Renting a Car to Drive in Jeju Island and Navigating Jeju Island with Onboard Korean GPS: What to Take Note of for a Safe, Fun and Affordable Self-Drive Jeju Trip28 June, 2014
Unlike Seoul with its extensive subway/metro/MRT system to many attractions around the city, Jeju island’s public transportation system is largely served by buses and not all attractions on the island are linked by public transport. It is possible to explore Jeju island by public transport i.e. buses but it will take some time (time spent waiting for buses and bus journey time – although the latter is more constrained by the speed of the bus rather than traffic conditions since Jeju traffic is generally quite light). You should be prepared to walk or/and take some taxis along the way too as buses do not reach all attractions on Jeju island. This is the cheapest way to explore Jeju island (e.g. the intercity bus from northern side of Jeju (Jeju City Bus Terminal) to southern side of Jeju (Seogwipo Bus Terminal) cost 3,000 won and the journey will take about 1 – 1.5 hour). Much about travelling around Jeju by public transport in the next blog post.
There are other options available to explore Jeju island – go on a organised Jeju tour or engage a taxi driver for a private tour of the island or rent a car to drive around the island.
Deciding Between Taking Up a Organised Jeju Tour or Engaging Jeju Taxi Driver for Private Tour or Renting a Car to Explore Jeju by Ourselves
We decided on renting a car to drive around Jeju island as this is the first time we are visiting Jeju for the first time and we want to get as many Jeju attractions as possible without the constraints of tour timings/schedule and have the freedom to end as late as we want to.
Factoring in promotions and discounts (e.g. 60% birthday discounts) when booking our rental car with KT Kumho (I think it is co-branded with Hertz – the reputable car rental company around the world) and the fact that we are travelling in a group of 4, renting a car does not seem too expensive after all – and comparable with cost of engaging a taxi driver. More on how to book your rental car at KT Kumho with a huge discount at the next blog post. For now, let me share on some tips of what to take note of when driving around Jeju.
Getting a International Driving Permit from AAS Singapore (Automobile Association of Singapore)
First thing first, before even booking your rental car online at KT Kumho website, get your International Driving Permit from AAS first. While we did not encounter any traffic police checks on our license or International Driving Permit during our trip in Jeju, you will need to input your International Driving Permit number when renting a car online and the first thing they want to see when you arrive at the KT Kumho counter at the airport is your International Driving Permit.
The Koreans are very strict on this – even when you want to rent an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) on Udo Island (a small island 15 minutes by ferry from Jeju – a must go place for Jeju tourists), you will need to produce your International Driving Permit; some shops at Udo Island even require you to show your International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent electric bicycles – basically any motorised vehicle! Manually operated bicycles are ok to rent without an IDP 🙂
To apply for an IDP in Singapore, you must, of course, hold a valid Singapore driving licence. Singaporean applicants must present BOTH a valid driving license, NRIC and two passport size photograph. Do note that AAS is the only authorised organisation to issue IDPs in Singapore. Cost of an International Driving Permit: S$20
You can apply online but do note that the minimum processing time is 5 working days from date of application (factor in additional 3-5 working days for delivery of your IDP): http://www.aas.com.sg/index.php?show=content&showview=8&val=460
But if you are in a rush to get your IDP (e.g. you are flying off to Korea in less than 1.5 weeks), go down to one of the following AAS counters. More info here: http://www.aas.com.sg/index.php?show=content&showview=8&val=458
AA @ GB Point – 535 Kallang Bahru #01-08 GB Point Singapore 339351 (Tel: 6333 8811)
Operating hours: Monday to Friday – 8.30 am to 5.30pm, last submission at 5.15pm, Saturday – 8.30am to 1pm, last submission at 12.45pm; Closed on Sunday and Public Holiday
AA @ 51AMK – 51 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 #02-02 51@AMK (Next to AMK Hub, above Mcdonald and S11 coffeeshop) Singapore 569922
Operating hours: Opens daily from 10am to 10pm, last submission at 9.15pm
You will be issued with your International Driving Permit on the spot! But be prepared for queuing time.
Book your Jeju Rental Car Online Before You Fly (Earlier if Possible)
There are about 3-4 car rental companies at the airport – KT Kumho/Hertz being one of them – just follow the signages upon clearing customs (no passport clearance required for domestic flights e.g. from Seoul Gimpo) to their counters. I do not encourage you to book your rental car upon arrival at Jeju airport – book it online at least a week before you fly to Jeju (and once you have your IDP). When we arrived at the KT Kumho/Hertz car rental counter at Jeju airport, we were informed that all vehicles have been booked (not a problem for us since we already booked online). I think during peak tourist season, most vehicles at all these companies will likely be unavailable for on-the-spot booking too – so I repeat: book your Jeju rental car online as early as possible before you fly to Jeju.
We did a random market price test with one of the other Jeju rental car companies and find that KT Kumho rental car prices are very competitive (i.e. cheaper) especially after factoring in the 60% birthday discount promotion. When you try to book over the counter for your rental car, you are given a large sheet with a wide selection of cars and their corresponding rental fees.
Cater Time For Rental Car Pick-up at an Off-site Location (Not at Jeju Airport Carpark!)
You will not be picking up your rental car at the airport. All the rental car companies are located a few minutes drive away from the airport – there are shuttle buses that can pick you up from the airport and send you to where your rental car is located. This is a similar arrangement for your trip back to the airport – return your car where you pick it up and take the shuttle bus back to the airport. The shuttle bus (or rather van) is quite spacious and there are lots of space to put your luggage. There is no fixed timing for the shuttle buses – they typically wait a reasonable amount of time (about 10 – 15 minutes) for any customers who need this ride before departing and there is always a next shuttle bus around.
This is the KT Kumho rental car office where the shuttle bus will drop you off – registration is straightforward and takes about 10 minutes (if there is no queue); take your queue number, wait for it to be called, sign a few papers and you are good to go!
Select the Right Rental Car Size – take into account Lugagge Sizes
This is what we rented – a mid-size SUV Hyundai Veracruz for 431,700 Korean won (inclusive of 89,300 Korean won of Loss Damage Waiver & after 60% discount) – 4 full days of car rental ==> about 108,000 KRW (or US$108) per day.
This is why we needed a SUV – to accommodate our big luggages which will likely not fit within a normal sedan car. Thus, if you are travelling in a group of 4 who are bringing a big luggage (26″ to 29″) of their own – you might want to rent a SUV.
Budget Price of Petrol/Diesel for Your Rental Car in Jeju
First – find out what type of fuel does your car use. Then budget for it – you will need to return the car to the KT Kumho office with a full tank (failing to do so could mean additional charges to your bill when you return the car). We paid 50,000 KRW (about USD 50) to top-up the tank (diesel) – quite reasonable considering that we have been driving around Jeju island extensively (from early morning 7am to almost 8-9pm daily and four to-and-fro journeys from Jeju City to Seogwipo City) for 4 days. So our total Jeju car rental cost add up to USD 480 = about USD 30 per day per person for this Jeju trip. Not too bad 🙂 considering we are not constrained by any tour schedule or booked driver timings and we can drive around to do the most mundane things e.g. shopping at supermarket, eating breakfast at Paris Baguette in Seogwipo City.
Using Onboard Korean-language GPS Navigation System to Explore Jeju
Upon collecting the car keys, you will be shown to your car where a KT Kumho staff will go through a visual inspection of the car to check for defects. He will provide you with a quick demonstration of how to use the onboard Korean GPS navigation system – it is not very common for Jeju rental cars to be equipped with English GPS navigation system (sometimes they come at an additional cost). This Korean GPS is included with the rental and is surprisingly very very easy to use – you do not need to understand a word of Korean (although you might pick up a few while driving around Jeju with the GPS commands being repeated every other minute) or know how to type Hanggul (the Korean alphabet).
Don’t bother with Google Maps on your smartphone or iPad – they won’t work here on Jeju island because you will have to type the exact name or address in Korean for the directions to make sense on Google Maps.
To use the onboard Korean GPS navigation system, you can input the last 7 digits of the phone number of the destination you want to go and it will draw up a route to guide you towards your destination. I have compiled below a list of phone numbers to key attractions on Jeju island – I suggest that you note down 2 very important phone numbers on a notepad and put it permanently in the car (at least for the duration of your trip) – your hotel phone number + KT Kumho rental car office. You need the latter to return your vehicle – it is found on the invoice/receipt issued to you – check with the KT Kumho staff to confirm.
Besides phone numbers, you can also type in the name of the attraction in English – I have to admit I only tried this function with places that have obvious English names such as Tous Les Jours or Paris Baguette (for our daily breakfast!) and it worked – it will propose a list of Paris Baguette with approximate distance so you can pick one and drive towards it.
The interface is very straightforward – see picture below – on the top right, it informs the driver that he is still 60.3 km from the destination and he will reach the destination at 19:18 (or 7.18pm). The current time is indicated on bottom right (5.14pm) so that means the journey will take 2 hours. Do note that the GPS is quite conservative in its estimate and you will usually reach your destination in less time than what’s estimated (e.g. for such a long distance, you can reach in about 1 hour 15 minutes as opposed to the 2 hours you see estimated on the GPS interface) even if you keep within the speed limit.
On the top left, the yellow arrow means the direction the driver has to drive now i.e. drive straight for 28.8km and the green arrow means that after driving straight for 28.8km, the driver will next encounter a roundabout and he will have to drive straight for the next 25.9km after this.
Watch Out for Speed Cameras! Follow Instructions of GPS with regards to Vehicle Speed near Speed Cameras
The speed is shown on the bottom left. There are a lot of speed cameras along Jeju roads – the speed limit is typically kept at 70 – 80 km/hour. The GPS will prompt the driver with loud warnings only if he is speeding towards a speed camera – at all other times, it does not bother the driver at all regardless of the speed driven.
Check out the video below for a quick overview of how just by using phone numbers of attractions/restaurants in Jeju, you can find your way around Jeju Island and also the helpful warnings that the onboard GPS with your KT Kumho/Hertz rental car gives you to alert you of speed cameras ahead:
When driving in Jeju, you can key in the phone numbers of the attractions you planned to check out and the onboard GPS (in Korean) will guide you there. There is no need to meddle with Hangul alphabets to enter the address in Korean. I have compiled a few phone numbers that could help you in getting around Jeju. Do note that these are not complete phone numbers – just the last 7 digits which is sufficient to instruct the GPS to guide you there but might not be complete if you intend to call these places (if i am not wrong, you can just add a 064 in front to make the call).
I have also included the inaccurate phone numbers for reference in case you found those phone numbers online and was planning to use them. We did not go to all the attractions so the phone numbers of those attractions are not verified – Use at your own risk. Click here for more South Korea (Seoul/Jeju) trip planning tips to save time and money.
GPS Coordinates to Jeju Attractions in Seogwipo City
Cheonjiyeon Waterfall (often misspelled as Cheongjiyeon Waterfall – this is the waterfall near Seogwipo City): 7331528
Jeongbang Waterfall: 7331530
Cheonjeyeon Waterfall (often misspelled as Cheongjeyeon Waterfall – this is the waterfall at Jungmun resort): 7381529
Feliz Telcon Hotel (we stayed at this hotel): 7492008
Seogwipo Five Day Market: 7630965
Seogwipo Olleh Daily Market: 7621949
Alive Museum (a version of Trick Art Museum at Jungmun Resort): 8050888
Black Pork BBQ place (popular among locals): 7628588
Recommended Ginseng Chicken place near Feliz Telcon Hotel: 7623319
GPS Coordinates to Jeju Attractions in Jeju City
Yongduam Rock (Dragon Head Rock): 7283918
Black Pork BBQ Street (this leads you to one of the restaurants but you can check out others): 7217869
Raw Fish Street (this leads you to one of the restaurants but you can check out others): 7583945
Pork Ramen Street (also known as noodle street – i recommend the restaurant that this number goes to): 7277056
Dongmun Market: 7523001
Jeju NANTA theatre: 7238878
GPS Coordinates to Other Jeju Attractions
Hello Kitty Museum: 7926114
Mysterious Road: 7103314 (This number is NOT accurate – to get to the road – key in the number for Loveland: 7126988 and then when you are nearing Loveland, follow road signages saying Mysterious Road and follow big tour buses and vans – they will likely be going there)
Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak): 7830959 or 7107923
Recommended Lunch Place near Seongsan Ilchubong (Black Pork Tofu Kimchi Hotpot): 7841794
Manjanggul Lava Cave: 7834818
Gimnyeong (also spelt as Kimnyeong) Maze Park: 7829266
Ferry Terminal to Udo Island: 7825671 (This number is NOT accurate – instead, use this number 7843136 which leads to a local produce shop just beside the ferry ticket office)
Seopjikoji (All-In filming location): 7604251 (This number will NOT bring you to Seopjikoji and will bring you to the middle of nowhere so just drive in this direction and then follow the roadsigns pointing towards Seopjikoji; this number 7820080 might get you there – unverified)
We didn’t go to these attractions but if you are interested, here are the phone numbers (we have not verified their phone numbers – use at your own risk):
Yeomiji Botanic Garden: 7351100
Jusangjeolri (Jungmun and Daepo Coast – Columnar Jointed Lava or called Jungmun Cliffs): 7381521
Mount Sanbang: 7942940
Oedolgae Rock: 7328027
Chocolate Land: 7381197 (this is located at Jungmun Resort)
Chocolate Museum: 7923121
Teddy Bear Museum: 7387600 (this is located at Jungmun Resort)
Teddy Bear Safari: 7994820 (this is NOT the Jungmun Resort Teddy Bear Museum – it is nearer to Jeju City)
Sangumburi Crater: 7839900
Hallim Park: 7960001
Jeju Folk Village: 7874501
Jeju Glass Castle: 7727777