Gwangju is a bustling city in South Korea. Known for its tasty, affordable cuisine, rich history, artistic culture, and beautiful natural wonders, visitors will have plenty of things to do and see. Instead of opting for public transit, travelers can use Skyscanner to rent a car and explore the city and surrounding South Jeolla region at their own pace.
Renting a Car in Gwangju
Travelers who wish to rent a car in Gwangju must have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) or license issued in Korea. International Driving Licenses are not acceptable. The car rental company may require a driver's license from the country of residence in addition to the IDP, so travelers should check with the company ahead of time.
Gwangju International Airport is located just under 7 miles from the city center. Avis and Hertz, along with local companies AJ Rent-a-Car and Lotte Rent-a-Car have locations inside the Airport. Sixt has a location nearby in the West District.
Driving in Gwangju
Driving in Gwangju is surprisingly not as hectic as other South Korean cities. Slower-paced and less crowded than Seoul, the streets in Gwangju are wider, and drivers are generally less aggressive. Traffic can become congested during rush hour, which lasts from 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., and this can significantly increase travel time. Parking is relatively easy except on busy streets.
Things to Do in Gwangju
Gwangju has four main districts— the North (Buk-Gu), South (Nam-Gu), East (Dong-Gu) and West (Seo-Gu). Each area abounds with markets, museums, historical places, and natural wonders. The North District contains popular museums like the Gwangju National Museum, which displays Buddhist artifacts and prehistoric remains from the surrounding area.
The Yangdong Market in the West District, most famous for its food, clothing, and furniture is an excellent place for a magical stroll along the river. Daein Market is a night market in the East District that bustles with activity on Saturday nights. People can buy a variety of goods like ceramics and woodcrafts or enjoy traditional and fusion fare.
There are a few destinations that visitors should not miss during their visit. Paying homage at the May 18 National Cemetery can be a moving, meaningful experience. This National Cemetery and Memorial Park commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for Korean democracy in 1980.
For a quiet retreat, visitors may experience Zen at Daewonsa Temple. Traditional temple architecture and beautiful surroundings make this a tranquil destination. Mudeungsan National Park also contains several temples and areas for hiking and picnicking.
For an unforgettable experience, travelers should take a day trip to the Boseong Tea Fields. Located only 90 minutes from Gwangju, these picturesque, rolling hills are home to South Korea's famous green tea plantations. Visitors can sample authentic green tea and even indulge in salt water baths while sipping green tea at nearby Yulpo Beach.
Gwangju is known to be the more original Korea versus the more popular cities of Seoul and Busan. If visitors are looking for a real taste of authentic Korea with less Western influence, Gwangju is the perfect place.