Home to more than 25 million people, Seoul is the world's second-largest metropolitan area. The South Korean city's bustling whirlwind of activity can create an overwhelming atmosphere for those who aren't prepared for it. Understanding the flow of traffic and general layout of the city will help visitors simplify their travel in the capital of South Korea so that they can enjoy a comfortable journey through the city.
Renting a Car in Seoul
To rent a vehicle in Seoul, travelers must have a driving license from their home country and an International Driving Permit. Visitors can't get this permit in Seoul, so it's important to plan ahead accordingly. The best place to find a car rental is at the Incheon International Airport. This popular airport is the most likely point of arrival for most tourists. Europcar, Sixt, and Avis all operate within the airport.
Popular local car rental companies AJ Rent-a-Car and Lotte Rent-a-Car have locations liberally scattered throughout the city, including rental desks in Seoul Station. Those heading to Seoul by train from locations such as Busan, Daegu, or Suwon will arrive here. The station is also accessible from subway lines 1 and 4.
Driving in Seoul
Seoul's massive population lends to many traffic jams, reckless roadway maneuvers, and slow-moving travel. Those who opt for a car rental in the city should plan ample time for any trip. Rush hour slows things down considerably from 8 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Never drive in the blue lane on the roads, as this is reserved for buses. Adhere to speed limits carefully. Seoul has hidden cameras to levy fines on drivers going too fast.
Parking is notoriously difficult to secure in the city. Research nearby parking garages as part of the trip planning for any destination here. Street parking is typically reserved for residents, so park with care.
What To Do in Seoul
Seoul is divided into two main sections with the Han River running between. Gangbuk is the older of the two and houses most of the area's popular attractions. The affluent Gangnam neighborhood offers more refined highlights like fine shopping and nightlife.
Gyeongbokgung, or the Northern Palace, is a must-see in Seoul. Located in the heart of the city, the palace features several buildings including an ancient shrine and royal living quarters. Free guided tours are available. Allow at least two hours to explore the complex thoroughly.
Visitors who want to dive deeper into the country's history should head to the National Museum of Korea. Guided hour-long tours offer an overview of the highlights, but visitors could easily spend a day browsing the fascinating finds. Permanent exhibitions include Prehistory and Ancient History, Medieval and Early Modern History, Asian Arts, and more.
For a taste of modern Seoul, head to Seoul Olympic Park in Gangnam. Visitors will find restaurants, cafes, and stores for hours of shopping and dining. The picturesque park also houses a musical fountain, sculpture garden, and walking paths.
Seoul is a fascinating city that bustles with life at all hours of the day and night. From Buddhist temples to packed clubs, there's something to satisfy every visitor.