How to manage with Google Maps in South Korea? - eNidhi India Travel Blog

How to manage with Google Maps in South Korea?

South Korea international tourists face some restrictions w.r.t map usage. Maps are needed to figure out which bus/train to take, how far is a distance, how to walk to hostel from the bus station and so on. But Google map doesn’t work properly in South Korea. Residents use local map apps but since they are only in Korean language, international tourists find it painful to use them.

During my trip I used Google maps to explore South Korea. I will explain how I did it, what works and what doesn’t. I had downloaded Naver App, Kakao Map etc but gave up on day 01 as they don’t support English. Copying Korean name from somewhere else and pasting and trying to use the app was too complicated- I would rather take a taxi.

Things to know- Google maps in South Korea- what works
#1 Public transportation information is fairly accurate. Google maps shows how to reach your destination using public transportation- the bus stop/train station, where it is, which bus/train to take, where to get down, which one to change to etc are all pretty accurate. We used this feature extensively during our trip and used metro and buses as much as we could and saved a fair bit of money which otherwise had to be spent on taxi hiring.

Get yourself a T Money card and google map and you are good to navigate in South Korea.

#2 Approximate distance can be found when you search for a location. You will get a sense of how far it is but won’t show exact walking distance/total distance.

Things to know- Google maps in South Korea- what doesn’t work

#1 Walking direction and distance: Google can not show a direct walking path. While the map will show your current location and destination, the exact path you’ve to figure out yourself. Google maps in South Korea always defaults to public transport mode and shows you a bus path even for a destination 10 meters away.

You’ve to zoom in, find the right direction to walk and where to turn. Sometimes a bit of trial and error is needed.

#2 Driving direction/distance:
If you rent a car you can’t use google maps to get around. It will not show turn by turn navigation. It can show a public transport route which you can follow, but that will be a bit longer usually compared to a shorter driving route.

Can’t add multiple destinations and plan a day. Usually in India I can add up to 10 destinations, check total driving distance, rearrange the sequence to decide the optimal plan for the day. Such a thing doesn’t work in South korea as only public transport mode is functional.

Reason for Google Map’s limited functionality in South Korea?
The reason is said to be security restrictions enforced by the South Korean Govt. South Korea doesn’t want its data to be transferred to external countries, so apps having their base in South Korea work but if Google maps wants to operate from the USA or some other country, data they can access will be limited.

Despite the limitation, our day 10 trip was managed fully using Google maps. Would have been great if local maps had good English language support.

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