Be a Wanderer: Jeju Island Part 5 – Driving in Jeju

WARNING WORDY POST AHEAD 😅

We had a couple of options for our transportation (commuting via bus,hiring a driver,renting a car) during our trip. In the end we chose to rent a car and drive around Jeju by ourselves because (1) it’ll save a lot of time going from one place to another, (2) we control our own time, no need to wait for buses, drivers,etc. we can go home anytime or choose to add a stop during our trip (3) car rental + gas expenses isn’t that expensive.

Renting a Car

To prepare for our self driving trip first I looked for a place to rent a car. One of the most recommended ones I found were AJ Rent-A-Car and Lotte Rent-A-Car. I actually wanted to compare both but unfortunately I never got past signing up for a membership with AJ Rent-A-Car which seems to be required to rent and check the prices. I know there are third party sites available (like rentalcars.com, klook.com) to do that but I found that prices are better on the actual site and you might get additional discount if you’re a member, this is the case for Lotte Rent-A-Car. For Lotte Rent-A-Car I could immediately see the prices for the rental period I entered. They were a bit high but once members can get up to 60% discount. (I actually got 80% discount on my rental) So if you’re looking for a car rental place I highly recommend Lotte Rent-A-Car plus they have English GPS available. Overall the pick-up and drop-off went well as well.

When renting a car there’s a couple of things to consider. First is the type of car. I highly recommend getting either a compact or sedan. If your luggage can fit a compact then choose that. Jeju Island is a province so some places you might want to go to might not have very big or wide roads thus it’ll be easier with a smaller car. Plus street parking which you might need to do if there’s no official parking space available is easier with a small car.

Next thing to consider is the type of gas of the car you’re renting. As far as I know there are 3 types available D – diesel, LPG, G – gasoline. The cheapest one is LPG while the priciest one is G. I was actually supposed to rent LPG since I read it was the cheapest one but I made a mistake while picking a car and chose G.

Last thing to consider is insurance. Personally we chose to forgo the insurance to save on money and because of that as a driver I was extra careful and didn’t have that total peace of mind while driving. It has some pros and cons. Because even if we had an insurance getting into an accident is never a good thing so I personally prefer to be super duper careful. But then again even if you’re being super careful if you’re unlucky or the drivers you’re driving with isn’t as good or responsible of a driver you still might get into an accident. Overall the main pro is the money we saved from not getting the insurance. If you don’t plan on getting one make sure to take pictures of the car during pick up. Document any scratches or damage that may already be on the car during pick up to avoid getting blamed for it during drop-off.

You can rent a car as early as 3 months before your trip. I recommend renting right away so that you won’t run out of cars in case it’s a high season.

Before being allowed to drive in Jeju (and in other countries in general) you’ll need to have an International Driving Permit. I got mine from AAP (Automobile Association Philippines) at their main branch in Gilmore. I just filled out some forms and payed Php 3,920 and in less than an hour I got my IDP which is valid for a year.

Planning Your Drive

After we’ve decided on the places we want to go. I fixed our travel schedule using KakaoMaps which is the best navigation app to use when you’re in Korea. The travel time estimates are very accurate and I could easily search the routes for not so well known places in Korea such as new restaurant/cafes which might not be available is other apps. KakaoMaps also has a navigation feature in case you can’t find the place you want to go to in the GPS included in the car (this happened to us a few times because the restaurants/cafe’s we wanted to go to aren’t in the GPS yet, or the place we want to go to doesn’t have a phone number)

Whether you’ll be driving or planning to commute KakaoMaps will be really helpful. The transportation system is properly integrate in the app not just in Seoul but also outside so information such as arrival times of the bus, bus numbers are readily available in the app when you’re trying to navigate.

Experience

Finally the main purpose of this post which is talking about the actual experience of driving in Jeju. It was my first time driving outside the Philippines. It was both nerve-wracking and exciting to think about. I think one of the main things that comforted my anxiety is the fact that I could drive here in the Philippines and arrive at my destinations unscathed.

Driving in Jeju can be relaxing especially outside the main city where there aren’t a lot of cars around. Plus depending on your route and the season you might be in for a scenic drive. But even in the city it’s not as disorderly and the traffic isn’t as bad here in Manila. There are speed cameras all over so you have to make sure you follow the speed limits. But other than that there isn’t much to worry about. The GPS will usually alert you about the speed cameras. KakaoMaps which I also used while driving will also alert you about that.

In terms of parking the popular tourist places we went to tend to have designated parking spaces. Places that might not have parking spots are restaurants and cafes in that case you might need to do some street parking.

Since I was the only one driving throughout the trip it can be exhausting. I was also responsible for the itinerary and schedule so it’s not like driving was the only thing I had to think about. I found myself a bit tired especially during the afternoons so often times we’ll be back at the hotel by early evening. If you’re the only one driving it can be tiring. If you can have someone in your group to split the driving duties with that would be most ideal but if not make sure to get ample rest so you’re in good condition to drive.

Honestly overall it was a positive experience nothing bad happened. We didn’t get lost or got in an accident. I think the worst thing I did was renting the wrong type of gas for the car but other than that I have no regrets about driving in Jeju. The IDP can be a bit expensive but I’m planning to use it for other trips this year so that the fee won’t go to waste since the permit is only valid for a year.