For those of you who don’t know KTX is Korea’s High Speed rail road. And let me tell you, it really is FAST! It’s fantastic. For Christmas I decided to go to leave Seoul for a few days and head to Busan. Busan is South Korea’s second largest city, and it is located on the southeastern coast. Considering Busan is so far away from Seoul, and I don’t have a car, I looked into the transportation options available. And trust me, there are some GREAT deals for foreigners!!
I ended up choosing KTX to go to Busan, considering it’s speed. And if you are a foreigner, then you can get some good prices! You can buy your standard ticket, which is just buying a ticket going one way, then pay again when you go home. But this is expensive and is about 50,000-55,000 won ($50-55) one way!
I used a much better system. The Happy Rail Pass! You can use ANY TRAIN you want (meaning KTX, and two other trains which are slower) AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WANT! (depending on how many days you pay for).
Let me explain….I paid for a 3 day pass. Meaning I can ride ANY train I want for as many times as I wanted within 3 days! The best part is the price. For a 3 day ticket I paid 82,000 won! (About $80) This was also a special price for “youths” meaning anyone between the ages of 13-25 with a valid international student ID!
You could travel from Seoul, to Ulsan, to Busan, to Daegu, etc…. All for a great price.
Now the Happy Rail pass is for foreigners are for anyone living in Korea for more than 6 months! If you are traveling for a shorter time, then there is the KR Pass, which has even cheaper prices!!
For both of these, you reserve these online, when you are ready to use it, you go to Seoul Station. You go to the information desk and exchange it for a pass. Once you have your pass, you just go to the ticket counter and reserve your train ticket. It’s so simple!
I got my happy rail pass on Dec 24th, and used it that day. There are tons of trains all day, so you can almost always buy your ticket that day. At most you might have to wait an hour or so, for the next train. I traveled on Christmas Eve at 10:30 am, and was put onto the 10:50 am train.
Also, if you have the happy pass, then you can upgrade to first class for just 10,600 won. (About $10) I did it and it was awesome! I spend a nice relaxing 2.5 hours playing with my ipad (with FREE WIFI), tons of leg room, and watching the countryside pass by.
If you are travelling by train around Korea, then KTX is the way to go. Yes, the other trains are cheaper, but KTX is faster and more comfortable! I really enjoyed it.