[Blog] Travel in Korea – Riding a Taxi

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We’re not saying this because we are biased, but Korea has some of the best public transportation in the world. Okay, so maybe we are just a *wee* bit biased, but when it comes to public transit, Korea knows what’s up! Whether you want to take KTX, the 지하철 (subway), a bus, or a taxi, it’s all reasonably priced and efficiently gets you from A to B without having to own or rent a car.

택시(Taxi) are everywhere in Seoul: some are equipped with WiFi (which is totally and completely AWESOME, by the way), some are geared toward foreigners, and some are just a simple cab. Generally speaking, 택시 are clean, safe, comfortable, and best of all, relatively cheap depending on where you want to go. As of 2011년 8월 (August 2011), the 기본 요금 (base fare) in Seoul for 일반 택시 (standard taxi) is 2,400 won for the first 2 kilometers, and it increases by 100 won every 144 meters beyond the initial 2 kilometers.  Most 택시 now accept T-money cards, credit and debit cards, and good ol’ paper money. There will be a sign somewhere on or in the cab that says “카드 택시” (Card taxi) to let you know payment by card is possible.

There are actually a couple other popular types of 택시 in Korea besides 일반 택시.

Many of the bright orange cabs you see on the street are “International” taxis. You can spot them easily because of the letters “Int’l” written on the side of the cab’s top light.  This means the drivers have been trained to speak multiple languages, albeit Chinese, English, and Japanese are the most frequently spoken aside of Korean, and the cost is the same as the 일반 택시. There are also some 모범 택시 (luxury taxis) that cost a little bit more, but I’ll get to that in a minute. If you’d like to reserve an international taxi so you don’t have to wait for one, you can call by phone or do it online!

모범 택시 are black with a yellow sign on top of the car and are generally found in larger cities. This type of taxi is more expensive than the standard taxi (almost twice as much!), but if you want to be driven around by a driver that acts more like a chauffeur than a cabbie, then 모범 is a great choice! This cab is easily reserved if you’re staying at a luxury hotel and want to go somewhere. All you have to do is ask the concierge to call you a cab and, more than likely, you will step into a 모범. If you feel like taking another type of cab, just walk a few feet away from your hotel to hail one.

Hailing a cab in Seoul is pretty simple: you can just stick your arm out horizontally, or stand next to a 택시 정류장 (taxi stop).  Unoccupied cabs are identified by the bright red light in the front window that says 빈차 (vacant car), and luckily, getting a cab in Seoul is fairly easy… except if you are trying to get a 택시 between midnight and 1a.m. If you want, you can put your hands in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care to get a cab at this hour, but it’s a lot less work to just stick your arm out and be patient 😀

Taking a 택시 in an unfamiliar city is sometimes intimidating, especially if there is a dizzying array of options to choose from, but whichever taxi you choose to use in order to make your way around, make sure you look out the window and enjoy the view wherever you go! You can learn a lot about a place just by watching!

We hope that this blog post helped you learn a little more about riding a 택시 in Seoul.

Until next time!

*Prices and information gathered from Seoul metropolitan area. 택시 may be different in other parts of Korea.

 

[Blog] Travel in Korea – Riding a Taxi
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  • Gosh, this is REALLY useful for my upcoming trip to Seoul in October! The vocab words are great too – adding them to my vocab list right now. ^^ Thanks for this post!

    Also, any tips to share on how taxis work in Jejudo? I think I’ll need them to get around over there!

    • thonee

      some taxi has free translators too..meaning; the driver will call the translator and have the passenger talk to her/him then pass the phone again to the driver, surely the translator will tell the driver what you want or where you want to go.

  • Rin

    Oooh I really like this post. Are you planning to do more blog posts like these in the future? like a little Korean Culture Series or something ;D

  • I do agree that taxi, and many other options of transportation, in Korea is really REALLY great! Especially when they have GPS on, in which every taxi has it, ensure you that the driver won’t take you round and round.

  • QeenJ

    wow.. cant wait to visit Korea… some taxi have WiFi that’s totally cool..

  • Jimmy Z

    Korean taxi’s are great, I agree, but you must tell the entire truth please.

    Please state that getting a taxi on the weekday is a breeze but getting a taxi on the weekend is difficult. Taxi drivers are the kings of Seoul on the weekend. They are very picky on where they will take you. You can wait a very long time on a Friday or Saturday night trying to get a cab to take you somewhere.

    I’ve been around the world and I do agree Korea has some of the best public transportation but be weary if you’re gonna try to get a ride after a fun night in Kangnam or Shinchon. You will be waiting a while for a lift 🙂

  • I get the chance to use taxi service when i was going back to Hongdae from Dongdaemun midnight shopping. It was 2 am in the morning but we see a lot of taxi nearby the Doota entrance. At first, me & my 3 friends (all girls) are afraid to take a taxi since we don’t know the area and the driver can take us anywhere he wanted without our knowledge. We have no choice since the subway is no longer available at that hour. Thankfully, our taxi is using GPS so we don’t need to be afraid of getting lost. it’s a nice experience for us 🙂

  • tqa

    I agree that transportation in Korea is the best ! I spend only 30,000 won for 6 days to go around Seoul. its cheap!! But I’m a little bit disappointed with some taxi driver. I remember last month I went to Korea and we wanted to take a taxi but a few taxi driver refused to take us. maybe they don’t speak english.

    but when it come to subway, its AWESOME! fast, punctual, cheap and so easy. we lost once, thats because of tiredness and we took the wrong subway. haha.

    I’ve no worries when travel to korea because I can go every part of Seoul with easy and cheap charge ! go go korea !

    • Wani

      Hi…6 days for 30000won? Where did u go..? I’m going to Korea this oct so need to budget for transportation…

  • tqa

    *additional* the coolest thing is each and every taxi has GPS. wow. not happen in my country.

  • Jonny

    Do a bit of a gut check as well… there are a lot of crazy driving taxi drivers in Korea. Far more and far more often than you have seen at other countries. Unless you have no access to any other form of transportation and I can’t imagine you will go anywhere it isn’t accessible by subway, I would always take the subway than take a taxi. Subway is a far better experience than the taxi. Most foreigners won’t be renting a car and they’ll be going to accessible areas… so subway is the way to go.

    • Jo

      I don’t know if there are more crazy taxi drivers in Korea than in other places. I did have a crazy driver once in Daegu. He drove like a stunt man and with one hand on the wheel and his seat pretty far back and didn’t pay much attention to other cars, lights or road signs. I held my breath and said “Weee!” while praying inside.

      My worst taxi experience by far was in the midwest (USA), when a taxi driver showed up in drag (man dressed as a woman) and the whole ride he told me how someone had escaped from a prison and he had heard that they were dressed like a woman and driving a stolen taxi. That was pretty bad. Again, I tried to act calm and just shook my head nonchalantly, as though everything was fine.

  • ███████████████████████████████████████████████████

    I loved the story. Very useful. I saved the text in my PC and I reread a lot to learn. Congratulations to the staff of TTMK. =)

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  • rigo

    hi i have a little question , i’ve seen in dramas that some taxis have a sticker on the back windows that reads ” freee interpretation ” in english
    what’s up with that
    thanks

    • It means that the taxi is equipped with a wireless phone where you speak your destination to the operator in English, Japanese, or Chinese and the operator tells to the driver in Korean.

      If a car doesn’t have one, you or the driver can call 017-200-3000.

      Hope this helps 😀

  • ingrid

    Awesome info!! thank you!

  • Samuel

    When we visited Seoul, we wanted to go to Gyeongbokgung palace from Myeongdong, the fare was 2400, and the taxi driver spoke english very well and he suggested us to visit Korean Folk Village in Suwon and he said it’s too bad if we don’t have a chance to see KFV since that was the last day of our visit in Korea.
    We agreed and let him drove us to KFV for 60000 won, I don’t know if the price was too much, but the trip took around 1 hour.
    On the way back, we took a bus for only around 1500 won per person, much cheaper and took much longer time, since it was rush hour and the bus made a lot of stops to pick-up and drop-off people. All taxis that I saw had GPS, pretty cool!
    Thanks for the blog, keep it going !

    Sam.

  • raminsu

    thanks for the blog and nice pics too!

  • Huez

    When in Korea, I mainly rely on the affordable & efficient subway but on the few occasions I took taxi, they were pleasant experiences. I had a good time chatting with 기사 아쩌씨 with my limited korean.

    Boy how I miss Korea!

  • Phil

    Thanks TTMIK team for the useful vocabulary!

    Have to say, sometimes it’s hard to spot vacant cabs, if their lighting isn’t working properly. 😉 And indeed they often refuse you! Especially the black cabs is worse / annoying imho, because you pay more and they still don’t speak English (I only ONCE took one by accident, because I totally forgot about the price! *lol*) thus it at least doesn’t make me feel very “serviced”. But that’s why I work on my Korean. 🙂

    And for the International Cabs, I frankly can’t remember I’ve seen (or used) one! Only maybe from the distance…I guess outside Seoul they are rare!!
    But meanwhile I also know the website, which is very helpful: http://www.intltaxi.co.kr:8099/intltaxi/html/en/main/main.jsp

    Cheers

  • Wani

    Hi…
    I’m going to Korea this oct..need your help to advise in term of transportation..by bus or subway is better and cheap of course..I went to 63building last year by taxi and it costs 30000won for one way from gangnam..is it expensive or normal?

  • 222 ilove you viet nam ok

  • Linda

    wow, this is really helpful, gosh, good thing we didn’t push thru this yr. much has still to be learned. kamsahmnida.

  • After my summer trip to Seoul (gosh, I miss the city so much already), I can say that what is written in the beginning of this post, is an absolute truth. I mean it! 🙂 Taxis in Seoul are great. I did enjoy riding them (and not only them, but the Seoul subway as well).

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  • There are lots of shopping to do in Korea. Here is a link to coupons for money exchange, airport limosine and cosmetics (Etude House, Innisfree, Missha, Skinfood, Skylake, Aritaum, Laneige, Nature Republic, THE FACE SHOP and etc…), most of them are for Myeongdong in Seoul

    http://koyukipalaceeng.blogspot.ca/2013/01/korea-coupons-cosmetics.html

  • Thank you for sharing this very nice post, please keep continue the sharing of this types of information.