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Driving in Gwangju

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Gwangju.

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Gwangju, like many other parts of Korea, can be a bit chaotic for those not used to it. Korean drivers are known for their aggressive driving style, often not adhering strictly to traffic rules. It’s not uncommon to see drivers running red lights, not using turn signals, or parking in non-designated areas. Therefore, it’s important to always be alert and cautious when driving.

2. Car Recommendation

Compact cars are recommended for driving in Gwangju due to the narrow roads and limited parking spaces. Smaller cars are easier to maneuver and park. However, if you have a family or need more space, consider a mid-size car. SUVs and larger vehicles may be more challenging to handle in the city.

3. Parking Situation

Finding parking in Gwangju can be difficult, especially in busy areas. Most parking lots are small and spaces are tight. Parking fees vary depending on the area, but generally, it can be quite expensive. Some residential buildings offer parking for residents, but it’s best to check this before moving in.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Korea with an International Driving Permit (IDP) for up to one year. After that, you will need to obtain a Korean driver’s license. It’s important to note that your IDP must be issued by a country that has a mutual agreement with Korea. Also, you must carry your passport with you when driving.

5. Obtaining a Korean Driver’s License

To get a Korean driver’s license, you will need to pass a written test, a practical driving test, and a physical examination. The written test is available in multiple languages, including English. You can take the practical test with an English-speaking examiner. If you already have a driver’s license from your home country, you may be able to skip the practical test and just take the written test and physical examination.

6. Familiarize Yourself with Road Signs

Before you start driving in Gwangju, familiarize yourself with Korean road signs. While many signs have English translations, some do not. There are also unique signs that you may not be familiar with. Understanding these signs will help you navigate the roads safely.

7. Use Navigation Apps

Navigation apps like Naver Maps and KakaoMap are very useful for driving in Gwangju. They provide real-time traffic updates and accurate directions. However, they are primarily in Korean, so you may need to learn basic Korean or have someone help you set your destination.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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