How To Use Kakao Taxi Without A Korean Phone Number

There’s nothing worse than being in a foreign country, unable to speak the language and trying to get back to your hotel from somewhere unusual after a long day of exploring. Fortunately, Korea has a lot of modern solutions to help you get around more easily in case you don’t know how to speak Korean, including Kakao Taxi.

Kakao Taxi is the main app for taking a taxi in Korea and is provided by the country’s largest messaging service, Kakao. If you’ve walked around any Korean street, you’ve probably seen a taxi sporting one of the cute Kakao Friends mascots, such as Ryan or Apeach.

Unfortunately, to use this taxi hailing service, you will usually need to have a Korean phone number. This is something that most travellers in Korea won’t have unless they purchase a Korean sim card. However, it is possible to use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number.

This guide will show you how to use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number when you’re in Korea with two simple, but important, steps to follow when using the Kakao Taxi app and creating a Kakao ID. Read on to discover how to use Kakao Taxi more easily and conveniently.

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Using Kakao Taxi Without A Korean Phone Number

People using Kakao Taxi in Korea with phone

To use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number, you need to book a taxi as normal in the app and in the payment section change the option from ‘Pay by card‘ or ‘Register a card to pay‘ to ‘Pay to the driver‘. This will allow you to pay by cash, credit card, or T-Money Card at the end of your taxi journey.

You need to have a Korean phone number to register your card on the Kakao Taxi app due to Korean security laws. If you don’t have a Korean phone number, you won’t be able to add a card to the Kakao Taxi app.

Registering a card is convenient for expats living in Korea, but not necessary for tourists and impossible without a Korean phone number anyway. Even if you do have a Korean phone number, I recommend using the ‘Pay to the driver’ option as it’s simpler.

Where To Get A Korean Sim Card

Problems like trying to get a taxi without a Korean phone number is one of the reasons I recommend travellers get a Korean sim card when they visit Korea. A Korean sim card allows you to use Korean apps and make online bookings. If you want a Korean sim card, order one for collection at Incheon Airport or to collect in Seoul or Busan.

How To Use Kakao Taxi

Kakao Taxi Logo

In case you’re not sure about how to use Kakao Taxi, the following steps will show you the process from selecting a taxi to paying.

Step 6 shows you how to pay the driver without a Korean phone number.

If you want to use Kakao Taxi but don’t have it installed on your phone, download it here:

To be able to use Kakao Taxi, you’ll need a Kakao ID. If you don’t have a Kakao ID, find out how to create one by clicking the button below.

If you already have a Kakao ID and have logged in to Kakao Taxi, then follow these steps to book a taxi with Kakao Taxi.

1: Select A Taxi Booking

Kakao Taxi Without Korean Phone Number Step 1

Open the Kakao Taxi application and click on the taxi symbol on the top left. It’s the first option on the screen. This will take you through to the taxi booking section.

2: Choose Your Start Location

Choosing a start location with Kakao Taxi

Enter the name of the place you want to start from. This will default to your current location if you have enabled location tracking. If you want to change the start location, type in the name or address of the location or click on the map symbol to choose from a location on the map.

Tip: Using the map search function is the best option as you can choose which side of the street the taxi will arrive on as well as correct any problems from inexact positioning by your phone.

3: Choose Your End Location

Choosing the end location on Kakao Taxi

Select the end location of your journey in the same way as you chose the start location. Either type in the name or address of the place you want to visit, or select the location on a map.

Tip: If you’re not sure of the end location’s address, or can’t find it with the Kakao Taxi search function, use Google Maps and search for the address using English. Google Maps will show you the address in Korean, which you can copy and paste into Kakao Taxi.

4: Choose Your Taxi Type

Different types of taxi on Kakao Taxi app

Choose the type of taxi you want to use to travel to your location. A standard taxi is labelled as ‘General Request’ and this will be the same as the taxis you can hail on the street. There are also larger taxis and premium taxis. These offer a larger or more luxurious taxi than the standard taxis, but cost more money.

Tip: Always search for a ‘General Request’ taxi first of all. However, if you can’t find a taxi, try selecting the ‘Blue’ taxi instead. This pays a higher fee to the taxi driver and is supposed to increase your chance of finding an available taxi. Unfortunately, you need to register a card to use the ‘Blue’ taxis, so this won’t work unless you have a Korean phone number.

5: Swipe Left On Payment Method

How to change payment method in Kakao Taxi

After selecting which type of taxi you want to take, the next screen will ask you to select your payment method. This is the step that causes problems as the default option is to register a card, which requires a Korean phone number.

However, you can use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number by swiping left on the payment screen (as indicated above) to the second option, which is ‘Pay to the driver’.

6: Select ‘Pay To The Driver’

After changing the payment method to ‘Pay to the driver’, click ‘Apply’. You will be taken back to the taxi request screen you were at previously. This time the payment method should say ‘Pay to the driver’. Click ‘Request’ to call the taxi.

The taxi will arrive and take you to your destination. Before you leave, be sure to pay the fare with cash, card or a T-Money card.

Kakao Taxi will ask you to leave a review once your ride is complete.

Korean Travel Essentials

Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money on your Korean adventure.

Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA): Most countries need a K-ETA to travel to Korea. Apply before you travel only with the Official K-ETA Site.

Flights To Korea: Look around before you book flights. I recommend flight comparison sites such as Expedia and Skyscanner for the best flights to Korea.

Hotels In Korea: Staying in Seoul, I recommend Myeongdong (convenient), Hongdae (cool culture) or Gangnam (shopping). Get the best hotel prices with Klook and Agoda.

Tours In Korea: Find the best tours in Korea with tour companies that have a big presence in Korea, including Klook, Trazy, and Get Your Guide.

Staying Connected: Pre-order a Korean Sim Card or a Portable WiFi Router to collect on-arrival at Incheon Airport. Collection desks are open 24 hours.

Travel Money: Exchange foreign currency in Myeongdong or at a WOW exchange machine. Pick up a Wise or Revolut travel money card for the best rates and convenient card payments.

Transportation: Get a T-Money Card to pay for public transport. If you plan to use Korea’s high speed trains, save money and get unlimited rides with a Korea Rail Pass.

Incheon Airport To Seoul: Take the Airport Express (AREX) to Seoul Station or a limo bus to other parts of Seoul. Don’t want to carry heavy suitcases? Book an Incheon Airport Private Transfer and relax to or from the airport.

Learning Korean: Want to learn Korean before you travel? I recommend 90 Day Korean as they have well-structured lessons and loads of useful resources.

How To Create A Kakao ID To Use Kakao Taxi

Kakao Talk Login Screen

Before you try to use Kakao Taxi to hail a cab in Korea, you need to have a Kakao ID. To get a Kakao ID, you need to create an account with Kakao, complete the registration process, and then choose your Kakao ID.

To create a Kakao account you need to have a phone number. You don’t need a Korean phone number, but you will need to be able to receive a text message to activate a new Kakao account. If you’re in Korea, this could be difficult to do without a Korean sim card and phone number.

However, as long as you have access to a phone number (Korean or international), you will be able to create a Kakao ID. You’ll also need your email address, personal details and Internet access.

Here are the steps to create a Kakao ID.

1: Create a Kakao Account

Install the Kakao Talk app to create a Kakao account. Once you’ve installed the app, open it and select ‘sign up’ to create a new account. You can install Kakao Talk with the links below:

Enter your email address, personal details, agree to the terms and then continue. Your Kakao account is tied to this email address and will be used to log in. You can’t change it later.

Please note: You can only install Kakao Talk on a mobile device, not a desktop computer.

2: Enter Your Mobile Phone Number

You must enter a phone number to create a Kakao account. It doesn’t have to be a Korean phone number. Select your country’s dialling code and then enter your phone number.

You’ll be sent a 4 digit security code to confirm that you’re the owner of the phone. Once you’ve received the confirmation code, enter it and move on with your account setup.

Please note: if you apply with a foreign number, it can take a few days for the approval process to be completed. Korean phone numbers should only take a minute or two to activate.

3: Complete Kakao Account Setup

Once you’ve received the security code and your phone number has been verified, complete the account setup by choosing a password (use lower case letters, capital letters, numbers and a special symbol).

Next, add in your personal information, such as date of birth, gender, nickname and an avatar. Some of these are optional and not necessary.

4: Create Your Kakao ID

Once the account is setup, you can create a personal ID for the Kakao Talk app. Go to your profile and select ‘Edit Profile’ and then ‘Create Kakao ID’. Enter a unique ID with a combination of letters and numbers. If the ID has been chosen, try another one.

5: Start Using Kakao Taxi

Finally, download the Kakao Taxi app and log in using the email address and password. After logging in to Kakao Taxi, you can start booking taxis in Korea without a Korean phone number.

Click the button below to go back to the instructions about how to use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number.

Tips For Using Kakao Taxi In Korea

Kakao Taxi Car In Korea

Travelling to Korea and want to know how to use Kakao Taxi well and how to get around Seoul and other cities in Korea? Here are some of my personal tips to help you travel more conveniently and safely.

Go to the nearest taxi rank: If you are trying to hail a taxi and they keep driving past you, it’s probably because you’re close to a taxi rank. Taxis won’t stop to pick you up near taxi ranks – you should go there and wait with everyone else.

Check the colour of the light in the taxi: Korean taxis have colour-coded light systems to show if they are available or not. These lights are attached to the rear view mirror and can be seen when a taxi drives towards you. Red means the taxi is available for hire. Blue means it has been reserved by a Kakao Taxi call. If you reserved a taxi with Kakao Taxi, look for the blue lights.

Check the licence plate number: When you order a taxi through Kakao Taxi, you will be shown the driver’s licence plate and name. Check the licence plate before getting in the taxi to make sure it’s the right one, especially if many people are waiting for taxis in the same area.

Always use the meter: If you hail a taxi from the street (or with Kakao Taxi), and they offer you a price without using the meter, refuse and get another taxi. This is how foreigners, especially arrivals at Incheon Airport, commonly get scammed and end up paying many times the typical cost of the fare. Taxi drivers must use the meter by law. Kakao Taxi shows you the estimated fare for the journey and the final fare should be close to this.

Be prepared for long waits at night: During the pandemic, many taxi drivers changed jobs and became delivery drivers instead, lured by better wages and fewer night shifts. There is now a shortage of late-night taxi drivers in Korea, especially in Seoul. The government has raised taxi fares at night in a bid to get more taxi drivers back, but it hasn’t been that successful so far.

Get a T-Money Card: The T-Money Card is a prepaid transportation card that can be used for buses, subways and taxis. When you use a taxi, you can pay for it with the T-Money Card. Check out my guide to using T-Money in Korea.

Buy a sim card or rent portable WiFi: Even if you don’t need a Korean phone number to register a card with Kakao Taxi, having a Korean sim card or portable WiFi router will offer you amazing coverage across Korea’s advanced phone network. You need a network connection to use Kakao Taxi, too.

Learn some basic Korean phrases: A few simple phrases will go a long way when you travel in Korea, especially when you want to ask for and understand directions. If you want to learn a few essential phrases, including ones for getting around by taxi, here are 60 Korean travel phrases to get you started.

How To Change Kakao Taxi To English

Kakao Taxi should default to the language settings of your mobile device. If your phone is in English, Kakao Taxi should be, too. If your Kakao Taxi language settings are in Korean, here’s how to change it to English in three simple steps.

1: Select Your Profile

How To Change Kakao Taxi To English

Open the Kakao Taxi application and click on the profile settings tab at the bottom of the screen. This is the image of a person and hosts all of your account settings.

2: Select The Language Settings

How To Change Kakao Taxi To English (1)

Scroll down the page on the account settings tab until you see the icon shaped like a globe. In Korean, this says ‘언어 설정’ (Language Settings). Click on this option.

3: Change Language To English

How To Change Kakao Taxi To English (2)

There are four language options in Kakao Taxi. The first is to use the language your phone is set to (as long as it’s one of the 3 languages provided). The second option is Korean. The third option is English. The final option is Japanese. Select English and, after a quick app refresh, all the options in the Kakao Taxi app will now be in English.

FAQs About Using Kakao Taxi In Korea

Frequently Asked Questions

Finally, here are a few FAQs about how to use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you.

Are there any alternatives to Kakao Taxi in Korea?

Yes, there are alternatives to Kakao Taxi in Korea such as UT (Uber Taxi), Tada, i.M, Banban Taxi, Papa, and Macaron M. They are all much smaller than Kakao Taxi and aren’t guaranteed to work outside major cities.

Does Uber exist in Korea?

Uber exists in Korea but as a taxi hailing service similar to Kakao Taxi. It is called UT and uses existing taxis rather than freelance drivers like in other countries. Some taxis in Korea have UT branding to show they cater to this app.

How much does a taxi cost in Korea?

The starting fare for a taxi in Korea is 3,800 won (rising to 4,800 in February 2023) in Seoul and 3,800 won for other areas. Night time taxi fares can be higher.

Is Kakao Taxi in English?

You can use Kakao Taxi in English, Korean, and Japanese. To change the settings in the Kakao Taxi app, click on the profile settings, scroll down to the language option, and then choose English.

Can you use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number?

You can use Kakao Taxi without a Korean phone number by selecting ‘Pay to the driver’ in the payment options. This allows you to skip registering a credit card, which requires a Korean phone number.

Can you use Kakao Taxi on Jeju Island?

Kakao Taxi is available across the whole of mainland South Korea, as well as Jeju Island. It might be difficult to call a taxi with Kakao Taxi in more rural areas of Jeju Island and also in rural areas on the mainland.

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About the author

Hi! My name is Joel, I'm the author of In My Korea. I've lived and travelled across Korea since 2015. I love learning more about Korean culture, hiking the many mountains, and visiting all the coolest places in Korea, both modern and traditional.

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