Fabulous Fridays: Time Savings With Airport Express Trains Connecting To The City Center


It’s another Fabulous Friday and this week it’s about the time (and money) savings when using the Airport Express Train that is offered at many destinations worldwide.

Almost every airport in the world offers some public of private bus/rail transport option but not always are these transportation methods very fast and efficient.

Express Trains usually have the advantage of limited or no stops between the airport terminal station and their destination in the city center. Even though they often come with a premium compared to regular public transport in the country where you’re at it’s most likely still much cheaper than a taxi and at the same time independent of the traffic situation so rush hour arrivals/departures won’t be a problem.

For the first time ever I used the AREX Train between Seoul Station and Incheon International Airport today and was impressed by the efficiency as I always used the KAL Limousine Bus before while staying in Gangnam at either the Park Hyatt or the Intercontinental Grand.

I now favor the new Aloft Myeongdong though, and not only is the hotel very close to Seoul Station where the AREX departs but it also offers a complimentary shuttle service to the station. Win Win! You can read more about the Airport Express in Seoul at The Seoul Guide (access here).

The ticket is only 8,000 KRW (US$7) and the AREX Train takes 43 minutes to Incheon. Boy I wish I had discovered this option (and a close by hotel) earlier to avoid these 2 hour bus rides.

Today the train was pretty empty as well:

It was clean, quiet and reliable plus it offers Free WiFi which is a pleasant addition that not all Express Train lines that I tried have.

The ones I use most often are:

  • KLIA Ekxpres – Kuala Kumpur
  • NEX Narita Express – Tokyo
  • Haruka KIX – Osaka
  • Hong Kong Airport Express – Hong Kong
  • MAGLEV – Shanghai Pudong
  • Heathrow ExpressΒ  – London Heathrow

The rates for these services vary but there are often nice promotions as well to take advantage of. Often purchasing tickets online or through the Mobile App yields some extra discount.


The time savings can often exceed 1-2 hours especially during rush hour at destinations where the airport is far away from the city center and where the city is notorious for bad traffic to begin with. Additionally if you have a very centrally located station like in Kuala Lumpur or Seoul you can choose a hotel very close by, maybe even walking distance and don’t even need a taxi ride after arrival.

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  • The time I stayed at Park Hyatt (Gangnam) I found the train pretty useless and took a minibus. On sunday, the traffic was not that bad.

    Back from the HIX Euljiro to the airport I took a taxi since I didn’t like the subway in Seoul at all πŸ˜€

    • Nick Hevelian

      Gangnam is south of the river and harder to get to from Seoul Station so the airport bus is more useful in that case.

      How is the Park Hyatt, BTW? I’m guessing the breakfast there was a bit better than at HIX Euljiro πŸ™‚

    • David

      Seoul subway is fine if you can stomach the smell of garlic thick in the air!

  • Nick Hevelian

    The airport limo bus only really makes sense for your very first trip to Seoul, when you arrive at ICN, bruised and battered from a long haul in Y, and have no idea about how to use the excellent MRT system.

    This is why I used it when I arrived in Seoul a couple of weeks ago. However, I soon regretted it when I realised how close my hotel was to Seoul Station. The driver actually forgot to tell us where to get off but when it finished at Seoul Station we just walked back towards the previous bus stop and found the hotel.

    The AREX is vastly superior to the bus – especially at peak times. It’s also much cheaper than ripoff cities like London. Don’t even get me started about Heathrow Express!

    • I have personally only used buses to/from ICN. Usually so tired when arriving that working the train/underground is not an option.

  • Jovilyn

    Another hotel option in Seoul is Four Points by Sheraton Seoul which is walking distance from Exit 12 of the Seoul Station. No need to wait for the free shuttle!

  • Kflik

    In Kuala Lumpur KLIA Ekxpres is chepaer only for one person.
    For two, it’s cheaper to take taxi.
    Also taxi goes directly to the hotel, so usually (excepting peak hours) it’s faster.

    • David

      Cheap cabs are available at KLIA Sentral as well as an air conditioned walkway link to both the subway and monorail systems to get to city centre hotels…though with a Meridien, Hilton and Aloft adjacent to the station, these are conveniently located for both the airport and city destinations.

  • David

    In both Seoul and Bangkok there is also the slightly slower but much cheaper local train service on the same route as the expresses. And in Shanghai for about U$1 one can take the green subway line 2 right to People’s Square (and beyond) and meet locals…though there’s a mid-point cross-platform transfer of trains. Since the Maglev ends well before getting into central Pudong, once you’ve experienced the Maglev and mastered the elaborate subway system (and it’s crowds) be adventurous! It takes about an hour to get from PVG to the hotel district of Pudong and another 15-minutes to central Puxi.

    Too bad more American cities don’t have even rail public transit to their city centres. Ironically EWR and JFK are the best served NYC airports in this regard, though JFK charges a usurious $5 to connect to the AirTrain from the LIRR or metro lines and getting to/from the rail stations time consuming. Unfortunately the special buses linking LGA to the subway system are pathetic compromises that get caught in the traffic morass around that airport. PHL, ORD, DCA, ATL, SFO, OAK, BOS, BWI and even MIA are the best examples of affordable public transit at US airports though some systems (like SFO BART) charge a premium to exit at the airport station.

    • flyoff

      Currently in Bangkok the only option is the local train which consists of 6 stops and takes 30 minutes to Phayathai station. The express train is currently not running. For 45 Bahts the train is good value.

    • Nick Hevelian

      Yes, the stopping service in Seoul is exactly what you would take if you were going to GMP, for instance (or had plenty of time on your hands when heading to/from ICN and wanted to save T-Money).