Have a layover at Incheon International Airport in South Korea or want to have the best day trip from Seoul? Consider visiting Incheon for one day!
Located northwest of South Korea and a neighboring city to Seoul (about 1 hour from the Seoul Station), it’s a destination that is easy to get to.
As the third-largest city in South Korea, there are plenty of places to visit and things to do in Incheon. It’s worth the visit! Plus, it’s a good excuse to escape fast-paced Seoul and/or a place to check out if you have a quick layover in Seoul.
We’ll share with you Incheon’s must-see tourist attractions which include the famous Chinatown, quirky street art, beautiful parks, and fun activities for the families at Wolmi Island.
Many of the attractions are free to visit, within walking distance, and also perfect for all ages. You won’t be disappointed with the offerings in this city.
Now, let’s head out to explore one day in Incheon.
Have a longer stay in South Korea? Check out our other Korea posts and add these places to your itinerary:
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Travel Requirements for South Korea
Visa or K-ETA
If you’re stopping by Incheon for a day or short layover, you’ll need to check if you need a visa or complete a K-ETA (Korea Electronic Travel Authorization). More information on the travel requirements is here.
Currently, 112 countries are able to enter South Korea visa-free, such as the U.S, United Kingdom. Therefore, citizens from these places must submit a K-ETA before arrival. Click here to see if your country is eligible for a K-ETA here.
The cost is 10,000 KRW ($7.60 USD) per person The turnaround is a minimum of 72 hours, so complete this at least 1 week before your flight.
**NEW UPDATE: Korea is giving an exemption for the K-ETA requirements for certain countries, such as U.S., Australia, Singapore, etc. from April 1, 2023 to December 31, 2024. Read the announcement here. Therefore a K-ETA will not be required.
South Korea does not require PCR tests or quarantine.
QR Code Health Declaration
This needs to be done at least 3 days before your arrival in Korea. You’ll input your current health situation, vaccination status, etc. Click here to complete the declaration.
Once you receive a QR code, save it to your phone and show it at Immigration.
How To Get To Incheon From the Incheon International Airport
If you’re coming to Incheon from the Incheon International Airport, you’ll need to pass through immigration.
If you have a short layover, you may consider dropping off your carry-on luggage or bags at the airport storage, such as at Hanjin Express.
Afterward, it’s time to head to Incheon in one day!
There are three ways to consider depending on how much time you have and your budget.
1. Take the Subway
It’s easy to get to this city is to take the subway. To purchase tickets, there are two ways:
Option 1: Buy them at the subway station.
You’ll need to pay a 500 KRW ($.44 USD) deposit for the paper ticket, but you’ll get the deposit back after usage. Look for the deposit change machines near the ticket area.
Option 2: Use your T-money card.
If you plan to stay in South Korea for a while, buy a T-money card.
It’s a prepaid card that you can use for transportation and convenience stores and add funds as needed. This card is the same as the IC card/ICOCA card in Japan and Octopus card in Hong Kong.
The cost for the card is 4,000 KRW / $3.54 USD at Incheon’s airport convenience stores. You can also buy at any convenience store. And, you can add funds at the same time when you get your card.
The best part is that you can use the T-money card for buses, subways, taxis, and at convenience stores. Tap your card when you get on and off the bus and/or the subway stations.
T-money card users also receive a discount when transferring between subway stations in Seoul. You don’t have to worry about paying for each individual ticket.
At the end of your trip, you can get a refund for any leftover amount on the card at convenience stores or refund stations.
Consider getting a Korea Tour Card which is a T-money card in a phone app. You get 5,000 KRW of credit too. Buy the Korea Tour Card here.
From the Incheon International Airport to Incheon city, there are two ways to get to Incheon Station.
- Fastest way: Incheon International Airport to Geomam (Line: Airport Railroad) → Geomam to Juan (Line: Incheon 2) → Juan to Incheon (Line 1). Time needed: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Fewer stops: Incheon International Airport to Seoul (Line: Airport Railroad Express/AREX) → Seoul Station to Incheon (Line 1) – This is the simpler way to get to Incheon Station with fewer stops but takes more time. Time needed: 2 hours 15 minutes
2. Take a taxi or pre-book a car.
To travel more comfortably, consider taking a taxi to Incheon. You can also pre-book a private car pick-up options. These are more costly options but a good option if you have a larger group or have more luggage.
3. Consider taking one of the free or low-cost Incheon Transit Tours if you’re visiting on a layover.
The Incheon Transit Tours are free or low-cost to those who are in transit through South Korea and tours are available in English.
There are tours that go to traditional markets, historical areas, and sights in Seoul such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and Insa-dong, DMZ, and more.
Tours are between 2 to 5 hours, so you can find something that is suitable for your travel schedule.
How To Get To Incheon From Seoul
Depending on where you’re staying in Seoul, use the subway and transfer to Incheon Station from Line 1.
Recommended Tip: Download the free “Subway Korea” app which has live updates on the current timetables of the subway lines, approximate cost, and transfer lines. This is the best app for traveling in Seoul. Pretty much our lifesaver so we didn’t have to use paper maps! In the app, click on your starting and ending subway stations and the app provides various routes and where to transfer.
If you’re coming from Seoul to Incheon, consider booking this one-day Incheon tour. The itinerary and transportation are already prepared for you. You just need to show up and have fun!
Transportation in Incheon
We used a combination of the subway and the local buses.
It’s easy to use with your T-Money card for the subways and buses. If you don’t have the T-Money card, you’ll need to have the exact change when boarding the buses.
Feel free to visit any of the Tourist Visitor Centers for more information about the Incheon buses.
Another option is to buy an Incheon City Tour Pass. You purchase a one-day pass to hop on and off depending on your destination. You’ll get a tour of the various areas.
Although we didn’t have the opportunity to go on this city tour, there are two routes to consider: a sea route and an Incheon retro route. Check out the routes here.
Afterward you arrive at your destination, it’s easy to walk around and navigate around Incheon.
The cost for the pass is the following:
- Combo: Adults 12,000 KRW ($9.15 USD), Children (5 years to high school students) and senior citizens (65+ years) 10,000 KRW ($7.60)
- Sea route: Adults 10,000 KRW ($7.60), Children and senior citizens 8,000 KRW ($6.10)
- Retro route: Adults 5,000 KRW ($3.80), Children and senior citizens 4,000 KRW ($3.00)
Recommended Things to Do in Incheon in One Day
We’re headed to the Chinatown area which has many of the Incheon tourist spots for the day trip.
We love visiting various Chinatowns around the world, such as in Australia (Sydney and Perth), Hong Kong, Japan (Yokohama and Nagasaki), Singapore, Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), and the U.S. (San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, New York City). Each has its own charms and uniqueness.
Incheon’s Chinatown (인천 차이나타운) is one of the main highlights of the city. You can’t miss the iconic gates when you exit the Incheon subway station.
After crossing the gates, we noticed how empty it was in the mornings. Most of the restaurants didn’t open up until 11:30am to past noon for the crowds.
The popular places at the time were the food stalls selling snack items (ice cream, Korean style okonomiyaki, and egg tarts) and the puffy-looking fortune cookies. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any places selling dim sum or baked buns.
Regardless, this is one of the cleanest Chinatowns that we’ve been to.
If you’re hungry, try one of the many places that sell Jajangmyeon, a Korean-Chinese noodle dish that has meat and vegetables, and is coated in a black bean sauce.
To learn more about the history of this dish, check out the Jajangmyeon Museum (짜장면박물관) which is in the Chinatown area. The signage in the museum are written in Korean and Chinese, so if you can’t read either of these languages, you can just see the artifacts.
Otherwise, you can browse around and walk to the other nearby attractions, which we’ll mention below.
Chinatown Address: 12-17 Chinatown-ro 26beon-gil, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
2. Samgukji Murals
In the Chinatown area, colorful murals on Samgukji Street (삼국지 벽화거리) depict the story of the “Three Kingdoms” (from Chinese literature) along the wall.
The murals are 500 feet long, and the story starts from the top of the hill to the bottom. So, you’re reading the story from right to left. It’s helpful if you can read Korean, otherwise, you can admire the artwork like what we did.
During our visit, we saw many schoolchildren taking photos of these murals.
As a heads up, the murals are along the main street. Please watch out for cars and other vehicles when they pass.
Address: 4-25 Bukseong-dong 3(sam)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
3. Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village
Can’t resist fun street art and colorful murals? Neither can we. We recommend that you visit the Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village (송월동 동화마을).
Located in the Chinatown area, this quirky area has sculptures and street art of Disney princesses and other characters, fairy tale characters, and more, on walls and front yards. You’ll leave this place with a smile with the bright colors and ambiance.
We suggest that you visit this place early in the morning as this place is a popular tourist spot in Incheon. The early risers also can get better photo opportunities too.
Address: Jayugongwonseo-ro 45beon-gil, Songwol-dong 3(sam)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
4. Jayu Park
Now we’re headed for some nature at Jayu Park (자유공원 (인천), also known as the “Freedom Park.”) Located on Mount Eungbongsan and behind Chinatown, it’s a beautiful and peaceful park to take a stroll.
If you come during the spring season, the area is bursting with cherry blossoms and other pink flowers everywhere.
The park highlights Korean history and has a statue of General Douglas MacArthur and the U.S-Korea Centennial Monument to commemorate the treaty signed between the two countries.
You can also see fun sculptures around the park and stunning views of Incheon and the harbor area.
To get here from Chinatown, climb up the steep set of stairs where you’ll see the 12 zodiac statues and another gate (see our featured image).
Address: 25 Jayugongwonnam-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
5. Wolmido Island
Let’s head for some theme park fun at Wolmido Island (월미도).
This is the place to hang out with families and friends. The Wolmi Cultural Street is along the waters and along the pier. The area reminds us of Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Santa Monica Pier in California.
Walk around and feel the breeze from the ocean. Take a photo with the Incheon sign or other interesting sculptures, and play carnival games to win prizes. You can also see the Incheon Bridge illuminates in the evenings.
The street has plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from and waitresses waving at us to eat inside. If you fancy snack items (more amusement park type of food), food kiosks are everywhere selling fried skewered items – potato tornado rings, fried octopus, corn dogs, and more.
Want extra thrill rides? Consider the amusement park area with rides. We saw one ride spin in a circle at high speeds. Young kids screamed at the top of their lungs and some of them looked like they would throw up. Don’t worry. There are also low-speed and kid-friendly rides as well.
To get to Wolmido Island, head back to the Incheon subway station area and take the local Incheon bus to go to Wolmido Island. You’ll need to check the bus signs to confirm which bus goes to Wolmido Island. You can either go on bus 2, 23, or 45. The ride takes about 10 minutes and the Wolmido Island is the last stop of the bus ride.
Address: 81 Wolmimunhwa-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
6. Wolmi Traditional Park
Next to Wolmido Island is the Wolmi Traditional Park, a former military base of the Korean War.
The park is another beauty (and even better than Jayu Park). You’ll huff and puff through the uphill paved roads to walk through the park.
If you pass by the “Love bench” (the slanted inward bench has a heart painted on it), feel free to snuggle with your loved one. Also, write a note on the green ribbon and attach it to the railing.
Other highlights of the park include the Observatory Deck, where you get incredible views of the surrounding areas, including Wolmido Island. Don’t forget to stop by the Wolmi Garden and see traditional Korean architecture.
Address: 377-1, Wolmi-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
Optional Places to Visit in Incheon In Day Trip
On our day trip to Incheon, we couldn’t see everything. Here are some places that we’ll visit on a return trip to Seoul and Incheon.
1. Sinpo International Market
Sinpo International Market (신포국제시장) is one of the top destinations to visit in Incheon due to the shopping opportunities and the local street foods.
Many visitors come here to try the famous dakgangjeong, which is crispy fried chicken covered in a sweet and spicy sauce.
This market is located about a 20-minute walk from Chinatown, or you can take the subway to get here.
Address: 6-6 신포동 Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
2. Sorae Pogu Fish Market
Looking for fresh seafood? Visit Sorae Pogu Fish Market (소래포구 전통 어시장) located in the Namdong area of Incheon.
This is a place where locals purchase their fresh seafood. We’ve been to the Noryangin Fish Market in Seoul and assume that the experience is similar. Plus, you can purchase lots of pickled fish here.
Address: 2-6 Pogu-ro, 논현1동 Namdong-gu, Incheon, South Korea
3. Bupyeong Underground Shopping Center
Bupyeong Underground Shopping Center is located in the Bupyeong area, so it’s farther out from Chinatown.
This place is a shopping heaven with over 1400+ stores. As you know, women’s fashion is taken seriously in South Korea. You can easily spend a few hours browsing through endless stores of clothes, cosmetics, and more.
Throughout South Korea, underground shopping centers are common to connect subway stations. The underground connection is helpful if the weather isn’t great outside.
Address: 69 Bupyeong-daero, 부평1동 Bupyeong-gu, Incheon, South Korea
4. Yeongjongdo Seaside Rail Bike
On Yeongjongdo Island in Incheon, there is a popular rail bike attraction (영종씨사이드 레일바이크) in Seaside Park.
It’s a 4-seater rail car that takes you 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) along the waters and has views of Womido Island and more. If you’ve been to Gapyeong, it’s a similar experience at Gapyeong Rail Bike.
More information is here. Site is in Korean.
Address: 75, Gueup-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon
Whew! The day trip in Incheon is finally done! We’re thankful for the opportunity to spend one day in Incheon.
Although it was a quick journey to see the Incheon tourist attractions, we had a good snapshot of the city.
With lots of things to do in Incheon, you can easily spend 2-3 days here depending on your interest. Don’t skip out on visiting this city during your next visit to South Korea.
Have you been to Incheon? What would you like to do in this city? Let us know in the comments!
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Pin #2 photo credit: Top Photo – Gabriela Bernal via Scopio Photos