Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Best of Korea: KTX

I've heard of the bullet trains in Japan so I figured Koreans must have something similar. It might not be as fast as bullet trains but KTX is definitely an alternative for transport if you're thinking of going from one big city to another. On my trip in June last year, I decided to try out the KTX from Busan back to Seoul instead of taking a domestic flight which can be quite pricey.
My trip at that time took me from Seoul to Jeju to Busan and back to Seoul. So on the last leg, since it's going over land from South to North, I figured that's the best route to try the train. The journey itself takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes with a few stops. I book the tickets online at Korail's website. The would only sell tickets for trips within the next month but there's a lot of trips in a day so there's no need to worry. At certain time of the day, the ticket price is cheaper. Mine costs about 53.3k Won per person one way. 
Busan Station
Inside Busan Station
Bibimbap for lunch
We started our journey from the Busan Station. This is actually closer than the airport from our hotel in Haeundae. However, going to the station might take a while due to the busy traffic. Our ride is in the afternoon so luckily we left early. When I arrived to get my tickets at the counter, one of the staff escorted me into their back office to personally print out the tickets. Weird procedure but I didn't need to queue up the long lines at the counter. Busan Station itself would remind me of our own KL Sentral with all trains integrated within the building. There's lots of food choices and space to wait for the train. We would only be called for the train like 30 minutes before departure time.
KORAIL insignia on the seat's headrests
Seats in the train are comfortable
The journey itself was smooth. No problem and at times you get to see the beautiful scenery of the Korean peninsula along the way. There were like 4 or 5 stop within the journey mainly closer to Busan and Seoul. I guess this is to cater other stations that passengers can come in or drop off but in essence, it's still an express train. They do serve food and stuff but we prepared ourselves with food from the station which you can bring in. Luggage compartment also is available so you don't have to worry about finding space.
Luggage compartment
The view from the train
Of course in Seoul you will arrive at Seoul Station. Seoul station seemed a bit smaller than Busan station, and older. The good thing is that it's the intersection of a few subway lines, the AREX and other trains so it's convenient to get around Seoul from here. As at the time I came with my family, we took a cab to go to our destination hotel which was in Myeongdong. Myeongdong is only like 2 subway stations away yet the ride took about an hour as it was pouring and the jam was pretty bad.
We've just arrived in Seoul
Seoul was pouring as we arrived
Overall, I think it's an enjoyable experience to ride the KTX. Over here in Malaysia, a four hour car ride to Penang actually takes 7 hours by train. In contrast, train is a faster option over in Korea. So you definitely can consider KTX as your option to travel around the country.

buzz KOREA