The Best Scenic Train Routes in South Korea

The Best Scenic Train Routes in South Korea

South Korea’s public transport system is amongst the best in the world. An ultra-efficient bus network shuttles passengers all over the country and planes fly between various cities, but the real gem of this desirable East Asian destination is the rail network. With South Korea’s trains, you can get to most parts of the country within a matter of hours. What’s more, the extensive rail network means that you get to see most of the gorgeous Korean landscape in comfort and style. With that said, let us show you six of South Korea’s most scenic train routes!

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First off, it’s worth noting that South Korea has 16 different intercity train lines, with the high-speed service known as the KTX, or Korea Train eXpress. There are other train types, like the ITX-Saemaeul, Mugunghwa and Super Rapid Train (SRT), but the KTX is the household name when it comes to train travel.

For ease of travel, you’re best off getting a KORAIL pass. This will allow you to use all the major train lines barring the local metro lines of Korean cities – you’ll need to use your T-Money card for that.

1. Seoul to Gangneung

Image credit: Scroozle

Getting from the capital to Korea’s stunning east coast has never been easier with the Gyeonggang line, running from Seoul to Gangneung in the Gangwon-do province. This line was opened only a few years ago before South Korea hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Speaking of Pyeongchang, this line is great if you’re planning a winter getaway in South Korea. Many of the major winter resorts and ski slopes are easily accessible from the Pyeongchang stop. The line terminates at Gangneung, a delightful beachside town which welcomes tourists all year round, and has become somewhat of a playground for South Korean residents looking to escape the busy city life.

2. Yeosu to Jeonju

Image credit: Minquddyd

To be fair, you could travel this entire route all the way down from Seoul to the south coast, but then you’d miss out on the treats that lie between the capital and the charming port town of Yeosu. Starting in Yeosu, allow yourself some time to meander around the historic monuments and bask in the seaside atmosphere. The area around the Jinnamgwan Monument is a blend of old and new; think contemporary Korean cafes mixed with a vibrant plethora of street food stalls.

The route to Jeonju runs through the dramatic landscapes of the Jeollanamdo province. You’ll get to see majestic mountain passes and endless paddies, truly captivating especially as the sun dips. When you get to Jeonju, be sure to pay a visit to the Hanok Village, a quintessential cultural Korean attraction.

3. Busan to Gyeongju

korea train routes

Image credit: riNux

South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan, is laid back in comparison to the manic capital of Seoul. What’s more, it’s got some fantastic beaches and tons of hidden gems if you’re an avid explorer. Only 30 minutes away by train lies Gyeongju, a key historical site packed with relics and cultural artefacts. It only makes sense, then, that a day-trip to Gyeongju from Busan should be on your to-do travel list.

Here’s an insider tip: For a truly enchanting train ride, take the trip during the cherry blossom season. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the vibrant pink cherry blossoms dotted across the Gyeongsambuk-do landscape. You could also do the trip to Gyeongju from Seoul, but be warned that it’ll take about two hours rather than the 30 minutes from Busan.

4. O-Train

The O-Train, also known as the Central Inland Region Tourist Train, departs from Yongsan Station in Seoul, and covers three provinces (Gangwon-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Chungcheongbuk-do) with 13 stops along the way. The O-Train is perhaps the best bang-for-your-buck if you’re interested in experiencing the most of South Korea’s scenery, with the rugged inland mountain ranges a constant feature throughout the ride. At approximately 257km long, this route offers ample opportunity to experience the best of South Korea, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a slow journey. The O-Train reaches speeds of up to 150km/hr, meaning that the entire loop takes less than 5 hours to complete.

More details here

5. V-Train

baekdudaegan

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The “Valley Train” as it’s known, runs through the Baekdudaegan mountain range, yet another truly stunning visual spectacle that you should consider crossing off your Korean travel list. The carriage and crew uniforms are distinctly retro, a nod to sites and stops that have remained largely untouched or altered since the 70s and 80s.

This particular train runs six times daily; three times from Buncheon Station in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province to Cheoram in Gangwon-do Province and three times in the opposite direction. Although the route is far shorter compared to the O-Train, the V-Train is far from a rushed experience, as the train trundles along at 30km/hr, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the sights of the Korean countryside.

More details here

6. Sea Train

Image credit: Visit Korea

The Sea Train is a specially built tourist train consisting of four carriages, covering 58km along South Korea’s picturesque East Coast. It runs from Jeongdongjin Station in Gangneung to Samcheok Station and back, with a round-trip taking 3 hours. While the O-Train and V-Train are all about majestic mountain backdrops, the Sea Train offers up endless panoramas of the East Sea, with the carriages designed to provide the best possible views of the coastline.

More details here

Have we convinced you to book your next trip by rail? Let us know where you’ll be taking the train in South Korea this summer!

Also read: 30 Fun Things to Do in Seoul on Your Very First Visit [Updated 2019]

About Author

Stuart Hendricks
Stuart Hendricks

Being a street photographer and travel writer, Stuart is always searching for the perfect shot that tells a story. He's got his heart set on adventuring around Asia using South Korea as his base and creates content to help aspiring photographers document their own travels through the continent.

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