South Korea Travel Advice & Safety

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Driving permit

To drive, you’ll need either:

  • a valid local licence, or
  • an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) and a valid Australian driver’s licence

Get your IDP before your leave Australia.

You need a Korean driver’s licence to drive if you intend to stay in South Korea for 90 days or more.

You will need a certified copy of your Australian licence to apply for a Korean driver’s licence. 

When issuing you with a Korean driver’s licence, the local authorities will normally keep your Australian driver’s licence. They will return your Australian licence to you in exchange for your Korean driver’s licence before you depart Korea.  

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Road travel

South Korea has a high rate of traffic deaths, especially for pedestrians.

While the South Korean police have been more strictly reinforcing traffic rules, in recent years, speeding, running red lights, and other risky behaviour are still common, especially by buses, taxis, and motorcyclists.

If you’re involved in an accident, whether or not you’re at fault, you could face criminal charges. You may need to pay compensation to the injured person.

The blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.03%. Heavy penalties apply for exceeding the limit. Don’t drink and drive.

If you’re walking:

  • look out for motorcyclists, even on footpaths and pedestrian crossings
  • don’t expect traffic to stop at pedestrian crossings
  • check carefully before stepping onto the road

Before travelling by road, learn local road rules and practices. 

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Motorcycles

Check if your travel insurance policy covers you when riding a motorbike. Most policies won’t cover you if you don’t follow local laws or wear a helmet.

Always wear a helmet.

There are restrictions on riding motorcycles on highways and other major roads.

Taxis

Use only authorised taxis, preferably those arranged through your hotel.

Always insist the driver uses the meter. Most taxis accept credit cards.

Rideshare apps are also available in South Korea. 

International taxi services are available and may have English-speaking drivers.

Public transport

Public transportation (including buses and metropolitan subway networks) in and between major urban areas is good.

Most major transportation systems have signs and make announcements in English.

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Rail travel

South Korea has a large high-speed rail network (KTX).

Stations are usually located in major urban areas. They have signs in English.

They’re often linked to local taxi or public transport networks.

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Sea travel

Ferry services operate between most large coastal cities and other domestic and international ports.

Busan, Incheon, and Jeju Island are regular stopover locations for cruise ships.

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Air travel

Some airlines and travel providers don’t allow you to pay for flights online within South Korea with a foreign credit card.

DFAT doesn’t provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.

Check South Korea’s air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.

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