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Uber in Korea: Where it Worked & Where it Didn’t (+ Costs)

As great as public transit in South Korea can be, sometimes taking a taxi is more convenient.

I’ve also visited places like Gyeongju, Pohang, and Jeju Island where there is no subway station, or in cities where buses were less frequent.

And while you can use local taxis, it’s also nice to use an app you’re familiar with.

So can you successfully use Uber in Korea?

Keep reading to see which cities Uber worked in for me, plus alternatives to Uber in Korea, costs of Uber in Korea, and overall tips to getting around cities.

If you’re new to South Korea, make sure to read my travel guide to South Korea or Watch the vlog 🎥:

Things I wish I knew before traveling to Seoul 🇰🇷 South Korea Travel Tips

Why I Used Uber Instead of Other Apps

I could have easily used the local Kakao T app instead of Uber, but here are some instances I opted for Uber over other apps:

  • I didn’t have enough local currency on me to pay the driver (you can only link a local Korea bank card to Kakao T).
  • Uber automatically uses my credit card I already have on hand so I didn’t have to worry about whether or not my credit card would work.
  • Sometimes there is a language barrier difficulty when using Kakao T rides i.e. confusing pick-up spot or paying afterwards. Uber was more familiar and less anxiety for me.

Where I’ve Successfully Used Uber in Korea:

  • Seoul
  • Busan
  • Jeju City

Related post: Here’s how to plan the perfect 10-day Korea itinerary.

Times I Used Taxi Over Public Transit

A bronze statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin on a cement placer in Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul at night

Here are some instances where grabbing a taxi was more convenient than taking public transit in Korea:

  • I didn’t want to stroll and carry my luggage through Seoul Station to get to my hotel or to the airport (it’s a journey).
  • For my late arrivals to the airport with no available trains or infrequent night buses.
  • When the destination wasn’t reachable by subway, required too many bus transfers, or was a long walk from the closest station.
  • When there was no subway in a city and buses are infrequent (i.e. Pohang).

Alternatives to Uber in Korea

The main alternatives to using Uber in Korea are:

Kakao T

Kakao T is the main taxi app used throughout South Korea. You can download it on Apple and Android.

Tips for using Kakao T:

  • You can pay with cash (try for exact change) and generally, most Kakao T drivers will accept T-money card and foreign credit cards if they have the card reader in their car.
  • When I’ve used Kakao T using a Korea eSIM over a local sim, the driver isn’t able to call me, which is difficult if the driver can’t find me. Opt for a local sim card in Korea when you can.

Hailing a Taxi

If you choose to hail local taxis instead, here are some tips:

  • Make sure to have the address written in Korean/hangul or available on your phone to show to the driver. Sometimes Google Maps will have the address written in hangul in the location description.
  • Use Papago or Google Translate to communicate with the driver if needed.
  • Use Kakao Map and Naver Map apps to get a general sense of the route in case the driver is rerouting unnecessarily.
  • In general, there is no tipping culture in South Korea.

Rent a Car

If you just want to drive around yourself, you can easily rent a car for as low as $28 USD a day.

Check out the car rental rates in South Korea here.

Hire a Driver or Join a Tour

For convenience you can also hire a driver for your trip or join tours in Korea that provide round-trip transportation.

Uber in Seoul

Cheonggyecheon Stream during summer day - Seoul, South Korea

Is there Uber in Seoul? Yes, your Uber app automatically converts to the the local Uber (UT) when you open the app in South Korea.

However, the availability of Uber drivers in Seoul is much less than the availability of Kakao T drivers and local taxis.

And sometimes, it just takes a while to find an Uber in Seoul depending on the time, sometimes even up to 30 minutes or more.

Uber in Seoul Airports

You can use Uber at both airports in Seoul, aka Incheon and Gimpo. Booking Ubers at airports are generally much quicker.

The Uber pickup locations at Incheon International Airport are:

  • Black Uber rides: Exit 14 for Terminal 1, Exit 6 for Terminal 2
  • Regular Uber rides: Exit 4 for Terminal 1, Exit 1 for Terminal 2

The Uber pickup locations at Gimpo International Airport are:

  • Black Uber rides: Gate 1 for international terminal, Gate 6 for domestic terminal
  • Regular Uber rides:  Gate 3 at international terminal only

Uber in Busan

Three flat white statues of people looking out at pastel-colored village at Gamcheon Culture Village, a must for a day trip to Busan

Is there Uber in Busan? Yes, you can also use your Uber app in Busan. When I arrived at the Busan Station after taking a KTX train from Seoul, I was pleasantly surprised how fast I booked an Uber.

Though, there were other times, maybe because of the demand and location, that I could not find an Uber in Busan, nor Kakao T ride.

Uber in Jeju Island

Is there Uber in Jeju Island? Yes and no. I’ve only found available Uber rides in Jeju Island when I was in Jeju City near the airport. It was a ride to the airport, and even then it wasn’t an immediate booking.

However, there are plenty of Kakao T drivers in Jeju Island.

Plus, it’s 100% possible to travel Jeju Island without a car.

Uber in Other Cities

A boat perched on a hill at Sabang Memorial Park, offering a panoramic view of the sea and coastline. The vessel, painted white with blue and red accents, rests on grass, seemingly ready for an imaginary voyage. A visitor is capturing the moment, highlighting the boat's unique location against the backdrop of a vast, blue sky.

So far, the other places I’ve visited in South Korea besides Seoul and Jeju Island are Pohang and Gyeongju.

Most of the top places to visit in Gyeongju were within walking distance, or were accessible by bus. I didn’t need to take a taxi in Gyeongju.

In Pohang where buses are quite sporadic in order to get to the attractions in Pohang, taxis are ideal to save time.

While no Uber rides were available for me, finding a Kakao T ride in Pohang was pretty easy and fast.

How Much is Uber in Korea?

Large pile of different Korean won currency for costs of using Uber in Korea

It will depend on the distance and location, but here are some example costs of my Uber in Korea rides from 2022 and 2023:

Seoul:
  • 33-minute ride within the city at 11am: 12,500 won or $9.40 USD
  • 20-minute ride within the city at 10pm: 12,500 won or $8 USD
To/From Incheon Airport:
  • 1-hour ride from Myeongdong to airport at 3pm: 64,300 won or $48 USD
  • 40-minute ride from airport to Hongdae at midnight: 88,800 won or $66 USD
Busan:
  • 40-minute ride from Busan Station to Haeundae at 3pm: 18,500 won or $14 USD
  • 15-minute ride within the city at 5pm: 6,600 won or $5 USD
Jeju Island:
  • 8-minute ride to Jeju airport at 10am: 9,000 won or $6.75 USD

Tips for Using Uber in Korea

A long walking street surrounded by small shops and restaurants with tourists walking at Insadong Shopping Street, in top Seoul attractions
  • Oftentimes, you’ll need the address in Korean/hangul to put in the start and end location in Uber. You can usually get this under the location description in Google Maps.
  • If nothing comes up in the search results when using Uber in Korea, it either means you put in an incorrect address, or there really is no Uber in that area.
  • You will get an email receipt after your ride that says “Your Sunday morning trip with UT” detailing the final costs.
  • While tipping is generally not common in Korea, you still have the option to tip in the Uber app when in Korea.

Prebook before your Korea trip:

📲 Local sim card or eSIM card from Airalo

🚊 Ride from the airport: prebook a transfer | airport bus | AREX train

🚊 Purchase a KTX Pass online for travel to multiple cities

💳 Buy a pre-loaded T-money card

🚙 Rent a car in South Korea for as cheap as $28 USD a day

🎫 Browse through dozens of available South Korea tours

Related Posts

The Perfect 10-Day Korea Itinerary (2024)

Best One Day in Seoul Itineraries (+ Hour Breakdown)

Where to Stay in Seoul Based on Your Interests (from a Frequent Visitor)

28 Top Seoul Attractions to Check Out in 2024

13 Free Things to Do in Busan (Popular + Underrated Spots)

9 Best Things to Do in Gyeongju (+Tips to Make it Worth it)

Jeju Island Travel Guide: Best Areas to Stay, Transportation, Bus Guide

🇰🇷 28 Places to Visit in Seoul 2024 - Korea Travel Vlog - Top Seoul Attractions
Top 13 Free Things to Do in Busan Korea in 2024 🇰🇷 (popular + underrated!)