Transit Tours in South Korea


JoAnna is a globe-trotting, idea-inventing, culture-collecting creativity connoisseur with a global family of foreign exchange students and rescue pets. You can also find JoAnna at

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45 Responses

  1. Joey Phi says:

    60$! Yeah, kinda really expensive. At least you liked it! 🙂

  2. Gray says:

    Yes, $60 is pricey, but you’re really paying for the convenience factor (and to avoid the long, slow layover death). I think it sounds like a terrific idea, and I wish these kinds of tours were available at all airports.

    • JoAnna says:

      If you learn of any other airports offering such tours, please let me know. I’d love to know where else travelers can find these.

  3. Thanks for this post JoAnna. I scheduled an extra-long layover in Korea after reading it, and I’ll let you know how it turns out next week. I just had a minor panic attack about visa requirements, but all is good – no visa’s needed for US citizens.

  4. Jordan Stallard says:

    Hi JoAnna,

    I have a 14 hour layover in Korea on the way back from Indonesia, and I’m thinking about doing a day tour. I was just curious on the safety levels of our carry-on luggage, as I’ll be traveling with computers, iPads, and other valuable stuff. Do the tour buses lock up the stuff well when you’re out and about?

    • JoAnna says:

      I was worried about the same thing because I was backpacking, and all I was a single large backpack with everything and then one small day pack. There is a large desk in the main terminal, and they lock everyone’s luggage in the cabinet behind the desk. I suppose anyone with a key there could open and access the luggage, but I guess there’s just an inherent amount of trust you have to have when you travel. There aren’t personal lockers or anything like that, so you really do just have to hand your luggage over to the people running the tours if you want to travel bag-free.

      We also picked up a number of people from local hotels who joined us on the day tour, and they kept their luggage on the bus, which was locked when we went to the different sites on the tour. The bus driver was with the bus the whole time, except when he came in to eat lunch with everyone else.

      Hope that helps! Enjoy the tour if you decide to go!

  5. josh says:

    12 hour layover is truly agonizing / painful / remorseful, airline made it so for extra revenues, I really don’t need these tours , i lived in Los angeles were most koreans have lived too, surrounding areas. I can only suggest airlines shortens layover,lower travel cost, make passengers/visitors happy with FAST immediate flight back home !

    • JoAnna says:

      I can appreciate what you’re saying. No one wants to sit around the airport that long. But I really didn’t want to do it when I could get out and do something with my day, even if it did cost a small chunk of cash.

  6. Moly says:

    Could I ask u one question please? I was wondering which gate did you get out after you finished booking the tour? Well, because I am going to be a tour guide for my family who is having a transit in Korea while they are waiting for changing the flight. Actually I don’t know what gate I should wait for them at the airport. 😀 Thank you so much.

    • JoAnna says:

      Moly ~ I honestly don’t remember, but I was coming in from an international flight, so I had to go through customs and immigration to get out into the concourse. The tour actually took off from the main terminal for international flights. I would suggest waiting in the international arrivals terminal. Everyone will show up there eventually.

  7. Elva says:

    Hi Joanna.
    It’s a good thing you post your trip on the web, I was planning my trip to Ind, and my prefered flight has 11 hrs layover at Seoul airport, and was wondering about the transit tour. Do people have to book in advance or can just show up? thx. hope you post more of your trip

    • JoAnna says:

      You can just show up at the counter for the Transit Tours and book in the airport. I didn’t know about it until I landed in Incheon and I happened upon the booking desk. No need to make a reservation in advance.

  8. Kalyn says:

    I also returned from a 12 hours layover in Incheon. The airport itself is beautiful and we considered the transit tours but my daughter and I were exhausted from an overnight flight from Cambodia. We opted to get a room at the hotel which is on site. The rooms can be booked for intervals as short as 4 hours. They are on the small side but extremely clean and well appointed. We were relaxed and ready to complete the rest of our journey back to the US after a luxurious shower and a 5 hour nap. We checked in at 7:30am and out at 4pm. The cost was 117.00. Well worth it. We had a delicious lunch at one of the airport restaurants and browsed the boutique shops.. The hotel was across from the our gate, so it was literally no more than 20 steps to the gate. I don’t get 12 hour layovers, but if you have one, getting a room inside the airport is definitely the one way to go.

    • JoAnna says:

      Thanks for the tip, Kalyn. It seems that a lot of flights have super long layovers here, and it looks like the airport has thought of everything! I didn’t know about the hotel but really appreciate you mentioning it so people know what their choices are.

  9. Jenny says:

    Hi! My family (husband and 4 y/o daughter) will be having a 13 hr layover at incheon before heading back to london and i am looking for a day tour like this.. Do you know if travel tours have any website so we can plan which tour is the best? Thank you!- jenny

  10. Azrol Salleh says:

    Hi JoAnna,

    Is the service will be provided in the night time also?
    I will have a 22 hour transit and will arrive Incheon at 5.00pm.

    • JoAnna says:

      I don’t believe it’s available at night, as most of the attractions are only open during the day. But since you’ll be in Incheon for 22 hours, you could take a morning tour and get back in time to catch your 5:00 flight.

  11. butch says:

    nice and clear, glad i found your info. thanks , i am now ready to follow your recommendation.

  12. nigel says:

    is there an option to check in at a hotel in the city then take a tour and be back in thw airport at around 5 in the afternoon? im extending my layover so that i could get to see a bit of seoul during my trip. also is a transit visa needed. thanks. your info has been useful and kinda exciting

  13. Carolina N says:

    Hi JoAnn,

    I was wondering about tourist that are not US Citizens, are they able to hop on the tour or not? Is re-entering the airport at security check point will be an hassle for that person.

    Thank you!

    • JoAnna says:

      I imagine the only time there might be a problem is if you need to have a visa to enter South Korea, but I don’t know what countries that might be required from. Otherwise, it’s a simple stamp in the passport to get out of the airport and a check of the passport as you go through security to get back in.

  14. Ron says:

    Hey! Im 17 years old, travelling alone and i wanna try this. Do they have a minimum age or something? 🙂

    • JoAnna says:

      I don’t know of a minimum age, but I can’t imagine that they’d have a problem with a 17-year-old on the tour alone. There is a booth for the tour company in the terminal, so you can ask there before leaving for the tour meeting space.

  15. Tony says:

    A friend of mine had a 7 hour layover at Incheon, and they wouldn’t let him out of the airport (US Citizen). They said if he wanted to leave, he would have to buy another ticket. Are you only allowed to leave the airport through a tour? Or did my friend speak to someone misinformed? Because I am about to buy a ticket and whether or not I am allowed to leave the airport on my own is very important. Thanks!

    • JoAnna says:

      Hi Tony ~ Unless things have changed, your friend was misinformed. There are a lot of full-day layovers in Incheon, and that’s why these tours are available. You have to go through customs to leave the airport, where you’ll have your passport stamped, but you can come back into the airport to catch your flight. if you have an airline ticket, you can get back into the airport, through security and to your gate. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to – everyone on my tour was doing what I did.

  16. Agnes Grissom says:

    Hi just wanted to ask about this tour bus for passenger who have long stayover, my husband and I has 13 hours and 40 mins layover and wanted to experience Korea while waiting our flight back to Hawaii. Is it ok that I can go out with my husband even if I’m not US citizens yet but had my permanent green card? Please help me.

    • JoAnna says:

      I do not know the entry rules for Korea if you have a green card. Whatever Korea’s guidelines are for a green card apply though, whether you’re in the country for three hours, three days or three weeks. If you plan on leaving the airport during your layover, make sure you’ve done your research ahead of time to find out if you can actually leave the airport.

  17. Cindy says:

    I was wondering, after you get off the plane, your luggage will be transported to the other airplane that will take you home right? There is no need to go to baggage claim and grab our luggage before the tour? The only luggage you will have is any carry on you have? I just wanted to make sure. Thank you

    • JoAnna says:

      Hi Cindy ~

      I don’t know what the situation is regarding luggage as I only travel with carry-on bags. What I can say is that the situation varies depending on airline and airport regarding luggage. For some airlines, they can check your baggage all the way through to your final destination. At others, you need to pick up your luggage and drop it off for a recheck process. In the second instance, you shouldn’t have to walk far with your luggage, so I don’t believe you’ll need to take any luggage out of the airport with you.

      • Cindy Her says:

        Also, do they take you to a specific place to eat or can you choose where you want to eat?

        • JoAnna says:

          Depending on the tour you choose, there may be a dining stop built into it. If that’s the case, they’ve already selected the place and, in the case of the tour I chose, the menu was already established. The food was wonderful and the restaurant was locally owned, serving local cuisine.

  18. haydee says:

    hi! how about 5hrs lay out only? can i still make a tour? or too tight?thanks

    • JoAnna says:

      There were a couple five-hour tours available when I was there a few years ago. I believe the shortest one was three hours. Let the tour operator know what time your flight will be leaving and they can help you choose an appropriate tour that fits your time constraints.

    • Steve says:

      Nowadays they have tours as short as 1 hour.

      • JoAnna says:

        Good to know, Steve. Thank you for the update. It’s been a long time since I was there and people frequently ask me about the status of these tours (as you can see from all the comments!).

  19. Trina says:

    Hi ,Does we need a visa or passport to take the transit tour ?? because i only have US Green Card n ID ?? is it possible.i Have 19 hours layover at Incheon Airport. Please help.Thank You So Much Joanna

    • JoAnna says:

      Hi Trina ~

      I do not know the response to your question. You enter South Korea on the transit tour just as you’d be entering the country to stay for a week-long holiday. Consult your local embassy and ask what your green card allows you to do, as I do not know.

  20. I am very interested in going to Seoul and/or the DMZ. Our layover is about 8 hours. I noticed that none of the transit trips have the length of each trip. It would be helpful if someone would post the length of each tour sowhen we approach the Transit Desk we could just tell the person which one we want. Would anyone provide me a list of times? We arrive at 7:45 AM local time, and depart at 3:PM. Are there any tours that would fit into these slots that go to Seoul?

    • JoAnna says:

      I remember there being several tours that were significantly shorter than eight hours, so I imagine you’ll be able to find something that fits your needs. As far as I know, there is no list online with tour details.

  21. BaoNgoc says:

    Sorry ^_^ I thought u from VietNam than I wrote in Vietnamese. I just want to ask you that can u suggested me what tour I should choose because I just have 3 to 3.5 hours layover? Thanks ^_^

    • JoAnna says:

      I don’t have a list of the tours. You’ll need to ask the folks working the transit tours desk in the airport. They know exactly what tour is best for your length of layover.

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