Subway is one of the most convenient public transportation service in Seoul, it consists of Line 1 to Line 9, also additional lines in the metropolitan area.
Seoul Subway Map taken from Cyber Station
In addition, each subway station has a name, number, and a color representing the subway line. Although taxis are not really that expensive in Seoul, subway is still one the cheapest and easiest option for Solo traveler.
T-money is just like EZ-LINK mrt card in Singapore, PASMO or SUICA in Japan. However, it can only be used on public buses and subways in several different metropolitan cities and locations (Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, Daejeon, Incheon, Daegu and Busan).
T-Money Vending Machine in Seoul Subway Station
We purchased T-Money in this machine with the price W 2,500 (W 2,000 balance, with a W 500 nonrefundable service fee). You could recharge with amounts ranging from 1,000 won to 90,000 won (maximum value the card can hold is 500,000 won). The credit will be deducted each time we use it.
Deposit Refund Machine in Seoul Subway Station
Note: You could refund your remaining balance in T-Money at convenience stores, such as GS 25, CU, 7-Eleven, Mini Stop, With Me, Buy The Way (bearing the T-money logo with remaining less than W 20,000). But, if the remaining balance exceeds 20,000 won, you may receive a refund at the T-money Headquarters (1F of Korea Smart Card Corporation Ltd.*), so it’s better to recharge only as much as you will need. T-Money is not returnable, so you could keep the card for a momento!
T-money fare is slightly cheaper compare to cash, so here is a comparison table of T-Money and Cash.
Table taken from english.visitkorea.or.kr
T-Money card could be used in subway, buses, taxis, and transaction at convenience stores (must have T-Money Logo) as long as you have sufficient fund in the card. Also if you forget to tap your card on the sensors as you get off the bus or exit the subway, you will be charged double the next time you use it, so beware!
T-Money Tap Machine in Subway Station
So, after you had this magic card, the next thing you shall do is to decide where to go and knowing where you are at the present time.
Example: How to travel from Hongik University to Seoul Station?
Get on the subway at Hongik University, take the Green line (Line 2) and get off at City Hall station. Then change to Deep Blue Line (Line 1) and Seoul Station is the next stop!
If you would be taking more than 5 rides a day, I suggest you to have yourself an M-Pass. According to korea site, M-Pass offers 20 rides a day for the duration of the pass in the Seoul Metropolitan City area and Jeju, including Seoul Subway Lines 1-9, Incheon Subway, AREX’s (Incheon Airport Railroad Express) standard train (i.e. not the express train), metropolitan trains (except the Sinbundang and Gyeongchun (ITX) Line), and Seoul buses (except red buses).
There are five types of M-Pass, check the table below:
Types and Prices taken from english.visitkorea.or.kr
M-Pass will expire at midnight on the last day of validity. M-Passes are available for purchase at Seoul Travel Information Centers in the Incheon International Airport Passenger Terminal (Gate 5 & 10 at 1F), Jeju International Airport and Jeju Tourism Information Center.
A refundable deposit of 4,500 won is mandatory while purchasing an M-Pass, and a non-refundable service charge of 500 won. The deposit as well as any remaining T-money balance on the M-Pass is refunded when you return it to any of the aforementioned locations. M-Pass can be returned at either Seoul Travel Information Centers in the Incheon International Airport or Jeju Tourism Information Center at Jeju International Airport.
M-Pass Card taken from source
M-Pass has the T-money function, so it can be used on buses, taxis, and at select convenience stores as long as there is a usable T-money balance. Once you have used all of the M-pass’ allotted subway rides, it can still be used as a T-money card after adding to the balance.
So, if you ask me which one is better, then it depends on what you will need. if you will only need a few rides a day, then you will not need to purchase M-Pass Card. The benefits of each pass will depend on our itinerary.
Simple, isn’t it? Hope you enjoy your subway experience in Seoul, Good Luck!