Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Rent and drive a car in South Korea - practical tips

Let me make one thing clear: without a car you are definitly unable to experience real Korea and go to places off the beaten track. Even trying to visit famous tea plantation in Boseong (southern part of the country) by the public transport is a horrible waste of time and money.


1. Comparing to Japan or Taiwan, driving a car in South Korea is easy.
2. Renting process at the Incheon Intl Airport is just a breeze: fast, efficient and almost no paper work. Renting a car is inexpensive: for a 7 days long rental I paid around 350 EUR.
3. Traffic is right-hand - a good news for American ou European drivers.
4. Gasoline is relatively cheap: 1 liter costs around 1 EUR (May 2016)
5. All road signs are in English.
6. Parking (for a short period of time ) is allowed or tolerated almost in every place in the urban areas.
7. All the main tourist attractions are well signed in Korean and English (brown coloured signs).
8. Contrary to Taiwan or China there are almost no scooters or motorbikes on the streets.


1. There are lots of traffic congestion in Seoul, Busan (and other big cities) and suburbs. If you are planning your trip always add at least 1 hour more for traffic delays.
2. No english menu at gasoline pump machines. The staff will always help you to pump gas.
In the evening and Sundays many gas stations have only self service. As there is no English menu on the pump machine, just insert your card and follow the normal steps or jut ask another driver.
3. At the crossroads the time you wait for a change of lights is long. Be prepared.


1. Get a good GPS system ( I personally use NavSat) although not all the local roads appear on the GPS map. Google maps completely unpractical not allowing you to drive car in South Korea.
2. Speed limit on highways 100 km/h and 80 km on the other roads. There are lots of speed cameras but all are well signed (look at the photos below hot to recognize them). The are hidden in boxes or placed above the road. 
3. All highways are paid. Take ticket and then pay cash at tollgate or exit. The highways are inexpensive: you pay around 12 EUR to go from Seoul to Busan.
4. Gasoline on highyways is 50-100 won por litre more expensive.

The weird things:

1. Fake police sirens in the tunnels.
2. Fake police car lights along the roads.

Speed camera ahead - the yellow sign.

All the signs are in English.

Speed camera in the box.

Tollgate on the highway. With a ticket follow the red lines or "no lines".
The blue lines are for automatic payment.

Speed camera ahead.

Pump station. No English menu.

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