Taking a taxi is the most convenient, the easiest and the most expensive form of public transport in Seoul. The taxi meter always starts (currently) at 2800 won, making taxi service much more affordable than it would be in most western countries. Expats in Korea use taxis a lot – especially at night after most public transport has stopped service. While taxis drivers speak very limited English (if they speak English at all), sometimes you’ll find a driver who has been abroad and knows a few sentences. It is very important to learn enough Korean to be able to take a taxi, but there is also a translation service available for taxi passengers if necessary. The phone number for this service is usually found on the window next to the passenger seats.
You can easily recognize a taxi in Seoul by its colour – white, yellow or black – as well as the taxi sign on the roof of the vehicle. Taxis are never unmarked, so don’t get into any unmarked cars. White and yellow taxis are the average taxis you’ll see throughout the city while the black taxis are more posh and more expensive – making them very popular with business people and less popular with the average expat. There is a red light located near the rear view mirror on each taxi. If the light is lit, the taxi is available – if it isn’t, it means someone is already using it.
You can easily find a taxi in Seoul, no matter where you are. Usually there are marked areas where taxis wait in line for passengers, but you can flag down a taxi just about anywhere without any problems. In some cases, a driver will refuse to take you where you want to go, usually because they are not from the area and are on their way home. Many expats (mistakenly) feel that they are being discriminated against. While it is easy to hail a taxi, it is quite difficult to phone for a taxi to pick you up if you don’t speak Korean. On rainy days it can be more difficult to hail a taxi from the street.
As was previously stated, the average taxi meter (for white and yellow taxis) currently start at 2800 won and then go up by 100 won per a mixture of time and distance – generally, every kilometer the meter will go up by 100 won or roughly every minute. Taxi drivers are, for the most part, trustworthy and honest, and they will usually get you to your destination by the fastest possible route. Be warned, though, that certain taxi drivers will try to take expats the long way around, thus getting more money from you than necessary. These drivers are rare. Black taxi meters start at around 3-4000 won and while they advertise a higher level of service, their services are not noticeably superior to the other taxi companies. Their meters go up by 1000-1500 won per kilometer/minute.
There is only one taxi company in Seoul that speaks English (some also speak Chinese and Japanese). They are called ” International Taxi’s”. They are black with orange lettering on the side that say, you guessed it,
“International Taxi”. They cost the same price as the regular taxi’s (starting off at 2800 won). You can contact them at 02.82.1644.2555. They have a variety of taxi sizes including a van, and offer a flat fare rate to and from Seoul and Incheon Aiport.
Here is the website: http://internationaltaxi.co.kr
For all other taxi assistance, you can contact 02-1330. This is the Korea tourist service, and they can assist you in contacting the other companies in Seoul that do not speak English. They can also speak with the driver when you are en route and are unable to communicate where you need to go.
- Seoul Taxi: 414 0150
- Green Call Taxi Corporation: 3663 4050
- Deluxe Taxis: 3431 5100
- Arirang: 793 1013