Travel Tips

How to Use Naver Maps

If you have spent any time in Korea, you know how important Naver Maps is in daily life. In most places, you will find that the navigation app of choice is Google Maps – but not in South Korea. In fact, you will quickly discover that Google Maps is pretty useless. If you are staying in South Korea for any period of time, you are going to need Naver Maps to get around.


There are two major navigation services in Korea. The first is Kakao maps, and the second is Naver Maps. While Kakao Maps is becoming increasingly common, Naver Maps is still the number one navigation app in Korea. Plus, it has a much better English version than Kakao Maps which is why we will be focusing on it today.

Naver Maps is just one of the company’s major services. Naver also is South Korea’s most popular search engine. They function much like Google does in other countries. They have a shopping feature, news, translation, a document drafting platform, etc. However, perhaps one of the features that makes Naver Maps so useful in terms of maps is its blog and review systems. Both are integrated within Naver Maps, making finding new places extremely simple.

Naver Maps Special Features

Naver Map’s main purpose, of course, is to provide directions. They provide routes for public transportation, driving, walking, and bike riding.

However, in addition to simple navigation, they have a few other features that makes their platform stick out. Some of their notable features include their integrated review and blog platform, public transportation tracking, and Smart Around.

Naver Blogs Review and Blog

Even if do not speak Korean, you can still get a feel for how popular the place is and the general rating. At the top of every listing, there is a rating out of five stars.

Then, if you go to the REVIEWS tab, you can see more information about the place. While all of the reviews are normally written in Korean, you can still see how many there are and the general topic of reviews. Reviews are categorized. Each category of review is written in Korea. However, using a bit of intuition it is easy to know what each category is about based on its corresponding emoji.

The smiling face with its tongue sticking out is for delicious food. The wide eyes represent how spacious a place is. And, the sofa emoji represents great interior design. There are many more categories that you can have some fun deciphering.

In Korea, reviews are key to knowing how good a place is. There are restrictions on negative reviews in Korea. And so, if you see a place with less than superior rates, chances are it is not worth a visit.

Public Transportation Tracking

Naver Maps’ features when it comes to public transportation are superb! You have the option to not only take the fastest route, but also bus or subway based on your preference.

If you decide to take the subway, you can check the route details. You can find the name of the next stop in the direction you should be going, which car you should enter for the quickest transfer, what time the train will arrive, and how many stops you will pass before your destination. Additionally, if you want to check your progress, you can tap on the number of stops to see the names of all the stations you will pass. Then, after your destination station, you will see the direction of the exit door.

For buses, you will not only see your route, but you can also monitor the conditions of the bus in real-time. The app tells you down to the second exactly when the bus will arrive. Additionally, the seat availability is indicated as comfy, normal, or crowded. Similar to the subway, you can see how many stops and what the name of each stop is before your destination. Plus, you can see alternative buses with similar routes.

Smart Around

On the Naver Maps home screen, if you swipe up you can find Smart Around. It is an AI-driven feature of the app that allows you to discover new places. It uses your Naver search history and location information to recommend places nearby that you might enjoy. But that’s not all, it also lets you know the average price that people spend at the place so that you can easily find somewhere within your budget.

Overall, Naver Maps has some pretty great features. And so, it is easy to see why Koreans have been so resistant to adopting Google Maps.

Language Settings

First of all, the default language of Naver Maps corresponds to the language of your phone. The app is available in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese. If you want to set it to a language other than your phone’s language you can do so by going to the following:

Three lines at the top, next to the search bar > Settings > language

Then, you can select your desired language.

Getting Directions

Using Naver maps for directions is simple. You can just tap on the search box at the top of the screen, enter the place you want to go, then tap go. However, sometimes it can be a little difficult to find places in English. They may not have their English names listed, or they may be spelled in unexpected ways. If a place doesn’t come up in English, give Korean a shot.

Additionally, if you are currently en route, the app updates based on your current information. And so, it may not always show you the route you are currently on. In that case, you can change your starting location to where you left. Or, if you are on a bus, you can search your bus number to view the route.

Saving Places

If you find a place you would like to save so that you can easily find it later, you can do so with ease. Once you tap on a place, you will see a bookmark icon with the word SAVE underneath.

Once you tap on it the option to save the location will pop up. You can create a new list to save it to or add it to an existing list. For new lists, you can assign colors that will show on the map view. You can also save locations under a nickname if you would like to.

To access your bookmarked locations you can go to the following:
Three lines at the top, next to the search bar > Favorites

Making Reservations

Normally, when you make reservations using Naver Maps, the information will not be available entirely in English. However, here are the basics.

If booking is available, it will be written as BOOK under the options on the location’s page. Normally, you will have the options of Date, Time, and Number of People. If the times are not tinted green, there are no dates available.

If you have to make any payments, you will need NaverPay first. Setting up NaverPay requires a valid ARC meaning that you need to be a legal resident of Korea. As a result, using Naver Maps to make reservations may not be an option if you are visiting Korea.

One of the easiest ways to pay for things in Korea online is through KakaoPay. If you need help setting up KakaoPay, Click Here.

🇲🇾 Tan Wei Wen

Hello, I am a foreign student that is currently living in Seoul, South Korea. Wish to share more about my travel stories here.