Easily Travel from Incheon Airport to Seoul

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If you’re travelling to South Korea, there is a really good chance you’ll land in Incheon and then need to figure out how to travel from Incheon Airport to Seoul.

Incheon Airport is the biggest and busiest airport in South Korea. It handles the majority of the international flights arriving in Korea- especially long-haul international flights. Some shorter international flights to land in Gimpo, Busan, or Jeju, but the majority of flights land at Incheon.

Incheon Airport isn’t anywhere near central Seoul where you’ll likely be staying as a tourist.

That means you need to know how you’re travelling from Incheon Airport to Seoul before you arrive in Korea. Otherwise, you’ll be a bit like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to figure it out on the fly.

There are four main ways you can travel from Incheon Airport to Seoul. You can take a train, a bus, a taxi, or arrange a private transfer.

All four methods have their pros and cons. I’ve used every option available, so I think I’m in a unique position to help you figure out exactly the best way to travel from Incheon to Seoul for you and your unique travel needs.

Because just because one form of transportation works best for someone doesn’t mean it’ll work best for you.

There are lots of factors to consider, and I’m here to help you figure it out and make the best decision for you and your travel needs and style.

Tourist’s guide to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Seoul, South Korea

General Information About Travelling from Incheon to Seoul

The first thing that’s important to know about travelling to Seoul from Incheon Airport is that none of the options are all that expensive. Especially comparing it to it’s neighbour Japan where your options are limited because taxis and private transfers are super expensive.

Most people who aren’t on a super strict budget will be able to choose whatever option suits them best without too much worry about not being able to afford it.

Even when I was backpacking on a super tight budget, I chose to take a taxi from Incheon Airport to Seoul the first time I visited the city. It wasn’t the best option for my budget, but it was the best choice for me at the time as someone who had never been to Seoul before, was travelling alone, and had only had three or so hours of sleep the night before.

The next thing you need to know is that getting from the airport to central Seoul takes a long time.

Incheon Airport is 48.6km away from Seoul Station. No matter what form of transportation you choose, expect to be on it for a while. It’ll take at least an hour of travel time once you get on the train, bus, or in the car.

I normally recommend that people be prepared to arrive at their hotel or Airbnb three hours after they arrive. Customs normally takes 45 minutes to an hour, then you have to get your bags, and then find your way to your chosen method of transportation.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t expect to get to your hotel in Seoul anytime soon after you land in Korea. Give yourself time and be prepared.

The journey to your hotel in Seoul will be easy and painless, but it’ll still take time.

The last thing you need to know is that the airport is very well labelled. There are signs everywhere directing you where to go for each form of transportation.

Even though Incheon is a huge airport, you should be able to navigate it and likely won’t get lost. If you do get lost, there are maps everywhere and information booths that you can ask for help at.

top tip

Pre-order pocket wifi on Klook to save money and quickly pick up your pocket wifi at Incheon Airport!

Travelling from Incheon Airport to Seoul by Train

If you were on travel TikTok in 2022, you probably saw that everybody was taking the train from Incheon to Seoul, so that’s what I decided to do on my trip to Seoul in 2022.

The train is the least expensive way to travel from Incheon to Seoul.

If you purchase your ticket in advance through Klook, you save a little bit of money compared to purchasing your ticket when you arrive at Incheon.

All you have to do is go to a ticket machine near the train station, scan your pre-bought ticket or type in your booking code, select your time (or select next train), and then you’ll get a physical ticket from the ticket machine. Use that ticket to enter the train platform, and you’re good to go!

It’s super easy, and there are tons of employees milling about ready to help if you have any issues. Most people seemed to have pre-purchased tickets when I was there, so it’s very normal and easy to exchange your Klook voucher for a ticket.

How Long Does the Train Take?

Trains from Incheon Airport to Seoul depart every 20 to 40 minutes, and it takes about 43 minutes to arrive at Seoul Station once the train departs.

If you’re lucky and arrive right when a train is leaving, the train is one of the fastest ways to get from Incheon to central Seoul. If you’re unlucky like me and arrive right after a train leaves and have to wait 35 minutes for the next train, it can be one of the slowest way to travel from Incheon to central Seoul.

It mostly comes down to lucky and the frequency at which the trains run at the time of day you’re travelling.

When Does the Train from Incheon Airport to Seoul Operate?

Luckily, the train operates 24 hours a days. No matter when you arrive at Incheon Airport, you’ll be able to take the train to Seoul Station.

I love that the train operates 24/7. It makes the train one of the most reliable ways to travel from the airport to central Seoul. The buses don’t run 24/7, so the train is your only public transportation option you can take any time of day without worry.

N Seoul Tower Seoul South Korea

How Much Does a Train Ticket Cost?

The price you pay depends on where you purchase your ticket.

If you purchase your ticket from the ticket machine, it costs 9,500 won (approximately $7.25 USD) at the time of writing in August of 2023.

If you purchase your ticket in advance with Klook, it costs 7,400 won (approximately $5.50 USD) at the time of writing.

That’s less than a $2 difference, but purchasing your ticket online has other advantages. Some ticket machines and stores in Korea don’t accept foreign credit cards.

Purchasing your ticket in advance will ensure you’re able to get on the train without a headache or trying to find an ATM that will give you Korean won with a foreign bank card.

Side note: getting money out of an ATM in Korea with a foreign card is a headache. Not many ATMs accept foreign cards, and they all have high ATM fees associated with them. I always recommend that people exchange their home currency for Korean won before they leave for Korea.

The other advantage of buying your ticket in advance with Klook is that you can choose to pay in your home currency, which means no currency conversion or foreign transaction fees.

But, mostly, it’s very convenient and who doesn’t like to save a little bit of money.

Where Does the Train Stop?

The AREX Incheon Express train is just that. It’s an express train.

It starts at Incheon Airport and stops at Seoul Station. There are no stops in between. You get on and then get off again when it stops.

There is no chance of getting off at the wrong station, and you’re in the heart of Seoul when you get off.

Where Does the Train Arrive in Seoul?

The train from Incheon to Seoul arrives at Seoul Station.

Seoul Station is the main hub in Seoul, and you can get anywhere you want to go fairly easily from Seoul Station.

Subway lines 1 and 4 have stops at Seoul Station as well as tons of buses that go all over Seoul.

If Seoul isn’t your final destination, you can also jump on a intercity train and go anywhere in Korea including Busan, Gyeongju, Daegu, Daejeon, and many, many more cities.

Seoul Station is basically the heart and soul of the Seoul transportation system and one of the most convenient places to arrive when travelling from Incheon Airport to Seoul.

Tips for Taking the Train from Incheon to Seoul

  • Sit in your assigned seat. You have a seat number on your physical ticket. Sit in it. The train is normally full and everybody sits in their assigned seats.
  • Store your larger luggage in the luggage racks in each compartment and store the smaller bags above your head. There is limited space on the racks so don’t put something small and light that can easily be put overhead on the luggage racks.
  • Don’t talk or listen to music loudly. People don’t typically talk or listen to music loudly on public transportation in Korea. It’s disrespectful, and you’ll get a lot of annoyed looks.
  • There is no eating or drinking on the train.
  • Nobody will check your ticket on the train. You have to scan your ticket to get on the train, so they know you have a valid ticket when you’re on the train.
  • When you get off the train and transfer to the subway, there are only four ticket booths to buy tickets. There is often a long line to get a ticket. It’s a bit annoying, but there isn’t anything you can do about it. You can buy a T-Money card at a convenience store at Incheon Airport or at a vending machine near the train, but most people wait until they’re in central Seoul to do that. Partly because of convenience, partly to get a cuter T-Money card, and partly because the vending machine with T-Money cards is often out of order.

Who Should Take the Train from Incheon to Seoul Station?

Anybody who is staying at a hotel with stops along subway lines 1 or 4 should definitely take the train to Seoul Station from Incheon Airport.

It’s super convenient, and you don’t have to worry about switching subway lines. Just jump on the subway, get off at your station, and walk to your hotel.

You should also take the train if your hotel is within walking distance from Seoul Station.

If you arrive late at night or early in the morning when the buses aren’t running and don’t want to spend money on a taxi or private transport, then the train is your only option.

Finally, if you tend to get motion sick, the train is probably your best option. It’s typically a smoother ride than any of the options that take the road, and you know you won’t get stuck in traffic.

Safety Wing Digital Nomad Insurance

Who Shouldn’t Take the Train from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station

If you’re staying at a hotel that isn’t along either subway line 1 or 4, I think that taking a bus is probably a better option than the train.

Metro stations in Korea are huge. Sometimes it takes five or ten minutes to walk to the entrance gate from the entrance you took down to the station.

There are tons of stairs, and there aren’t always escalators. The subway cars themselves are often very busy. Even in the middle of the day. It can be hard to find a place to put your luggage that isn’t in someone’s way or feeling like you’re taking up too much room.

Plus you’ll probably be sweaty from the whole experience and lugging your luggage around.

Yes I’m talking from personal experience.

I also don’t think the train is the best option for people with mobility issues. Especially if you have to take the subway or bus afterwards to get to your hotel. The bus is more likely to get you closer to your hotel if you’re staying in central Seoul and a taxi or private transfer will drop you off right at the door.

Travelling from Incheon Airport to Seoul by Bus

The bus is my favourite way to travel from Incheon to Seoul. It’s very comfortable, and in most cases, it will drop you off within walking distance of your hotel. You don’t have to worry about taking the subway or a city bus to get to your hotel after you get off the airport bus.

The convenience of it is why I like the airport bus so much and why I choose to use it even though it is more expensive than the train.

Different Types of Airport Buses

There are two different types of airport buses that take you from Incheon Airport to Seoul. There are the city buses and a private bus company called KAL Limousine Bus.

They’re bot very similar in price.

For example, if you’re taking city bus 6015 from Incheon to Myeongdong, it costs 15,000 won (approximately $11.50USD) at the time of writing. If you take the private bus, it costs 16,000 won (approximately $12.25 USD) at the time of writing.

But, you can save 2,000 won on the price of your private bus if you purchase online in advance through Klook. With the discount, your private bus ticket actually ends up being less expensive than the city bus.

The city bus does go to more destinations than the private bus though. If you decide to use the private bus, be sure that it will drop you off near your hotel.

There are tons of places the private bus drops you off. If you’re staying in one of the most popular tourist areas, there is a super high chance that you’ll be dropped off within a few blocks of your hotel.

The other major difference between the city bus and the private bus is the experience. The private buses are much nicer. They have wider, more comfortable seats, and they hold fewer passengers. It’s a more luxury experience and more relaxing after a long flight.

How Long Does the Bus Take?

This is a bit of a difficult question to answer. Unlike the train, buses go all over Seoul, and where you’re getting dropped off impacts how long your trip is.

Here is an estimate of how long it will take you to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul by bus for the most popular tourist areas.

Myeongdong75-90 minutes
Insadong60-75 minutes
Hongdae55-65 minutes
Gangnam70-80 minutes
Itaewon80-90 minutes
Jamsil90-120 minutes

Buses typically leave Incheon Airport every 20 to 30 minutes depending what time of day it is.

At first look, it may seem like the bus takes longer than the train, but once you consider the fact that you likely have to get from Seoul Station to wherever you’re staying after you get off the train, the times are pretty similar.

top tip

Consider enrolling in Priority Pass to access amazing airport lounges if your credit card doesn’t give you lounge access.

When Do the Buses from Incheon Airport to Seoul Operate?

Unlike the train, buses don’t operate 24/7.

All the city buses start and end at different times. Most start between 5:30am and 6:30am. and end between 10:30pm and 11:30pm. There are a few night buses that run to Seoul Station and City Hall, but they’re few and far between. There is normally at least 2 hours between departures.

If you’re arriving late at night or early in the morning, the train is your best option.

The private bus has similar operating hours. They normally start operating around 5am and end around 11pm.

Seoul, South Korea

How Much Does a Bus Ticket Cost?

We talked about this a bit in the first part of the section on airport buses from Incheon to Seoul, but here’s a quick recap.

City buses cost between 9,000 won and 15,000 won depending on where you’re travelling to in Seoul. The private bus costs 16,000 won (or 14,000 won if you purchase in advance) no matter where you’re travelling to.

Tickets for the city bus can only be purchased when you arrive at Incheon Airport. There are kiosks throughout both terminal 1 and terminal 2. You can either purchase your ticket at a ticket machine or in person with an employee.

Be sure to know what bus number you need to take. Most hotels will say somewhere on their website what bus number you want to take from Incheon Airport to Seoul.

Tickets for the private bus can be purchased in advance. I highly recommend you purchase them in advance. It’s more convenient, and you save a little bit of money.

Where Does the Bus Arrive in Seoul?

Unlike the train, the bus makes many stops. Each bus is dedicated to go to a certain area in Seoul. It’ll drive straight to that area and then start making stops in that neighbourhood.

You have to ring the call button for the bus to stop. It doesn’t stop at every single stop.

I highly recommend you pre-purchase a pocket wifi egg rental that you can pick up at Incheon Airport and then use either Google Maps or Naver Maps to track your progress on the app to make sure you get off at the right stop.

If you don’t have access to the internet, it makes it difficult to know exactly where to get off. Especially if it’s your first time in Seoul or are arriving when it’s dark out.

I like renting pocket wifi when in Korea. It’s cheaper than installing an esim on your phone (I love esims, but they’re quite expensive in Korea for some reason), and more convenient than getting a local sim card and having to change out your home sim card for a local sim card.

If you’re visiting Busan, be sure to go to Gamcheon Culture Village!

Tips for Taking the Bus from Incheon to Seoul

  • Know what bus number you need to take before you arrive in Seoul. If you’re taking the private bus, know where to meet it and head right there. There will be clear instructions on your confirmation on where to get on the bus. Once there, you just scan the ticket on your phone and get on the bus.
  • Wear your seatbelt on the bus. The bus driver has always walked through the bus and checked that everybody has their seatbelt on when I’ve taken the bus in the past.
  • Don’t tip your driver. Tipping is common in a lot of countries, but tipping isn’t a part of Korean culture. It can actually be seen as rude. Just politely thank your driver when you get off.
  • Be sure to ring the call bell when you want to get off. The bus doesn’t stop at every stop along the route. It only stops when someone asks to get off the bus.
  • Buses will advertise that they have wifi on the bus, but from my experience, it isn’t reliable and often doesn’t work. I suggest picking up pocket wifi at the airport before getting on the bus and using it to make sure you get off at the right stop.
  • Keep the luggage tag the person who loads your luggage into the bottom of the bus gives you. The driver will confirm you take the right luggage when you get off the bus by checking the tag.
Seoul South Korea

Who Should Take the Bus from Incheon to Seoul?

I know that this isn’t the most popular opinion, but I think taking the bus from Incheon Airport to Seoul is the best option for most people.

It’s a little bit more expensive than the train, but it drops you off within walking distance of your hotel most of the time. That’s a convenience I’m willing to pay for. Especially after a long flight when I’m flying from North America.

The buses are comfortable, your luggage is stored underneath the bus, and I find the seats more comfortable than the train.

I think the bus is worth the extra money compared to the train just because it is so convenient.

Who Should Not Take the Bus from Incheon to Seoul?

I know I just said that the bus is the best option for most people in my opinion, but there are some people who are better off taking a different form of transportation.

If you’re staying within walking distance of Seoul Station, take the train. If you’re travelling from Seoul directly to another city, take the train.

I would even say that if you’re hotel is along subway lines 1 or 4, you can choose whether you want to take the train or the bus. It’s your preference since it’s so easy to take the subway from Seoul Station on lines 1 and 4.

I would still personally take the bus, but it’s really your preference and budget at that point.

If you’re arriving at Incheon Airport late at night or early in the morning, the bus isn’t the best option for you. Take the train or a taxi/private transfer.

Finally, if budget isn’t a concern or you have mobility options and want to be dropped off right at your hotel door, take a taxi or private transfer.

Travelling from Incheon Airport to Seoul by Private Transfer or Taxi

I’m lumping the next two options together since they’re very similar.

The final way you can travel from Incheon Airport to Seoul is by taking a private transfer or taxi.

They’re very similar in both price and convenience, but I tend to lean towards a private transfer when deciding between the two.

Seoul, South Korea

Private Transfer

The reasons I like private transfers is the convenience. You pay up front, so you know the price. You don’t have to worry about being stuck in traffic and the taxi meter running up.

The other thing that’s nice about private transfers is that someone will meet you right when you walk out of the luggage collection area. All those people you see holding signs that have names are people who are providing private transfers.

You don’t have to worry about navigating the airport and trying to find where the taxis pick you up. You just find the person holding your name, walk to them, and they’ll guide you the rest of the way.

Private transfers also typically have nicer and newer cars than taxis. They also often provide you with water.

If you’re looking to start your trip to Korea off in style a luxury, a private transfer is the way to go.

Another reason I like private transfers is because of the flat rate. No matter where you’re staying in Seoul, you pay the same price. This is a great deal if you’re staying somewhere like Itaewon or Gangnam that are a bit further away from Incheon than Myeongdong or Insadong.

Private transfers aren’t outrageously expensive compared to a typical taxi fare. Sometimes private transfers are wildly overpriced, but that isn’t the case in Seoul. You’ll probably pay a little bit more than getting a taxi at the airport, but you’re also getting a more luxurious experience and being picked up inside the airport.

You also don’t have to worry about having cash or worrying about whether your foreign credit card will work in the taxi.

You don’t need to tip your driver when you arrive at your destination.

Taxi

Taking a taxi in a foreign county can sometimes be stressful. You never know if the driver is going to try to scam you or charge you more than they should.

Luckily, that isn’t something you need to worry about in Korea!

Korean taxi drivers are some of the nicest and most honest people. I’ve used taxis quite a bit in Korea and have never had an issue.

One time I even had a taxi driver call the hotel front desk and have someone walk to the taxi and then walk with me back to the hotel because the hotel was in an area where cars weren’t allowed, and the driver didn’t want me to get lost.

There are foreigner exclusive taxis at the airport, so you’ll want to watch out for the signs for that when in the taxi area. There are lots of people who are there to help you and make sure you get to where you need to go.

The foreigner exclusive taxis are known to be honest and have a very good reputation. They’re also there because foreigners cannot use the app locals use to call a taxi.

The prices are the same, and you’re not being charged more to use the foreigner exclusive taxi. They’re there to make the lives of tourists easier and for foreigners to have a good experience when they first land in Seoul.

Just be sure to watch and make sure the fare goes up when you start driving. I’ve never had a taxi driver in Korea not start the meter, but it’s good to just make sure and double check.

You don’t need to tip your driver when you get out of the taxi.

Seoul South Korea

Final Thoughts

This post has become rather lengthy. I wanted to make sure you have all the information you need to make the best choice for you.

Here’s a quick summary of the article to help you out:

Train43 minutes9,500 wonBuy ticket in advance to save
City Bus60-120 minutes9,000-15,000 wonBuy ticket only on arrival
KAL Limousine Bus60-120 minutes16,000 wonBuy ticket in advance to save
Private Transfer45-60 minutes68,000 wonBook here
Taxi45-60 minutes65,000-90,000 wonOnly on arrival

I’ve tried all these methods on my various trip to South Korea. I prefer taking the bus because it drops me off super close to my hotel.

That being said, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. Seoul and Incheon Airport have put a lot of thought and effort into making getting from Incheon Airport to Seoul easy and convenient.

Easily Travel from Incheon Airport to SeoulEasily Travel from Incheon Airport to SeoulEasily Travel from Incheon Airport to SeoulEasily Travel from Incheon Airport to Seoul
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