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I'll be in South Korea for a couple of weeks and would love to rent a car there to drive around the country. What is the best navigation app I can use there (with English interface of course)? It seems like GMaps is completely useless, it can't make any driving routes.

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    OT: I see that the online Google Maps camera cars have been active in South Korea, around the urban areas, and they show many other roads. Perhaps the app is good for you. Mar 9, 2023 at 18:59
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    For background info, this article seems to explain the situation as of 2022, and why Google Maps doesn't work (South Korean law bans the storage of data about South Korea on servers outside SK); it recommends an app called Naver but I can't vouch for it myself.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 10, 2023 at 13:12
  • @StuartF I do wonder why Apple Maps works just fine.
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 15 at 2:06

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Naver Map and KakaoMap both have an English version. They are the most commonly used navigation apps by locals. I believe Waze and GMaps also work from what I recall driving there a few years ago.

FYI: Android or iOS navigation app that gives an alert when close to a speed camera in South Korea

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When you rent a car, the GPS comes with it for free, and you can use it in Korean or English. When you are booking the car, remember to choose English for the GPS so that when you pick up the car, they have already set it to English for you. https://10mag.com/how-to-rent-a-car-for-foreigners-in-korea/#:~:text=Navigate%20in%20Korea,in%20English%20before%20you%20leave.

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Apple Maps works just fine for navigation, so I'd use that if you have an Apple phone:

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An Android alternative is to use OsmAnd, which is a variant of OpenStreetMap that allows you to switch the map language from local names to English. Unfortunately their app is a bit clunky compared to Apple/Google maps but it does work.

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When I traveled to South Korea a few years ago, I found that Kakao Maps worked really well for navigation with an English interface. Most areas will have English listings as options on the app. It has turn-by-turn voice guidance and you can easily look up addresses too. The roads are well-marked so as long as you have the map up you should be fine.

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Other than Naver and KakaoMaps, which are already very well-developed and have detailed street views, you can also try global navigation apps like Apple Maps, Openstreet Maps, Tom Tom, and Waze (one of the best apps for live traffic information). However, there is a little gimmick here: one should think about how they are going to use the Korean navigation apps in SK, with or without logging in to the interface (mobile or web). A user cannot create an account without having an SK mobile number where the OTP/verification code is sent. One might argue, "I can use the app for free," but there are some disadvantages of using the free version (not logged in), such as no history being saved, suggestions, and so on.

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  • Many navigation apps do log history without being logged in, you just can not get up to date traffic information.
    – Willeke
    Apr 12 at 11:46
  • I am not sure if your statement is true for every solution available in the market. The history retention feature actually varies from application to application. Apr 12 at 11:56
  • I did not write it is for every situation, but it is much better than your statement, i usually record my travels and always off-line.
    – Willeke
    Apr 12 at 12:27

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