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Gwangju isn’t the first city that comes to mind when you think of South Korea. It is an underrated city in South Korea for tourists, and the best part is that it is super easy to travel from Seoul to Gwangju.
You can even visit Gwangju as a day trip from Seoul if you don’t want to spend a few days in the city.
There are three ways you can travel from Seoul to Gwangju: KTX high-speed trail, bus, or flying. Without a doubt the best way to travel to Gwangju from Seoul is by the high-speed train. It, surprisingly, is less expensive than the bus!
Normally I caution people to way the price versus speed of the high-speed train and the bus.
In this case, it isn’t necessary!
The high-speed train is a star and should be the first place you look when deciding how to travel from Seoul to Gwangju.
Before We Get Started
I write a lot of these transportation guides for you!
One of my least favourite things about travel is figuring out how to travel from one city to another, so I like to compile all that information for you in one handy spot!
Here are the other South Korea transportation guides I’ve written. I hope they help you in planning your Korean vacation!
Option One: Taking the KTX High-Speed Train from Seoul to Gwangju
As mentioned, the quickest and easiest way to travel from Seoul to Gwangju is taking the high-speed train.
The high-speed rail system in Korea is amazing.
It is quick, efficient, super clean, and comfortable.
The downside to taking the KTX normally is that is quite expensive, but that isn’t the case with the Seoul to Gwangju train!
The Seoul to Gwangju train is very fairly priced, so it is very attractive to both tourists and locals.
How Long Does the KTX from Seoul to Gwangju Take?
The average journey time to Gwangju to Seoul on the KTX is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
That’s not too bad considering you’re travelling over 250km!
How Much Does a KTX Ticket Cost?
The cost of a ticket varies depending on what time of day you leave and what day of the week you travel on.
Trains that depart during peak hours on the weekend will be significantly more expensive than trains that depart during off-peak hours on a weekday.
You can expect, on average, for the KTX from Seoul to Gwangju to cost between 23,000 won (approximately $21USD) and 67,000 won (approximately $60USD).
That’s quite a wide range of prices.
I suggest you take a look at different departure times to find a less expensive ticket that will get you to Gwangju around the time you want to arrive.
I find that morning tickets (say 7am) are the least expensive.
If you’re a morning person, it is definitely worth getting up a bit early to save some money on your KTX ticket!
Where to Purchase KTX Tickets
You can either purchase your tickets online or in person at the train station.
No matter where to choose to purchase your tickets, I suggest you buy it at least 24 hours before departure.
I prefer to purchase my KTX tickets online.
It is the easiest and most convenient way to purchase your Seoul to Gwangju train ticket.
Tickets are purchased through the Korean Rail website.
The website has an English option and accepts foreign credit cards.
It is very user friendly and a great platform!
The only thing to note is that Korean Rail states it requires people to have a physical ticket. This means you have to print out the ticket you purchase online and bring a paper copy with you on the train.
I normally print out my ticket because I have access to a printer, but I’ve heard stories from fellow travellers that they didn’t have an issue showing an electronic version of their ticket.
Just make sure the full ticket is available electronically, and you can zoom in for the ticket to be scanned.
I always recommend printing your ticket if you have the ability.
You never know when a conductor won’t accept your electronic ticket and then you’re hooped.
The other way you can purchase your KTX ticket is in person at the train station.
You can purchase your ticket either with a ticketing machine or by seeing an actual human employee.
This is a great option for people who prefer to pay with cash rather than a credit card, but I don’t see much advantage outside that.
It can be a bit of a pain to go all the way to the station, get your ticket, and then go on with your day assuming you’re pre-buying your ticket a day or two in advance.
If you’re buying a ticket the day you leave, buying it at the station is a great option.
Just be sure you leave extra time before the train departs just in case there is a long line to buy tickets!
Also, it is important to realize that you may not get the exact departure time you want if you purchase a same-day ticket. You may have to be flexible in your plans.
Where Does the KTX Depart from in Seoul?
The KTX departs from Seoul Station.
It is in the heart of central Seoul and very easy to get to. You can often walk to Seoul Station from where you’re staying. Assuming you’re staying in one of the major tourist hubs like Myeong-dong or Insadong.
Where Does the KTX Arrive at in Gwangju?
The KTX arrives at Gwangju Songjeong Station.
The KTX station is a bit outside of Gwangju city centre. Lucky for there is a metro station right at Gwangju Songjeong Station that takes you directly to downtown Gwangju in 15 minutes!
The downside is that the metro only runs once per hour. Yikes!
If you get stuck and just missed the metro, taxis in South Korea and pretty affordable, and it won’t break the bank to grab a taxi downtown!
Pros of Taking the KTX from Seoul to Gwangju
- Departure station is in downtown Seoul
Cons of Taking the KTX from Seoul to Gwangju
- Can be busy and have to purchase tickets in advance
- Arrival station is outside central Gwangju
- Tickets have a wide range of cost, so you have to strategically pick an inexpensive time
Option Two: Taking the Bus from Seoul to Gwangju
The next best way to travel to Gwangju to Seoul is taking the bus.
It isn’t quite as convenient as the KTX, but it is still a good option.
How Long Does the Bus from Seoul to Gwangju Take?
As it is to be expected, the bus is quite a bit slower than the KTX.
It has to deal with traffic and wasn’t designed to go 300km/hour.
You can expect the bus ride from Seoul to Gwangju to last at least four hours and sometimes even longer.
The longest the bus journey should take is about five hours, but that isn’t very common.
How Much Does a Slow Train Ticket Cost?
This is where things get a little odd. It actually costs more to take the bus to Gwangju from Seoul than it does the KTX!
It takes at least an hour longer to get to your destination, and it costs more. That just doesn’t add up!
You can expect a bus ticket to run you between 27,000 won (approximately $24 USD) and 67,000 won (approximately $60 USD).
It is definitely possible to find bus tickets that are less expensive than KTX tickets.
Both modes of transportation have a range of prices, and you want to look for the least expensive price that suits your travel schedule.
But, it is hard to ignore the fact that the least expensive bus ticket is more expensive than the least expensive KTX ticket.
Where to Purchase a Bus Ticket
Just like the KTX, you can either purchase your bus ticket online or in person.
It is less important to purchase your bus ticket online in advance, but it is still the best option in my opinion.
You can purchase your ticket through the Korean Bus website.
It is easy to use, and just like with the train, you can easily use a foreign credit card, and the website translates to English.
One of the major advantages to buying your ticket online in advance is you can get a 10% discount on your ticket.
Any of these three things gets you a 10% discount on bus tickets purchased online:
- Buying your ticket more than 48 hours in advance
- Purchasing a round-trip ticket
- Buying a ticket for one of the back four seats on the bus
I don’t know about you, but I’m not than happy buy my ticket two days in advance or sit at the back of the bus if it means I save a little bit of money!
The other option you have for buying bus tickets is buying them at the bus station.
You can easily purchase your ticket at the bus station the day you depart. There are ticket windows, and you just need to make sure you line up at the proper window.
There are signs above each ticket window showing the destination, so it is pretty hard to jump into the wrong line.
I highly recommend you get to the bus station early.
You have to purchase your ticket before you get on the bus, so you want to save a little extra time in case there is a long line to buy a ticket!
Where Does the Bus Depart from in Seoul?
The bus from Seoul to Gwangju departs from Seoul Central Bus Terminal.
The bus station is a bit outside central Seoul and is on the opposite side of the Han River than Myeong-dong and Insadong.
There is a metro station that stops right at the bus terminal, and it takes a little under half an hour to travel from central Seoul to Seoul Central Bus Terminal on the metro.
Where Does the Bus Arrive at in Gwangju?
The bus drops you off at Gwangju Bus Terminal.
The really good news is that the bus terminal is right in the heart of the city!
You don’t have to worry about getting from the outskirts of Gwangju to the city centre like you do with the KTX.
You can pretty much walk to your accommodation from the bus terminal, so it is super convenient. Far more convenient than the KTX station.
Pros of Taking the Bus from Seoul to Gwangju
- Arrival location very convenient
- Isn’t necessary to buy tickets in advance
- Designated luggage storage under the bus
Cons of Taking the Bus from Seoul to Gwangju
- Significantly longer travel time compared to KTX
- More expensive than the KTX
- Departure location outside of central Seoul
Option Three: Flying from Seoul to Gwangju
The final option you have to travel to Gwangju from Seoul is to fly.
This is not an ideal option, and I don’t really recommend it to anybody.
It is expensive, time consuming, and comes with all those annoying air plane restrictions.
There are normally six direct flights a day from Seoul to Gwangju. Three in the morning and three in the evening.
How Long is the Flight from Seoul to Gwangju?
The flight from Seoul to Gwangju is very quick and is only 55 to 65 minutes.
You’re up and down before you know it!
But that doesn’t take into consideration everything that goes along with flying.
You need to factor in:
- The time it takes to get to the airport
- Time to check-in
- The time it takes to get through security
- Collecting your luggage
- Travelling from the airport into Gwangju
When you factor everything in, flying is probably the most time intensive way to travel from Seoul to Gwangju.
How Much Does a Plane Ticket Cost?
Anybody who has flown before knows that the price of a plane ticket fluctuates a lot.
The price depends on what time of day you leave, the day of the week, what time of year it is, how in advance (or last minute) you purchase your ticket, and who you are flying with.
You may be lucky and find a ticket that costs as little as 25,000 won (about $25 USD) or may be unlucky and have to shell out 165,000 won (about $150 USD) or more.
It is pretty much impossible to give you an exact answer as to how much a plane ticket will cost because of all the factors that go into it.
Most tickets should be under $50 USD though!
Where to Purchase Plane Tickets
There are countless places to purchase your plane tickets!
I like using either SkyScanner or Google Flights to find available flights. I then go to the airline’s website to see what their prices are compared to the third-party site’s and book whatever is cheapest.
Where Do Flights Depart from in Seoul?
All the direct flights from Seoul to Gwangju depart from Gimpo Airport.
There is a direct metro line from Seoul Station in central Seoul to Gimpo Airport, and the entire trip takes about 25 minutes!
Where Do Flights Arrive at in Gwangju?
Flights from Seoul arrive at Gwangju Airport.
The airport is very close to the city centre and is actually closer to downtown Gwangju than the KTX station!
There is a metro station right at the airport, and it gets you downtown in less than 15 minutes!
You can always jump into a taxi if you prefer. The airport is so close to central Gwangju that a taxi from the airport won’t break the bank.
Pros of Flying from Seoul to Gwangju
I don’t really think that are any advantages to flying to Gwangju from Seoul.
You may be able to find a flight that is less expensive than the KTX or bus, but you’re paying the price in the inconvenience of flying from Seoul to Gwangju.
It really is kind of a pain!
Cons of Flying from Seoul to Gwangju
- Time intensive
- Luggage is restricted by airline rules
- Can be the most expensive option
There are three main ways to travel from Seoul to Gwangju: KTX, bus, or plane.
I personally think the KTX is the clear winner, but this post was designed to help you make the best travel choice based on your preferences and needs.
This post hopefully helped you decide how you want to travel from Seoul to Gwangju.
One thing to note is that both the bus and KTX offer complimentary wifi to guests! It is quite fast and makes the entire journey more enjoyable.
If you choose to connect to their free wifi, be sure you have a VPN installed on your phone to protect your privacy and keep your devices safe!