South Korea


Asia > South Korea > Seoul

See: Why hire a car in Seoul ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

In terms of both population and economic importance, high-tech Seoul is one of the largest cities in Asia, and it also has an incredibly well developed an extremely efficient underground system which stretches well out into all of the distant suburbs. In some popular tourist cities, underground systems are really only useful for commuters, whereas in Seoul, the underground is also useful for heading both around and out of the city, and into several different scenic areas and national parks which can be reached at the end of the line.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Seoul car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Seoul is in car rental price band: 8/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Seoul? 

No. Car rental is very expensive by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Seoul between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 1/10

Non car score:8/10

Balance: 2

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Why? Visiting Seoul using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Seoul ?

There are very few reasons for a tourist to want or need to rent a car in Seoul. We don’t recommend it!

  • As with any destination, a hire car might give you flexibility outside the city, but local buses are still widely available, even to more remote places.
  • Incheon Airport is situated comfortably outside the city of Seoul, so it’s easy enough to join the motorway network and head south from here in a rental car.
  • Seoul, and in particular, Incheon Airport, is the natural place to start a South Korean road trip – although there are easier ways of getting around!
  • For shorter journeys jou still need to make by road, it may be better to take taxis if you don’t want to use public transport.

Why not? Visiting Seoul without a car

Why don't you need a car in Seoul ?

  • Seoul is also a city that has undergone extensive mechanisation and expansion, buoyed on by conglomerate headquarters, and a South Korean government policy that relies heavily on Washington for support. This has meant that Seoul has effectively become a city of many centres, and it’s also worth looking at the technopolis of Incheon alongside the better known Seoul city centre. Incheon is also the location the Seoul’s main international airport, and fast rail services are provided throughout the region.
  • Parking in South Korea can generally be expensive and hard to find.
  • Seoul is also a city that has decided to do some amazing rejuvenation work by removing a motorways and creating a linear park in Cheonggyecheon, a place that is even more impressive at night.
  • There are various different places to visit in association with the demilitarised zone, and this can all be easily done by bus, as the 38th parallel sits just to the north of Seoul.
  • If your plan is to head south from Seoul, then this can easily be done by taking the KTX high-speed rail service, which uses the same design of TGV trains as are used by the French SNCF. There are a number of places further south on the Korean peninsula where a hire car might be useful, but there really isn’t any particular reason to pick one up in Seoul itself.
  • It’s also worth adding a brief note on driving standards in South Korea – out of all the countries that publish road safety statistics in terms of the danger on a per mile travelled basis, South Korea has one of the worst records. However, this is all relative – there are only around 30 countries that publish road safety data in full detail, and driving standards in South Korea are still substantially better than they are in almost all of Asia, other than Japan. Road signs on major roads should also be in (Roman script) English as well as Korean.

Ratings: How does Seoul compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Seoul? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Seoul, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Seoul? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Seoul (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Seoul? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Seoul airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Seoul car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 2

2019 - 2

2021 - 2

Average score - 2



Do you need a car in Seoul? Verdict – you really don’t need a car in Seoul. It’s likely to be far more trouble than its worth.


Do you or don't you need a car in Seoul ?

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