Budget Travel Guide: Korea by Train – 5 Places Best Explored Via Rail

Budget Travel Guide: Korea by Train – 5 Places Best Explored Via Rail

Hop on the train and explore beyond the usual cities of Seoul and Busan.

Been to Seoul and Busan one too many times, but still can’t get enough of Korea? Not to worry; in fact, the country has so much more to offer! And with its efficient train system, travelling across provinces in Korea is a complete breeze. Besides, taking the train is a good option especially if you’re a stickler for precise planning since train schedules aren’t subject to traffic and normally run like clockwork!

Image credit: cotaro70s

Most train stations are located in a central location, making it extremely convenient as compared to flying to and from airports that are usually located in a city’s outskirts. On top of that, train travel is often an experience in itself!

To travel via train, you should get yourself a KORAIL pass. This pass allows you to take unlimited KORAIL rides for 1, 3, 5 or 7 consecutive days, or 2 or 4 selected days within a 10-day period – which is much more convenient than booking point-to-point train tickets! Plus, you’ll enjoy greater flexibility, as you can simply flash the same pass to hop aboard any train. This will eliminate scenarios where you have to frantically try to catch the train at a specific timing, or where you have to pay for an additional ticket should you miss your pre-booked ride.

With this pass in hand, you’ll have access to the following train services:

  • High-speed trains: KTX, KTX-Sancheon
  • Conventional trains: ITX-Saemaeul, ITX-Cheongchun, Saemaeul, Mugunhwa, Nuriro
  • Tourist trains: O-Train, V-Train, S-Train, DMZ-Train, A-Train, Westgold-Train

However, do note that the KORAIL Pass is not inclusive of rides on the Seoul Metro/subway. The pass is available on KORAIL’s official website and KORAIL travel centres, as well as from local distributors in your home country. But for quick and convenient booking and collection, we recommend that you book your pass via Klook – and at a discounted price too! It’s almost too easy: once you receive your voucher via email (within 2 business days after booking), all you have to do is activate your pass at any KORAIL Station upon arrival in Korea and you’re all set for an adventure. No more scrambling to settle your pass among other last minute errands in the days leading up to your flight; with Klook, you can book and receive your voucher all from the comforts of your own home!

For an even better deal, Klook is now having a special Spring Travel Sale: simply key in the promo code <CHERRY18> before checkout to enjoy an extra S$18+18=36 off your Klook activities! Basically, all you have to do is to spend a minimum of S$300 (don’t forget to add all your activities to cart before checking out!) and enter the promo code <CHERRY18> upon checkout to receive S$18 off your booking. You’ll then receive another coupon worth S$18, which you can use for your next minimum purchase of S$150. It’s simple!

So if you’re looking for something literally off the beaten track, why not grab a KORAIL Rail Pass from Klook and explore these more unconventional places via rail instead?


1. Gangwon

With the opening of the new KTX Kyungkang line, Gangwon province is only an 86-minute train ride from Seoul and boasts a wide range of attractions!

Image credit: Republic of Korea

Alight at Pyeongchang Station to see breathtaking scenery at the renowned Odaesan Mountain National Park. Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm in Pyeongchang is tranquil and scenic – with its grounds covered by cute sheep grazing in summer, and covered in fluffy snow in the winter months. Take this chance to visit the nearby sites of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, such as the Alpensia and Yongpyong ski resorts too!

Image credit: Republic of Korea

After which, hop back on the train to Gangneung Station, which is located a mere 20-minute ride away. Take the chance to explore Gangneung City, which boasts beautiful coastal views and unique cultural activities. We recommend catching the cherry blossom festival in April, during which you can also try your hand at seasonal activities like making cherry blossom-infused soap!

Image credit: Gangwon Province

If you’re actually just really into these gorgeous blossoms, give Klook’s Chasing Cherry Blossoms Tour a shot and hunt down the best blooms in Gangwon and beyond. To make the most of your trip, don’t forget to quote the discount code <CHERRY18> before checkout to enjoy an additional S$18+18=36 off your Klook activities!

Otherwise, pop by in June for the Gangneung Danoje Festival, which is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage festival. Watch exciting cultural programmes and demonstrations such as rice cake-making, mask dance, Ssiream (Korean traditional wrestling) and more!

Image credit: Republic of Korea

Klook Pro Tip: Can’t get enough of trains? Take a bus to Jeongdongjin from Gangneung Station, where you can pedal along on the Gangchon Rail Bike that runs along train tracks from the station to the coast! Admire the captivating view while burning the calories from all the Kimchi ramen you’ve feasted on.

2. Gyeonggi

Gyeonggi’s Gwangmyeoung Station is along the KTX Gyeongbu Line. Like Gangwon, Gyeonggi is rich in sights for both nature-lovers and culture buffs.

Suwon, Gyeonggi’s capital, is accessible via a 36-minute KORAIL ride from Seoul. Suwon, the only remaining walled city in South Korea, is famous for its Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Book tickets to the Korean Folk Village near Suwon too to experience life in the Joseon Dynasty!

Klook Pro Tip: Don’t miss out on sampling the city’s local speciality – Galbi (grilled beef ribs) – while you’re there!

Image credit: Weli’mi’nakwan

For a relaxing and tranquil experience, check out the Garden of Morning Calm in Gapyeong County, which is served by Gapyeong Station. To get to Gapyeong, take the ITX-Cheongchun train (covered by the KORAIL pass) from Yongsan subway station in Seoul.

For the bold, take a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that historically divides North and South Korea. Immerse yourself in history by walking through the famous Third Infiltration Tunnel, or get up close to the Military Demarcation Line and Joint Security Area (JSA/Panmunjom). A must-see is Nuri Peace Park, which exhibits relics and monuments from the Korean War. Its grand wooden statues and colourful windmills are not just Instagram-worthy, but also touchingly symbolic.

Image credit: travel oriented

Klook Pro Tip: It might be wise to get a guide to help you along as you learn about Korea’s intriguing history and politics. Book a Panmunjom and DMZ tour with Klook for a mesmerising and educational day!

If you’re more of an adrenaline junkie, you can’t go wrong with a theme park! Beat the queues with Klook’s discounted Everland tickets, then let yourself go at the wooden rollercoaster, bumper cars and many more fun rides and attractions! Or, visit Seoul Land Theme Park, Korea’s first theme park, and end your day off with an authentic Korean barbecue meal at Seoul Land Rose Hill Restaurant. Don’t forget the Spring Travel Sale deal too; and even better, quote the promo code <CHERRY18> before checkout to get S$18+18=36 off your purchases!

It’s bound to be exhilarating whether you’re with your friends, children or even going solo.


3. Incheon

Incheon is more than just that part of Korea where the airport is; in fact, it’s also bursting with lively activity! KTX trains run directly from Incheon International Airport to all lines on the high-speed rail network, so Incheon is a great place to take a breather before going into Seoul from the airport, or as your last stop before you bid Korea farewell. Not to worry about dragging your luggage around as you sightsee, as you can have it delivered safely from your hotel straight to the airport.

Incheon is famous for its markets: Sinpo International Market sells a wide variety of Korean street food, and locals love the Dakgangjeung (fried chicken with sweet, spicy sauce). Sorae Fish Market is for you if you want to get some fresh seafood, especially blue crab or salted fish for your Kimchi. You can also pop over to the traditional Shin Gi market which boasts 150 stalls, and even provides tourists with copper coins so that you can experience the ancient trading system!

where to go korea

Image credit: travel oriented

Revel in Korean culture at over Jeondeungsa Temple (which is over 1000 years old!) and admire the main Daeungbojeon building with its intricate carvings. Take a stroll in Incheon Grand Park among lakes, botanical gardens and mountains, explore Sorae Ecology Park’s scenic and serene fields, or traverse the peaceful Eurwangmi Beach.

Put Incheon’s Chinatown on your to-see list too. Marked by its easily recognisable entrance gate, it houses plenty of restaurants, shops and cultural monuments. Samgukji Mural Street, which is covered in murals portraying significant moments in China’s Warring Kingdoms period, is one of Chinatown’s most beautiful streets. Make sure you snap a few photos there!

Klook Pro Tip: If you know you’ll be itching to share your photos A.S.A.P., you’ll want to have a WiFi router handy! Klook offers pay-per-day WiFi services – simply pick up your router at Incheon airport upon arrival to enjoy stay connected throughout your trip! To get an extra bang for your buck, don’t forget to quote the discount code <CHERRY18> before checkout to enjoy S$18+18=36 off!

Last but not least, head down to Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village, a downtrodden area that was transformed to host a myriad of fairytale characters: from mascots parading the streets to lamp posts painted bright green to look like the giant beanstalk. However, do take note that the area is still a residential area, so take care not to make too much ruckus!

Image credit: Dongjun Kim

To get your last taste of food and shopping before heading to the airport, it’s a good idea to book a food and shopping tour that will bring you to Shingi Market, Songdo Central Park, Songdo Hyundai Premium Outlets and the trendy Triple Street.

4. Jeonju

Image credit: cotaro70s

A 110-minute KTX ride from Seoul Station is the village of Jeonju. Literally meaning “perfect region”, Jeonju is also known as the “slow city” due to its citizens’ slow-paced lifestyle that’s a welcome change from metropolitan Seoul. In addition, it’s also a UNESCO City of Gastronomy and the birthplace of Bibimbap (Korean mixed rice and vegetables)! What more reason do you need to visit?

Image credit: Visit Korea

A must-see is Deokjin Park with its distinctive lotus pond dotted with bridges and pavilions. The park is also the site of the annual Water Iris Festival, during which women wash their hair with water iris-infused water from the park’s water iris garden for good luck.

Jeonju Hanok Maeul is a concentration of over 8000 hanoks, which comprise the traditional houses of the Korean upper class. Converted into tea houses, shops and museums framed by cobblestone lanes, this cluster of hanoks will make you feel like you just travelled back in time!

Image credit: Ken Korean

Of course, you cannot miss out on the food in Korea’s foodie capital. Besides Hotteok (pancakes) and Mandu (dumplings) in Hanok Maeul, you can spice things up with a bowl of hot Bibimbap served with Mung Bean Jelly, a local delicacy.

Klook Pro Tip: You must try Makgeolli (Korean rice wine) at one of seven Makgeolli streets in Jeonju. Pay for a large copper kettle full of the spirit, and receive your food for free!

All in all, we recommend Jeonju as a great place for a day trip from Seoul! Although it’s easy and cheap to get a train ride from Seoul, you can also book transport for a round trip between the two cities. It’ll be just as affordable, especially with S$18+18=36 off Klook bookings with the discount code <CHERRY18>!


5. Or just take a ride on the O and V Trains!

Image credit: Visit Korea

If you’re in the mood for a more leisurely ride, you may want to just take a trip on KORAIL’s One (O) and Valley (V) Trains, which promise pleasing views that are a welcome change from Seoul’s skyscrapers!

where to go korea

Image credit: Visit Korea

The O-train circles the central region of the country, passing through Chungcheongbuk, Gangwon and Gyeongsangbuk provinces. The V-train, also known as the Mountain Range Canyon Train, runs through a valley connecting the Buncheon and Cheoram Stations, so you can expect to be awestruck by beautiful forested hills and mountain ranges!

Hop on the O-train at Seoul Station, then transfer to the V-train at Buncheon Station for a scenic trip to the countryside of Cheoram. This journey is best enjoyed with the windows down! At Cheoram, stretch your legs by taking a stroll around Coal Mine History Town and Taebaek Market, then simply get back on the V-train for a peaceful ride back to Seoul. Both the O-trains and V-trains are covered by the KORAIL pass, so you don’t have to worry!

where to go korea

Image credit: travel oriented

Klook Pro Tip: Visit Taebaek between July and August to see the amazing Taebaek Sunflower Festival.

It’s all too easy to take an amazing day trip out of Seoul whilst cutting costs, especially when you’re armed with a KORAIL Rail Pass! Choose the pass that best suits your schedule and you’re good to go. If you need further convincing, here’s a breakdown of how much a 7-day KORAIL Pass would cost when compared with point-to-point tickets:

Breakdown of costs: KORAIL Rail Pass vs. KTX tickets from/to Seoul (economy class seats)

    • Seoul – Pyeongchang – Gangneung – Seoul: (₩19700 + ₩8400) x 2 = ₩56200 (~S$68.90)
    • Seoul – Gwangmyeong – Seoul: ₩8400 x 2 = ₩16800 (~S$20.60)
    • Seoul – Suwon – Seoul: ₩8400 x 2 = ₩16800 (~S$20.60)
    • Seoul – Gapyeong – Seoul: ₩5200 x 2 = ₩10400 (~S$12.80)
    • Seoul – Jeonju – Seoul: ₩34600 x 2 = ₩69200 (~S$84.80)
    • Seoul – Buncheon (O-train) – Cheoram (V-train) – Seoul: ₩40400 + ₩8400 + ₩43400 = ₩92200 (~S$112.98)
    • Seoul – Incheon Airport: ₩12500 (~S$15.30)
      • Total for all included day trips: ₩283100 (~S$336.00)
  • Total cost savings: S$336.00 – S$227.10 = S$108.90 with the KORAIL Rail Pass!

If these amazing savings still aren’t enough to persuade you, this will: enter the promo code <CHERRY18> before checkout for an extra S$18+18=36 off Klook activities! A quick recap on how this works: add your activities to cart and enter the promo code <CHERRY18> at checkout to enjoy S$18 off your bookings (with a minimum spend of S$300). You’ll then receive a voucher that’ll give you another S$18 off your next minimum spend of S$150.

Your trip to Korea isn’t complete without a unique trip out of the city to soak in the cultural sights of Korea’s rural provinces. All you need for a relaxing and enriching trip is your KORAIL pass coupled with Klook’s easy-to-book tours!

In a nutshell, if you need more reasons to buy from Klook, here are some benefits:

  • Best price guarantee – if you find anything cheaper, tell Klook and they’ll refund you the difference!
  • Instant confirmation – catch your trains without the inconvenience and uncertainty of booking each ticket separately.
  • User reviews – there are over 2 million to help you make an informed decision, so you can be assured of the highest quality before making your bookings!

In addition, subscribe to Klook’s mailing list right here to receive some of the best deals and activity updates straight into your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription.

What are you waiting for? Book your pass with Klook and prepare for a Korea getaway like no other.


Brought to you by Klook.

About Author

Rachel Lee
Rachel Lee

Rachel loves to write, travel, and of course, write about travel. She believes that you can find beauty and wonder in the little things, in any little corner of the world. If you can't find her at a desk with her head stuck in a book or up in the clouds, she is probably dancing or even more probably checking the fridge.