Public transportation is easy to use and won’t empty your wallet in Korea. The KTX is the high speed train and is obviously the quickest way to get to the major cities, but many smaller cities and towns don’t have train stations accessed by KTX trains.
I went to Andong for a long weekend. No KTX trains go to Andong station so I had to take the slow mugunghwa train from Cheongnynagni station.
You can reserve tickets online through KORAIL’s English website. You get a reservation number that you can print and when you arrive at the train station, just show them the paper with the number and they will print off the ticket for you. The instructions on the KORAIL website say to bring your passport, if you reserve tickets on the English website and you don’t have Korean ID you need to put in your passport number, so they can make sure it’s you. I’ve never been asked to show my passport though.
I do wish they printed the tickets on thicker paper. I’m sure people have accidently crumpled up their tickets, thinking it was a receipt for a bottle of water.
Most train stations will have, at the very least, well stocked convenience stores so you can buy plenty of snacks and drinks for the journey. Larger ones will have fast food options, cafes, and nicer sit-down restaurants.
I enjoyed some Coco curry, a Japanese chain, before my train departed.
The ticket tells you the car number and seat number but not the actual platform where the train will be waiting. Fortunately, there are giant digital screens around the train station telling you which trains are where and if there are any delays or changes.
I sat in first class on the way to Andong and economy class on the way back. The only difference I noticed was that the seats in first class were slightly wider than the other seats in economy. I spent my time on the 3 hour and 20 minute journey finishing the book All the Light We Cannot See and watching Summer Wars. I recommend both.
The nicest part of train travel is getting all the beautiful views of Korea without having to leave your seat. We passed through small towns, bridges, rivers, and beautiful mountains and forests.
I wanted the train to stop at every place so I could go outside and explore, but I was still happy when we got to Andong.
If you get a chance to visit Korea, take a train!