Self Driving in Seoul

My family and I have been to South Korea a few times and everytime we go, we would visit Jeju Island and do self driving there as hubby enjoys the scenic drive. Traffic was good and there were no parking problems over there. Land was in abundance.

This trip, we decided to skip Jeju and just stay in Seoul. Hubby misses the self driving experience so we decided to try self driving for 2 days of the trip just to experience it. We researched a lot and most people advised against self driving in Seoul as the traffic was bad and the parking was horrible. Only 1 or 2 we found, said they tried that in Seoul and it’s really ok if you are not driving around the city centre or the prime districts.

Our ride - Kia MPV 8-seater
Our ride – Kia MPV 8-seater

Our hotel was located at WalkerHill at Gwanjin area and we thought the area looked ‘safe’ enough to drive so we booked our car from Avis for 2 days and just drove.

For trying out, we just did short journeys and out of prime areas. The truth, it really was not as easy as driving in Jeju.

Route from Sheraton Grand Hotel to Lotte World
Route from Sheraton Grand Hotel to Lotte World

1. There were lots of traffic in Seoul.

On the first day, we drove to Lotte World, at Jamsil area, just across the river opposite our hotel location. It was a little confusing and we took a few wrong turns as the GPS system was not that responsive. We managed to reach early and got a good lot at the carpark. It was a different story by the time we tried to leave. The carpark was so overparked, that all the lots were double parked. We had a car right in front of ours and we had to push it away to get out. It must be a common sight as the car did not engage the handbrake/footbrake to allow us to push away to get out.

Back in Singapore, the control was much better. If the carpark is full, the cars simply wait outside the mall until there were empty lots. Suddenly we were grateful for this feature.

2. There were so many roads, highways, bridges, slip roads that they were complicated

I remember on 1 particular route, we were on the way to 1 of the many bridges across the Han River when the GPS instructed us to do a sharp right turn. At first we didnt understand. Then we did, after missing that turn. It was supposed to be like a u-turn so you can get to the road that will bring you to the bridge. We drove a long way before we found our way back to that bridge.

3. The drivers were impatient

We got horned a few times when we were trying to turn right but the traffic lights were red. We learned later on that for left hand drive, you can turn right even when the light is red.  Sorry, drivers behind us..

1 of the times we drove in Jeju, our car got hit by a local driver while we were waiting at the car park for a lot. We had a hard time negotiating with the car rental that it was not our fault due to language barrier. So this time we brought along our handy in-car camera in case of any dispute. Cool eh?

Our car camera that we brought along and the GPS from Avis
Our car camera that we brought along and the GPS from Avis

Luckily the car had 2 power points to plug in both the camera and the GPS.

The next day, we drove to the Children’s Grand Park to take a walk at the park and visit the children’s museum.

Route 2 - Sheraton Hotel to Children's Grand Park
Route 2 – Sheraton Hotel to Children’s Grand Park

We stayed there for some time and had dinner just opposite the park. Here’s the parking charges for nearly 6 hours. Not too expensive. Phew.

Parking charges Grand Children's Park
Parking charges Grand Children’s Park

Next time we might still consider driving in Seoul but have to do more planning.


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