How-To,  Transportation

Korea Rail Pass Travel

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Afri and I went to Busan and Gyeongju with Korea Rail Pass from 28th till 30th December 2011 and it was rather cheap for 2 pax of 3 days travel for about 76,100 won per pax (Saver classification). If you pay individually for Korea Rail Pass it would be 84,600 won for 3 days travel and sets the difference at 8,500 won.

We would save more time if travelling by plane but Afri had never rode KTX before so we decided to ride one. Furthermore, flight fare was more expensive as we didn’t book ahead and it’s holiday season so we opted for Korea Rail Pass instead. As I had rode all the three type of trains – KTX, Saemaeul and Mugunghwa; there are not much difference except for speed.

We rode the 6.30am KTX train departing from Seoul Station.

Inside KTX.

It took us about 2 hours to reach Sin Gyeongju KTX Station and 40 minutes to reach Busan KTX Station from Sin Gyeongju. Unfortunately we only spent a day in Gyeongju and a day in Busan. I would love to spend more time in Gyeongju compared to Busan cause I had been to Busan too many times and the better part of Busan is only the beaches. Gyeongju is the remnant of Shilla Dynasty and I would love to properly explore the area. I know it sounds boring but my advice – Come during autumn or spring. Gyeongju is breathtaking!!

Sin Gyeongju KTX station

You may buy the ticket online and I bought the ticket 2 days ahead and exchanged it to Korea Rail Pass at Suwon KTX station. You could exchange it at any of KTX stations like in Seoul Station. The reason I exchanged it at Suwon was because we were in Suwon visiting the Hwaseong Fortress.

Note that the Korea Rail Pass is only for foreigners and you might get a seat or you might not. It’s not a sure thing. Try not to travel out of Seoul during major holidays. From my experience, we arrived at KTX station at least 30 minutes before departure and normally there are 100 or so economy seats remaining for booking. If you didn’t get to book your desired time, just book the next departing train. There are so many of them and the trains run every 15 to 30 minutes.

For more information on Korea Rail Pass click here.

24 Comments

  • Azra

    Hi Zarina,

    How do you travel between Singyeongju station to Gyeongju town? From my reading, there is a shuttle bas that will bring us to Gyeongju since Singyeongju station is not really in Gyeongju town ( is that so? ). I'm planning to spend few days in Gyeongju sometime in Nov and would like to gather as much information as possible especially on the transportation. Hope can get some input from you. Komawoyo…

  • stef

    hi zarina,

    i don't know if you heard of this, but do you have any idea on how to attend the MBC Idol Star Athletics Championships?

    i've searched for quite some time and still unable to find the way.

    thank you 😀

  • Aisyah

    Hi Zarina,

    What a gem your blog is. Im a translator and just wrapped up a travel book project about Seoul (just today) and then I stumbled upon your blog. I don't what to call this 🙂 so nice to read about places I have become familiar with but haven't actually been to. Keep writing, maybe I'll visit one day 🙂

    Aisyah

  • Zarina Jani

    Hi Azra,
    There's so many buses going from SinGyeongju to Gyeongju town. We rode 700 bus from SinGyeongju because it goes to Bulguksa as well.

    SinGyeongju is about 10 minutes bus ride from Gyeongju.

  • Zarina Jani

    Hi Stef,
    MBC Idol Star Athletics Championships is normally pre-recorded for festive broadcast like Chuseok.

    You could check MBC official website for more info. But it's all in Korean.

    I'm sorry cause I don't have time to properly check it out for you.

  • J-Lim

    Hi Zarina,

    Thank you so much for the write-up. It will come handy for my upcoming trip to Korea as I am planning to get KR Pass too.
    I have read on the KORAIL website on this but still was not clear with a few things.
    I would like to ask if we are required to change the KR Pass(the yellow one) to normal tickets, in order to secure a seat in KORAIL trains?

  • bori

    salam kak zarina

    do they automatically give you the saver price when you exchange more then one vouchers? or do i have to ask for it when i'm exchanging them?

    because i've made a reservation for two separately . meaning i have 2 exchange ticket no.

    thank =)

  • Zarina Jani

    J-Lim,
    Exchange your booking ID for a KR Pass at least a day ahead.

    On the day of your departure, show your KR Pass and tell the officer your destination. They will process your request and print a ticket for your ride.

    You can't book ticket with KR Pass as it depends on remaining seats available after regular tickets are sold.

  • Anonymous

    Salam Zarina,

    me and my frens will go to korea this may.

    We plan to go to Busan for just a day. If we want to use this KR pass for 1 day use,

    Is it mean we can use it to go to Busan and back from Busan?

    So it will be much cheaper compare to the RT KTX tix?

    Do you know the earliest train to go to Busan from Seoul and the latest train from Busan to Korea?

    I really need your help..

    Thanks so much.

    -Jaja

  • Zarina Jani

    W'salam Jaja,
    You can use the 1 day pass in 24 hours. The earliest Seoul to Busan is 05:30 and the latest Seoul to Busan is at 22:30

    RT KTX = regular KTX ticket?

    Yes, KR Pass is much cheaper

  • i3lu3fun

    Hi Zarina,

    Great blog u have here.

    Would like to check a couple of things with you. I'm going to Gyeongju in April and will be staying at Gyeongju Guesthouse, 138-2 Hwango-Dong.

    We planned to take KTX train from Busan to Shin Gyeongju station and then take the bus to the guesthouse. Or is it possible for us to actually take the KTX train from Busan to Gyeongju station directly? Since the guesthouse is nearer to Gyeongju Station. I'm not sure if the train actually goes to Gyeongju from Busan.

    Another thing I would like to ask, we've planned to visit Bomun lake, do u know which bus or train we can take to get there. The information i found online is a bit confusing. Appreciate your help. Thanks!

  • J-Lim

    Hi Zarina

    I have tried booking for KR Pass saver recently, which cost KRW 76,100 per person.
    But when I was about to confirm my reservation and input my credit card details, the amount I would have to pay is KRW95,125 instead of KRW76,100 per person.
    Have anyone of you out there face this problem before?

  • Anonymous

    hi zarina
    i wish to ask you on KR pass.you stated that we can't book (reserve) the ticket one day before the travelling date and depends on the availability of the remaining tickets that day. So there is a danger that i might not get the ticekt on my travelling date? i planned to travel to yeosu expo end fo the month. Kindly advice. Thanks

    jack

  • Zarina Jani

    Jack,

    That's right. Unless you are willing to opt for standing seat; standing the whole journey till Yeosu then KR Pass is not an option for you.

    Yeosu Expo is a big event so it's kinda risky to use KR Pass.

    But for me who is always on a tight budget, I don't really mind using KR Pass. ^^

  • fareha

    Hi Kak Zarina,

    Thanks for this entry! I'm going to Seoul this October and planning to go to Busan as one of my destination. I'm a little confused on how to obtain the KR Pass though..hope you can help.

    If I understand correctly, I'd have to reserve a kr pass online & collect it at the train station right? (I'm planning to collect it at Seoul station) But do I have to collect/exchange to the kr pass on the actual day that I'm taking the KTX? Can I exchange to the kr pass a day earlier before I go to Busan?

    Also, I am only allowed to book for a seat on the actual day that I'm going to Busan..right?

    Thanks so much for reading through my comment! And I greatly appreciate your tips which you've put on your very helpful blog. 🙂

    – fareha

  • Zarina Jani

    A'salam Fareha,

    collect the exchange pass at any of KTX station anytime before you want to ride the KTX.

    no booking for seat is allowed.

    there's so many KTX ride available almost every 30 minutes. so just go to the station and use your exchanged pass to buy the ticket.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Zarina,

    I'm planning to travel around Korea with KR Pass, but I'm a little bit confused about the payment. So we have to pay it first, then we get the E-ticket? But they said if we didn't exchange the E-ticket upon our trip in Korea, it would be automatically canceled. Doesn't it make us pay upon exchange? So should I pay it here with credit card (online) or pay it after we arrive in Korea?
    Thanks a lot for your help! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Hi Zarina

    Two of us are planning to go by train from Gyeongju to Seoul next March (weekday). However, we are not sure if there is a direct Saemaeul train without any stopover. If via KTX one need to stopover over at Dongdaegu? Pls advise cost and time schedule as we are planning to arrive Seoul by 5pm latest. The online info. is a bit confusing.
    Thks – Eileen

  • Anonymous

    Hello, can i check
    When I purchase the ticket online, does the date of arrival matters?
    Can I purchase the KR pass at the counter instead?
    How do I go about using the KR pass after exchanging at the station? (Like do I have to reserve seats or I just board the train like how eurail pass works?)

    Thank you so much in advance! (:

  • AREX

    wow, so impressive posting about your journey in Korea. Korail pass is so good idea for traveling to out of Seoul. Especially, with saver fare price, you absolutely saved your money and you journey was much abundant surely. If you are planing to visit Korea again, I strongly recommend to have Korail pass again. Also if you don’t have any reservation before, you can buy Korail pass in ICN(airport). Thanks.

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