Since I first arrived in Korea, I have gone through several different methods of trying to keep track of bus numbers and how to navigate the bus system.
At first, I kept a handy list of all the routes that went to my school and places that I often frequented. I relied on the knowledge of others to help me navigate when travelling outside of these areas. Next, came the collaborative list on the expat page, where several expats (myself included) added to an ever growing list of bus stops and the route numbers that went there. Again, the problem surfaced on what to do when I needed to go somewhere that wasn’t on the list. As bus numbers floated around in my head, never knowing where they were coming from, where they were going, how frequently they ran, and where the stops were. I knew there had to be a better way.
Enter Daum maps.
Here is a comprehensive guide to help navigating the Hangul only online map (and bus system) in Korean when Google just won’t cut it anymore. With any internet map experience, or just a little intuition, you too can become a master of Korean public transportation.
To get started, go to the Daum maps website: http://map.daum.net/
It should look something like this.
Here are some of the basic commands / buttons in Daum maps.
But wait, there is even more! Once you open/expand the info panel/slider there is even more you can do. Here is an overview of some of the search and other functions available to you.
Now, you can really figure your way around. There are a couple ways to do this, and the site offers so many little goodies to help (re)orient yourself with the city.
Since many of us don’t drive, I’ll walk you through how to search for bus directions.
First click on the ‘Get Directions’ button (we’ll click on bus after we set our destinations.) Then we will tell Daum our start and end points, there are 2 ways to do this.
Option 1: You can drag and drop one of these little flags. (Note: you do not have to be exact; you can edit/move them later.) Remember, red is the start point and blue is the end point.
Once you get your flags placed, the directions you get will default to the driving directions. Now is when to click on the ‘bus’ (middle) button.
Here is an example; I dropped my start flag/point in the middle of the Masan Dekkori intersection, and my end flag/point in the middle of the intersection between Masan Stadium & Home Plus. Your screen should now look approximately like this.
The map will now display the travel route (in red), and will give us some more information and options in the sidebar panel.
As you can see, there are a few different transportation options. The default (and probably the best) is ‘recommended’. The others include, bus, subway, and bus + subway. The subway options don’t apply here, but you can use Daum for the larger cities as well.
Now, a specific bus route needs to be chosen. You can refine your search, by time, bus type (remember the blue are general buses, the green are branch or rural buses (but most run normal routes through town), and the orange (and often high numbers) are express.
Note that the car/bus/walk options all show the overall times (quickest available). Then each bus route also provides the length of time (in bold) followed by the walking time in parentheses. Additionally, each route shows the distance it travels.
I selected the first bus route just to show as an example.
So, from the drop down, you can see that Daum further breaks down the time for each leg of the trip, again with including approximate walk time. It also shows you how many stops the route will take you & the name of the stop to get off at. Throw the name into Google translate to get the Romanized name if you need to. While the number of stops is handy, I don’t recommend counting them to know where to get off, as often the buses won’t stop if no one is waiting at the stop and/or has pushed a button.
Keep in mind that while you are poking around in the side bar, Daum is providing all these details in the map view as well.
And finally, if you click the bus icon (shown below as “route details” in green), you can get even more information about the route.
This shows a great example of why the route details can be useful; the frequency on this route is 150-165 minutes between buses. Eeeks! So here it might be worth it to pick another route or routes, since even if it takes a little longer to get there, there won’t be a (potential) 2+ hour wait. Luckily, however, the route mapped out has 7 different bus options.
And there ya go. You should be able to navigate yourself to your destination. Daum maps has many other great features as well, so take some time to go exploring or check out the next post.