Seoul Taxis

Category : Surviving in Korea / Travel/Events
Nov 26, 2014


Seoul Taxis


Taxis in Korea are cheap, overflowing, and clean. Most cab drivers don’t speak English, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have a ton of issues getting to where you want to go – if you take our advice!


Types of Taxis in Seoul


Regular Taxis

These come in white, silver, orange, or yellow. Taxis are either privately owned by the taxi driver or they are owned by a cabbie agency. Privately owned taxis are required to be licensed, so there really isn’t much of a difference between the two. Some of these agencies will dispatch the taxis individually if you call their headquarters, but keep in mind that a 1,000KRW booking fee will likely apply if your fare is below 10,000KRW.


Deluxe Taxis

Deluxe taxis are supposed to offer the best service out of the three types of taxis. As well, in order to get hired, these drivers must have gone accident-free for 10 years. So, you’re you’ll hopefully be in safer hands when you ride “deluxe”, too. They are double the price of regular cabs, but they do offer a little more leg room.


International Taxis


International taxis were created with the help of Seoul’s municipal government. Drivers are supposed to have a certain level of Japanese and/or English language fluency to operate these cabs, but this varies based on the driver. You can also call ahead and pre-book one of these cabs instead of hailing them on the street. The International designation can be given to privately owned regular taxis, deluxe taxis or van taxis for groups. The regular taxis are all orange, while the deluxe and van international taxis are all black with an orange stripe.





Base Fare

2,400KRW for the first 2km, then 100KRW for every 144m meters after.

4,500KRW for the first 3km, then 200KRW for each 164m.

Traffic Jam Fee

100KRW per 35 seconds if taxi is going less than 15km/hour.

200KRW per 29 seconds if the speed drops below 15km/hour.

Late-Night Fee

20% extra between 00:00-4:00

No late night fee.


1644-2225 (International taxis only)


1644-2225 (International taxis only

Incheon AirportàDowntown Seoul



Other perks

International taxis sometimes have an English-speaking driver.



Acceptable Forms of Payment

Taxi cabs will accept the following forms of payment:

  • Cash
  • T-Money cards
  • Credit cards
  • Korean debit cards

It takes a little extra time to pay with debit, so if you get denied by a taxi driver, use this tip: try to write down his name and license number (both will be posted on the dashboard). It’s illegal for them to them to do that, so just act like you’re going to report them and he’ll likely let you pay with debit or just show that it’s the only form of payment you have. If you’re really worried about it, ask if the driver takes debit before you start the meter.


Communicating with Drivers

Communicating with your taxi driver doesn’t have to be totally challenging. With this handy-dandy cheat sheet in your arsenal, paired with some decent miming and body language, you’ll be good to go.


To be extra safe, it’s always good to print out a map, directions, or name of your destination in Korean, and just point to it upon getting in the cab. Unless it’s some weird, super-exclusive, underground club/secret society lair that literally only you know about, chances are the driver will have heard of the place before. This helps eliminate any chances of miscommunication. Alternatively, you can call up a Korean friend and have them give directions to the taxi driver on the phone.


Korean Taxi Phrases Cheat Sheet

Take me to ____

____로 데려가 주세요

____ro deryeoga juseyo

Please stop here

여기에 세워 주세요

Yeogie sewo juseyo








쭉 가주세요

jjuck gajuseyo

Past the ____

____를 지나서

_____reul jinaseo

Towards the ____

____를 향해서

_____reul hyanghaeseo

Turn left

왼쪽으로 도세요

Oenjjogeuro doseyo

Turn right

오른쪽으로 도세요

Oreunjjogeuro doseyo

Keep the change

잔돈은 가지세요

Jandoneun gajiseyo

Where are you taking me?

어디로 가고 있나요?

Eodiro gago innayo?

Could you please take

 ________ bridge?

______다리를 지나서 가 주세요

______dari-reul jinaseo ga juseyo

Could you please take

_______ road?

______를 지나서 가 주세요

______reul jinaseo ga juseyo

Just drop me off here.

여기에 내려 주세요

Yeogie nae-ryeo juseyo


Taxi Etiquette

  1. Tipping taxi drivers is not required. However, if you think they’ve gone out of their way to do a particularly good job, then a tip in that case would certainly be well-received.
  2. Never, ever get out of the left side of a taxi. It’s dangerous and oncoming traffic might not see you. You risk getting hit. Watch out for scooter delivery drivers zipping in and out of lanes. They might be on the sidewalk as your stepping out of the cab.
  3. Don’t eat in taxis.
  4. Don’t make eye contact with the driver through the rear-view mirror, and don’t be offended if he adjusts it so he can’t see you when you get the car. Eye contact is generally avoided in Korea; the driver’s just trying to be respectful.
  5. When hailing a cab, avoid using waving with your palm up in the air, rather extend your arm slightly to the side, and wave your hand up and down (palm facing down). That’s how it’s done here.
  6. Don’t cram all your friends in the back of a cab. This will be met with a flurry of angry yelling and gestures from the driver. He’s not going anywhere until there are no more than three people sitting in the back, so it’s better just to split up.
  7. Don’t squawk at the cab driver in English. Use our trusty “Korean Taxi Phrases Cheat Sheet” to speak (politely) to the driver. That way, you run a smaller chance of annoying him with phrases he doesn’t understand, and you also have a better chance of getting to your correct destination sans-language barrier.


à Did you Know?

Smile, because you’re on camera! As part of a recent strategy to curb “rowdy behavior” in the back of Seoul’s taxis, many drivers have started installing miniature black cameras in the back seats of their cabs. Legally, nothing you say or do on these cameras can be used against you. However, it’s good to keep it in mind: if you wouldn’t want whatever you’re doing back there recorded, then don’t do it.


How to Avoid Problems with Taxis in Seoul

Below are some common issues that you may encounter while taking taxis in Seoul. We’ve also included a list of things that you can do to avoid them or what you can do in the moment to try and fix the situation.



What You Can Do:

Scenario 1: “Is it just me, or does that fee seem kind of high?”


After a fun night of partying in a main party district in Seoul, you leave the bar in search of a cab to get you home. On your walk to the main road, you see some taxis parked inside one of the usually pedestrian-only club streets. You ask the driver how much it is back to your home in Noksapyeong- about 15 minutes away. He replies clearly “30,000 won!”. Usually your fare costs just under 10,000 KRW.


Are all cabs around Hongdae/Itaewon (the main party neighbourhoods) going to charge you this exorbitant rate?

Answer: No, they won’t.


First, you need to find a main road – one that’s busy with cars during the day. There won’t be much pedestrian traffic. Once you find a cab, just hop in and say the name of your destination in Korean. The driver will turn the meter on and take you to your destination.


Know that the metered fare always gives you the better price. If you’re feeling too lazy or tired to walk out of the party ‘hood, at least know that if you get with a pre-determined price, it will be a rip-off.

Scenario 2: “The cab driver never wants to take me back to my area”.


You’re trying to get a cab, but each time you flag one down they do the same thing: lock the door, roll down the window and ask where you’re going. Nobody seems to want to take you back to your area!


What gives?

Answer: There’s not much you can do in this situation. You will have to either wait it out, or walk to a different area.


However, the problem might be that you’re actually on the wrong side of the street, and there aren’t any nearby legal u-turns the cabbie can make in order to go in the correct direction.


Another reason for this could be because the taxi you’re trying to take isn’t from Seoul. Sometimes taxis from the Incheon or Gyeonggi-do areas make trips into Seoul city, and (understandably), only want to take passengers headed back to those areas. Their license plate will say (in Korean) which city they are from, so you can avoid this type of confusion. For a Seoul taxi look for 서울 on the plate. For Incheon, check for 인천 and for Gyeonggi-do watch for 경기.


Scenario 3: “Why doesn’t the cabbie understand me?”


You always seem to have communication issues with the taxi driver. You’ve been taken to the wrong place several times, and trips that should’ve only taken 20-30 minutes end up taking closer to an hour.


Why is this?


Answer: Your Korean may not be as good as it could be.


Many cab drivers see a lack in Korean language skills as an opportunity to rip a customer off.


Even if you can’t speak fluent Korean, faking it can still help you out. Step into the cab like you’ve been here for years, and confidently say the name of your destination (using your best Korean accent) followed by ga juseyo /가 주세요. This simple tip can be surprisingly helpful, and can be applied to many situations you encounter in Korea.


If your accent is still sub-par, try to have the address of the place you’re going written down, especially if it’s somewhere you go often, like your house. With your ‘cheat sheet’, the cabbie can’t get confused about where you are going.

Scenario 4: “I got short-changed!”


You’ve noticed that you’ve been given the incorrect change when paying the taxi driver with cash. With the language barrier, it can be hard to confront the driver about this.


So, how can you avoid being ripped off?


Answer: Pay with your T-Money card


T-Money cards are a fantastic way to use taxis. Paying is incredibly efficient, and you risk no chance of being overcharged. Why? It’s because the T-Money scanner is connected directly to the fare calculation machine, meaning the driver can’t accidentally punch in the wrong fare and end up overcharging you (which is totally possible when using a debit machine).


  • To find out more, visit the Seoul’s T-Money (Transportation) Card article.


Tip: You can calculate the taxi fare on your computer before leaving using Naver Maps. Start off by right-clicking and pressing the 출발 (“departure”) button at your starting point. Then, right-click again on your destination and hit the 도착 (“arrival”) button. From there, you can choose your way of travel.

Example: Itaewon Station to Gangnam Station is 7km. The fare will be about 7,300 for the 16 minute journey, using the Banpo Bridge (Banpo daegyo /반포대교).


Tags : Transportation.

Gabrielle interned as a Content Creator for Work'n'Play during her exchange trip to Chung-Ang University in 2012-2013. She graduated from Vancouver Island University in May 2014 with her BA in Global Studies. She is now a Master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. The things she misses most about her year in Korea are: going for makgeolli + jeon with friends, exploring Seoul's new and old hidden treasures and getting to practice Korean every day. You can connect with her on Twitter at @MsGabrielle or email her at

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