Seoul on a budget: From Incheon Airport to Seoul


^^ Incheon’s tidal flat land as seen from the AREX train.

On coming to Seoul one is most likely to land at Incheon International Airport, hailed as one of the best airports in the world. IMO, it’s a very good airport but they could be better if they would only have the family room like the one at Narita Airport. Total comfort for a traveling mom with a baby!

The Arrival area of the airport is on the ground floor while the Departure is on the third floor. There are buses outside the airport that will take one anywhere to Korea. It takes about an hour and a half to go to central Seoul. The fare is 9,000 won one way.

I wouldn’t recommend taking the taxi as it would cost more than 50,000 won (about US$50.) A cheaper option to go to Seoul is to take the Airport Express or “AREX”. The Airport Express train will only take the passenger to Gimpo Airport (which is still outside Seoul). From the Gimpo Airport subway station, one can take the subway line 5 to Seoul.

Last March, my son and I hitched a ride with my husband to the airport to pick up his co-worker, who was coming from Pakistan that time. On the way back to Seoul, my son and I took the AREX express train which travels non-stop to Gimpo Airport. The fare is only 3,200 won. We were lucky to be there about 5 minutes before the scheduled 6 PM departure. They depart every hour. We then transferred to the Gimpo Airport subway station. It is about 1,100 won to from there to the station nearest us in Seoul. The train is super comfy, fast and has a space for luggages.

Taking the AREX and the subway to and from the airport costs a little less than 9,000 won. The limousine bus to and from Seoul is 18,000 won. A 50% difference. When not to take the AREX? If you’re not confident of the subway system in Seoul. Call me if you get lost! LOL

I’d suggest getting a transportation card. It’s convenient. It will save you money and it’s a good souvenir too!

27 comments

  1. This is really helpful, since I am travelling to Seoul for the the first time and I am on a budget. Checking on your site is even now more useful than my friend there in Korea who is my source of information. Haha.

  2. I glossed over an article in the Korea Times a few weeks ago regarding some controversy behind the AREX, you probably noticed the train was empty, compared to airport trains in other international airports such as HK. Anyway I read that this train was built and is being run by Hyundai in a Build Operate and Transfer scheme, and it seems like people don’t use it as much as they expect.

    If they built an express train from the COEX then I’d probably use it, other than than I still prefer taking the Airport Limo Bus.

    Emils last blog post..Sony Xperia at SKT

    1. Hi Emil! The Airport Express from Incheon to Seoul Station will be in operation next year. I enjoyed taking the AREX, however I’d prefer my husband picking us up. The last time I traveled, my husband couldn’t pick us up because I arrive on a Monday morning. I took the limousine bus, fell asleep and missed my stop.

  3. the AREX was really helpful on my day-trip to Seoul last year…

    i’m kind of confused though; the train that took me to Gimpo from Incheon did not stop at the stations in between, however the train from Gimpo to Incheon had to stop at every station from Gimpo to the airport

  4. Hey Betchay,

    I need your help. I am flying to Seoul in a few weeks time. I am a backpacker and I will only stay in a backpacker. I made some research but I want to ask you this: Where is the best area to stay, meaning best area when it comes to accesibility:

    Seogyo-dong Mapo-gu
    Iksun-dong, Jongno-Gu
    Myeongryun-dong 4

    As per your article, you mentioned about Banana Backpacker and it is located in Iksun-dong but it seems that I get some nice comments from the area of Seogyo-dong. I am confused. Please help.

    Thank you so much!

  5. Hello! I am Maggie from Manila and my friends and I will travel to Seoul from November 28-Dec 2. We have a Korean Officemate who will be there at the same time but on business trip so he won’t be able to accompany us most of the time. We have a rough outline of our itinerary already but we also want to check which other areas to explore. Specifically, we want to know where to buy the T-card and the ticket for te 1 day Seoul City tour. Hope you can help us. Please respond in my email add: maggie111884@yahoo.com. Salamat!

  6. hello,
    it is my first time to korea for 2 days only. whats the best travel from incheon airport to Sangdaewon-Dong Jungwon-Ku Sungnam-shi Kyunggi-D? what are the tour attractions on this area? thank you very much.

  7. hi betchay,

    im ivy and i want to visit korea when i go home to the philippines for my yearly vacation (im living in the US but not an immigrant yet, just on dependent visa) i have several questions for u and i hope u wont mind. 1. do i need to get a visa going there for a 3 day vacation departing from cebu? i always have my stop over at incheon everytime i go home to cebu. 2. which place in s korea have more english speaking people? just in case i need questions and all? 3. are there tours wityh english speaking guides available? thank u so much for ur time. ur website really is a good source of info…. by the way i love to eat too…which foor would u recommend me to try and which should i avoid? thanks again

  8. hi betchay,
    just want to ask where can we buy the transportation card- can we use this if we go to busan or other regional city? planing to go this coming april 28. thank you:)

  9. Hi Bechay,

    I will be arriving in Korea this Oct via CebuPac. I’m not sure if my friend will be able to pick me up at the airport. I just want to ask if the shuttle bus from Incheon to Meongdong run 24 hrs. What about AREX? What time does it closes?

    Thanks. =)

    1. hi sharon
      my flight also arrives at 10pm. is the limousine bus still there? what is the most convenient way to get to seoul after 10pm? thx

  10. hi ms.betchay,

    i stumble upon your website when i was googling about budget on korea. anyway, just want to ask if you know any money exchange that has a good rate? will be there tommorow (sept 6,2010) and will be staying at anguk area. hope to hear from you. thanks!

  11. Hello po!
    my friends and I are planning to go to Seoul this December for the first time(2daysonly we just really want to go to korea) our age ranges from 15-16 at wala pong matanda ang sasama sa amin, pero we already ask permission to our parents and they allow us naman. At hindi namin alam kung saan muna pupunta. Ano po ang pinakamagandang tips ang mabibigay niyo po sa amin para maka pag budget sa tranportation,foods and cheap hotels .?? It would be a great help for us. THANK YOU 🙂

  12. magandang gabi Betchay. 🙂
    i have a scheduled trip on october 29-november 3 in your new home country. i will be with my 2 children (11 & 10 yrs old/ girl & boy). i availed the cebu pacific promo on incheon, south korea. this will be my 1st time traveling to your country thus, i pray that my children & i will have a very good time (its my bday treat to my kids). ;p)
    kindly help me design our itenerary, i would counsider it as your gift to me & to my 2 children…..
    pls get in-touch thru this email ……advance thanks & God Bless!!!! :)*

  13. I heard that AREX line is now up to downtown seoul, is this correct?
    I will be going to Seoul this Dec 2011 and plan to use AREX.
    Can you guide me how to go to myeongdong (near ibis hotel) using the subway? Thanks

    1. Hi Marlette! Yes, you can take the AREX until Seoul Station. You can take line #4 at Seoul Station to go to Myeongdong but if it’s near Ibis Hotel, it’s better to take the bus or taxi if you’ll be carrying something heavy.

  14. we are planning to stay at myeongdong guest house, pls guide us how to go the place if we will be taking the arex commuter train from incheon airport?

  15. Hello I want to go and meet a friend in Seul in late dec of this year would like to not spend a lot, some suggestion XD for case I found this site …
    thx
    Filippo from Italy

  16. Hi Ms Betchay,
    My friend and I will be going to Incheon this Coming dec 1-4, 2012
    we don’t have any idea where to go in incheon and we want also to go to seoul. Kindly help us with our itinerary. Your help is very much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Edith

    1. Good day! I will be going there too, landing in Incheon but would like to stay in Seoul, around mid oct to nov, 2012. If you can recommend a good place to stay for me & my family (il be with my mom, sis, husband & my 2 lil kids), we would greatly appreciate it. You may email me at jade_alx@yahoo.com.ph

      Thanks so much & God speed!

  17. what is the earliest trip using AREX from seoul to incheon international airport. my flight is 7am. what is your recommendation…thanks

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