Public transportation can be a new experience for many foreigners, especially if you are from the United States. It can be overwhelming when you first arrive in Seoul, but don’t worry! It’s not as complicated as it looks! Public transportation is the cheapest and fastest way to get around in Seoul.
The easiest way to get started with public transportation is using T-Money!
What is T-Money?
T-Money is a rechargeable card that is used to pay transportation fares all over Seoul, and other parts of South Korea. T-money is most often a card that people recharge at refilling station in banks, convenience stores, stations or kiosks all over Seoul.
Why use T-money?
T-money can be used for taxis, subways, buses, and, at some stores, can be used instead of cash or credit cards. T-money also makes transportation even cheaper! If you have to transfer buses or subways, there is usually a transfer fee. But if you use T-money there is NO transfer fee. The fare price is also cheaper just for using T-money! 500 won in savings may not seem like a lot, but it will quickly add up!
What does T-Money look like? How much is it?
You can choose from basic card, cell phone charms, and for K-pop fans, you can even find cards with your favorite idol on them! The price of card varies, depending on what type of card you choose to buy.
I chose a more cute and girlish t-money option. I bought this charm for about 11,000 won and it hangs off of my cellphone case. It was the most convenient choice for me, since I usually walk around with my cell phone in my hand, and I did not want to pull out a card all of the time.
If you’re a K-POP fan, you can even get cards with your favorite idol! These are usually between 10,000-15,000 won depending where you get it, and depending on the card. I have seen stores that sell K-POP items, and you can definitely get one of these in Myeong-Dong. No problem.
Even if you can’t speak Korean, it is easy to recharge your T-money card!
The easiest method is to go to a recharging machine in the subway stations. You can even change the machine to English, and it only takes usually less than a minute to refill your T-money card. You just drop your card in the little area (in my case I just drop in my whole phone with the charm attached to it), and choose how much money you want to put on the card.
Warning: These machines only take cash! You cannot use credit card!
How do I use it on taxis, subways and buses?
In each subway station, taxi, and bus there is a sensor displaying the T-Money logo. All you do is place your T-money card on there. You will hear a beep and your new balance will be displayed. You always place your card on the sensor when entering and leaving a bus or subway, and it will automatically determine the fare for you.
If you have any questions, just ask!