South Korea Travel Advice & Safety

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’ll stay 90 days or more.

Local authorities will normally keep your Australian driver’s licence. They’ll give it back if you can show a departure ticket.

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Road travel

South Korea has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths for a developed country, especially for pedestrians.

You’re 2 times as likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in South Korea as in Australia.

Speeding, running red lights and other risky behaviour is common, especially by buses, taxis and motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists often travel on footpaths and pedestrian crossings.

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 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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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.


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

Always insist the driver uses the meter.

Rideshare apps are available in South Korea. These aren’t widely used due to the large number of available taxis.

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

Public transport

Public transportation in and between major urban areas is good.

Most major transportation systems have signs 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 usually have signs in English.

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

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Sea travel

Due to COVID-19, Korean authorities are preventing some cruise ships from docking at Korean ports. Check with your cruise operator if you have concerns.

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

Busan is a regular stopover location for cruises.

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Air travel

Many 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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