In my post about Gyeongju, I mentioned about using the Happy Rail Pass to save money when using the KTX trains. Here’s how you can buy and use the pass to travel around Korea.
How to Buy the Pass
UPDATE (18 March 2018): Looks like Korail have stopped the sale of Happy Rail Passes and now every foreigner regardless of duration of stay in Korea can just buy the Korail Pass. You can book your passes directly on the Korail site or if you would like to support this blog, make a purchase here instead.
After purchasing the pass online, you need to exchange the reservation for the actual physical pass within 180 days of purchase in KTX stations. I exchanged mine in Seoul Station, one of the major KTX stations around.
Make sure to bring a printed copy of the reservation confirmation (I did not print it and had to go to a printing shop nearby to do it before I could get my pass), the credit card you used to make the reservation and your passport. Once you ensure that you have all these three documents, go to the information counter (see photo below) in Seoul Station to get your pass.
When you exchange your pass, they will ask for the dates that you’ll be using the pass so make sure your travel plans are set before you exchange your reservation for the pass. If you fail to exchange the pass you reserved after 180 days, you will be refunded 100%. However once you exchange the reservation for a physical pass, it can not be refunded.
How to Use the Pass
Once you get your pass, go to any KTX ticketing booth (not the vending machine) to reserve your actual train seats.
Give the staff your pass and then tell them where you’re heading to, which train timing you want and you will get your boarding ticket with the seat number printed on it. Simple right? You can claim as many tickets as you want as long as the travel time falls in the validity period of your pass.