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.