Exploring Jeju was a highlight of our South Korea trip and renting a car was an essential part of our Jeju itinerary. Known as the Hawaii of South Korea, Jeju is a beautiful island and we spent 5 days exploring its sights. We highly recommend renting a car in Jeju to have the freedom to explore the island at your own pace and discover everything it has to offer. We found driving safe and easy and we highly recommend renting a car in Jeju. Here are our tips for renting a car in Jeju to help you on your journey!
Tips for Renting a Car in Jeju
Renting a car in Jeju is the best way to explore the island plus driving is relatively easy. Having your own car gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace and see places that are simply not possible on group tours or public transport.
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. Book your car now with RentalCars.com, where you will find the best rental car prices
1 | Why Rent a Car in Jeju
Jeju is an incredible part of South Korea and is definitely not to be missed! However, the island is relatively spread out and it takes time to get around by public transport. A lot of tourists choose tour groups to see the island but we much prefer the freedom of having a rental car to explore Jeju. It allowed us to travel at our own pace, visit off the beaten track sights and waterfalls and generally make the most of our time on the island.
2 | Choosing a rental car
Make sure to book your rental car well in advance for the best price and to ensure availability: Jeju is an island with a lot of visitors: Seoul Gimpo to Jeju is the busiest air route in the world and 26million passengers use the tiny Jeju International Airport every year!. As such, demand for rental cars on the island is high, especially during busy periods and holidays so make sure to shop around and book your rental car well in advance. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car as they have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – click here to book now!
3 | Booking your rental car
We booked our car through RentalCars.com and rented through AJ Rent a Car who Avis partner with throughout South Korea. Booking your rental car with RentalCars.com is very easy. Simply look through the selection, find a company and price you like and reserve your car – it’s that easy.
Renting a car in Jeju tip: one of the biggest benefits of having a rental car in Jeju is that you can stay in a hotel away from the crowds. This also allows you to save money as generally hotels in urban areas are more expensive as tourists can’t travel too far from them without a car
Where to Stay in Jeju
There are so many options for places to stay on Jeju that choosing is quite difficult! These are the hotels we recommend:
- Howard Johnston Hotel Jeju: We spent a night at the Howard Johnson and found it perfect for a short stay before/after a flight at Jeju International The hotel is centrally located and very close to the airport, with lots of restaurants and facilities within a short walking distance. Parking is also available for free as part of the room rate – check prices now!
- Marriott Jeju Shinhwa World Hotels & Resorts: this incredible resort was one of our favourite hotels in South Korea and was a great base for exploring Jeju. The resort itself is amazing, with stunning rooms, a beautiful pool and an incredible breakfast. Did we mention there is an actual theme park attached to the hotel? – check prices now!
- Kensington Jeju Hotel: located close to Jungmun Beach on the south of the island it’s easy to see why the Kensington Jeju Hotel is one of Jeju’s highest rated hotels. The breakfast and dinner buffets are insane and the views from the rooftop infinity pools are some of the best in Jeju – check prices now!
4 | Picking up your rental car
The majority of the rental car depots at Jeju International are located a short bus ride from the airport. Simply check in with your rental car company at the airport and they’ll direct you to the bus to pick up you car! It took us about 5 minutes to get between the airport and AJ Car Rental when we arrived at Jeju. On returning to the airport, you will need to drop the car at the car rental depot and catch the bus back to the airport so make sure to leave an extra few minutes for the journey.
Renting a car in Jeju tip: ask the rental company to set the in car sat nav to your local language before you leave the pick up area. The in car sat nav was invaluable for us but it’s really difficult to find the right language if you don’t get it done at the time of rental!
5 | International Driving Permit (IDP)
You will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP) to rent a car in South Korea. This is mandatory and you will need to get one from your home country where your licence is issued. You will be asked for it when you pick up the rental car so don’t forget it!
6 | Driving in Jeju
Jeju is very popular with tourists so it’s worth remembering that a lot of other drivers on the roads are also tourists. Lots of tourists are driving for the first time in South Korea so expect to see some basic mistakes, especially around the airport! We saw lots of turning without signalling and some random stopping when driving in Jeju. It’s nothing major but worth remembering and making allowances for.
7 | Sim Card
8 | Car Parking in Jeju
Every hotel we stayed in had dedicated parking available. There is ample parking at the major tourist attractions and the car parks felt quite safe. The usual rule applies though: don’t leave anything in your car that you can’t afford to lose! Most of the car parks at the tourist sights have attendants so your belongings are generally safe but we did visit some quiet sights where there weren’t many other visitors around.
9 | Road signs
Most major road signs are in English and the big landmarks are signposted.
10 | Drive times
Although Jeju is an easy going place to drive we found that drive times were often slightly longer in reality than the phone apps predicted. This was not due to traffic: it seemed to be a result of the many sets of lights that exist on the island.
As it’s an island don’t expect much traffic in Jeju. The car parks at some of the sights can get a little hectic during busy periods due to buses, however, they are generally quite manageable.
South Korea / Jeju Driving Etiquette
11 | Road quality and driving
The roads on Jeju are generally very good quality and the drivers are relaxed. It’s definitely easier to drive in Jeju than main South Korea!
12 | Driving Style
Unlike mainland South Korea, Jeju is a lot more relaxed and the drivers are courteous and easy going. We didn’t experience any issues or any significant traffic in Jeju. Unlike mainland South Korea where driving can be quite intense, there is definitely a more relaxed ‘island-life’ driving attitude on Jeju.
13 | Right-hand side drive
Cars drive on the right-hand side, similar to the US. We grew up with left-hand side driving but find it easy to switch over when travelling.
14 | Manual or Automatic
Most cars in South Korea are automatic which means driving is very easy. Even our basic rental car had lots of additional extras like reversing cameras, electric seat and very good sat nav. Essentially the cars are similar to the very high specification car found in Europe or the USA.
15 | Spare Wheel
South Korean rentals don’t generally come with a spare wheel. This can seem a little strange, especially to European visitors! However, there are lots of garages so getting a puncture fixed shouldn’t be an issue. Make sure to have the emergency contact number of your car rental company in case you need assistance.
16 | Fuel
Fuel is cheap (although it is slightly more expensive than the mainland) and there are lots of garages on the island. The attendants will fill up for you and credit cards were accepted everywhere we filled up! Our South Korean rental cars generally didn’t come with a full tank of fuel and we returned it at the level we rented it at.
17 | Navigation
Although Jeju roads are relatively straightforward, you will need navigation to explore the island properly. Unfortunately, Google Maps turn by turn navigation will not work in South Korea, so you’ll need to use an alternative like Maps.me or Waze. Naver is a very common alternative, however you’ll need to set up and get the app running before you enter South Korea. Otherwise, you’ll need an active South Korea cell phone number in order to get the app running.
Also. most rental cars have really good sat nav built in. Make sure to get the rental car company to change the language to English (or your preferred language) before you drive off with your car!
18 | Speed cameras
Similar to mainland South Korea, speed cameras make frequent appearances on Jeju. We found that they were usually marked on signs before you pass them and most were highlighted on our in car sat nav. The actual cameras are a mix of overhead and roadside, with some being average speed on certain sections of road.
19 | Speed Ramps
One major road thing to be aware of in Jeju are the speed ramps. Jeju has lots of reasonably big speed ramps and not all of them are marked with sign-posts. Make sure to keep a close eye on the road for them!