What is the public transportation system like? All cities in Korea have a public bus and taxi system. Buses run about every 5-10 minutes and have their destination signs on each side and on the front but only in Korean letters. Since each city has its own bus system and fees, let's look in detail at the system in Seoul because most foreigners hit Seoul first.
There are two kinds of buses running in Seoul. One is local city buses (Ilban Bus) which are common in Seoul. They cover the entire city and inexpensive. The adult fare is 900 Won. Bus cards (only in Seoul) are available at booths near bus stops. You can pay with coins, but you will receive receive a discount with a bus card. (this is not always the case in other cities, though.) Some of the local buses are old and are not well equipped, but this is changing quickly.
The second type of bus is city express buses (Jwaseok Bus) which are more comfortable and air conditioned. Fares are 1,700 Won or 2,500 Won (depending on the type of buses). You can pay with cash or bus card. Change is provided. There are some express buses bound for the suburbs of Seoul such as 'Bundang' and 'Ilsan' for a higher fare.
There are also two kinds of taxis in Korea, one is Medium-size Taxi (Ilban Taxi) and the other Deluxe Taxi (Mobeom Taxi). Fees are charged by distance and time. You can catch cabs in the streets or at taxi stops near the bus stops. Basic Fare of the Medium-size taxi is 2,400 Won and Deluxe taxi starts at 4,500 Won.
However, at the Inchon International Airport or Kimpo Airport where you can see a long line of the Medium-size Taxis waiting for passengers for a long time, it is not unusual for a taxi driver to ask you more fare than the expected one by taxi meter, espcially when you have luggages. If you take a Medium-size Taxi, the reasonable fare from the Incheon airport to the downtown would be 50,000-60,000 Won, depending on your destination and number of luggages you carry, as well as traffic condition. If you don't like to deal with this, you are recommended to take a Deluxe Taxi, which costs you 80,000-90,000 Won (equivalent to U$ 90). Most Medium-size taxi drivers do not speak English well and do carpool (Hapseung) when they can find other passengers on the street with the same destination as yours. A few Medium-size taxi drivers occasionally cheat foreign passengers and do not obey the traffic rules, so you might feel uncomfortable during the ride. Medium-size taxis with drivers in yellow uniforms, , however, can be trusted for a safe ride. Deluxe Taxis cost more, but drivers are kind and drive safely. They also speak a little Japanese and English. They do not Hapseung. You can find Deluxe Taxis near hotels, transportation terminals, and on major city streets.
The easiest way for foreigners to get around is to take the subway. Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Incheon have subway systems. You can find more information at Seoul Subway. Both subway systems are well known for their safety, cleanliness, ease-of-use and convenience. Stations, lines, and transfer points are all identified in English. The fare depends on the distance you travel, however, it cost you 900 Won in most cases. If you need the line map of subway, please click here.
Note: When you use public transportation you might be bumped into, especially on crowded buses and subways. Korean people often run into each other without expressing "Excuse me". It's not that Koreans are not nice, but instead that, culturally, they are rather carefree with strangers and not so sensitive about such physical contact in the crowded places.