Navigating the bustling streets of Korea can seem daunting, especially when you’re trying to find a reliable mode of transportation. If you’re a tourist exploring the vibrant cities and need to know where to get a taxi, from hailing a cab to booking a taxi through an app, this guide to how to get a taxi in Korea is essential. I’ll show you how to get a taxi, as well as the right price to pay.
The good news for travellers to Korea is that taxis are affordable and reliable and they offer a convenient way to travel around Seoul and other cities when you’re in a rush. With busy subway systems often packed to the brim during rush hours, and confusing bus routes, hailing a cab can be a lifesaver when you need to get somewhere fast. If you’re travelling in a group, it can be cheaper, too!
This quick guide to taxis in Korea explains everything you need to know about catching taxis in cities across Korea like Seoul, Busan, Daejeon and Daegu. It covers how to hail a taxi on the streets or book one through an app, provides tips on communicating with drivers, and outlines the pricing structure and payment process so you never get ripped off. Read on to master the art of riding taxis like a local!
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How To Get A Taxi In Korea: Summary
Taxis in Seoul are relatively cheap compared to countries like Japan, the US and the UK, with prices starting at ₩4,800 ($4 USD) for a short journey. You can hail a cab from the street or use taxi booking apps like Kakao Taxi to call a taxi to your location. Taxis are a convenient way to get around big cities like Seoul and to get from Incheon Airport to your hotel, possibly saving you time and money.
To check if a taxi is available, look at the sign in the windscreen. Here’s what each sign means:
- 빈차 (red light) = empty car
- 예약 (green light) = reserved
- 탑승 (green light) = there is a person inside the car
- 휴무 (blue light) = not in service
Taxis are broken down into four main types – regular, deluxe, international, and jumbo. These taxis each charge different fares based on the services they provide. More details about costs and types of taxis are covered later in this guide to how to get a taxi in Korea. First, here’s how to hail a cab in Seoul.
How To Hail A Cab In Seoul & Other Cities
To hail a cab in Seoul, simply find a main street and look for taxis displaying the “빈차” (empty car) sign, which will be displayed with a red light. This indicates availability and the taxi will stop to pick you up if you hail it by sticking out your arm and waving to the taxi. Alternatively, you can book a taxi using an app, which will be covered in the next section.
There are several types of taxi in Seoul that you can hail from the street:
Regular Taxis (일반 택시): These taxis are usually grey or white saloon cars that can accommodate up to 4 passengers with limited space in the boot for 1 or 2 suitcases at most.
International Taxis (인터내셔널 택시): These taxis look similar to regular taxis, but they are bright orange and can only be found in Seoul. These taxis cater to tourists and the drivers can speak other languages, including English, Chinese, or Japanese. The price for these taxis is 20% higher than regular taxis.
Deluxe Taxis (모범 택시): Taxi drivers in deluxe taxis are known for their experience and service, so you can expect a very pleasant ride with this type of taxi in Seoul in a more luxurious car. However, the prices are also higher for the same journey length and time, so be careful.
Jumbo Taxis (대형 택시): These large taxis can accommodate larger groups and people travelling with luggage, which makes them ideal for airport transfers between Seoul and Incheon Airport. Not so common outside of transportation centres like major stations and airports.
You can find taxi stands outside busy areas like bus and train stations, department stores, and central shopping and entertainment areas. If you can’t hail a taxi from the street, it might be because there’s a taxi stand nearby and taxis will only pick up customers from there. Look around and see if you can see a taxi stand, which usually has a signpost with the word ‘taxi’ or ‘택시’ on it.
How To State Your Destination
Once you’ve hailed a taxi, you need to tell the driver your destination. Try saying the location in English or Korean, or show the driver the location on a map app, such as Naver Map or Kakao Map. However, I’ve found some older taxi drivers have trouble looking at maps on phone screens, so this may not work. You can use those map apps to check your journey so you arrive at the right place.
Tip: Pick up a business card from your hotel as they usually have the address in Korean on them. You can show this to the taxi driver to get back to your hotel easily.
Tip: Make sure the driver starts the meter after you’ve stated your destination. It’s a legal requirement to use the meter and if they don’t, they’re likely trying to rip you off.
How To Pay For A Taxi Ride In Korea
If you hail a taxi from the street in Korea, you can pay for the ride at your destination in cash, by card, or with a transportation card such as the T-Money card. Card payments are the easiest method to pay as you don’t have to worry about carrying cash with you as you travel. You can use international credit cards (Visa / Mastercard), or a local debit card like a WOWPASS to pay for the taxi.
For travel money in Korea, I recommend getting either a Wise travel card (Visa / Mastercard debit card accepted in Korea) or the aforementioned WOWPASS. I use both to pay for taxis and other services in Korea. You can find out more about both of those in my article about how to pay in Korea.
Tip: Taxi drivers never ask for tips and it is not expected that you will tip them. I’ve lived in Korea since 2015 and never once paid or been asked for a tip by a Korean taxi driver.
Taxi Prices In Seoul & Other Cities
Taxi fares in Seoul start at ₩4,800 for the first 1.6km of your journey and rise by ₩100 for every 131 metres or 30 seconds in the taxi. This is the price for regular taxis in Seoul. Deluxe, jumbo and international taxis start with higher base charges and there are additional costs for taking a taxi at night. Outside of Seoul, the base charge is typically lower and the additional costs may be different.
Tip: You can work out the expected cost of taking a taxi in Seoul and other cities with Kakao Taxi. More details on how to use Kakao Taxi in the next section.
Here are the base charges for taxis in Seoul during the day and at night, as well as additional charges.
|₩4,800 (first 1.6km)
|₩100 per 131 metres or 30 seconds.
|Regular Taxi (Night)
|from ₩5,300 (first 1.6km)
|₩100 per 131 metres or 30 seconds.
|₩7,000 (first 3km)
|₩200 per 151 metres or 30 seconds.
Late Night Taxi Surcharges
There is a late night surcharge applied to taxi fares in Korea between 10pm and 4am to cover the unsociable working hours. The amount you pay for the base taxi fare at night increases, with higher costs between 11pm and 2am. Due to the increased fee during these hours, it’s often difficult to find taxis right before the increase as drivers wait a while for a higher fee, even on taxi booking apps.
Problems Finding A Taxi In Seoul
Finding a taxi in Seoul at night has become increasingly difficult since the pandemic, with taxi drivers leaving the industry to become delivery drivers for Korea’s growing home delivery services instead. Some taxi drivers also refuse to accept low-value fares, although they are legally obliged to do so. This is a growing issue due to taxi booking apps allowing drivers to screen out low-value routes.
How To Book A Taxi With Kakao Taxi App
The best way to book taxis in Korea, especially for foreigners, is with a taxi booking app. The main taxi booking app in Korea is called Kakao Taxi and is useful for travellers as it’s available in English and other languages. Kakao Taxi allows you to enter your start and end destinations and search for nearby taxis. You can request different types of taxi and the fare you see is usually close to the final charge.
Here is how to book a taxi with Kakao Taxi:
Step 1: Open the app and select the ‘Taxi’ feature. There are lots of other services available in Kakao Taxi, but the taxi feature is the main one and can be found in the top left corner of the screen.
Step 2: Select your pickup destination. The app will ask permission for your current location. Move the ‘From’ marker to the correct location to choose where to start your ride.
Step 3: Select your final destination. Click on the ‘Where are you going?’ button at the bottom of the screen. You can either search by typing in the name or use the map symbol to move the marker manually to where you want to go to. If you can’t find your destination, search in a different map app and then copy and paste address. Once you select your destination, click ‘set as destination’.
Step 4: Choose your taxi type. Depending on your location, you will see a range of available taxis to choose from. The best option is ‘General Request’ as this will be a regular taxi that can accommodate up to 4 people. If you need a larger taxi, choose the jumbo taxi option (if it’s available).
Step 5: Confirm payment payment method. The price of the taxi will appear at the bottom of the screen along with a ‘Request’ button. Before ordering the taxi, you’ll need to confirm the payment method. Fortunately, the default option is to pay to the driver. Click ‘Apply’ and then ‘Request’ again.
Step 6: Wait for your taxi. Check the progress of the taxi in the app. It will show you how far away the driver is and you can also track the journey from start to finish. Pay when you exit the taxi.
Kakao Taxi is available on Android and Apple. To learn more about how to use the app to book taxis in Korea, including how to set up a Kakao account, check out my useful guide to using Kakao Taxi in Korea, which includes screenshots of each step and more tips about how to book taxis with Kakao Taxi.
Tip: Apps like Kakao Taxi need an internet connection. Save money on SIM cards by booking them online from Klook before you travel. These are cheaper than the SIM cards at Incheon Airport.
Alternatives To Kakao Taxi
Travellers from other countries may be familiar with Grab, Uber, and other taxi hailing services where people can freelance and provide their own taxi services. Due to Korea’s strict taxi laws, these aren’t really possible and only registered taxi drivers can operate taxi services. Uber does exist in Korea, but it’s not widely used and offers the same services that Kakao Taxi does (booking registered taxis).
How To Get A Taxi From Incheon Airport To Seoul
There are many ways to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul, including high speed train, subway, and limo buses. Perhaps the most convenient for travellers to Korea for the first time, especially those with luggage or in a group, is to get a taxi from Incheon Airport directly to their hotel. There are all types of taxis available at Incheon Airport, including jumbo taxis that can take large groups with suitcases.
Taking a taxi from the airport direct to your hotel can save you time vs. public transport and may be cheaper than booking individual tickets for a limo bus if you’re travelling as a group. Travel time from Incheon Airport to central Seoul is around 40 minutes, but may be longer depending on the time of day and which part of Seoul you’re going to. Hongdae is closer than Myeongdong and Gangnam.
Tip: Order an airport pickup service before you arrive to ensure a taxi is waiting to take you to your hotel. Ordering online lets you pay in your home currency and avoids trying to get a taxi when you arrive.
Where To Get A Taxi At Incheon Airport
To get a taxi at Incheon Airport after you arrive, you should exit the Arrival Hall on the 1st floor through gates 4, 5, or 6 and cross the road, past the airport buses. As you can see in the map below, there are sections for regular taxis (outside gate 6) and international taxis (outside gate 4). These taxis will both take you to Seoul but the price is different, as explained later.
How Much Does A Taxi From Incheon Airport Cost?
The cost to travel to various parts of Seoul by taxi from Incheon Airport is displayed on the wall in the taxi boarding area to allow you to check the price before you get a taxi. The price of a taxi from Incheon Airport to Seoul depends on which district of Seoul you’re travelling to and can also include tolls. Expect to pay around ₩60,000 to ₩75,000 to get to central areas of Seoul by regular taxi.
Tip: Don’t let the drivers offer you a set price to get to your hotel, as this is likely to be much more expensive and there have been numerous reports of tourists getting ripped off in this way. Always use the meter and check the expected fare before you travel.
International Taxi Service From Incheon Airport
If you want to use an international taxi to get from Incheon Airport to your hotel in Seoul, you can book them online using the International Taxi website. This is a taxi service designed to help foreign tourists in Korea and provides taxi drivers who can speak English, Chinese, Japanese, or other languages. The service is focused on providing safe and convenient taxi booking from Incheon Airport.
The main benefits of the international taxi service is that you can book it online (at least 24 hours in advance), the drivers can speak other languages, and the prices to each district in Seoul are set. The cost of booking an international taxi service from Incheon Airport starts from ₩70,000 (about $55 USD). The price for a taxi to the Myeongdong area is ₩85,000 (about $65 USD).
Please note: The international taxi service is more expensive than regular taxis at Incheon Airport. There is also an international taxi service that offers services within Seoul, but this has a 20% surcharge on the regular taxi price. Due to these extra costs, I would recommend using Kakao Taxi or hailing a cab from the street instead of this service if you’re moving around the city.
Useful Phrases When Using A Taxi In Korea
Here are some useful phrases that show you how to get a taxi in Korea and how to give directions during the ride. Learning a few basic Korean phrases is a great way to understand more of your trip to Korea and makes a good impression when interacting with Korean people. You can also use translation apps like Papago to help you translate English into Korean and vice-versa.
|Please take me to this hotel.
|Ee ho-tel-ro ga ju-se-yo.
|이 호텔로 가 주세요.
|Please take me to this address.
|Ee ju-so-ro ga ju-se-yo.
|이 주소로 가 주세요.
|Please stop here.
|Yo-gi-eh se-wo ju-se-yo.
|여기에 세워 주세요.
|Please go a little further.
|Jog-eum-man do ga-ju-se-yo.
|조금만 더 가주세요.
|How much is it?
|Can I pay in cash?
|Hyon-geum-eu-ro gye-san-hal ssu in-na-yo
|현금으로 계산할 수 있나요?
|Can I pay by card?
|kad-eu-ro gyol-jje-hal ssu in-na-yo
|카드로 결제할 수 있나요?
|Please give me a receipt
How To Avoid Taxi Problems In Korea
Despite the Korean government regularly cracking down on the minority of bad taxi drivers, there are a few issues with taking taxis in Korea that it’s useful to be aware of. These problems are probably worst in Seoul and other touristy areas, but I’ve experienced them in less-touristy places, too. Here’s some of the common problems you might have taking a taxi in Korea and ways to hopefully avoid them.
Offering a fixed price: Taxi drivers at Incheon Airport might offer a set price to customers arriving to Korea instead of using the meter (as they are legally obliged to). This is likely to cost you a lot more, with some taxi rip-offs being as much as ten times the actual cost. Always use the meter unless you’ve pre-booked the taxi and paid in advance.
Saying the meter is broken: Another way taxi drivers may try to charge you a higher price is by not turning on the meter or telling you it’s broken and quoting a (higher) price instead. Be sure to check the meter is running when you start your journey and don’t accept a ride if it’s ‘broken’,
Taking a longer route than necessary: This is an issue I’ve had several times in Korea where taxi drivers take an indirect route to increase the fare. The best way to avoid this is to use Kakao Taxi and check the route as you go. If the driver goes off course, you can ask them why.
Driving at dangerous speeds: Time is literally money for taxi drivers in Korea and so some drive excessively fast and dangerously, including running red lights. I’ve seen a handful of crashed taxis who have done this. If you’re worried that your taxi driver is going to fast, tell them ‘chon-chon-hee‘, which means ‘slowly’ in Korean.
Fortunately, the number of taxi scams seems to be declining in Korea and with taxi booking apps like Kakao Taxi, it’s easier than ever to book a taxi in Korea and travel safely. Apply the same caution and common sense you’d use when taking a taxi in your own country and you should be fine
Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to get a taxi in Korea. These answers are based on my own experience and from research conducted to write this article. If you have any more questions about this topic, please feel free to post a comment at the end of this article.
Can you book taxis from Incheon Airport to Seoul
Booking a taxi from Incheon Airport to Seoul is a convenient way to get to your hotel when arriving in Korea. Taxis can be pre-booked online or you can grab a taxi from outside gates 4 to 6 at Terminal 1. Prices are shown at the airport so you know how much to pay.
Do you need a taxi from Incheon Airport to Hongdae?
If you are staying in the Hongdae area, it isn’t necessary to take a taxi from Incheon Airport as there is a subway that goes to Hongik University station in Hongdae. The cost of taking this subway is much lower than taking a taxi. However, if you arrive late at night or have a lot of suitcases, taking a taxi from Incheon Airport to Hongdae or other parts of Seoul can be a better option.
How much do taxis cost in Seoul?
Taxi prices in Seoul start from 4,800 Korean won and increase based on either distance travelled or time in the taxi. A 10 minute taxi ride shouldn’t cost more than 10,000 Korean won and getting around Seoul is relatively inexpensive, especially if you’re travelling in a group.
Can you use Uber or Grab in Korea?
While Uber exists in Korea, known as UT, it doesn’t offer the same service as it does in other countries due to the laws about taxi services in Korea. All taxi services must be officially approved and there are no ride sharing services like Uber or Grab in Korea. Kakao Taxi is the main taxi booking application in Korea and is available in English.
What’s the best way to get a taxi in Korea?
The best way to get a taxi in Korea is with a taxi booking app, such as Kakao Taxi. This will allow you to call a taxi directly to your location and to set the final destination. This allows you to book taxis without speaking Korean and also shows you the expected cost of the journey. If you’re arriving at a train or bus terminal, there are usually taxi ranks outside where you can get a taxi any time of the day.
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