Free Transit Tours in Seoul
We recently featured a free city transit tour in Taipei. A number of other airports in the region offer similar tours.
Seoul Incheon airport offers a wide range of transit tours. They are mostly free (two city tours charge 10,000 won to cover food and entrance fee costs) and they are open to passengers flying on any airline, as long as they are transiting through the airport. There are different lengths of tour which may suit you based on the length of your transit and your interests. The simplest is a one-hour tour to Yonggungsa Temple, and the longest is a five-hour tour which takes in sights in central Seoul. Four different itineraries for this tour are available, depending upon what time you want to leave. The earliest tour leaves at 7 a.m. and the latest tour to leave departs at 3 p.m.
More details on the five different lengths of tours (there are eight tours in total) are available here.
What’s a Tour Like?
During a recent transit I joined a two-hour tour. The tour was supposed to take in Heungryunsa Temple and the Incheon Landing Memorial, although as I was there on a Monday only the exterior of the memorial was open.
I went to the transit tour desk in advance and added my name to the list. They asked to see my boarding passes and told me to come back shortly before the tour’s scheduled departure time. When I went back, a mixed group of about ten travellers from various countries were waiting. We left promptly and walked a short distance to a minibus waiting outside, painted in the colours of the transit tour. We were led by a local guide who spoke good English.
The trip took about half an hour each way and even this could be interesting if you have never been to Korea before, as it does allow you to see a bit of the country outside of the airport. At both sites the bus parked conveniently close and we were able to spend twenty minutes to half an hour looking around on our own. Both sites were interesting enough to give a small glimpse into Korean culture and history. There were plenty of photo opportunities and the guide was friendly and helpful with her overview and answers to questions, without being overbearing. Afterwards, the bus dropped us back exactly where we had started (and where some of the group were about to join a different tour immediately).
I was impressed by the tour and the fact that in a short time, for free and without effort or organisation on my part, it gave a chance to see some of the country.
Joining a Tour
To join a tour, you simply go down to the first floor and the transit tour desk is between gats eight and nine. It is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There you can book a tour on a first come, first served basis. You will need to show your boarding pass for the inbound flight and also boarding pass or flight reservation for an outbound flight less than twenty four hours after your arrival.
(For those passengers who need a visa to enter Korea but do not have one, the transit tour desk near the Korean Air desk at section B of immigration can arrange this for some nationalities, at a cost of US$10 or 10,000 won: details on the website. The desk is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
It is possible to book a tour in advance. Full details of this, as well as other information on the tours, can be found at Incheon Airport’s website here. You can also contact the tour organisers by telephone at 82-32-741-3139, 3140 or e-mail at [email protected].
Medical Transit Tours
The airport also offers a number of “medical transit tours” for passengers who are interested in receiving paid medical treatment while in transit – the website also has more information on these services.