting on a bus right at the airport and not having to get off until you reach Gyeongju.
Is Taking the Bus to Gyeongju Worth It?
I personally don’t think taking the bus is the best option. It is the least expensive option, but it is also the longest option. To me, it is worth paying a little bit more to take the train and cut a few hours from the journey time.
You are only paying $10-15USD more to take the train over the bus, so you’re not saving much money by taking the slower option. The difference in price isn’t worth sitting on a bus for a few extra hours compared to the train.
That being said, I think taking the bus straight from the airport to Gyeongju Station is a great option. It is far more convenient than taking the bus into Seoul and then transferring to a train.
Flying from Seoul to Gyeongju
The final option to get from Seoul to Gyeongju is to fly. You fly from Seoul to Busan and take a bus from Busan to Gyeongju. Yeah, it is a bit of a trip.
You fly from either Incheon Airport or Gimpo Airport in Seoul and land in Gimhae Airport in Busan. A one-way flight is normally less than $75USD. The flight takes an hour, so it is quick and easy!
You can take a bus directly from Gimhae Airport to Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal. It costs 11000 Won or approximately $8USD. The bus ride takes an hour, and the bus leaves the airport 20 times a day. The first bus leaves at 6:45am, and the last bus leaves at 10:45pm.
Taking a flight is, obviously, the most expensive and time consuming way to get from Seoul to Gyeongju. You need to get to the airport early enough to get through security, fly from Seoul to Busan, get out of the airport, and catch the bus from the airport to Gyeongju. Once you add up all that time, it ends up being longer than taking the bus.
Should You Take a Flight to Gyeongju?
I wouldn’t recommend taking a flight from Seoul to Gyeongju to the average traveler. The only people I could see this being a good option for people who are flying into Korea and landing in Seoul and needing to go Gyeongju right away.
If you’re already at the airport, it might be more convenient to get on another flight rather than getting on a bus. That, of course, would depend on how long you would have to wait to get on a flight to Gyeongju and if flying is worth the added cost.
I personally would still take a bus from the airport in Seoul to Gyeongju, but that is just my preference. I prefer taking ground transportation over flying whenever possible. You may find it easier to fly rather than take the bus.
So What is the Best Way to Get to Gyeongju to Seoul?
Now it is time to answer the question you have been waiting for. Which of the three methods should you use to get from Seoul to Gyeongju?
I think it is pretty obvious from the article so far, but I think the train is the best way to get from Seoul to Gyeongju.
It is the quickest and is also relatively inexpensive. The best of both worlds! The fact that it only costs a few more dollars than the bus and takes a lot less time than the bus. It is also far more convenient than flying- especially if you’re already in the city of Seoul and not the airport.
As previously discussed, both train options are great, and it really depends on your preference on which option you choose. No matter which train route you take, it will be superior to either the bus or a plane.
To end, I want to reiterate how amazing of a city Gyeongju is. I highly recommend making the trip from Seoul to Gyeongju. It is relatively quick, and Gyeongju is so different from Seoul that it is almost like being in a different country.
Gyeongju is one of my favourite cities in Korea, and I would recommend it to anybody who is looking for recommendations on where to visit in Korea.
As you learnt in this article, it is extremely easy and quick to get from Seoul to Gyeongju, so there is no reason for you not to make the trip!