Hitchhiking Guide In South Korea

If you care to see Korea in a non-touristic way, if you are looking for true adventure, if you enjoy uncertainty and don’t want to stick to plans, hitchhiking is your way to travel in Korea.
Hitchhiking is an example of real life optionality: exposing yourself to lucky situations while limiting your downside. The real potential is not in avoiding paying for the bus: it is meeting fantastic people, seeing places you never know existed, getting invited to parties: enjoying the flow of events as they present themselves instead of worrying about catching the train you booked for.
Hitchhiking is an experience that may just change your view on the world, and your exchange in Korea is the perfect time and place to start it.



Content:

General information

Hitchhiking routes in Korea made by KNU students

Tips and facts for hitchhikers in Korea

Amazing hitchhiking stories




General information about Hitchhiking in Korea



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  1. First of all you can check Wikipedia and WikiHow if you’ve never heard about hitchhiking.
  2. To say truth hitchhiking is not allowed in Korean highways =). However most of KNU exchange students, because of the lack of money or just to have fun and new adventures, do hitchhike more than use other type of transportation. 
  3. Hitchhiking is absolutely easy and safe in South Korea as most of the students say. Koreans are usually friendly for foreigners. They will not only bring you to the place you want to go(even if they go different place), but as a rule they buy you meal or drink, try to make a good friendship with you. Usually it takes less that 10 minutes in a good place to catch a car.
  4. Three main things that matter in hitchhiking: Where do you stay (your hitchhiking spot), you’d better have sign, how do you look like(appearance).
  5. You can always find some cardboard you can use for your sign in any convenience store in Korea(like C&U), and they are selling fat black markers too: pack your backpack and off you go!


Hitchhiking routes in Korea made by KNU students



To ensure you that hitchhiking is possible, here are some routes made by KNU students:

Gergely Marton: 
Hitchhiking kilometers: 3380 
  • Gwangju-Deagu 215 km 
  • Mokpo-Gwangju 75 km 
  • Jeju City-Billionaire’s-Jeju City 85 km
  • Jeju circle 200 km 
  • Deagu-Jinju-Gwangju-Jeonju-Gunsan-Jeonju-Deajeon-Deagu 740 km 
  • Deagu-Seoul-Deagu 560 km 
  • Deagu-Andong-Deagu 200 km 
  • Deagu-Gwangju-Wando-Gwangju-Deagu 700 km 
  • Deagu-Busan-Deagu 220 km 
  • Deagu-Pohang-Deagu 165 km


Tips and facts



On average, you will travel similar speed as with public transportation.

• Hitchhiking is legal everywhere except the highway.

• The highway is the best place to hitchhike.

• Police is generally very friendly as long as you aren't doing anything really stupid.

• Highway rest stations are perfect spots to catch your next ride.

• Mixed groups are more interesting: mixed gender, mixed race is a good idea.

• Smaller groups get picked up sooner. Over 4 people is virtually impossible, 2 is ideal.

• Koreans tend to stop often for toilet, coffee, food, smoking… you will likely get invited.

• Most Koreans don’t speak much English.

• If you’ve been waiting more than 15 minutes, it’s not a good spot.

• Google & Apple Maps can’t do route planning in Korea, try using Daum Maps instead.

• People will keep telling you hitchhiking is impossible in Korea.

• All cities have jimjilbangs where you can cheaply crash for the night if you are stuck somewhere(or you can use couchsurfing too)


One favorite story




We were hitchhiking along the coastline of Jeju with my partner. Our friends just got picked up, and we were eager to catch up. After some 10 minutes of showing our sign to the scarce traffic, a black BMW pulled up, apparently willing to drop us off at the desired location. Our drive was a middle aged man in sports clothes, accompanied by his younger wife. Even though our destination was just 30 km away, they insisted on inviting us for lunch to the region’s best seafood place. As we slowly got to know each other - they spoke very little English, we spoke no Korean -, our benefactors suggested raveling about Jeju together all day, since they didn’t have anything in particular to do. We went to see some attractions, had a blast racing go-karts against each other, ate some delicious black pork, got drunk on soju… and it slowly dawned on us that our driver was indeed one of those Gangnam millionaires Psy is singing about. We spent the night barhopping, sipping scotch whiskey in a transgender bar, and ended up crashing at their place for the night.


By Gergely Marton. Edited by V. Ostruk

PS. If you did some hitchhiking in Korea, please leave a comment below about your trip! I will include your story to help other people doing hitchhiking well!