I was inspired by Polkadotyyann’s trip to Jeju Island and decided to plan something similar. Her trip to Jeju covered the whole island, making it an awesome road trip all the way around Jeju. Plus, we have to be 25 years old to rent a car (with out having to pay ridiculously high fees) so this would be a perfect way to celebrate being 25!
Before Leaving Home
First things first, we had to make sure we could even drive in Jeju. After a little bit of research, I found that all we needed to do was to got a local AAA office to get an International Drivers Permit. It was $15 plus the price of a passport pictures and a bit of a wait. They will simply hand write a permit for you right there.
Arriving in Jeju and Renting a Car
After arriving we followed signs to the car rental and and found a row of car rental booths. There were three companies right there: Avis, Hertz, and Jeju Car Rental (there seemed to be many other companies, but they were the only ones we saw at the airport). We simply chose the first one, Avis. When it was our turn, the lady asked us if we had reservations. I did not even think to make reservations, I just assumed that there would be plenty of cars available. I guess I was wrong cause Avis was sold out. So we looked at the next booth, Hertz. They had a sign up that they were already sold old. By then I was a little scared; what if we can’t rent a car?! I didn’t make plans for that.
We made our way to the next and last booth there, Jeju Car Rental. I remembered that this was the company Polkadotyyann used and she did not make reservations. (Correction: Polkadotyyan did actually make reservations.) And Yay! They have cars for us! She checked my International Drives Permit, asked me if I needed an English GPS (yes), how many people were in my group (3), and showed me a car option. I noticed it was not the smallest 3 passenger car they had available but by then I was just glad she was offering a car. She then told us to go outside to take a shuttle bus to their main office where we will pay and get our car.
We waited outside for about five minutes before our shuttle bus arrived. After getting on, the driver asked everyone for their names. I told him my name and he was immediately confused. I really wanted to tell him; of course I’m not on your list, I just booked my car five minutes ago. But because I don’t speak Korean and he didn’t seem to speak English, I let him figure that out. In no time, we were off to the car rental office.
At the rental office, I filled out a rental form, gave them my International Drivers Permit (she didn’t even bother to check my real drivers license) and passport, and gave them my credit card to pay for the rental. Then we waited for our car. We knew we were going to get some sort of cube like car (and we were seriously hoping for a pretty mint green one, since we saw plenty of those on our way to car rental office, as you see in my picture we did not get that one).
Our three day car rental cost $148 plus 60,000 KRW to fill up our gas tank before returning the car.
Driving in Jeju
I’m proud to a say that I have about 10 years of driving experience, but this was my first time driving in a foreign country. I had browsed many blogs and did my research before coming to Jeju but actually experiencing it was completely different.
Being from America, we’re used to of reading our speed-o-meter in miles, of course the rest of world uses km. I simply tried to ignore the differences and followed the speed limit. It helped, but when I looked at my speed-o-meter when I got home I realized that I was actually driving pretty slow.
We made sure to get a English GPS system and that was interesting. You can search for places several ways: 1) by name 2) by address 3) by phone number. We tried all 3 options throughout our trip. One little tricky thing about searching by name was that we had to enter in the exact name they have listed in the system. For example, our first stop was Manjang-gul Cave. We tried entering Manjang Cave and nothing came up.
There are speed cameras throughout the island, and our handy dandy GPS made sure to warn us EVERY TIME we approach it, and as we drove past it. It would even display my speed on the GPS unit. It was fun the first few times we drove by it, but after a while it got a little annoying (I later found out that they have this in Seoul as well, of course I did not drive in Seoul).
Overall, driving in Jeju was really fun! We were not limited to any itinerary, and simply hopped into our car whenever we wanted. There really was no traffic on the island, the only thing was that the driving time between parts of the island could take a while because of the speed limit and speed cameras. From our hotel near Sunrise Peak to Seugwipo (the town in the southern part of Jeju) took us more than an hour. The Island really isn’t that big though.